While the digital media world is growing rapidly, it is not always clear what the many different platforms are capable of. Even now, in an age of a few social media powerhouses, these platforms often love to change their layout and structure. This makes it difficult to keep up with the protocol and function of these sites, which are supposed to be intuitive and user friendly. Even as a student studying digital media, I often find myself confused when one platform or another updates to a new style. These changes keep technology from getting stale, but make it difficult for an individual to keep up with how he or she can engage with different organizations through digital media.
Though the best way for an individual to actually donate online is through an organization’s website, this is not the best way to engage. Organization websites offer information and facts about staff and general programs, but social media sites offer an insight into how an organization works and the people who work there. Currently the three main social media platforms that organizations use to engage with potential donors are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. While Twitter and Facebook are technically competitors they have quite different purposes. While working for Village Enterprise, as a Social Media Intern this summer, I learned how we as an organization use these platforms and how use varies throughout other non-profits. I have outlined below the most useful aspects of all three platforms for both organizations and the individual.
Facebook is a great way for organizations to tell a story. An organization’s Facebook page is where it can post links and longer stories that help portray the company. Facebook is also a platform that lets the individual learn about an organization and show that he or she is interested in learning more. An organization can also announce news through its page.
Instagram is a subset of Facebook, but focuses on photos. Instagram allows organizations to showcase photos and smaller stories. This platform however can also be used to show company culture. If an office chooses to post pictures of employees and pictures from the office this can help potential donors feel more connected to the organization. Someone might be more likely to donate or engage with an organization if he or she feels connected to both the mission and the people behind it.
Twitter offers a great way to make quick updates and calls to action. With posts confined to 140 characters they have to be concise and precise. This allows for no frivolous information and keeps the message confined to just what is necessary.
These platforms will continue to change, but I hope that this guide to social media platforms for non-profits and the individual, helps clear up the confusion for anyone who wasn’t quite sure what each of these sites was used for.
Social Media and Development Intern