How to Hashtag with a Purpose: 6 Tips for Social Media Success

Here at GlobalGiving, we are strong advocates for the power of social media. The more people who see your message and the more powerful the message, the more likely you are to garner more donations, create more buzz, and educate more people. With a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ account, we have done our fair share of experimentation to determine how to grow our likes, followers, and shares. Here are tips from our own experiences on how you may be able to cultivate your social media presence: 

  1. Always use photos. 

The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words, so if you are restricted to only 140 characters, then why not convey more of your message through the use of a photo? That’s not to say that any image should be tacked on to your post. Make sure that the photo aligns with the purpose of the post. If you are posting to remind your followers to donate to your project focused on girls’ education, then don’t post a photo taken of your boys’ soccer program.

Always make sure that any photos you use are good quality, focused, respect the person or animal in the image, and portray your organization in the best light possible, much like the image above.

  1. Tailor your posts to your audience.

Twitter is very different from Facebook and Facebook is very different from Instagram, as are the types of people that use each platform. The length of posts, content, and frequency all need to be tailored to the platform that you are utilizing. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Facebook – 1 post per day, longer post
  • Instagram – 2-3 posts per day, focus on brilliant images, convey stories
  • Twitter – 5-7 tweets per day, brief updates or reminders

Of course, the frequency of your posts also depends on the amount of engaging content you have to share. If there is nothing engaging at the moment, then do not post. You run the risk of exhausting your followers.

With each of these platforms, make sure that you keep track of the number of followers that you have gained and lost and whether or not this correlates to the frequency in which you post or the content of your posts. Qualitative feedback is also important to gather from each of your audiences. If your Facebook followers are telling you that you post too much, then, perhaps, you need to reconsider your strategy on Facebook.

  1. Making the most of your tweets is cheaper and easier than you think.

Twitter is an extremely interactive social media platform that offers the chance to start a conversation amongst your followers and ignite a social movement. While Twitter is the most restrictive when it comes to the length of your posts, you can also acceptably post more frequently, so you have a greater chance of more views. With that said, do not pay for followers. You will not gain anything by paying for these followers, as they are not likely to be people who will share your content and get more involved with your organization. Also, do not tweet at people unless you have a relationship or a presumed relationship with that person. However, if you do have a relationship, then definitely involve them! For example, if we post about one of our partners, we will do our best to tag that organization’s Twitter account in the post.

Make use of tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Buffer that  allow you to schedule tweets so you do not have to ensure that you have staff available to post on weekends and times that are inconvenient for your organization. You can also schedule tweets for times that you feel will garner more views amongst your followers, especially if a large amount of your followers are in other time zones.

  1. Make sure that your hashtag has a purpose to ensure that it is beneficial.

Hashtags are everywhere these days, so creating catchy and productive hashtags has become crucial to the success of your social media campaign. In our own experiments, we found that using trending hashtags did not draw more attention to our posts. As a rule, we prefer to only use hashtags that are relevant to our mission, act as search terms, or are part of an ongoing conversation between all applicable parties. When we began to tweet about the Syrian crisis, we made sure to look at what other outlets were using in terms of hashtags to better hashtag our own posts. If you want to quickly gauge the popularity of a hashtag you’re thinking of using in a post, you can look it up on a site like hashtags.org to see how frequently it’s been used in the last 24 hours.

As for the number of hashtags to use, this too depends on that platform you are using. Using 5-7 hashtags on Instagram is perfectly acceptable, since there is not a character limit, and increasing the number of hashtags does not decrease engagement. For an example, see our Instagram post below. We hashtagged a number of related words, and we also hashtag locations, so that these posts will show up on any searches for these places. On the other hand, if we had posted this on Twitter, we would have used a much lower number of hashtags. Twitter recommends using no more than two hashtags per tweet, and research shows that using more than two hashtags can decrease audience engagement.

  1. Never forget that social media is a tool to tell your story.

When posting on social media, the number one question to ask yourself is “Does this create a sense of urgency for my followers to want to tell someone else about my post?” If the answer is yes, then you have crafted your message in the best possible way. You want your post to offer a learning experience to your followers that pushes them to take a specific action. Break apart your stories so that they are digestible in a fast-paced, character-limited platform, but never lose sight of the goal of creating impact on your audience.

  1. Measure your social media impact.

Twitter and Facebook each have free analytics suites available to help you assess what’s working and what’s not for your audience, and there are a number of free options for Instagram analytics as well. You’ll quickly find an avalanche of data to pour over, but may find yourself wondering just what numbers are important. GlobalGiving’s Alison Carlman shared her thinking in a post called Simplifying Social Media Metrics, which is a great guide for getting started measuring the numbers that are actually important (spoiler: your follower count isn’t likely to be one of them).

We can’t wait to see how all of our Project Leaders integrate our experiences with their own to create a stronger social media presence. Don’t forget that you can also share your projects on social media by clicking on the share tab on your project page.

 

If you have any questions about the above tips or about your social media presence, then please do not hesitate to contact us at projecthelp@globalgiving.org. We are always happy to help!

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