How can the NGOs promote their activities using the web and social media

A problem that faces many NGOs is the promotion of their events, actions or the ability to have a web presence that attract volunteers, participants or sponsors/donators. In November 2012, during a workshop at the Tech Camp Morocco, Me and Mohamed Bensoltana worked with some NGOs to identify and detail some specific problems.

  • Geographic limitation of the NGO communication;
  • No person fully available to manage the communication or the web presence of the NGO, when there’s one person or more available, there’s a real problem when he or she leaves the NGO;
  • Some NGOs faced bad experience with the codes and passwords of webhosting or social networks profiles when it’s not an internal person from the NGO who manage that;
  • NGO don’t know how to attract people (participants, new members, volunteers, donators, sponsors…) via the social networks;
  • Much people don’t know about actions when they happened, they know just after.

The solution

We focused on using the same tools that are used now by most of the NGOs, including emailing, social networks, website, forums.

We split the solution in two big sections :

  • A general part, that can be used by the NGO all over its existence, including best practices on social media management;
  • A specific part, including a check list of tasks to do for promotion and communication before, during and after the events and actions.

All time best practices when creating a website

  • When hosting a website, create your account at the hosting provider with the official email for the NGO and give the official information of the NGO (telephone number, address) and not the personal information of the president or the webmaster;
  • When creating the website, start small and start with the essential, you can always expand. You can use great free tools like blogger.com to build your first website;
  • In your website, talk clearly and briefly about the NGO objectives and planned actions;
  • Use trust markers : physical address, phone numbers, key members, real sponsors, achievements, key activities and projects;
  • Start blogging about NGO concerns and actions.

All time best practices on social media

  • Choose few platforms to be in, mostly Facebook and Twitter, why not be on foursquare and ask people to check in when they are in the NGO office;
  • Use the official email to create social media accounts;
  • Have smart objectives and analytic indicators : manageable, attainable, relevant, timely;
  • Focus on quality not in quantity, one bee in the field is better than one million flies (amazigh proverb);
  • Manage and listen to the community;
  • Be patient;
  • Always ask members to be engaged on the NGO social networks (comment on the page, share URLs, retweet).

Before the event

  • 15 days before, write a brief (written for the web) press release about the event answering those questions : what’s the event about, where, when, who is organizing, is it free or paid;
  • Add this press release on your website (or blog), and send it to the newspapers and webportals in your city and also national portals, you will have to follow the people you send this press realese to, and recall if they don’t put it on their portal or newspaper;
  • Start talking about the event on social a month before it starts by giving steps and achievements while preparing your event, a four posts a week is enough. Don’t miss to talk about your key guests by presenting them one by one in separated posts. You can schedule those posts using tools like hootsuite.com;
  • Create a facebook events and invite your members, activists and friends, ask them also to invite their friends and relatives;
  • On the facebook event, inform your followers daily about the evolution, program and the eventual changes of your actions;
  • Use emailing to inform people you know, don’t send tons of mails, one mail each is enough for not being considered as a spammer, if you have a long list of hundreds of emails, you can use a free plan on mailchimp.com;
  • Don’t hesitate to call important people by phone, they can be experts or famous people, talk to them about the event and invite them.

During the event

  • Designate one person from the NGO to take photos, count attendees, take some testimonials from people, recording videos, note the names of important people who attends the events;
  • Create a specific hashtag and display it everywhere to the audience, it can be used by people in twitter, facebook, foursquare or instagram;
  • The event is also a chance to display your website URL and your facebook page address everywhere, you can put it on badges, invitations, banners and slideshows;
  • Invite people to take photos and videos and share them on their social networks.

After the event

  • Create photo gallery of the event on the NGO facebook page and the blog;
  • Write a full summary of the event on the NGO blog using notes you took during the event, don’t hesitate to give numbers, journalists love that;
  • Publish this article on your website or blog, give it as a press release to the web portals and newspapers like you did before the event;
  • Inform people on the facebook event with the links to the blog summary, and different photo galleries;
  • You have to maintain 15 days of posting on social networks to inform people and get feedbacks in the NGO facebook page and event page.

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