BLOG: Social media is an opportunity the sector cannot afford to ignore

With OfCom stating that 7 out of 10 British adults have a social media profile, and with 95% of these users citing Facebook as their main channel – there is certainly an active audience present on social media and it’s becoming even more prevalent in today’s society. Figures have also illustrated that one in four say they visit social media sites more than 10 times a day and in total, and 82% do so at least every day. This presents an opportune instrument for charities to use in order to engage with their audiences.

However, it’s important to address that there have been industry arguments made that social media is a ‘waste of time’ for charities. There is no denying that with the huge volume of traffic on social media, together with the platforms’ algorithms for content, and high bounce rate, results in a small margin for charities to reach their audience. That said, if charities are targeted with their approach to the appropriate, relevant platforms, are able to put in valuable time in order to reach their audience and have clear objectives in terms of what they want to achieve – they will see great benefits.

Many charities who use social media are concerned about ROI and the solution isn’t to stop doing it; it’s about working out how to do things better for your audience and how it works towards obtaining your charity goals. Charities are doing amazing things with social media right now and it’s not just in relation to direct fundraising requests. In pulling together the Social Media Toolkit with Skills Platform, we enlisted the help of many charities who contributed learnings and insights from their own journeys of social media.

The toolkit features a foreword endorsement from Megan Griffiths, Head of Digital and Communications from NVCO, champions of the voluntary sector. In the foreword, Megan writes: “In this kind of climate, charities need to look at strategies and tools that will help them navigate an uncertain period. We can all still achieve our goals if we work smart, be creative and become more agile. Charities need to seek out guidance and advice wherever available, whether it’s the support NCVO give members or resources such as this toolkit.” This, I believe encapsulates how charities and third sector organisations must listen to each other and learn if, as a sector, they wish to be effective.

We also sought out contributions by representatives from organisations such as the Fawcett Society, Breast Cancer Care, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and CLIC Sargent to name a few as it was important to us that the guide represents the thoughts of the industry in regards to how social media can be a valuable asset. The contributed chapters focus on everything from employee advocacy, content planning, campaign success stories, and policy.

In facilitating our conversations with the industry we conducted a Twitter chat to get the sector talking to each other and sharing insights. These are some of the main takeaways from the industry specialists who participated in the Twitter chat that we hope will aid other charities in using social media.

@LondonKirsty: I always advocate the rule of thirds as it makes content more manageable and balanced #CharitySocMedToolkit

@MadlinSugn: Watch what others are doing. listen and learn. Then understand what works for your org & audience #CharitySocMedToolkit

@ThirdSectorLab: Start to think about how social media can actually save staff time – customer service, political engagement, etc. #CharitySocMedToolkit.

@LondonKirsty: Social lets you discover things about your supporters that no other channel does #CharitySocMedToolkit

@KirstenUrguhart: Experiment, play, create – be brave about your content and strategy to engage your audiences #CharitySocMedToolkit

@ThirdSectorLab: Three things your charity needs: social media strategy, policy & content plan. They can be short and simple. #CharitySocMedToolkit

Social media is ever-evolving. There will always be new platforms and new ways of working; and with technology adapting as the current speed; social media certainly has room to grow. My advice to charities would be; don’t be afraid by any of the social sphere. It’s there as an outlet for you to use, and even better; it’s free. I believe we should learn from other charities, see what works for them and adapt to what is successful for you and your audience. Stay true to your charitable beliefs and see what doors social media will open for you.

The Charity Social Media Toolkit has been developed by the Skills Platform and Zoe Amar. The toolkit can be read here.

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