The Who, What, When, and Where of Social Media

A few months ago when this blog existed solely in my mind (and as an item on my lengthy to-do list) I began mapping out a series of posts about social media. And in true serendipitous fashion, Hubspot was simultaneously attempting a webinar of record-breaking proportions aiming for over 11,000 attendees. What topic could possibly generate that many attendees? “Secrets to Success on Social Media” of course – no longer strictly for socialising, social media is now actively used by for-profit and non-profit organizations to extend their reach. If you’re looking to improve upon or develop a social media plan, ask yourself:

Who am I trying to reach?

  • To come up with your target audience, start with the basics like age, gender, location, etc. and then narrow it further from there if necessary.
  • Once you’ve identified your audience, find out where they’re interacting on social media:
    • Facebook – As the most popular social network, Facebook tends to attract a younger audience, is favored by more women than men, and shows a lower average household income (most likely due to the younger audience). Because Facebook users are more engaged than those on other platforms (accounting for half of all retargeted clicks on the Web) this is a good platform to address an awareness issue.
    • Twitter – Twitter is most often used as a platform for news consumption (my Twitter feed is basically a personalized, online newspaper). Also most popular with a younger demographic, Twitter is a great place to share information about your cause without coming across as overly self-promoting.
    • LinkedIn – Known as a place for professionals to network, LinkedIn users tend to have a higher education level and higher income than other social networks. In fact, LinkedIn usage increases with household income so this is a very desirable network for nonprofits to connect with.
    • Other social site demographics can be found here and here.

What am I going to talk about?

  • This will vary depending on what platform you’re using, but a good rule of thumb is to divide your posts so that 50% are curated content (if you’re not familiar with curated content see Beth Kanter’s awesome primer here), 30% is original content, and 20% is promotional material. Other tips for delivering quality content include:
    • Keep an eye on what your audience is talking about, what’s trending, and join the conversation early. If a topic is starting to feel played out, start a new conversation on a related subject. The point is to be viewed as a leader in your field not the last person to jump on the bandwagon.
    • Pictures, GIFs, infographics, and videos get higher shares than simple text and linked posts.
    • Give props to your information source(s) – nothing sours a viral post like an accusation of plagiarism.
    • Double check spelling and grammar or better yet, ask a co-worker to proofread for you. I still haven’t gotten over the embarrassment of being called out for a silly typo (peak in place of peek – oops!) on Twitter.

When should I talk to them?

  • Peak (got it right this time!) usage time also varies depending on what network you’re using, but there are still some general rules you can adhere to:
    • 80% of people aged 18-44 check their smartphone immediately when they wake up making early morning a good time for posting. Not a morning person? Try an automation tool to keep you on schedule.
    • Post regularly to increase your likelihood of being seen. A Facebook post, for example will achieve half of its reach within the first 30 mins, while a single tweet has an even shorter life-span. BUT …
    • Don’t post too often or your audience will label you as spam. Posting 1 – 4 times daily (and no more than that) is ideal.

Where do I go from here?

  • Consistency is key – create and share a social media plan to keep you and your organization on track. If multiple people are posting to your social networks on behalf of your shop then be sure to train everyone not just on appropriate use, but also on your vision as to how you want your online personality conveyed.
  • You’re not going to win legions of followers overnight, so celebrate the small victories and keep at it. Excellent content directed at the right people at the right time will win out in the end.

And above all else …

  • Please recognize that social media is not an opportunity to reinvent yourself; it is an opportunity to put your best foot forward. Stay true to your organization’s mission and values, and you’ll find your niche of devoted fans. It’s better to have 300 people with a vested interest in your organization following you than 1000 people who have no idea who you are.

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About the author: Megan McMillan is one of iWave’s Marketing Managers.

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