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Harnessing the power of social media for the social sector

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By Alexandra Bazuaye

Often adjudged as being responsible for the civil society, the social sector in every country is dedicated to the growth and development of the society and its people. Though a thriving sector in Nigeria, the potentials for the sector remain highly untapped as more resources and opportunities are yet to be exploited.

social media
social media

The advent of the internet and social media has greatly improved the global dynamics, not excluding the business landscape, and inevitably the economy. As various sectors bloom through the utilization of various social media platforms, the social sector should not be left behind, but should jump on this moving bandwagon.

Social media relates to digital communication channels that are used for content sharing, collaboration and interaction. Popular social media platforms include the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc. However most organizations in the social sector are oblivious to the numerous advantages and benefits that social media affords them.

Brand awareness is critical for every organization especially players in the social sector, as it is important for people to identify with your organization, its various campaigns and activities. We live in a virtual world and in this digital race, organizations must strive to have updated social profiles that reflect their true identities.

For non-profits, these social platforms will intimate people on your focus areas, campaigns, projects, trainings and all activities that pertain to your organization. This is the first step towards building a connection with some of your target audience who you may never get to meet, and who may be instrumental to the growth of your organization.

Furthermore, social media is a viable and powerful tool for storytelling. It is not enough for non-profits to embark on various life changing projects with great impact on people and society, it is also very important to tell these stories through the right medium. There are about 2.46 billion social media users globally, so you can imagine the massive impact you would achieve by telling your story to this overwhelming expanse of people.

Facebook remains a great tool to tell your story as it boasts of over 2.2 billion monthly unique active users followed closely by YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger among others. While narrating from a social sector perspective, players should endeavor to tell human angle stories as they resonate more with people, and could generate more room for empathy. Stories from the non-profit sector must be compelling enough to instigate empathy and action.

Funding has always been a major challenge within the sector ab initio, and to combat this social media has become a pathway to finding new donors, and staying connected to existing ones. The trick is to identify the right platform Vis a Vis your target audience, craft the right message, employ the use of videos, and never forget to hashtag your post where applicable.

A good example of social fundraising is shown by the Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF). In 2016, the organization implemented the #standwithwarrior campaign to raise 10 million Naira from 10,000 people in 30 days to assist sickle cell patients in need.

The campaign was engaging and involved people donating, updating awareness about their donations, and tagging their friends to do likewise. This highly successful campaign, though not able to raise its targeted sum, realized over 5 million Naira and in addition increased awareness for the organization.

Social fundraising can also be activated through online fundraising platforms like GoFundMe, CrowdRise, YouCaring etc.; which support various charitable interventions both within and outside Nigeria.

Another benefit of social media to the social sector is its ability to generate targeted and instantaneous feedback where necessary. Social media through its online community has created an avenue for people to exchange their thoughts, and a good way to test the pulse of your target audience is through social listening. Monitor mentions of your organization and when necessary respond to questions and complaints.

You can also monitor the activities of other non-profits to know what is trending and what people are adverse to. You can do this by setting up Google alerts or you may choose to implore social listening tools like Hootsuite, Talkwalker etc. There also exists various social media tools to support and guide non-profit organizations as they grow, groom, and nurture their online community.

Social media if properly harnessed is instrumental to the growth of non-profits across a wide spectrum of factors ranging from fundraising, social interaction to awareness and collaboration etc. The important element is to ascertain the social media platforms utilized by an organization’s target audience in order to constantly engage with them.

Non-profit organizations must note that content is key, hence, they must ensure that their content is engaging enough to sustain the attention of their target audience. Remember there are other non-profits out there who are also making a change, so ensure you put in that extra that will make you stand out.

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