Do you ever feel like you are grasping at straws when it comes to creating content for all of your social media platforms?
Do you struggle figuring out how to navigate all the nuances, and actually figure out what’s going to perform best?
In this post, I’ll give you my simple three-step framework for tailoring posts to each social media platform.
1) Understand the strengths of each platform.
When creating content for each social media platform, think of each as a separate country, with a distinct language, culture, etiquette, and inhabitants.
For example, you wouldn’t buy a guidebook for Germany if you were taking a trip to South Africa.
Each platform has unique properties and strengths, that can augment what you are currently doing in marketing, or hinder you.
The good news is that you do NOT have to be everywhere at once – just the opposite!
Quality rules over quantity on social media, and consistency is the name of the game.
In fact, you may decide that you want to focus your marketing efforts solely on one or two social platforms.
It’s entirely up to you where you focus your limited time and resources.
You have to spend time getting to know the platform.
Remember, think of it like a unique country with its own Lonely Planet guidebook.
Make a list of the platforms that you use for your nonprofit marketing.
To conduct a quick audit of the platforms you currently use at your nonprofit, download my Nonprofit Social Media Audit template and keep it handy.
Questions to consider when determining the strengths of each social media platform:
What content works best?
Refer to the Social Media Matrix for a generalized primer, but remember that your audience may be different than the general public.
Then, examine your nonprofit’s analytics and insights to see what kids of content – photos, videos, graphics, live streams – have worked best in the last few weeks.
Who is there?
What are the overall demographics of this platform?
More specifically, who are you talking to here?
You will also want to take a look at your nonprofit’s analytics and insights to get a bigger picture of your audience, their ages, their locations, and their interests.
What kind of “voice” works best on this platform?
Casual, friendly, authoritative, professional, fun?
What are the quirks of the platform?
I don’t know why Instagram users are fine with 30 hashtags on posts, but Facebook users don’t like them. (Even though Facebook keeps trying to make them happen…)
It’s all part of the culture.
How are real people – NOT marketers – using the platforms?
For example – YouTube is the #2 search engine, owned by the #1 search engine.
People do not go to YouTube to connect with friends and family.
They go there to find out how to do things, to learn about topics, to listen to music, to DISCOVER new stuff!
Pinterest is aspirational – it works more like a vision board of all the things we want to buy, see, and do.
Instagram is a combination of all of them – we do still connect with friends and family, but we also use it to look at beautiful photos, see what influencers are up to, and gawk at celebrities.
Look at overall industry trends to figure out what’s working now on each of the platforms you are going to examine.
BUT also, keep an eye on your own analytics and insights. Your audience may be slightly different!
2) Identify the weaknesses.
What works is important to understand – but also, what DOESN’T work?
Even though it’s a time-saver, automating or cutting and pasting your content across each social media platform doesn’t work anymore (if it ever did).
This is one of the biggest weaknesses that I see across social media.
BUT this doesn’t mean you can’t repurpose!
There is a huge difference between repurposed content and automated content.
You can and you should repurpose a great photo, video, or story. The most successful and efficient nonprofits do this.
But to get the most traction and reach out of your content, you have to tailor the photo, video, and story to each platform you use.
For example: When posting a YouTube link to Facebook, it won’t autoplay and it looks strange. It’s always best to upload videos directly to Facebook.
But when you pin a YouTube video to Pinterest, it will look great and even autoplay depending on the settings.
When you auto-post from Instagram to Twitter, it doesn’t pull in the photo, and the tweet cuts off the caption.
But when you post from Instagram to Facebook, because Facebook owns Instagram, it works seamlessly.
Think critically about these platforms not as public service tools but as BUSINESSES. Their goal is to keep you on their platform – not send traffic to other platforms!
That’s why posts that share links or direct your fans to other websites do not perform as well as “native” content – content that you only share on the individual platform.
The social media rules often change, but the business principles will ALWAYS apply.
In general, here are some tactics that never work on social media:
- Posting busy and text-heavy flyers
- Blurry or very dark photos
- Pure promotions that don’t inspire or enlighten us
Success means a LOT of trial and error, but once you figure out a weakness, write it down so you don’t make the same mistake twice.
3) Spend as much time listening as you do posting.
At the end of the day, nonprofit social media managers need to spend some time listening, experimenting, and tweaking.
Having a resource like the Social Media Matrix on hand is a good start.
In terms of keeping track of all the changes and new information in the space, I recommend choosing one or two social media experts to follow and sticking with them.
You do NOT have to read every single blog and watch every YouTube tutorial!
You do NOT have to be an expert in all the features, the trends, and the shiny new objects.
Ask yourself two questions when exploring a new tool:
“Is the audience that I want to attract and engage with on this platform?”
“How will THIS specific platform or tool help me accomplish my marketing goals?”
For the smallest of nonprofits, setting up shop on two or fewer platforms may be best in the long run.
My advice is to master one platform, tailor the content, measure and improve, then move to another.
The platforms you use function as the roads, bridges, and highways to get you to your destination – your marketing goal.
It’s important that you make confident, informed decisions around the social media platforms you choose, as well as the ones that you DO NOT choose. You will no doubt be forced to say “no thanks; not at this time” to many, many tempting and alluring platforms.
Remember that saying “no for right now” does not mean no forever, but the ability to jettison some platforms and prioritize others will prevent overwhelm and supercharge your focus and productivity.
There is no one size fits all in the digital space (not that there ever was, but even less so now).
So instead of thinking about an all-encompassing “social media” strategy, you really need to adopt a Twitter strategy, and a Facebook strategy, and an Instagram strategy, and a LinkedIn strategy, and beyond.
This is why it is crucial to get very clear on your capacity and what you can realistically add to your already-full plate.
This is an integral part of the work of a savvy, work-smarter-not-harder nonprofit social media manager.
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