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    Jump-start your social media strategy in just 6 steps
    May 22, 2018 | Jessica Greenwood

    Jessica Greenwood is a Digital Health Strategist with 3 Social Media Strategists, a social media strategy firm that specializes in increasing social media engagement for health-related organizations. Find out more about Jessica’s professional background on her LinkedIn page.

    Finding it hard to manage social media? Keep up with the changing platforms? Post content that grabs the attention of your target audience? You are not alone.

    While once fairly straightforward, social media has become a communications behemoth requiring skill, time, and often money to execute a successful social media campaign. However, when used strategically, social media can be a valuable stage for engagement even for organizations with minimal resources. Non-profits in the health and social service sectors may find social media offers unique opportunities to connect with target populations, like-minded organizations, and potential donors. If you’re looking to start or enhance your organizations’ social media presence, addressing the following questions may help.


    WHO is your target audience?
    Identifying who you are trying to reach on social media is a critical first step. It may be recipients of your services, potential volunteers, advocacy groups, donors, or some combination thereof. Once you’ve identified a target audience, the next step is figuring out what platform that particular group is most likely to use. Social media platforms have somewhat fluid but telling user demographics. For example, while Facebook remains the most widely used social media platform among all Americans, Snapchat and Instagram are particularly popular with users ages 18-24. Focus your social media strategy towards one or two platforms used by your target audience. Not trying to reach young adults? Instagram isn’t likely to be effective. Hoping to engage partner organizations and potential funding sources? Try Twitter instead of Facebook.

    WHAT does your organization want to use social media for?
    In addition to determining who you are trying to reach, be clear about your organization’s goals for social media. If a social media presence does not directly tie back to your communications strategy, it may not be worthwhile to pursue. A narrow focus for each social media platform is preferred as it will allow you to structure your time and resources accordingly. Once a purpose and platform are identified, ensure that all content, images, responses, etc. on that social media platform align with the purpose.

    WHEN will you post?
    Think about what is realistic for your organization to maintain over the next three months. Establish an editorial calendar where you sketch out the days, times, potential content, and person responsible for posting on each social media platform. Remember that consistency, not frequency, is key; you are more apt to get and keep followers if you post regularly as opposed to in bursts or only when a noteworthy event occurs.

    WHERE will you get content?
    Cultivating a library of potential content can be helpful as content curation can sometimes be the most time-consuming part of a social media strategy. The great advantage of the public health and social service sectors is the salience of the work. It is ALWAYS relevant and therefore completely acceptable to repurpose liberally. Sharing a recent news story, video from a partner organization’s fundraiser, or real life “win” keeps a news feed fresh and will offer a better overview of the organization than posts that are always information driven. Posting a range of content will also help you evaluate what type of content best engages your target audience.

    WHY should you be cautious?
    Unlike other businesses, privacy can be a significant concern for public health and social service organizations as it is difficult to regulate what personal information followers, volunteers, and sometimes even employees choose to share. Develop a social media policy that is distributed and signed by employees and volunteers alike. Determine how and whom within the organization will monitor your social media feed and what guidelines will govern responding to user engagement.

    HOW will you know you’re successful?
    Evaluation is crucial to success. While many social media platforms have the ability to provide robust analytics, a basic review is often enough to tell if what you are doing is working. Remember that “success” will be defined by what goals you set out for social media use and should be measured accordingly. If awareness and growth are goals, you may want to look at how many new followers you gained during a certain period of time. If the goal is increased fundraising, perhaps checking reactions to posts related to fundraising and donations received after those posts is a better measure of success. Regardless, tweaks are likely to be needed in any social media strategy. Use the first 3-6 months to identify what is working (increase in followers, fundraising dollars, engagement i.e., likes, reposts/retweets, comments, etc.) and then revise the strategy going forward to incorporate more of those techniques.


    A focused, well-planned social media strategy is within reach for every organization, regardless of size or resources. Need some additional help getting started? Check out these tools and our website for additional information.

    Facebook “How Tos” on setting up a successful page for non-profit organizations

    Best practices for setting up and utilizing your nonprofit Twitter account

    3 Social Media Strategists – Consultants that focus exclusively on helping health-related organizations develop timely, realistic, affordable social media strategies

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    Jessica Greenwood, MS, CGC

    Published by Jessica Greenwood

    Jessica Greenwood, MS, CGC

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