By: Erin Hudson

I’m old enough to remember the days of MySpace – the biggest concern was who would be in my “Top 8” and what song would be on my profile. Back then, social media was this unknown, bourgeoning development in the world of the internet. No one really knew how to use it and could not predict just how influential it would become. 

What started as a message and imageboard to post your every thought is now an essential cog in the wheel of promotion, advertising, informing, and the never-ending pursuit of staying relevant. It has become a part of your digital footprint for your business or organization – without a social presence (or even a well-managed one), your clout with your potential customers, donors, or partners drops. 

What Platform is Right for You?

In the ever-changing and evolving world that is the internet, it can feel overwhelming to know which platforms make the most sense for your organization. Remember: not all platforms are created equal. Each one has its own unspoken set of rules; whether that be what content performs the best or how you interact with others, each platform is slightly different. TL;DR – there is no “one size fits all” approach. 

All that said, the two that every organization should have in their arsenal are Facebook and Instagram. The reason is between the cadre of different types of platforms, Facebook and Instagram (which is also owned by Facebook) have the best targeting tools and will be a good starting point in terms of managing and growing your digital presence. 

But there are others… 

Twitter is a great tool – as a communication professional, it is a conduit to making connections with journalists and getting the most up-to-date news in my city. However, this platform is best used for quick updates and may not make sense for you depending on what your organization does. If it doesn’t feel right for you, don’t force it. 

LinkedIn is the platform for networking and recruiting – if your company is growing and hiring in your area, then it’s best to have a LinkedIn page available for job postings and making professional connections.  

Managing Your Content and Engagement

Now comes the next question of how to manage content and engagement. Social media is not just spouting off into a void. In order for it to be "social," people and brands must actually engage with other content. For social media, a good rule of thumb is to break your content and activity up into thirds. 

  • Your Stuff. This includes a history of your organization, promotions, what you do, etc. 

  • Shares. Sharing other organizations’ content that aligns with your mission and messaging. 

  • Engagement on Others' Content. Likes, comments, and questions on brands' and partners' pages can go a long way to boost your own social presence. 

When curating your content, some important rules to follow: 

  • DO use high-quality imagery. 

  • DON’T use photos you find in a Google search - they belong to someone else and will result in a big headache for your organization. 

  • DO include a link to your website – any opportunity to get a potential customer, donor, or partner to click through, take it! 

  • DON’T do the dreaded “double link” – two links are never better than one in social media. 

  • DO spellcheck and proofread – every. single. time. 

  • DON’T post too often or too little – as you’re getting to know your audience, you’ll find that cadence that makes the most sense to you, but don’t be afraid to start with 1-2 posts per week. 

  • DO partner with other creatives! Depending on your organization, sometimes bringing in social media experts (aka “Influencers”) can help widen your reach and introduce you to a whole other group of potential customers, donors, or partners. 

  • DON’T post PDFs – it’s endearing when your grandma does it, but not when your organization does. 

  • DO be creative! Don’t be afraid to use the occasional emoji and clever caption – it makes you more relatable to your audience and helps you better curate your voice and tone of your online presence. 

It is clear that social media, or some form of it, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Acquaint yourself with it and learn how it can be useful for you – it will help establish your online presence in an increasingly digital-heavy world.