By Lauryn Rosinski – Marketing and PR account coordinator 

This past Friday, I had the chance to return to my alma mater, Kent State University, to participate in the 2018 YouToo Social Media Conference. For the past 11 years, Kent State has hosted annual “YouToo” conferences that focus entirely on how professionals can effectively use social media to create and deliver messages. Overall, I had an enjoyable experience hearing from industry leaders and talking with my peers about the social media landscape.

Following the conference, I had an epiphany.

I realized that the information discussed at the conference was not just relevant to marketers and public relations professionals. In fact, much of the information we discussed was beneficial to those who work in the nonprofits, startups and small businesses that Dot Org Solutions serve. After all, most of them are a part of the social media world, whether it is through their personal accounts or through their organizations’ social media pages and feeds.

Anyone can be successful in the digital world – with the right tools and tips.

Don’t worry – I’m not going to spend this time teaching you and other blog readers how to create a Facebook Ad or how to measure analytics from a Twitter or Facebook. Those are other lessons for another day. Instead, here are some key takeaways from the 2018 YouToo Social Media Conference that will help you get your social media marketing on the right track.

  1. Focus on quality, not quantity.

The one question the Dot Org Solutions team members hear frequently from staff members in the nonprofit or small business community is: “Are we doing enough?”

We are not the only ones who have heard this.

Throughout the YouToo Conference, speakers and presenters provided examples of when clients in for-profit and nonprofit organizations wanted to do more on social media. Sometimes they felt they were not posting enough. Other times, they wondered if they should be on more social media forums.

All the marketing professionals at the conference came to the same conclusion: Yes, it is important to be on social media in this day and age – but, it is better to distribute relevant content less frequently through one social media forum that is compatible with an organization’s brand than to post meaningless posts and threads on multiple social media sites.

If you are in a nonprofit, small business or startup, do not just post for the sake of posting. Think about your work. Think about what messages you want to deliver. And think about who you want to deliver these messages to.

Lee Odden, one of the keynote speakers for the YouToo Conference and digital marketing and PR strategist from TopRank Marketing, said it best: “More content isn’t better. Better content is better.”

  1. Create a community through your social media marketing.

During the YouToo Conference, many similar words and phrases were dropped. I cannot honestly tell you the amount of times I heard “influencer marketing” and “search engine optimization.”

However, the word I heard the most frequently was “community.”

Organizations and individuals who are successful and influential on social media have one thing in common. No, it is not that they share funny memes or use a great deal of hashtags. It is that they are able to create communities based off of common interests of individuals who otherwise may never have met or interacted.

When reaching out to audiences via social media, consider who your organization’s community is. For example, if you work with an organization that focuses on children’s education, your community will probably consist of parents, guardians and teachers. Meanwhile, if your organization focuses on art and culture, your community will be made up of local artists, entertainers and musicians.

Once you have identified your community members, the next step is to connect them. Organizations can do this in a variety of ways through their social media pages, such as creating contests, sharing news and events about partnering organizations and showing recognition for followers.

As Odden said in his presentation about participation marketing: “If you want your content to be great, invite your community to participate.”

  1. Use your social media to tell stories.

Our keynote speaker during lunch was Shonali Burke, the CEO and president of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Her organization provides marketing consulting and campaign development and management for “purpose-driven organizations.” She is a titan in this industry and, needless to say, I was incredibly excited to hear her speak.

I wish I could type out Burke’s entire speech and place it in this blog post. She detailed best practices of public relations and gave advice to communication professionals; however, she did so by telling moving, empowering stories about friends, family members and individuals she had met online. At the conclusion of her speech, all those listening were inspired and many had tears in their eyes.

Burke’s speech reminded me of the power of storytelling. She could have stood in front of her audience and given five tips to effective social media marketing. However, she detailed aspects of her life to not only explain the work she did, but to also show us who she was. Because of this, Burke’s lessons had a lasting impact on her listeners, many of whom would take them and apply them to everyday practice. (I mean, look at me! I was so moved by her speech that I wrote a blog post about it!)

Social media allows nonprofits, startups and small businesses the opportunity to tell their stories. If you work in these sectors, do not just explain what you do online. Show your audiences who you are and why you do what you do. Provide testimonials from volunteers, employees and donors. And give examples of how your work has made a difference.

I guarantee you that you, like Burke, will have a long-term, positive effect on your followers and listeners.

If there is an aspect of social media that is consistent, it is that it is constantly changing. This is why marketing professionals get together to discuss how it is evolving at conferences such as YouToo.

Overall, we are excited about where the world of social media is going – and, if you focus on generating high-quality content, connecting your followers and staying true to your organization both on-screen and off, we believe you will be successful in this social media world.