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These five, frequently surfacing issues seem to hinder the social media success of many NGOs:

  1. You’re scaring and depressing me
  2. Your visuals are done with the left hand
  3. You are posting in languages your followers don’t speak
  4. Your staff doesn’t share your content
  5. You’re not being social on social mediaYou’re not social in Social Media

    When you publish your holiday pictures or perhaps a photo of your self-baked cake on your private social media profile, you’re likely thankful to get a reaction and reply excitedly to comments. It saddens me, when NGOs use social media as a mere broadcast channel, publishing their messages and ignoring the reaction to them, when the issues would very much need to be discussed. The main reasons to avoid engagement are the lack of time, and fright for getting stuck in a loop of harmful commentary, which I see as valid, but solvable challenges.

    It doesn’t count as being social, if you mainly hide or delete unwanted comments, and reply only to the negative outbursts. Paying for the visibility of your posts leads to reaching people who disagree with your cause, which will increase the amount of negative responses. This is not a negative consequence, since any engagement on your post will improve it’s reach in social media, and it will give you the change to reply and explain your arguments further than in the original post.

    Ignoring the supporting comments and well-wishes from your like-minded followers discourages them from writing their praises. Before you know it, you’ll be getting more negative comments than supporting ones on your posts. Liking, thanking, conversing and following your like-minded supporters pays off, and they’ll be likely to fight the trolls with you.

    Being social in social media is truly a big workload, which is best divided between several people. New Media Fundraiser Steff Kerkhof from Greenpeace in Switzerland credits the growth of their online audience to systemizing their social media planning.

    „We’ve seen great growth in the number of our fans and followers and an increasing level of engagement with our supporters (and non-supporters) once we changed from impromptu posting into planning the social media activity of the day in the daily morning meeting. We’re now good at sharing the responsibility of engaging in social media, and use a social management tool to divide the tasks. When needed, we’ll guide the responsible campaigner or any other co-worker to reply to the comments.

    We also used to use Twitter just like we used Facebook, although the audience is very different. Now the tweets on Twitter are much more target audience oriented, serving their need of fast facts, behind the scenes knowledge, expert know-how, realtime updates and so on. The Twitter channel is being taken care of the media team.“

    – Steff Kerkhof, New Media Fundraiser, Greenpeace Switzerland

    Did I cover the most common sore points for (Swiss) NGOs in social media? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments!