Using Social Media as a Communications ToolMarch 16th, 2015
In Entrepreneurship in the Social Sector this past term, students paired up with nonprofits to work on a problem the nonprofits were facing and hoping to solve. Three classmates (one Tuckie, one computer science master’s, and one TDI student) and I worked with Identifor and presented our recommendation on their social media strategy this past Wednesday. Identifor is a nonprofit that provides online games geared towards autistic children and, using data from the games, helps parents identify their children’s strengths and the careers they may be well suited for. Currently in beta, Identifor is formally launching to the public in March and wanted our group to recommend a social media strategy that would help them succeed in the short term as well as the long term.
In October of 2014, with Executive Director, Prof. Hans Brechbühl, and Faculty Director, Prof. Alva Taylor, I attended the Center for Digital Strategies’ Roundtable on ‘The Business of Social’ in Zurich, Switzerland. The participating companies ranged from consumer-facing (e.g. Swarovski, Coca-Cola Enterprises) to B2B (e.g. ABB, Holcim) and topics included ‘Enterprise Social’ (using social media within a company) and ‘Engaging the Customer’ (using social media to understand market trends, customer needs, and customer perception).
Though very interested in and active on social media, I had never used social media as a communications tool for an organization. What I learned from the roundtable participants resonated with the research and work we did for Identifor. The reason many companies and nonprofits join social media is because they hear about others using social media and don’t want to fall behind. Ironically, social media is not a one-size-fits-all solution and a successful social media strategy can look very different for different organizations.
Some takeaways from the Roundtable and Identifor project:
- ‘Me too’ mentally gets companies and nonprofits to get on social media
- A successful social media strategy should be unique to each organization. Organizations should test out what works best for their audience – what time of day and time of week to post to get the most engagement; what networks work best; what partnerships make sense; and how to use social media with other communications tools such as the website, emails, and blogs
- Social media should be part of a company or organization’s larger communications strategy. While social media is not going to replace other forms of traditional communication, it is a critical tool to employ going forward
Explore the complete Roundtable overview below: