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The perils of last-minute social media

In today’s “viral” marketing culture, it's easy to get caught up in the promise of social media. Yet social media still remains an afterthought of many nonprofit campaigns. What results is often mediocre content and questionable return-on-investment (ROI).

It’s not enough to just post something on social media. If you really want to see engagement online, you need to have a strategy. So the next time your nonprofit is thinking of starting a new social media campaign, take the time to make a plan. Here are a few key tips to help you prep:

1) Wait! Why are We Doing This?

Before you do anything, you should have goals. What do you want to get out of the experience and what do you want from your audience? If you can qualify these answers, you’re on the right track for success. If you don't know why you're doing something, it's easy to lose focus. Having measurable goals will ground your campaign and help guide you to a more successful outcome.

2) Timing is everything

The term "viral" is thrown around often, but even the most popular YouTuber will tell you this type of instant success is usually not planned. Content goes viral because it is unique, entertaining, shareable, and/or culturally accessible. The goal of a social media campaign should not be to "make it viral," but rather to "make it successful." What success means to you and your team should depend on your cause, not what will start the next big trend.

Source: Giphy

3) Testing…1…2…3…

Testing is the most important ingredient of a successful campaign. Maybe you need to find what your audience responds to best or even just figure out how an app functions on your phone. The great thing about testing is you can do it as much as you want, with as many variables as you’d like, to find the perfect “social media cocktail” for your audience.

4) Power to the People

As noted in tip #2, timing is everything. Not only to hone your craft, but to give your audience a chance to share and interact with your content. A happy audience determines a successful campaign. So don’t be afraid to engage with your followers and really listen to them. Your audience will let you know almost immediately whether they like or dislike something on social media. Use these interactions as feedback to improve your next campaign. Don't let just one person send you into a tailspin, though. Just make note of it and monitor any future comments.*

Source: Giphy

*A word about trolls: While some negative feedback online is sincere, much of the criticism you’ll be dealing with may come from "trolls" — people searching the Internet simply to create unrest amongst your audience. An easy way to stop a troll is to have pre-approved language or policies in place for when the situation arises. If you have something already in place for negative emails, you can translate those resources to social media. Here’s a more extensive list on best practices when dealing with “trolls.”

5) Learning from Failure

As professionals, we never want to admit when we're wrong. Unfortunately, everyone is human and project plans will sometimes go awry. Since the opportunity for failure is inevitable, you should brace for it. Expect mistakes will be made and be ready with alternative next steps. While you can’t anticipate everything, a safe approach is always to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Most importantly, remember to learn from your failures so you can improve future campaigns.

Source: Giphy

Beginning a social media campaign on a whim can be a recipe for disaster. The more calculated and strategic you are, the more successful your campaign will be. Don't take my word for it – check out some engaging campaigns we've created for our clients here.

Do you have social media horror stories? Success stories? Tell us about your experience on our Facebook or Twitter!

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