After years of working with digital communications at Greenpeace, recently for WWF and a handful of Swiss NGOs, I’m ready to share the mistakes I’ve made, we’ve made and which You could stop doing on social media.
Being a fresh Finnish immigrant in Switzerland, I wanted to take a close look at the Swiss NGO Social Media scene, to see where it stands and help to develop it. These five, frequently surfacing issues seem to hinder the social media success of many NGOs also beyond the Alpine borders:
- You’re scaring and depressing me
- Your visuals are done with the left hand
- You are posting in languages your followers don’t speak
- Your staff doesn’t share your content
- You’re not being social on Social Media
Ouch. Since I don’t want to scare and depress You, I’ve dotted down how to tackle these challenges and improve your NGOs social media communication. The digital professionals from Swiss-bound WWF and Greenpeace share their valuable learnings as well.
1. You’re scaring and depressing me
No, I’m not going to give virtual a thumbs up to your posts of 71 refugees being found suffocated on the back of a truck, neither I’m going to spread the misery by sharing your update. Well actually, maybe I would, being your target group – but I’m by no means the majority, or the critical mass to make a difference to your cause. What I’d rather share with my friends, is how you help out in such cases, and how I and we can help out ourselves – things that give immediate relief, strength and hope.
Many NGOs seize this opportunity well by sending a fundraising ask in the face of an emergency, as in the case of the Nepal Earthquake. An urgent fundraising ask is efficient, but as it works on the principle of „not ever having enough funds and quickly enough“, it’s not exactly the kind of uplifting content that spreads well in social media. Taking a positively driven approach on hard issues could save your audience from the melancholy of not being able to make a real difference, as well as it would gain you likes, shares, reach and new followers.
In search of a meaningful way to act on social media, people are more agile in organizing themselves in interest groups, taking direct action faster than any official entity. I’d love to see the NGO’s taking part in or setting up the rapidly growing SoMe discussions like Facebook groups, and offer the people aching to act the means to take part, like signing up as NGO volunteers. If your focus is on fundraising only, try what happens when you add a fundraising ask to a story of your NGO’s successful achievements regarding the issue. In msy experience it worked wonderfully for Greenpeace Nordic.
Reasons 2-5 are to be published as separate blog posts.