Outreach via Social Media

Even if they do not have a website, most non-profits have some level of presence on social media networks. Facebook and Twitter are convenient, free platforms upon which to engage users from around the world. Your website and social media pages should be listed on non-profit online directories: reach out to groups such as Guidestar.org, and alert sister organizations to your online presence so that they can link to you from their channels.

Social media can facilitate online donating, connect a wider audience – of potential supporters – with your cause, and dispel myths about refugee rights in an interactive forum. The following guidelines are meant  to serve as recommendations rather than strict rules: review them and adapt them to the requirements of each situation. Remember that effective communication is a two-way process: this applied to social media as well.’ Listening’ to other organization’s activities and debates as disseminated via social media channels can benefit your work too.

Overview of key kinds of content

  • Updates on your work and achievements
  • Posts from your blogs
  • Event posts and reminders
  • Links to external media coverage of organization
  • Links to external resources such as general media coverage on refugees
  • Occasional promotion of partners’ events

Social media posting: The basics

  • Your primary short-term goals in social media engagement may include keeping your supporters engaged and updated about your work and ‘adding value’ to supporters by providing information about refugees in general (within a somewhat narrow scope to keep things manageable).
  • In the medium to long-term, if you want to establish yourselves as the go-to person for refugee rights issues in your area, all communications strategies should support this.
  •  When posting general refugee content, keep your mission in mind, and endeavor to tie in general articles to your mandate.
  • If your primary social media audience is North American supporters, the ideal posting time to effectively reach a large audience is 10am PDT (1pm EST) on weekdays, except Friday.
  • Tone should generally remain professional and engaging. Stylistically, you should adopt practices indicated in your organization’s style guide. This is Asylum Access practice, as we seek to communicate with UN and government policy-makers. However, if you are working primarily with refugee youth communities and wished to reach out to them via social media, more casual language and engagement may be considered.
  • Avoid unnecessarily technical or legalistic language, unless it’s very relevant to who you are trying to reach.
  • Don’t’ just state facts, explain the implications of an issue. E.g. We organized a Know Your Rights workshop for 14 refugees and asylum seekers last May, enabling refugees to learn about their rights and how to assert them.
  • Be creative about engaging people around refugee rights. Think about ways to improve your message such as using images, quotes, statistics or other creative lines instead of just stating facts and using the same rhetoric
  • Visuals are always helpful in drawing people’s attention. Think about how you might attach a photo to your post. Especially critical in campaigns!
  • For posts to be meaningful to a broad audience, you will need more content than just about your organization. Posting about yourselves only engages those who are already interested. On the other hand, posting about, for example, refugees in a certain community engages everyone interested in the topic, and people are more inclined to share this and appeal to a larger audience.
  • Be succinct and clear. Social media is most effective when brief!

Who should post?

  • Whilst it makes sense to have a communications staff focal point, who is primarily in charge of maintaining social media platforms, you may also wish to allow your director and policy advocacy staff to post, following training on consistency and messaging style.
  • Timely news articles and other time-sensitive updates should be encouraged by ‘admins’ at any time, regardless of whether it is prime social media posting time. Social media is a fast-moving platform and with people checking their Facebook often, news grows old very quickly. If you think it would be useful to repost during primetime, procedure should be established so that staff ‘admins’ check in with the communications focal point in order to avoid posting repeatedly in a short period of time. This would not include job postings, events and other non-time sensitive announcements.
  • Regardless of other news, you may wish to plan three meaningful updates specifically about your work each week at. This will ensure a steady stream of updates regardless of external media, which will be complementary but should not form the basis of your social media engagement.

Special posting guidelines for campaigns (e.g. holiday appeals or other events)

  • To avoid being forgotten, a series of these should be planned and scheduled ahead of time. They can be scheduled via Hootsuite and should be as engaging as possible. Find creative ways to drum up interest instead of just asking people to buy tickets or donate.

Further resources.