More Telephone, Less Megaphone

Social media isn’t a billboard, it’s a coffee shop. Unfortunately, too many organizations use their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to announce what it has going on, rather than invite people into a conversation.

These insights, among many others, came from Beau Coffron, the Lunchbox Dad. He’s famous for the inspiring creations he sends to school with his kiddos.

Coffron spoke as part of a conference I attended this fall that shone light on the current state of social media and how to use it more effectively, especially for nonprofits and churches.

“The number one reason people unfollow: too many promotions,” said Coffron.

So how do you make your social media more engaging and conversational?

  1. Ask questions. “Questions marks are greater than periods.”
  2. Do polls, but be creative. For example show several images of coffee. Ask members which they’d prefer.  Members can comment and say what cup they like and why. It helps them enter into more of a conversation, rather than clicking a button.
  3. Use social media as a telephone, not a megaphone. Again, try to reduce the number of “announcement” posts and increase the number of posts that ask for engagement. For every one promotional post, do three that are not promos.

The world of social media is always changing. A few other trending tips to consider:

  1. Mobile is everything. In whatever you create think, “How will this look on my smartphone?” Create shareable content for small screens.
  2. Go for video. Facebook, especially, is investing heavily in video. But keep it short. Grab the viewer’s attention in the first three seconds.
  3. Experiment with vertical videos. These days some social media platforms give more real estate to vertical, rather than horizontal images. Additionally, 94 percent of people say they prefer to view video vertically on their mobile devices.
  4. Facebook prefers native files. Vimeo and YouTube are now seen as competitors and will not receive as much play.
  5. Write it out. When you do create videos, be sure to include subtitles. Think about watching a video in line at the grocery store. You’re probably going to have the sound off. So if you watch a video without subtitles, you’ll likely skip to the next thing. Including subtitles means you’ll have more viewers. There are a number of services who can transcribe videos digitally so you don’t have to do this manually.
  6. Content is still king. Make sure you have a communications plan that provides consistent, interesting, innovative videos, images and stories. If your plan isn’t sustainable, you’re likely not to keep the followers you’ve worked so hard to reach.

Donna Dunn uses Instagram and Twitter, but prefers keeping up with friends on the platform that she’s used for nearly a decade: Facebook.