Last week Social Misfits Media published their latest guide Make It Social, which is proudly sponsored by Lightful and the Institute of Fundraising. I caught up with Carlos Miranda, CEO of Social Misfits Media and Chairman of Lightful, to find out a bit more about the guide and why all charities need to download it immediately!
KM: Why did you think it was important to write this guide now?
CM: Social media has been around for a while now and we’re starting to see a lot of negative elements such as fake news, election manipulation as well as harmful effects on people’s self esteem to name just a few. So, as social media is entering its teenage phase, we wanted to address these issues and not just sweep them under the carpet. We believe there needs to be policies and procedures in place but at the same time, the way we use social media and the functionality of it is still a very important marketing, fundraising and engagement tool – particularly for the social and purpose-driven space. We wanted to produce an updated publication that addressed those issues head on but also talked about best practice in 2019, irrespective of what platform you’re using.
KM: Which platform do you think is the most underused or underrated by charities but has huge potential?
CM: Good question! I think there is a shift – and a good shift, by the way – towards more niche platforms that fulfil a specific objective, such as Twitch for gaming. Most charities are on the biggest platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, so perhaps the question charities should ask is, are there more niche, smaller platforms that they could have a bigger presence on, given who their organisation is and what it does?
KM: Since your first guide in 2013, what’s been the biggest change to social that you’ve seen?
CM: I think people’s attitudes towards social has changed in that time. Social used to be seen as this magic bullet that would help charities raise money through fundraising. People thought that they could just build their followers, then ask them to each donate £5 and they’d raise lots of money for their organisation. This doesn’t happen anymore, and rightly so. Social media is merely a set of tools and people now realise that if you don’t invest the time and energy into understanding social media, then it won’t work for you. You have to work at it in order to make it work, but it can pay dividends if you do it well.
KM: There’s so much noise on social media. How can charities get cut-through and get people to engage with them?
CM: That’s an excellent question and something everyone struggles with. My advice would be to stop focusing on vanity metrics and really focus on the people that care about what you do and who matter to you. It’s more important to get 100 people to do the action you want, such as share your content or sign a petition, than have 1 million views on your video. Focus on quality over quantity, make sure your content is thoughtful so that there’s legitimate engagement, don’t post all the time, understand and learn from your analytics and follow best practice.
KM: When creating this guide, did you discover anything surprising?
CM: We know that people are doing interesting things on social media but it’s great when you hear examples of organisations doing amazing things with little to no budget. One example is Islamic Relief UK who are using WhatsApp to cultivate and engage a small group of donors. Another example is Autistica, who get employees to use LinkedIn strategically to act as advocates. Whilst there wasn’t anything hugely surprising, it was great to see tangible examples of organisations doing so much with little to no budget.
KM: What do you think is the biggest barrier holding charities back from using social media to fundraise?
CM: I think the biggest barrier is that a lot of people are scared of using it to fundraise or they’ve tried it before and it’s not worked, so they’ve concluded that it therefore doesn’t work at all. The problem is that people don’t take the time – and this is true of organisations of any size – to cultivate and nurture their community and they ask for too much or too soon. This is why the guide is divided into three steps, because you need to identify the correct audience, then take the time to engage that audience with legitimate conversation over time and then you need to solicit them only when and if you are ready to do so. Also, it’s important to remember that the ask is not the end of the journey – you need to thank them and steward them towards their next gift, through further engagement and interactions.
KM: As social media platforms change all the time, will this guide not become outdated fairly quickly?
CM: We know that platforms come and go, and algorithms change all the time, however we think that the fundamentals to engagement will not change in the short to medium term. That’s why in this guide we’ve not focused on best practice for one particular platform as that would be outdated fairly soon, instead we’ve focused on the three steps (Community, Engagement and Solicitation) that we believe will help every charity thrive on social media.
KM: If charities only do three things as a result of reading this guide, what should they be?
CM: My hope, after reading this guide, would be that charities:
- Take the time to focus and identify the right people to engage with.
- Don’t worry about whether they have little budget, or none at all, because there are creative ways of getting around that.
- Realise that social media is not just the job of the Social Media Manager or Comms team alone. Everyone in the organisation needs to pitch in – whether it’s the chairman posting on LinkedIn or staff using different platforms when they’re out or about to share what their charity is doing; social media is everyone’s job!
Don’t forget to download the free guide #MakeItSocial to start transforming your social media.
The COVID pandemic has created an urgent need for nonprofits to rapidly scale up digital advocacy and digital fundraising. Organisations need to be reaching their supporters where they are, and in 2021… they are online. A rapidly changing world post-pandemic demands new approaches to engaging the public and winning their support.
Last year the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges across many sectors, but especially for nonprofits, many of which were previously reliant upon in-person events and more traditional means of fundraising. At Lightful, we’ve been working with charities to understand how the pandemic has affected the sector and what’s become evident is that digital fundraising skills are vital in adapting to the ‘new normal’ that has emerged following the pandemic.
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