Want to be more effective on social media? Avoid these 4 misconceptions

Are you managing or contributing to your organization’s social media strategy? To ensure that your strategy achieves maximum impact, it’s important to avoid common misconceptions related to social media success.

Writing for Contently’s The Content Strategist blog, Tallie Gabriel highlights four social media misconceptions that could hurt your organization and provides tips for overcoming them. Read the full article here or the summary below.

1. Overvaluing vanity metrics

Gabriel notes: “It’s easy to see likes as the currency for social media value and popularity … However, these vanity metrics aren’t always the best indicator of social success.”

Maybe some of your posts aren’t generating a lot of likes but are managing to get many readers to click on the links you’re sharing. This sort of engagement may be a better indicator of social media success than likes.

Gabriel adds: “Instead of getting discouraged when a promising tweet doesn’t rack up the likes and retweets, pay attention to the clicks and check how long people stay on the page after coming from social. If your post is generating strong engagement, don’t worry so much about the superficial stats.”

2. Ignoring dark social shares

Gabriel explains: “Dark social refers to the massive amount of links copied and pasted into emails and messenger apps, rather than shared on traditional distribution platforms via the share button. These links are tough to track, but their circulation can’t be ignored.”

Brands may evaluate social media impact and make decisions solely based on the number of easily calculated shares from social media platforms, but they would be missing a much bigger picture. It’s important not to discount ‘dark’ social shares.

3. Posting the wrong content at the right times

Gabriel notes: “Simply posting at the “right” time won’t dramatically alter your social engagement. Just as paying to distribute mediocre content won’t help in the long run, posting poor content at the optimal times isn’t good for business.”

4. Experimenting with the wrong sites

You don’t necessarily need to be on all of the major platforms to be effective on social media.

Gabriel advises: “Just keep in mind it’s all about fit. And if you feel like something isn’t working, stop and adapt. With so much competition for attention, there’s no use going through the motions.”

Featured photo source: Flickr Creative Commons, howtostartablogonline.net

Looking to make your storytelling more strategic and effective? Check this out

All communications professionals are storytellers. With that in mind, it’s important to understand that a powerful, well-told story is the best tool for shifting people’s thinking and prompting them to act.

Many of us working in communications for good are looking for ways to enhance our storytelling impact. Enter Storytelling for Good, a new platform from the Communications Network that provides  interactive lessons on strategy, content, engagement and evaluation.

Each lesson allows you to input information unique to your organization, and helps you devise a tailored storytelling strategy through a four-step process: defining your strategy, creating content, finding a platform, and evaluating impact.

The site also provides How To Guides on how to tell stories and measure impact on a variety of platforms, including email, Facebook, Medium, Twitter and Instagram.

You’ll also find a collection of case studies and articles that give insight into best practices, along with real world refections on what has worked well and what hasn’t.

It gets better: you can filter through all of this content by the specific goals you have in mind (whether it’s changing attitudes or raising awareness), or by themes and topics (like writing and engagement).

Give it a spin here

Why nonprofits need video (+ 5 tips and examples)

While video is not the only solution for engaging content in our digital age, it is nonetheless a great tool for nonprofits. And the great news is video production isn’t as complicated and expensive as it used to be.

As highlighted by Ronald Pruitt, the founder of 4aGoodCause, well-produced videos are great because they can:

  1. Provide authentic and compelling visuals to tell your story
  2. Provide a sense of ‘being there’ to the viewer
  3. Engage your audiences both intellectually and emotionally
  4. Effectively move people to act through the combination of storytelling, imagery, music and personal appeals
  5. Expand and encourage audience growth and reach through online distribution and social media shares

So, how can nonprofits truly leverage the power of video? Pruitt offers five ideas for and examples of great nonprofit video marketing, summarized below.

1. Tell your story

Why was your organization established? What has been your journey so far? Use your video to share your organization’s story. As covered in previous posts, effective storytelling can go a long way in engaging audiences. Once engaged, invite your viewers to support your organization by directing them to a relevant section of your website.

Example: Falling Whistles, a nonprofit organization campaigning for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

2. Spread awareness of a problem that must be addressed

Use your video as an opportunity to position your organization as a solution to the problem. Invite viewers to learn more about how to address the problem on your website.

Example: Girl Effect, a nonprofit organization working to reach 250 million girls living in poverty across the world by 2030, giving them the tools and access to the critical assets they need to achieve their full potential.

3. Motivate action

Use your video to show each viewer how they can make a difference, and mobilize them to take the action illustrated in your video.

Example: Love146’s video to take action against child trafficking and exploitation.

4. Create catalysts

Inspire supporters to become catalysts for global change.

Example: Dressember, a collaborative movement using fashion to support the abolition of modern day slavery.

5. Share the impact your nonprofit has made

Share testimonials to show how your organization has improved people’s lives. This will help viewers better understand the real impact or your organization and therefore inspire them to support or continue to support your work.

Example: LoveYourBrain, a nonprofit that works to improve the quality of life for people affected by brain injury.

Drawing attention to homelessness and hunger

An award-winning campaign for Crossroads Community, a homeless shelter and food pantry in New York City, used street art to engage and mobilize people numb to the plight of the homeless and hungry.

The campaign first illustrated faces with mouths as garbage and other debris on various streets across New York City. The street art was then photographed and recorded, messages were added to them, and posts and online films were created on social media.

This content was increasingly shared across the main social media networks. In addition, the posts and films appeared on international blogs and online publications. What’s more, chalk kits were requested by local schools and businesses to create ambient street drawings. Individuals from different cities around the world including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, London, Milan and Sydney, contributed and shared street art, helping the campaign go viral.

As a result, the number of individual donations to Crossroads Community went up by 63 percent, the number of volunteer applicants by 20 percent, and the number of groceries provided to those in need by 50 percent.

As stated in the video below, the campaign “shared a simple idea to inspire people of all ages, all over, to get involved, proving that when we all come together, we can make a big difference in helping erase hunger.”

Harnessing the power of emotional engagement

In aiming to ensure your content really inspires your audience and mobilizes them to take action, research shows that emotional engagement is key.

As Ashley Taylor Anderson writes for the Content Marketing Institute, brands can harness the power of emotional engagement by understanding the science behind it and using this understanding to create artful content that really appeals to their audience in a meaningful and real way.

The science

Neuro-imagery has shown that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions rather than factual information. Moreover, research has shown that emotional engagement is affected by several principles related to content creation:

Design: Designs that evoke the greatest emotional response tend to involve something out of the norm. Elements of surprise can prevent content from being filtered out by the brain.

Colour: Studies have shown that colour can increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80 percent. Moreover, using specific colours can have a significant impact on mood. For example, red often evokes strong emotions, yellow evokes happy feelings, and blue is associated with calm and trust.

Images: Many research studies confirm the emotional power of visuals, and there is data out there stating that 90 percent of all information transmitted to the brain is visual. Images can increase trust and belief in the information being conveyed and evoke specific emotional responses.

Branding: As Anderson’s article notes, most consumers have an unconscious aversion to being persuaded, and they can become immediately resistant to a message that is overly branded. The key too success is subtlety. Experiments have shown that a more subtle inclusion of branding can increase views by as much as 20 percent.

Here are two excellent examples from Apple that incorporate some, if not all, of the above aspects:

The content

So, how does one turn this science into impactful and engaging content? Before getting into that, it’s important to note that delving into the science behind emotional engagement can tempt brands to “misuse psychological levers”, as Anderson puts it, in order to persuade or have an impact on their audience. Resist the urge to go this route and ensure that you do not cross the line into negative and unethical audience manipulation. Instead, focus on strong emotional engagement by considering Anderson’s tips below:

1. Start with your audience’s motivation
What does your audience really want from your content? Find out and cultivate your emotional content based on these motivations.

2. Inspire trust with a believable story
As Anderson notes: “Content from brands is particularly at risk for a knee-jerk emotional shutdown because consumers are used to manipulative advertising tactics that play on their emotions. To engage viewers, your story has to be relevant, and it has to be genuine.”

3. Invite people to actively participate
When audiences actively participate in your content strategy, this can potentially create a deeper emotional connection. As Anderson says, “With interactive content, you can put people in the driver’s seat, allowing them to follow their own path, answer questions, drill down for more information, and explore topics through multiple lenses or perspectives. This, in turn, provides you with insights on what your audience cares about.”

4. Create a full emotional arc
To maintain your audience’s interest tell a story that builds up the relevant emotions and takes audiences on an emotional journey. Below is an example of an effective ad with a full  and simple emotional arc.

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5. Use data to optimize your approach
When you publish emotion-driven content, analyze your performance metrics to see what’s working and what isn’t. You need to constantly test and refine your approach to emotional engagement, so that you can create content that truly resonates with your audience.

Want more examples of effective emotional engagement? Check out my previous posts on the #LikeAGirl campaign and powerful social development videos.