Social Media Stories

| By: Angie Winschel
Angie Winschel

Photo: handmade social media pillows from Craftsquatch

Our last blog post shared some thoughts on social media and a few things to think about as you prepare to dip your toe into those sometimes murky waters.  Today, I’m sharing a couple of brief stories of organizations that have seen the value in connecting to their audience in this way, but have also been aware of their own limitations and took the long view of this tool.

As we began working with a client recently and digging into their capabilities, we (and they!) discovered they had three facebook pages and had tweeted about 25 times, but no one knew who was tweeting for them!  Not as unique a situation as you might think, with so many organizations jumping into social media any way they can without a plan or goals in mind. Lots of times, anyone who wanted to help was given the green light, but eventually the initiative ran out of gas, or was “re-prioritized” to the bottom of the list, due to lack of staff, time, and measurable goals—no one knew if it was working!

But, we still had to stop and think. What was our social media personality? And how is it different from who we are personally? Or is it? What would we have to say or share that people would find interesting and valuable?

We were aware that these folks didn’t have much time to devote to managing their social media presence, but because their work is international, and two of the goals we helped them define were to build awareness and connect donors to their new financial needs, we recommended that they focus at least some of their efforts in this area. Social media has a knack for connecting people with great causes and this was a great cause. By shifting some of the responsibilities of an intern over to facebook, plus enlisting an “on-the-ground” staffer familiar with Twitter, they found more time to devote to posting and tweeting. We helped them streamline and focus on one facebook page, worked on developing an upbeat, casual, and knowledgeable voice and put together a calendar of recommended topics and ideas to help them tell their story in well-spaced small chunks.

Now that they’ve spent some time with it, they’re starting to see the benefits of social media and its value in helping them reach their goals. In two months—and with minimal effort—they’ve seen an increase of 62% in the number of people who “like” their facebook page (about 100 new people), and combined with increased twitter usage, are steadily sending more and more interested people to their website where on-line donations are way up.

OK, so the other organization is us—yep, Almanac. As creative types and people-about-town we knew what was up with facebook and twitter on a personal level. I’d found long-lost high school friends, seen some pretty darn cute kittens, been invited to events and kept up with some of my favorite companies, people and organizations thanks to social media. Nate’s had a personal twitter account since 2008—hasn’t tweeted in about a year, but he’s in there. We get that social media is an important shift in the history of communication and we recommend it to many of our clients as a critical component in getting the right message to the right people. However, I have to admit that while Nate didn’t exactly DRAG me into using it as tactic for Almanac, I just wasn’t as sure about it as he was. In the end I agreed we should jump in. But, we still had to stop and think. What was our social media personality? And how is it different from who we are personally? Or is it? What would we have to say or share that people would find interesting and valuable? Isn’t creating good work enough?

We began with a facebook page, sharing photos of our work, good news about our clients or about our agency. We’ve since developed this blog and started tweeting. We’re still growing into our voice, and Nate’s taken on most of that. We talk about what to say and what others are saying. To give ourselves some structure, we put together a flexible calendar of topics that we can develop into blog entries or facebook posts, with the freedom to chat about whatever’s relevant or important to us on any particular day. Just being intentional, and keeping our audience in mind as we go. Today as I spent some time on twitter (yes, I’m on—it keeps urging me to “Write your first tweet!” no thanks, not there yet), and read all the tweets coming out of Cairo, I’m realizing more and more the place that social media has carved out for itself in our lives, and I’m more convinced than ever that genuine, honest communication is what people want, no matter how it’s delivered.