Most nonprofit organizations have at least one social media account at this point. Organizations have a presence on pretty much every platform: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, the list goes on. An estimated 77% of the population in the United States currently uses social media, and the number of people worldwide that use social media is expected to rise to 2.95 billion by 2020*. These numbers are staggering, and explains why most private companies, nonprofits, and foundations alike have all hopped on the bandwagon.
We have all realized the impact social media can have on our organization- and now we are trying to harness it. While best practices vary from platform to platform, one thing remains true: the very best way to get attention and engagement online is through storytelling.
Here are some things to keep in mind when telling your story online:
What We Mean By “Telling Your Story”
Whether you are trying to get retweets, likes, follows, claps, or whatever it may be, the best way to get attention is to tell your organization’s story. This includes past, present and future. It includes all of your stakeholders and your culture. It is what makes your organization unique.
Not all of your posts need to be storytelling posts- but the ones that are and that are well done will be the ones that convert people to want to be part of your story. The storytelling posts will be what creates trust, credibility, and a relationship between your organization and individuals online.
There are some elements that you should always consider when cultivating your online presence through storytelling. Here are a few:
How Did We Get Here?
Part of your story is how your organization got to this point. This is a near-epic tale that can be filled with emotion, drama, obstacles, and a clear path. Let your story be vulnerable and share multiple perspectives, if you can. Everyone loves an origin story! Tell yours with gusto.
Where Are We Now?
No matter where you are within your story, keep people informed. The present matters just as much when you are telling your story, and people want to hear about it! Share your programs, services, or whatever else your organization is currently involved in. The day to day may not feel interesting to you, but it creates a bond with your viewers and makes them feel like they are “in the know.”
Where are We Going?
This is the aspect most organizations enjoy the most. This is the sharing of your vision- the perfect world you are striving for. Share with your readers where you are trying to go and how you are getting there.
Me, We, Us
The most compelling stories include a “me, we, us” component. The “me” part of this can be the leader, the originator, the recipient of your services, etc. The “me” can vary, but the goal is always to get the story from the original storyteller/voice into the “we.”
Being able to articulate the “we” and invite other social media users to picture themselves as part of the “we” is how you start to build up relationships and engaged supporters. In your storytelling, there should be a description of “we” and an invitation to join. Using inclusive language helps viewers/followers rally behind you and start to join in the conversation.
The “us” happens when the people that started to become engaged as part of the “we” starts acting in line with the organization and starts to envision themselves as part of the bigger picture. The “we” and “us” are closely aligned, but the difference is that in the “us,” your supporters take on a more active role. Whether that means inviting others to participate in your mission, volunteering or donating, the “us” moves followers from passive support to real action.
Pictures, Videos, and Flash
I personally hate the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but in this case it happens to be true. When telling your story on social media, you are almost guaranteed to gain more traction with the use of pictures and/videos. We are inherently visual creatures, and our feeds tend to be pretty jam packed with others vying for our attention. Pictures and videos tend to make us stop and pay more attention- giving you the chance to engage us with your story.
Go out and tell your story on social media! Make friends, gain followers, and change the world. Use this article to help shape your stories and hone your skills.
*According to Statistica, https://www.statista.com/statistics/273476/percentage-of-us-population-with-a-social-network-profile/