We’re thrilled to have such a great group for our Advanced Social Media Decision Maker’s Toolkit. An unfortunate part of having a big class is the fact that lots of good questions don’t get answered. To show our appreciation for those taking the class, we took some time to answer a few remaining questions from our very first session, Branding Through Social Media. We thought some of the answers might help our other curious fans, so we made them available to everyone. Enjoy.

What if an organization has many departments which are under the same umbrella and one of the departments is much more determined to utilize social media than the others?  At the present time the agency is not utilizing social media in a way that benefits our department.

It would be preferable for your entire organization to have a singular social media strategy. However, that’s not always possible. It is best to just get started doing something, and hopefully, more people will come on board, and the other departments will become more flexible.

How would we present ourselves as expert and authoritative but still fun and welcoming without appearing completely disconnected between those ideas?

That depends on what your organization’s definition of expert and authoritative is. Idealware tries to adhere to a similar style on social media. We present content with a clear eye to being “in the know,” but we also show a bit of our personality in commentary. Our followers look to us for the right advice, but we’re real people who like to have fun too, and we’re not afraid to be ourselves. You don’t need to be stodgy. As long as you know your stuff people will latch on to it.

What value are social media users looking for?

Remember that social media users are there to connect with their family, friends, and the other parts of their community that they’re most engaged with. They clearly liked or followed you because they value you already, but only sharing out ads or promotion can alienate your followers in what they would like to be a largely “social” environment. Instead, consider displaying your organization as real people, and remind them of the work you do. Pictures from inside your organization, in the field, of volunteers etc. can be a great way to present yourself as “one of them.” Don’t be afraid to ask what they want, either. Finding out what they value through surveys or conversation can be hugely helpful.

My organization is a small time not for profit low on resources all volunteer we have a yearly three day independent film festival , how do I keep the audience engaged year around.

Take a look at the Maine Organic Farmers And Gardeners Association (MOFGA) on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maine-Organic-Farmers-And-Gardeners-Association-MOFGA/62192014056. They have their annual Common Ground Fair, but use the theme all year long. Think about making a social media/public relations volunteer job for someone who really loves the tool. Have everyone feed interesting content about film or other relevant issues, but make sure that one person is in charge of what gets posted.

Can you recommend another tool to pull together information about what others are saying about you?

You can search for topics in Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and Flickr, among others, by using each site’s respective search functions.

Because constantly searching a number of sites can be time consuming, it’s often more convenient to be notified when one of your keywords is being discussed. Google Alerts, for example, will send you daily emails whenever your keywords are mentioned—though it doesn’t find all social media mentions. TweetBeep does the same thing for conversations taking place in Twitter. NutshellMail will send you an email with a summary of activity related to your accounts on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Don’t forget the more traditional ways to listen to people, like Online Surveys, phone calls or old fashioned feet-on-the-ground conversations with people in your community.

Does tone need to be consistent or can it change based on what you’re posting about, etc.?

Of course, you should use a tone that’s appropriate for what you’re posting. Different types of posts will have different types of tones inherently, so use your discretion. However, having an overall “organizational” tone on social media can be helpful when multiple people are in charge of posting. Think about what you want to say with your outreach. For example, do you want to be seen as a caring compassionate organization, a fun organization, or a serious, smart organization? That will help you determine general boundaries for tone, with some leeway depending on the particular post.

What is better, to post as an individual within the organization or as the organization?

It depends on your organization and what you want to say. If you work for a very small organization, want to have a personal feel, and connect largely within your local community, posting as an individual might be beneficial for your overall image. For most, posting as an organization provides a more “official” feel to your social media page as opposed to a communal, personal feel. Whatever you choose, just make sure you are consistent. For more information, read my blog post about the issue.

If our service users are largely seniors/boomers/older adults what are the best social media channels to use?

Facebook is a great channel for that audience. Check out some of the demographic information on social media channels from the Pew Research Center

How much is too much?  We want to avoid overwhelming our members but provide them enough information that they stay engaged.

If you’re a small organization, once or twice daily is sufficient on Facebook. If you are able to post more strong content than that, great! Just be sure that your followers are still listening. Test the waters and see when you start losing your audience by using Facebook Insights or a similar program. Check when your users are online and try to post within that window. Obviously, if you’re running a large campaign, or a program like a Day of Giving, a large volume of posting should be expected and is acceptable.

How long should a post be on FB?  A few sentences or is longer ok?

In general, try to keep regular content fairly concise. If you’re sharing a resource that requires followers to go to a link to read more, a sentence or two will suffice, but posting an important story about one of your volunteers or staffers can be as long as it needs to be. Play around with the format for your organization and see if certain length posts get fewer views or more views than short posts.

Will you be giving us info on the differences between google + and Facebook?

Because of the increasing popularity of social media, a certain amount of homogenization can be expected. Due to this, the technical features of each site are not wildly different. Facebook currently has a much larger user base than Google+ (or any other social media site for that matter), but if your audience has expressed an interest in Google+, that’s a great place to be. Try a survey of your fans to see what social media networks they are on. However, we don’t recommend getting rid of your Facebook. Like your website, Facebook has gotten so popular that some people may seek you out just to find general information about you.

Our Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide has more: https://www.idealware.org/reports/nonprofit-social-media-decision-guide

What about Hootsuite?

Hootsuite is a convenient tool to manage many (or just one) social media account(s). It’s free to try, so check it out and see if it could work for you: https://hootsuite.com

We don’t, however, recommend that you use it to post the same content on multiple channels simultaneously. Some content just works better on Twitter than on Facebook or vice-versa, and creating original content for all your channels will give your followers reason to follow you more than once.