6 steps to implementing social media at your literacy organization

Brands have been using social media for more than a decade now, yet surprisingly, many organizations aren’t using it to reach their audience.

Besides being free, social media has no geographical boundaries, meaning you have the ability to reach individuals worldwide who may be interested in learning more about your organization and the services it offers. Additionally, it’s a great way to engage with existing clients, improve search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your website.

Yet social media can feel overwhelming. With so many platforms to choose from and the need to be creating content regularly, many organizations struggle to know where to start.

We’ve put together six steps to getting started with social media at your literacy organization.

1. Commit

Before joining any social media platform, be aware of the investment. It can be a lot of time and effort, but there can be really great results. The most important thing to remember is that social media is a long-term commitment – you can’t expect results overnight. It can take years to grow your following.

Secondly, social media is not something you can set up and forget about. You must post consistently and engage with your followers regularly to reap the rewards. You should commit to posting at least three times a week on your channels if you want to see any kind of impact.

Social media is not for everyone, especially for many smaller non-profits with small teams and minimal resources. Do your due diligence and decide whether or not it’s worth the investment to build a social media presence.

2. Identify and set up your channels

Once you’ve decided you want to invest in social media, you need to decide which channels are right for you.

Start small – don’t try to be everywhere. You’ll be more successful going deep on one channel than spreading yourself thin across multiple channels. Pick channels that you feel comfortable managing and ones for which you can realistically create content regularly.

Secondly, choose channels strategically based on where your clients or customers will be. To do this, you first need to identify your target audience and research which channels are the best fit for your audience. For example, if you wanted to target women, you may consider Pinterest as it is more frequented by women. Also think about what type of content you’ll be able to create. If you’re news-focused, Twitter might be ideal. If you have lots of visuals, consider Instagram or Pinterest.

Once you’ve decided on your channels, set them up and optimize your profiles.

3. Consider your content

Once you’ve identified your channels, you need to look at what content you can create for them. Look at other organizations’ social media platforms for inspiration.

Commonly used content types include:

  • Links to blog posts and other external articles
  • Links to resources and PDFs, such as guides and e-books
  • Photos, infographics and other visuals
  • Videos
  • Testimonials or client success stories
  • Memes, jokes and inspirational quotes
  • Questions or polls

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you post something. You can easily leverage existing content that belongs to your organization or share content from another like-minded organization. Share your blog content, infographics on your website or a piece of news relevant to your industry.

Also remember that your content should follow the 50/30/20 rule.

  • 50% of your content should engage: Half of your content should not be promotional. When you become overly promotional, people don’t want to follow you anymore. Half of your content should be about engaging your followers. You can engage your audience in several ways, such as through funny memes, inspirational quotes or contests.
  • 30% of your content should educate: People turn to the Internet for information. By providing helpful content such as blog posts, articles and infographics, you’re not only educating your audience but you’re also establishing credibility. You can use your own content or content from other sources. Don’t be afraid to share information from other like-minded organizations, even if they might be a competitor. At the end of the day, we’re all in it for the same goal – to support adult literacy education.
  • 20% of your content should promote: Just 20% of your content should be promotional and promote your organization and its products or services. If you have blog content or webinars that are informative and educational, this would not be considered promotional. Promotional means the hard sell (e.g. “Sign up for our program”).

4. Create a content calendar and your content

Social media requires planning, and a content calendar is a great way to do this. Without one, you may find yourself scrambling to find content or forget to post.

A content calendar can be created in a spreadsheet or a document, or if you have budget, there are some tools that you can use which also allow you to schedule your posts ahead of time. You’ll also get access to great analytics.

Your content calendar should include the date of posting, the channel, the image or video associated with the content, and any links, hashtags or tags that you want to include.

Leveraging a content calendar is also a great way to identify popular campaigns, holidays and initiatives that take place each year. For example, you may want to create some posts around Family Literacy Day or International Literacy Day as a way to gain more followers.

Once you’ve mapped out the content for each month, create your visuals and copy. There are free and paid tools like Canva, PicMonkey or Snappa where you can use templates to create engaging visuals for your channels. Add these to your content calendar.

5. Engage

Social media is not all about you. It’s a conversation. If you’re not conversing with your followers or other people on social media, you’re missing out. Engagement helps your posts get seen by more people and helps you increase your followers.

What does engagement mean?

  • Commenting on other people’s posts
  • Sharing other people’s content
  • Responding to your comments and messages
  • Liking other posts
  • Sharing stories

Follow other pages and engage with them regularly by liking and commenting on their posts. Be sure to spend 15 to 30 minutes a day doing this to reap the rewards.

6. Evaluate

Like any marketing initiative, you want to measure your social media metrics on a monthly basis. Measuring your results can help you identify what channels and content types are performing the best. Be sure to look at impressions, clicks, engagement rate, and traffic to your website. Don’t worry too much about the number of followers you have – it’s a vanity metric. It’s much more important to have an engaged following than a lot of followers who don’t pay attention to your content.

Creating a social media strategy for your literacy organization will take some time, however it can result is heighted awareness for your program and potential new partnerships. Test a few platforms to determine the best fit for your organization and start your social media learning journey.