At the 2014 Technology Initiative Grants Conference, I had the opportunity to host a group discussion on social media. These are some of the tips, takeaways and resources the group discussed to help create and implement a social media plan for your legal aid organization.
1. Determine the value of social media for your organization
Avoid thinking of social media work as existing in a vacuum, but as part of your larger outreach and marketing efforts. Because outreach and marketing is an important part of the work of legal aid organizations, it is generally a valuable investment – if you go about it the right way.
2. Coordinate social media work with your other outreach and marketing efforts.
As mentioned above, think of social media as part of your larger outreach and marketing efforts. For example, if you are doing an end of year fundraising mailing, you may want to consider posting about it on Facebook.
3. Identify the goal of your social media outreach (and your audience), keeping in mind how this integrates with the mission of your organization.
This will help you stay focused and on track.
4. Decide which social media platforms make the most sense for your organization. If you are just starting out, pick ONE to focus on.
There are a lot of social media platforms out there – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. Some will make sense for your organization. And some won’t. Use your goals and audience to help you determine this.
If you are just starting out with social media, just pick one and focus on that. It’s better to do a really good job of consistently posting on one social media account than spreading yourself thin and hardly posting at all. Users won’t pay attention to your site as much if you barely post.
5. Develop a social media policy
While some aspects of a social media policy may seem pretty intuitive, it helps serve as a reference point and can even help with content development. It can also serve as a guide around privacy and legal concerns, such as media releases. You may want to check out the Policy Tool for Social Media policy generator to help you get started.
Note that it is also important to understand the privacy and legal settings that exist on social media platforms; it might be useful to have an intern do an analysis of social media privacy settings, such as who can see your posts, etc. Be aware that social media sites often change their privacy settings and features that affect privacy.
6. Develop a content plan and build your social media community
A content plan will help you coordinate with your larger outreach efforts and it will help you avoid the last minute scramble for content. Try using a calendar to identify key conferences, trainings, and webinars, and other important dates such as National Celebrate Pro Bono Week.
Look up best practices for how frequent you should post to maintain a healthy social media presence. You may also want to try the 50-30-20 rule (h/t Mike Monahan of the State Bar of Georgia). The 50-30-20 rule suggests that 50% of your posts should be about your organization, 30% should be about your community (the legal tech and legal aid community) and 20% should be about larger themes related to your work (access to justice and poverty).
Also, start connecting with other legal aid orgs on social media for content ideas and resources for sharing. LSNTAP has a great list here.
7. Follow your content plan and post, post, post!
This is the easy part once you’ve taken the steps above. You may want to consider getting a social media intern for this, or someone who is familiar with the details of posting (such as using link shortening tools like bit.ly.
Once you’ve been posting for a while, make sure to perform an analysis of whether your efforts are effective. Many social media platforms have built in tools for these analyses. You can also try making your own survey to send out to your users.
9. Think about integrating with other forms of social media
Once you’ve become a master of the steps above, you can look into other forms of social media. You can use social media management tools such as HootSuite to help you manage your postings on multiple social media platforms.
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