THE SOLVA CARE TOOLKIT
6 – Solva Care: a communications strategy
Part 2 – social media and more…
Social Media is often where people go to, in the first instance, for information about organisations, rather than a website. We have Facebook and Twitter social media accounts. They were initially set up by Trustees and are now maintained by the website designer and one Trustee, with input from the Coordinator.
We are aware that this is the part of the Toolkit that is most likely to date, so the following is a snapshot of we currently use the different social media platforms for:
- Website – We use short blog (news) posts on the website for weekly events, one-off events and to say thanks for donations. WordPress can be set up to post directly – see Part 1 of our Solva Care: a communications strategy – to Facebook and Twitter, although we don’t currently use this feature as Facebook does not like posts placed by a third party (but it can be used to save time).
- Facebook – We use ‘posts’ and create ‘events’ for our events and those organised by others to raise money for us, to say thank you for donations and for publicising things happening in our community. We also share useful information, and this helps with Solva Care’s ‘presence’ in the community especially amongst working-age residents who don’t witness the daytime work or events that Solva Care undertakes. We are aware that they are Solva Care’s future volunteers, and may go on to receive our support.
- Twitter – We use Twitter for on-off events, publicising Solva Care’s research work, and sharing and commenting on more high-level policy decisions at national and Westminster level. It enables us to be part of a virtual network of people with similar interests and engaged in similar activities. It also enables us to get very up-to-date information about new policies, grant schemes and conferences and see quickly how people are reacting to policies and policy shifts and are getting organised to instigate change.
Social media moves very fast. We are currently happy using Facebook and Twitter, but can envisage using Instagram very soon, especially as the under-30s rarely use Facebook, and also LinkedIn for further linking with professionals in the field (Twitter is our main link with this group at the moment). We can also see ourselves using Pinterest very shortly; at the time of writing, it is the biggest search engine after Google. Our website administrator keeps up to date with changes by attending social media courses.
We also keep an eye on legislation that affects our communication. Our social media strategy is currently changing in order for it to comply with our Welsh Language Policy. In future we intend to translate our original Facebook posts into Welsh, whilst shared posts will be in the post’s original language. We also keep an eye on other organisation’s policies as some will not re-tweet you if you don’t have a version of the tweet in Welsh. We envisage reaching the stage of using professional translators, but currently ask members of the community to help when necessary.
Some social media recommendations
- Think about your tone and professionalism – social media posts never die, and funders will research your organisation’s online presence so be careful not to be overtly critical or biased. Facebook posts are slightly more relaxed than website posts. But, it is still one face of your organisation. Twitter is more ‘business-like’ and you will find yourselves followed by bigger organisations so think about what they will expect to see, or what you want them to see.
- If you are based in Wales, you will at some point create a Welsh Language Policy. Make sure that your posts/tweets comply with your organisation’s policy, and be aware of other organisations’ policies if you want them to re-tweet or share.
- Talk to your Board about who has access to training. In our area the tourism business group has access to subsidised training and there are also reasonably priced local college/local authority courses; Business Wales also provide courses. Make use of these as the most effective ways to use social media change very fast, and a morning spent in a course by a Trustee who then reports back to whoever is using social media is money well spent.
- Set up a ‘proxy’ email account in order to register your social media accounts; we recommend Gmail as that is needed anyway for social media platforms owned by Google. This gives you security as if the person who is doing your social media leaves, the passwords can be easily changed. Refer also to the importance of this with your organisation’s email addresses in Part 1 of Solva Care: a communications guide.
- One Facebook, you need a ‘Facebook Business Page’. To set this up, you need a ‘personal Facebook profile’. It is possible for various people in your organisation to have administration or editing rights to your business page. However, we would recommend setting up a ‘proxy’ personal profile that controls the business page. That means that you can completely control who can post on the page simply by changing the password. This is again useful when there are personnel changes. It is tempting to set up your organisation as a ‘personal’ account initially, but don’t as Facebook will catch up with you and the transition process is painful.
- Social media takes time. Think carefully about what you will get out of it in relation to the time you put it. Investigate the use of scheduling services such as Hootsuite. Or schedule posts – either once a week to go out at the best time – and also up to a year in advance. If you collect donations at, say, a firework display, take photos one year, then immediately set up the post for a few days before the one the following year reminding people what a great event it is and that they can support your organisation by going. Timing is everything. The given wisdom is that posts/tweets that coincide when people are on their way to work, having their lunch and after work, are when most people see them. In our community, where there are a high proportion of retired people, the key timeslots are more variable. Experiment and track when you get the most responses. Encourage your Trustees to do something with social media however small, as any views, like and shares/re-tweets all increase the profile of your organisation.
- Don’t get hung up about not posting too often on Facebook if you can’t manage it. Facebook don’t like it and actually control the numbers of users that see your posts.
- Try out boosting Facebook posts for a few pounds. We spent £7.50 boosting an event in December which reached just under 1000 people and the event raised over 100 times as much.
- Respond to interactions reasonably promptly, and decide who will do that so it gets done. Ideally, it should be within a couple of hours, but we aim to do so the day they happen. But don’t get into a row, however tempting!
- Be smart with your time. If you put a blog post on your website, post on Facebook or tweet about it. Either by linking to your website’s post, or editing it down to suit your Facebook post or tweet length.
- Encourage people thinking about attending your events to share or re-tweet. And if they come, encourage them to share or tweet about the experience – and remember to like/share/re-tweet when they do – it’s only polite! At events and on your literature, make your hashtags and social media handles visible so people who want to support you in developing your online presence, don’t have to work too hard.
- Take care with copyright restrictions on images and graphics. If you use something without permission, you may well get a ‘cease and desist’ notice and a bill for a few hundred pounds. So, don’t assume that the poster you’ve been given to publicise an event online is okay. You’ll probably get away with it on a village noticeboard, but online is a different matter! Websites such as Unsplash and Pixabay provide images for use, free of charge – although it is always good to credit the photographer and site – so make sure everyone in your organisation knows to use safe images.
- Research organisations doing similar things – it will help you with what to post, have on your website and the ‘tone’ of your online presence.
- Make sure you maximise your social media posts. Mention the press, your local newsletter, local council or supportive organisations. Especially at the beginning, they will have far more followers which – should they re-tweet or share – will see your post. Make sure that you also use hashtags. These are a science in themselves so take a look at Influencer Marketing Hub which has a blog post that lists the top 7 hashtag generators and how to use them.
- There are many similarities between the dos and don’ts for writing successful website blog posts, and writing successful social media posts – so read our One-page guide to writing successful blog posts.
We recently purchased a video camera which came with basic editing/captioning software and cloud storage so films are uploaded and accessible to the Trustees and employees (set up with a ‘proxy’ name); our Coordinator has uploaded her video clips as well so it is now our library of future content. Our first attempt got a lot of views on Facebook. It is something that we will look into further as the majority of videos on social media are viewed without sound on people’s phones so need to be captioned. Youtube will continue to grow as it is owned by Google.
Sound and transcribing
Think about podcasts. We have a very good voice recorder that can capture a number of people talking, and we have transcribed the text from presentations where videoing was not allowed. Most phones can record one-to-one conversations to a good standard. Podcast libraries such as Soundcloud can host for you, and your website and social media posts can link to them. TechNorms has a blog post on the 8 best sites to host your podcasts.
Graphics and branding
Have a style guide for your text or graphic design, which isn’t as daunting as it sounds, but makes everything you do consistent and look professional. So, start by choosing a preferred font. We use Bliss Pro which is distinctive and free to download, but not a standard font on most people’s versions of Microsoft Word. So, take care if you choose something slightly out of the ordinary and run presentations on other people’s laptops – the font will revert to something you may not like the look of! When choosing the font, make sure it is readable by people with visual impairments – so, use a larger font size, something sans serif (such as Arial rather than Times Roman) and of an appropriate contrast between the text colour and background. The RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) have an interesting blog post about web accessibility.
Be clear in what you write. From approaches to organisations or funding bids, be aware that you will have spent hours producing will be skim read along with a stack of others. Use short sentences, bullet points, diagrams and address what they are asking about. You are very likely to be reduced to a scoring matrix, so answer everything – you’ll get some points – don’t and you’ll get zero. Read the guidance and questions carefully. There will be ‘dog-whistle’ words – note them and repeat them back.
It is worth choosing a dictionary so that everything that your organisation writes is consistent. We use Websters because of the Trustees’ preference for spelling ‘wellbeing’. Most dictionaries have free, online versions.
Use spell checker and a professional proofreader if you can, or get someone else to read anything that goes into the public domain, be it press releases or funding bids.
We have a logo that was designed at the start by a local graphic designer. It is one (dark blue) colour and clear, so can be reproduced in black and white easily. Make sure it is kept centrally and distributed to all who need to use it. If someone does the logo for you, make sure you request that they give it to you with a transparent background, as well as on white, so you are not restricted to a white background when you use it.
A community competition is a great idea to choose a logo. Our ‘Long John Solva’ character was chosen after a call to the community for a character to accompany our Toolkit. Solva is a coastal west Wales village with a history of smugglers and seafaring and Long John is getting on a bit with a few ailments and a great sense of humour about them – perfect really. Social media likes pictures, so Long John Solva helps posts that may contain useful information – but possibly not that interesting to a lot of people – noticed (the other alternative is picture of cute animals!).
Think carefully about your name and try to make it simple, not too long and that you don’t always have to spell. Before you commit to something that you like the sound of, think about if the website is available, and if the social media handles (the name of the account such as @ourorganisation) are available. Websites such namecheckr.com and knowem.com allow you to input your preferred name and list availability across a dozen of more platforms with links to all of them. Register them all! It is frustrating for us that @solvacare belongs to a Dutch pharmaceutical company so we are now @solvacarewales. You won’t need all of them at the start – we’d recommend just Facebook and/or Twitter – but the world of social media is ever changing with ownership shifting monthly. A year ago Facebook looked unstoppable, now its new users are slowing up dramatically in the wake of the data breach scandals.
Ideally you want @ourorganisation for all your social media accounts and ourorganisation.org.uk for your website. It will take 2-3 hours and you will also need a proxy Gmail account for some (refer to 4. above). Also refer to Part 1 of Solva Care: a communications strategy for suggestions on how to register your website.
Your contact details will then be extremely simple (as your postal address is likely to be c/o a trustee at the start and it is better that this is kept out of the public domain as much as possible). These details are all you need as your ‘signature’ at the bottom of your emails (with links):
Social media and more…