Social media has come a long way in an unbelievably short amount of time, partly because our favorite apps are constantly experimenting with new features that keep us on our toes. Staying up to date on all these new social media features can be overwhelming. Let’s go through some of the basics so you can make an informed decision on which features you should be taking advantage of.
1. Hashtags (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter)
If you’ve been on social media for any amount of time at all, you’re probably familiar with the hashtag (#). It originated on Twitter in 2006 and has since expanded to Instagram, Facebook and beyond to make content more discoverable. But how do hashtags work, and how often should you use them? First, be specific. You can tag generic words like “#nonprofit” or “#fundraising,” but they’ll likely end up lost in a vast sea of other posts with the same hashtag. Instead, use hashtags that relate to your unique cause, like the name of your organization or event. You can also create fun tags that tie back to your brand without directly mentioning it. Nonprofit Hub’s, for example, are #HereForGood and #CauseTheChange.
If you check us out on Twitter (@NPHub), you’ll notice we don’t put a ton of hashtags in our posts—and that’s just fine! Part of your social media strategy should be whether or not to regularly use hashtags. Keep in mind that key terms will show up in search results whether one is used or not, and sometimes they can distract from the actual content of your post. You’ll have to use your best judgment and play around a little to determine if hashtags are actually helping your online engagement.
2. Stories (Instagram, Facebook)
Stories are pictures, videos and Boomerangs that appear at the top of users’ feeds and vanish after 24 hours. To create one, just swipe right on your home page (if a camera screen pops up, you’re in the right place). You can get creative and add text, GIFs, links and even polls to your stories, which makes them an excellent marketing tool. Instagram released the feature in August 2016, followed by Facebook in March 2017, and while stories are popular on both sites, they’ve taken off more on Instagram. That could be because the app gives you the ability to “archive” your stories. After the 24-hour window has expired, you can save them permanently to your profile and divide them into categories. If you only have time to add one of these extra features to your social media agenda, this is it.
3. Live Video (Instagram, Facebook)
If your organization hosts events or works frequently in the community, you’d probably benefit from posting live videos on Instagram and Facebook. Access it the same way you would a story (see above), then swipe to the “Live” tab and start recording. For up to an hour, you can give your followers a real-time glimpse at what your nonprofit is up to. Comments from viewers will pop up on the screen while you’re live, and you’ll also be able to see which accounts—and how many—are watching. After you’re done, your video will show up as a regular story and followers who missed the real thing can view it for the next 24 hours. Be careful not to go overboard here, though. Each time you go live, everyone who follows or likes your page receives a notification that you’ve started a video, which might annoy your audience if you do it too often. But generally, giving days, large events and in-person interactions with the people you help are perfect excuses to livestream.
4. Lists (Twitter)
Twitter lists seem to be the forgotten child in the family of social media features, but they can actually be quite useful. Lists are groups of accounts that only display content from those users, essentially giving you a mini-timeline of curated tweets. You can create your own or subscribe to others’, all without having to actually follow anyone. With over 261 million active accounts on the app, this is a good way to sort the ones you’re interested in by category and discover new users. This tool may not grow your online presence exponentially, but it’s important to understand how it works for organizational purposes.
These social media features have the potential to spice up your online presence and help you target your audience in new, unique ways. Do some experimenting to see which ones work best for your organization!