Ten years ago, if you saw a room full of conference attendees behaving the way we did at the Social Media for Nonprofits conference last Monday, you would have thought we were a rude audience. Instead of looking at the presenter, 200 heads were bent over Smartphones and iPads. But we were actually a cooperative group– participating in the conference “Tweet Out,” in which our tweets were displayed on a real time “Twitter Wall,” two huge screens at the front of the room. Held at the cutting edge Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge, conference attendees were encouraged to share their thoughts and photos throughout the day on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more.
In the past, our phones and laptops were hidden in our bags or left at home during conferences, but things have changed. In fact, one of the first things that series co-founder Darien Heyman emphasized to the crowd was that social media is constantly changing- therefore no one is an expert. We have to learn what we can while we can, and be ready to adapt as things progress and change.
Although I learned more than enough helpful tips at the conference, here are five key takeaways that will help any organization improve their social media efforts:
1. Timing is everything
Data shows that the day and time you send an email or post to social media greatly impacts the percent of people who will see it. Interestingly, the best times for emailing and the best times for social media posts are about the opposite.
For email promotions and newsletters:
Tuesday through Thursday from 11 am to 3 pm is the optimal time to send; otherwise your message will get buried in inboxes.
For Facebook and Twitter posts:
They are more likely to be seen during a person’s “downtime,” which data suggests is primarily:
Mornings from 8-9 am
Lunch from 12-1 pm
End of the day from 4:30-6 pm
Nights from 9-11 pm
Weekends are more effective than weekdays for social media posts, but during the week nights from 9-11 pm are best, and Wednesday is statistically the worst day of the week to post.
2. A picture says a thousand words
- John Hayden, author of “Facebook Marketing for Dummies,” said using a picture instead of a block of text in Facebook posts is dramatically more effective. Logistically speaking, photos take up more space on a user’s newsfeed, so they’re more likely to be noticed.
He also said photos activate the limbic system of the brain, which control a person’s emotion and action. Posting photos that tell a story and show something people will care about make it more likely for a user to share, comment or like the post, activities that increase an organization’s social media presence.
3. Just ask
Hayden mentioned that text updates on Facebook that pose a question get double the amount of comments versus plain statement posts. It’s also more effective to use “closed questions” which are questions that require simple answers. These types of questions begin with words such as should, would and which, and they are more likely to get a response from users.
4. Always have a plan
Multiple speakers stressed the importance of creating an editorial calendar to plan out the strategy for all of your email newsletters and Facebook and Twitter posts for the month. This allows you to brainstorm what content you want to share with your followers and map it out day by day.
If you’re wondering how much is too much when it comes to posting to social media, they offered a good rule of thumb:
For Facebook: No less than once a week, no more than twice a day
For Twitter: No less than once a day, 6-7 times (or more!) daily
If you bombard your followers with updates they may get annoyed, which results in being marked as spam or getting negative comments.
5. Be yourself!
The most important theme at the Social Media for Nonprofits conference was to be human. Put a face behind the name of your organization so people can see that there is a real person behind it. Use your social media channels to personally connect to donors and supporters. Give them a personal response on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, have a personality. And most of all, have fun.
If you’d like to learn even more about using social media for your organization, attend the free Mass Literacy Social Media Workshop Series. Taught by local teacher and global education blogger Lillie Marshall, you’ll learn how to use technology and social media tools to achieve your professional goals.
Follow the links below for more information and to register.