By Becky Dombrowski and Katie Zupancic Wymer
Through our Collaboration Drives Innovation series, the Event 360 team is working hard to provide support to those navigating the non-profit and events spaces amidst this global crisis. After exploring working from home, participant coaching, rethinking events, and communications, we’re excited to dive into “How to Support Constituents on Social Media.”
With in-person and online ecosystems impacted dramatically by COVID-19, organic social media provides a unique opportunity for building and strengthening your relationship with your supporters and participants (both past and potential). When executed in a sensitive, transparent, mission-driven, and engaging manner, organic social media can deepen your constituents’ connections to your organization at a time when gathering in person is not currently an option.
Whether your constituents are gathering on your general social channels, for a virtual event, or for an in-person event, our number one concern is that people feel SAFE. Let’s dig into how to build and execute a social media plan in the time of COVID-19 focused on four key tenants:
- S – Sensitive Social Media Calendar
- A – Audience-Driven Transparency
- F – Focus on your Mission
- E – Engage with your Community
S — Sensitive Social Media Calendar
The contents of your social media calendar and your posting frequency and cadence are more important now than ever. With so many peer-to-peer fundraising events, recruitment advertising, and organizational plans changing, it’s vital to ensure that each piece of content you provide to your audiences clearly provides value. With a 52% increase in time spent on social media, information overload can be exhausting and cause users to unfollow accounts that miss the mark. Leave behind your format and posting patterns from before the pandemic, and adjust to what feels right for your specific audience right now, and what feels right on each channel – what works on one platform should only be cross-posted if it truly makes sense.
In addition to reevaluating calendar content and cadence, it is critical to deliver your message in the right tone. Triple check every angle of how the post could be received and invite others with fresh eyes to evaluate. Advertising your new sale or registration for an event months away sounds tone deaf and insincere, especially to those among your most vulnerable constituents or those suffering from a direct impact of the virus.
A — Audience-Driven Transparency
Another important factor of effective social media marketing during a pandemic is building trust and fostering transparency between your organization and your online audience. When new updates about your organization are solidified, communicate them with your audience in a timely manner and be available and prepared for any questions they may have. A speedy, succinct response builds a more trusting relationship with your followers and signifies you value them. If you do not know the answer or there is no answer, be honest. This transparency is even more critical when sharing difficult decisions like postponing, virtualizing, or canceling an event.
F — Focus on Mission
Users are becoming increasingly focused on spending their money carefully. They want to invest in organizations that make a difference and are part of a solution. Hone in on what your organization does best and focus your content on your mission and the value you provide. If your mission is related to fitness, do you have a sponsor or fitness instructor on staff who could run a free Instagram Live workout? If you are working with an immunocompromised community, can your team work with experts to share knowledge about how your constituents can protect themselves when going on essential errands? Do you have additional supplies and lessons you can offer to the community via Facebook Live to keep children entertained and learning while away from school? Creativity is key, and social media provides a unique way to focus on your mission from afar.
E — Engage with Your Community
Your target audience is looking for new ways to connect and becoming more open about how that communication takes place. Live streaming from social channels, video calls, and webinars were available previously, but many of these tools are just now being used in the mainstream. A great way to engage with your community on social media is to ask them to contribute. You don’t want to be that friend who’s always talking about themselves and never asking how anyone else is doing.
If there’s merchandise from your events that could be used as protective gear, ask people to share a photo of them wearing it at home. If you’re looking to spread some positivity, ask people to share what they’re grateful for or who is inspiring them on a shareable Instagram story template. Explore what is trending right now on different platforms and shape those ideas into something your organization can use to interact with your audience. Not ready to jump into the depths of Instagram or Facebook Live? Engagement can also look like liking, commenting and sharing user-generated content or interacting with comments from your audience on your own posts. The more your followers know there’s someone friendly — and human — behind the account, the more willing they’ll be to engage.
Bottom line? Be sensitive, transparent with your audience, mission-driven, and engaging. Sincerity and fostering a SAFE social media community will benefit your organization long after this crisis ends.
Becky Dombrowski is the Social Media Manager for MuckFest® and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. When she’s not brainstorming and implementing creative ways to interact with various audiences on social, she’s flowing through her yoga practice, swiping her library card weekly, or eating her way through Music City with her husband and pups, Roofus and Rosie.
Katie Zupancic Wymer (LinkedIn, Twitter) is the Senior Manager, Digital Marketing at Event 360. She manages digital marketing strategy, social media strategy, and sponsorship for MuckFest®, the FUN mud run in support of a world free of multiple sclerosis. She also manages digital marketing for other fundraising events including Bike MS. Katie enjoys exploring the Bold North of Minnesota with her tiny dogs, Annie and Charlie, and taking part in her newest hobby, curling.