Social Media Tips for NGOs

The following blog post is reproduced from the ODAC website. The original post can be found here.

Non-governmental organisations can be surprisingly slow to adapt (well, perhaps not surprising to all). Particularly when it comes to social media and marketing, there seems little energy to adapt and utilise this consistently shifting but powerful world to forward our work. Recognising this gap, in 2013 Indigo Trust and ODAC undertook a project to bring together different ngo’s to work on our social media through workshops. These proved enlightening and inspiring for many of us (groups such as Fundza Literacy Trust, the Parliamentary Monitoring Group, Code for South Africa and others), but still we needed more! Last month, again with the support of Indigo Trust, we began one-on-one sessions with digital consultants to forward our missions. This service, provided by the wonderful Nicky Cosgreave and Katie Findlay of Edge Digital in Cape Town, has proved hugely empowering and inspiring. After almost a year of workshopping, and a month of one on one content, here are the top four lessons ODAC have been privileged to takeaway “so far”:

1)    We are natural communicators

Non-governmental organisations often treat their social media and marketing as an after thought or chore. We forget that communicating our message on awareness is in fact a core function in a human rights activist organisation. We should allocate time and personnel accordingly. Our work is actually easy to translate for messaging, and organisations like ours are rich with content – we just need to think clearly about how to communicate on our work consistently.

2)    There’s no need to recreate the wheel

One of the biggest complaints consistently harangued by ngo-types on social media is the “we just don’t have the time”. As a jump-off from point one, we should make the time. But more importantly, it doesn’t need to take a lot of time: you can be re-packaging content in creative ways, rather than repeatedly creating new content from scratch. Also, by setting aside a few hours every month to set up a social media plan ahead of time in which everybody can also share the load, you won’t have an excuse when the month gets busy.

3)    Spend a little and get a lot

Another common complaint is cost. However, most social media platforms are free. Further, there is immense power in spending even a tiny amount of money on Facebook, in particular, if you want to build your audience. In our first boosted post (and with only ZAR 70), we reached 1600 people, which was massive considering the small size of our audience at the time. As ngo’s, we should be specifically fundraising for social media and marketing within each project proposal. Funders understand the importance of exposure – we should too.

4)    Results are measurable

A week after having our first session, we had doubled our page likes. Our posts now see considerable audience engagement, as well. And our website traffic has improved – since the same period in the previous year, we have seen a 10% increase in overall users and a 20% increase in visits. A further incredible encouragement for us, given that we are legal experts and content specialists, is that we are seeing visitors spend almost 15% more time on our website and 26% more time on individual pages, meaning they are finding new information they like. Our blog posts have also started featuring more heavily as the “most visited” pages.

As an organisation with a strong research department, it is encouraging to be able to measure our progress and then convert our learning into improved practice.