'Be careful what you say and don't be boring on social media'

27 Nov 2014 News

Don’t be too serious on social media and be prepared to pay for premium services, delegates at yesterday’s Charity Technology Conference heard.

Don’t be too serious on social media and be prepared to pay for premium services, delegates at the Charity Technology Conference heard yesterday.

Zoe Amar (pictured), a marketing and digital communications consultant, said that charities need to look at using both paid for and unpaid social media transactions in this day and age, and said that Facebook has become primarily a "paid-for platform" because charities were engaging with supporters through sponsored content.

Amar was speaking at a panel discussion on the return on investment of fans and followers at yesterday's conference, organised by Civil Society Media, alongside Simon Blake, chief executive of Brook, Damien Austin-Walker, head of digital at vInspired, and Catherine Sweet, marketing and communications manager at Get Connected.

Austin-Walker said that vInspired is open to using paid-for approaches to social media, and does not just rely on 'organic' methods, which rely on supporters to spread a message.

He said: “We started out with organic and that is the bedrock. We do use paid where we think it adds value but we don’t apply it willy-nilly”.

However, he emphasised that even free social media is not free for an organisation to use, because you still have to pay for staff time.

Amar added that it is possible to get good results just using organic campaigning, but that charities must be open to using paid for approaches.

Don’t be an idiot

Amar went on to emphasise the importance of “not being an idiot on social media” and not making comments that you would not make in person.

Amar referenced the recent tweet sent by MP Emily Thornberry, who stepped down after receiving criticism of a picture she tweeted which was deemed judgemental and prejudiced. The social media consultant warned delegates to “think about what you put out there and how it could interpreted”.

Amar was echoing fellow panellist Blake’s advice to consider social media like being at a party. He said: “Think about how you want people to experience you, you wouldn’t want to stand next to a shouty person at a party. Don’t be a shouty person on social media.”

Blake went on to emphasise the point about being mindful about what you put out on social media, and how this makes you come across, to avoid alienating your audience.

He said: “It is tempting sometimes when you are particularly passionate about something to be really hardcore all of the time. But it does have to be light hearted and careful so that people want to be part of that conversation with you”.

Blake’s advice to delegates was: “Don’t be a bore. Don’t overthink it. Think about being at a party, the people who are interesting are the ones who are serious, who will listen to you, who will communicate about different things.”

Sweet said that for Get Connected, social media is more about brand awareness as they try to reach a demographic that is flooded with messages every day.  

Organic viral campaigns such as #icebucketchallenge were also discussed. Blake said: “I, like many of you, am probably dreaming of it happening for us and hoping that I or someone else is there to help facilitate the process at the point of which we get a sexual health ice bucket challenge.”