Read time: 5 minutes
Events are postponed, schools closed, church services cancelled, office desks empty, gym memberships languishing. But literally every single one of those things has gone virtual.
Social media is where community is happening right now. Here are eight ways to be there:
- Post more, don’t hold back. Dredge up all of your past top-performing content, particularly if you provide resources or activities your community can use right now. People don’t necessarily need to hear from your CEO. Content that is helpful is content that shows your work in action, how your organization is helping #flattenthecurve, how your community of support may be affected by COVID-19, or stories that evoke hope or make people laugh. Try to be useful or delightful. Listen to your community and let their responses guide you. People want to hear from you more right now, not less!
- Launch a social group to bring your people together. Now’s a good time to set up new communications streams with groups of your supporters that you can continue to activate later on. People crave a sense of togetherness. They also want to feel like they have places “to go” even if that’s just a What’sApp group or a daily FaceTime. What kind of group you launch will depend on what kind of audience you want to engage. Here are four ideas for gatherings, depending on who’s invited:
- Ask your supporters to join you in a Facebook group. Define a clear purpose for the group to keep people on track. For example: “We represent people staying laser focused on the election no matter what else is going on.” Bonus! Set up a Facebook Live Watch Party (of a Q&A session, or a live stream of an event, a debate-viewing party, etc.), and use push notifications to promote those events to everyone in your group later on.
- Ask a small group of reporters to join you in a Twitter Direct Message chain and provide them with a virtual press briefing. Say why you’re going exclusively to them. Share your announcements and information. Offer to answer questions in the group or on direct message.
- Ask your top donors to join you in a What’sApp group where you can give them regular updates on how your organization is responding and making decisions in the day to day.
- Add a number of influencers to a Close Friends list on Instagram, feed them tailored content that deepens their interest and commitment to your cause, and inspire them to repost your content to their own Instagram Stories. This also works on Twitter!
- Check out our post on launching and managing social groups. It’s just too much to fit here!
- Ask influencers to do something real for you. Use follows, comments, and direct messages (nothing like good old fashioned cultivation!) to get on influencers’ radar and engage them in your ask. Be straightforward and direct about making asks, and why their voice is so important to your organization in this moment. To fast-track, pay them straight-up using myriad paid tools out there that match your organization to influencers and allow you to pay per post. Engage them in big and little ways:
- Small: RT my petition
- Medium: Take a selfie wearing my gear and comment about my campaign
- Big: Launch a Facebook Fundraiser on my organization’s behalf
- Bring JOY to your supporters. We could all use good news right now. Consider including calls to action that are positive. Ask people to be for something versus against it. Create two-way conversations by asking your followers to share what is bringing them hope, joy, or a smile right now.
- Collect stories. People need an outlet right now for their fear, anger, anxiety, joy, hope: be that outlet! Now is the perfect time to start or scale up your story collection efforts on social channels. Don’t worry: we’ve got a blog post about this too.
- Be in the virtual mix. Chances are your supporters are meeting online to dance, pray, or dance and pray. You should be thinking about how you can be present and engage in those virtual spaces too, by engaging hosts to plug you in different ways:
- Use follows, comments, and direct messages to engage pastors, yoga instructors, or business leaders (anyone taking their content virtual right now!), and ask them to amplify your message or campaign. There are several ways you can get your message on their broadcast: a shout-out, gear placement, a digital banner, and more.
- Explore new channels like Twitch (if you’re trying to reach 18-34 year old men) or TikTok (if you’re trying to reach 16-24 year olds in general) where you can launch one-off challenges to raise money or attention without having to fully commit to rolling your brand out on yet another social network. This is a pay-to-play option. Platforms like Twitch are already expertly gamified for fundraising: there are endless tools available to Twitch streamers that allow them to collect donations during their stream.
- Take extra care with your people. Right now on social media you’re going to be talking to a mix of anxious people panicking, people aggressively telling others to chill, info-seekers who trust their friends’ Instagram Stories more than the news, or people on the lookout for memes to break from the tension. Be sensitive to this when you’re producing and posting content. Take more time to engage. Take even more care with the staff you’re asking to do your engagement. Most groups should be prepared for an uptick in comments and questions. Consider automating some of your responses using available tools (like Facebook Messenger), or by creating a response matrix that’s easy to follow even for someone who is pinched or panicking. Your staff on the front lines are stressed too, and they’re going to need some extra love and support (by the way, this includes YOU). We love this guide from the Brits for tips for communications professionals’ mental health.
- Don’t hesitate to make big moves. Events are likely to be postponed for the foreseeable future, which means for many of you a lot of fundraising and organizing needs to be replaced by something that can be done online: your gala dinners, your walks, your door knocking, your bird dogging. Chances are you aren’t yet leveraging social tools and communications streams like Twitch, Mozilla Hub, Zoom, SMS, Facebook Live, and Facebook Messenger to their full power. We’re helping clients plan digital fundraising events from the ground-up, launch their advocacy days online, and replace massive door-knocking plans with digital organizing.
We’re here for you, and this moment. We want you to know everything we know. We can’t write these posts fast enough. Call us. DM us. The only way we’re going to figure out the path forward is together.
When Marjory isn’t busy designing and winning campaigns, she moonlights as a sign painter and heads up M+R’s Los Angeles office. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What to do right now: Story Collection on Social Media
- Coronavirus Demands a Quantum Leap in Organizing
- HERE FOR THIS
Sree Sreenivasan, a digital and social media consultant, is a former chief digital officer of Columbia University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the City of New York. He’s ending a social media posting hiatus with the publication of this guide.