In this day and age, people are driven to make a change. A whopping 74 percent of millennial leaders believe they can make a difference in the world. But how do we get people to listen to what we have to say?
Identify who you want to hear your message and where they hang out on the Web.
Ninety percent of all adults ages 18 to 29 are on some sort of social networking site. Find out where your audiences hang out online — do they prefer Twitter or Facebook? Vine or Instagram? I recommend doing some research and cataloging what digital and social platforms they are using and how they are using them. Having trouble finding out where your target audience hangs out? The Pew Research Center has great information on online demographics.
Tap into online platforms.
The power of the Internet as a platform to share your message has been proven to be effective in many instances. Sharing and connecting through social media, as well as the power to spread information to the masses, has never been easier. In the summer of 2014, more than 17 million people uploaded their ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos on Facebook. As a result of the social media trend, these videos were collectively watched more than 10 billion times and — more importantly — ALS raised more than $100 million. Social media can be a great and effective tool to raise awareness about a cause you’re passionate about if implemented in the right way. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge worked because the ALS association created buzz with a fun and unique idea.
Be responsive and genuine.
It’s important to keep people on your side, especially in social media conversations. If someone tries to interact with you, take the time to retweet them or comment on their post — this shows that you care about the people who support your cause. The Chronicle of Philanthropy found that The Humane Society of the United States responds to every single question and comment on its Facebook page, which boasts more than 500,000 fans.
“Those interactions foster connections where people will take action on our behalf,” says Carie Lewis, director of emerging media, who heads a five-person social media team at the organization.
One low-budget solution for this type of comprehensive response is Hootsuite, a tool that helps you search hashtags or terms to quickly view conversations related to your cause.
Be selective about what you post.
One of the worst things that can happen is being “unfollowed” because you are bombarding your audience with posts. Always selling, over-posting, over-sharing, lacking original content, unnecessarily tagging and not having a strategy are some of the ways you can lose social media followers. When posting, keep in mind that every social media platform is unique. On Twitter, you should post three to four times per day, whereas most Facebook experts recommend posting daily — any more than that may do more harm than good. Whether your audience is teens, adults or policymakers, make sure you’re posting content that they’ll be receptive to. The Pew Research Center has great fact sheets that present demographic characteristics of social networking sites.
Be smart when using social media.
You may only have 140 characters on Twitter and don’t want to lose your audience with a long Facebook post, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your message across in a short and sweet way and still sound competent. Use social media as a tool to start serious conversations and provide meaningful content. Consider starting conversations by educating or intriguing your audience about the topic/cause at hand.
Don’t just push out content and think of clever hashtags: think visually. “By using images and video, we have been able to convey stories with emotional impact in a very different way,” says Jamie Henn, communications director for the environmental activist group 350.org, in Oakland, California. Studies show that 65 percent of the population are visual learners. The likelihood of your message being shared is increased when it includes a visual component.
So go out there, bring along your digital toolkit and social media best practices, and get ready to make a difference!