Your work is vital. We are raising funds to support it.
Please listen to me. I'd like to tell you about the worst thing you've ever imagined.
According to anti-trafficking organization Not For Sale, human trafficking is a $32 billion industry, enslaving more than 30 million individuals worldwide.
How do you talk about the enslavement of 30 million people in just 140 characters or in a simple Facebook post? How do you ask people to engage with such a horrifying subject, not just once, but over and over again?
Sarah Potts is the Community Manager at Not For Sale, and that is her challenge.
She recently shared her social media and community-building wisdom at an event organized by the SF Tech4Good group and the San Francisco Online Community Meetup Group. You can watch the full presentation (she's a great speaker - I recommend watching it!), or read on for a recap.
Not For Sale operates in Peru, the Netherlands, India, South Africa, and Romania. Their work is very different in each of these locations.
Because their goal is to end human trafficking, they go beyond supporting survivors to also target the root causes of exploitation. They offer training, education, and employment opportunities, as well as working to inform companies and consumers of the social impact of their supply chains and purchasing decisions. They also work with celebrity speakers, volunteers, and a large online community to raise awareness and support action to end human trafficking.
That's a lot of different things to explain to a lot of different communities.
Therefore, as Sarah said, "Deciding which messages we're going to tell is very important." Different audiences and different social media platforms demand different messages.
Not For Sale believes that "Awareness is the first step towards engagement, and engagement can lead to changes in action, and changes in action can lead to changes in the world."
The organization therefore works to empower people with information about trafficking so those people can take that information to their own face-to-face and online communities.
The goal is for people to have "an ongoing conversation that is positive and informed and that inform purchasing and donation decisions for the rest of their lives."
For supporters, this could mean many things: sharing a Not For Sale post on Facebook, talking to friends and family about human trafficking, or talking to the company they work for about corporate social responsibility programs.
The challenge for Not For Sale is that they don't want people to hear about it just once or be educated at one event, they want people to engage with the topic and be a part of it. They recognize that human trafficking is an upsetting subject and that "Asking someone to be that close to something that painful for a very long time is a lot to ask." Sarah says that in order for people to engage with such an upsetting topic, they must feel supported by their community.
Burnout can also be a problem for those that are responsible for social media, Sarah noted: "Managing social media is exhausting in your need for exuberance." She recommends spreading the responsibility for social media across several people to occasionally give your social media person a break (do, of course, train these other folks so that your organization's social media voice is consistent).
In order to choose the right social media platform, you need to first define what it is you want people to do with your message and how you want them to engage.
Not For Sale wants to empower people to engage with their own online and offline communities. They have found Twitter and Facebook quite effective for doing this.
For Twitter, Sarah offered the following advice:
Sarah has found that Facebook is useful for sharing information, making people feel like they've learned something. That's why it's good to share information that only your organization has.
Additionally, Facebook posts that include compelling images do much better than those without images. The graphic below is a perfect example of this: a compelling image that also shares important information.
Check out the full presentation for many more tips on engaging your community via these and other platforms.
There's a lot of advice out there for how to engage and inform supporters via social media: from the best time to post on Twitter to what the most meaningful types of engagement are.
Sarah says that, while that information is useful, the really crucial thing is to understand what resonates with your audience, regardless of what traditional social media wisdom says.
Measurement is the key to understanding what interests and engages your community. You can look at Facebook Insights and Twitter analytics and use tools such as Crowdbooster. With this information, you can see whether your community is engaging in the ways you want them to, then adapt your social media strategy accordingly.
Many thanks to the San Francisco Online Community Meetup Group and SF Tech4Good/NetSquared for organizing such a great event. Thanks also to Erika Gosser for photographing the event.
by Ariel Gilbert-Knight, Director, Content, TechSoup
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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