John and I are DIY communications experts. Decades of working with (and for) nonprofits, trade associations, and small businesses have taught us a boatload of tricks, hacks, skills, and strategies to help you—and the millions of other people in the Bandwidth Generation—to manage your many competing priorities.
So we’ve launched the “Ask Bandwidth Genny” series to teach you how to wear a lot of hats … with style.
How do I get started with social media? (Part II)
In Part I, I talked about how to approach social media.
How do I choose which platform to use?
If you refer back to your goals, you probably have a few key groups that you’re trying to communicate with. Luckily for you, different people congregate—and absorb different information—on different platforms. The Pew Research Center does an annual survey of the demographics of several popular social media networks.
So starting with the demographic characteristics of your target audience, look at which platforms they’re on. Then look at the kind of content that is popular on these different networks. (You’re going to find more funny cat videos on Facebook than on LinkedIn, for instance.)
Use this intersection of audience and content to help you narrow down your platform choices. You may be trying to reach women, but if your content doesn’t lend itself to graphics, picking Pinterest is probably not in your best interest.
Depending upon your organization’s size and existing knowledge base, you may want to run a beta test to experiment with how to use a given platform, what kind of content works best, etc.
One of the major benefits of social media is that accounts are free. So start by creating a personal or dummy account to play with. All of the major platforms have articles to guide you in getting started, but just spending time familiarizing yourself with the way that the most successful people use it: identify the kind of content that seems to work best and the way they talk to one another.
And post content! This can both be your organization’s original content (blog posts, newsletter articles, etc) and content that you’ve found while browsing the platform. Everyone loves a sharer. Join conversations, ask or answer questions, etc.
Another huge benefit of social media networks is that they are a treasure trove of data. Most platforms have their own analytics system, and these will generally show you which of your posts are attracting the most attention. There are also a ridiculous number of outside analytics programs that you can use to get in-depth analysis of your activity.
You can then take what you’ve learned and start using your organizational account!