Activity: Develop Your Own Social Media Strategy

Download and complete this ungraded activity.

Sample Solution

There is no "correct" solution to this activity. Below is a sample strategy that could be used as a possible solution to this activity. It uses the example company from the activity above. In this example, the "favorite clean water charity" is the World Vision Clean Water Fund.

1. Define the purpose and objectives for the use of social media by your organization.

The mission of our organization is "Enabling Americans to easily provide clean water to those in need". This is a broad mission statement that has many implications. For our use of social media tools, we have some different options. First, we could use social media to broadly advertise our cause and make them aware of how easy it is to donate. Second, we could use social media to directly solicit donations, putting donation links right inside of Facebook, etc. Third, we could use social media as an indirect way to solicit donations by focusing on developing relationships first, and then engaging about our cause. Finally, we could use social media to focus on one specific part of the World Vision ministry. This is not an all-inclusive list of our options but does give an idea of the different ways that social media could be used.

Because World Vision already has a nice online donation page set up, I think the best use of our money and time would be to help advertise it and drive people there. There is no reason to muddy the waters by setting up our own donation links and then somehow channeling that money back to World Vision. As for the option of developing relationships, this could be a secondary way to drive donations, but if we are limiting ourselves to one year on this project, then we need to work on something shorter-term. Finally, World Vision does not seem to have a way to direct their donation to a specific location or people group, so that would also muddy the waters. Therefore, our mission statement for online use will be as follows:

"We will use social media to enable our users to directly donate to World Vision's Clean Water Fund".

2. Describe the target group(s) for your social media presence.

Social media is being used by a large percentage of Americans, but in order to make the best use of our time and funding, we will be focusing our efforts on a specific group. Our mission statement says "all Americans," which limits our efforts to those in the U.S. However, within that group, we should focus on those who are most likely to donate to this cause. Our experience shows that today's college-age students are really connecting with clean water causes, so they would be a group to target. It also would be great to connect them to an organization like World Vision while they are still young. So, to be specific, our target group for social media use will be: Americans between the ages of 18-22.

3. Research your target group(s) use of the Internet and social media.

We all know that college-age students are big users of social media. But what can we find out about them? It will be important to find out: what social media sites do they use? How do they use them? Which sites are more likely to encourage donations?

Because this is such a large and diverse group, it does not make sense to use our limited time or funds to research their Internet use ourselves. The Pew Internet and American Life Project contains enough useful data to help us with our strategy and answer some of our questions. Here are some of their key findings:

  • According to a recent report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 18- 22 year olds make up 29% of MySpace users, 16% of Facebook users, 6% of LinkedIn users and 26% of Twitter users.
  • 75% of LinkedIn users have a bachelor's or graduate degree, compared to 18% on MySpace, 35% on Facebook, and 39% on Twitter.
  • 18-22 year olds are the most likely age group to "Like" a Facebook page (70% do so at least once a week).
  • Facebook and Twitter are used much more frequently by their users than LinkedIn and MySpace. Some 52% of Facebook users and 33% of Twitter users engage with the platform daily, while only 7% of MySpace users and 6% of LinkedIn users do the same.  
  • "Controlling for demographics and other types of internet use, compared with other internet users a Facebook user who visits the site multiple times per day is two and a half times more likely to have attended a political rally or meeting, 57% more likely to have tried to convince someone to vote for a specific candidate, and 43% more likely to have said they voted or intended to vote (compared with non-internet users: 5.89 times more likely to have attended a meeting, 2.79 times more likely to talk to someone about their vote, and 2.19 times more likely to report voting)" .  
  • "Currently, those under 40 are just as likely to say they donated through traditional or digital means (12% each)" .
  • Twitter is more diverse ethnically than other sites, with 25% of Internet-using African-Americans and 19% of Internet-using Hispanics using it on any given day.
From this research, we can take the following applications for our strategy:
  • Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social media sites with our target group. They engage at least daily!
  • It is definitely worthwhile to pursue online donations. Our target group is definitely willing to donate online.
  • A Facebook page that users can "Like" would be an appropriate way to get our site out there.
  • It might make sense to use Twitter as a way to reach out to a more diverse audience.

4. Determine the resources available.

The Saylor Foundation 6 For this project, we have very limited resources: one full-time worker (me) and a budget of $5000. I know how to use social media and feel that I can probably do most of the work myself, so no consultants will be needed for basic social media work. If an application needs to be developed, it will probably be most proficient to find a third-party to do it. The social media campaign will be a large part of what this organization does; I will probably be spending 20 hours a week on it until it is successfully launched.

5. Analyze possible tools for use.

In reviewing our research (step 3), it looks as if the best two social media sites to use for this project would be Facebook and Twitter. MySpace, while having a large percentage of 18-22 year olds, is dropping in influence rapidly and LinkedIn just does not have enough of our target group to be useful.

Facebook has several ways for us to be integrated.

  • We could create a page for our organization that people could "like". From there, we could post regular updates that direct people on the need to give, how to give, etc.
  • We could utilize the Facebook "Causes" app, which would allow us to empower others as well as raise money ourselves.
  • We could create our own Facebook app which explains our project and gives a simple way to donate to World Vision. This app could be installed on our own Facebook page or any of our fans' pages.
  • We could buy Facebook ads that direct users to either our own Facebook page, our cause page, or directly to World Vision's site.
Twitter is a more limited platform. Some options for Twitter include:
  • Creating a Twitter account for our organization. People could "follow" it, and we could post on how to donate. We could also post links directly to our Facebook page, our Facebook cause, or directly to World Vision.
  • Creating a personal Twitter account and directing people to our Facebook page, our Facebook cause, or directly to World Vision.
We also have to face the question of having our own website outside of social media. Should we create our own presence so that we can post contact information, information on donations, and links to all our social media sites?

6. Select the tools you will use.
After reviewing our mission statement (step 1), our target users’ Internet habits (steps 2 and 3), and our available resources (step 4), and comparing them to the possible tools we could choose (step 5), it makes the most sense to:
  • Develop a Facebook page for our specific organization that focuses on directing people to the World Vision donation page. While a "Cause" page would be quite effective, there does not seem to be a simple way to ensure that the money would go directly to the water program. Additionally, there are already several World Vision Causes pages – adding another would be confusing.
  • Create a Facebook app called "Donate Clean Water" that will explain the project and place a prominent link to the World Vision donations page. This app will be installed on our own page and be available to be installed on anyone else's page. We will use a third-party consultant for this part of the project.
  • Take out Facebook ads that target our specific demographic. The ads will point people to our Facebook page. We will use at least $1000 of our $5000 budget to jump start our page.
  • We will not go with a Twitter campaign right now, with only one person working on this project, it would be distracting.
  • We will not create our own website right now. As with Twitter, it will distract attention from the main point of the project: to get donations for clean water.

7. Determine the steps necessary to develop, implement and maintain your strategy.
Development and Implementation
In order for our strategy to be implemented, we will want to get our Facebook app created. A quick review of outside consulting firms shows that a simple Facebook app can be had for under $1000. We can work with a consultant to get this created in less than a month.

Next, we need to create the Facebook page. The page will be interactive, allowing wall posts from any of our fans. We can begin doing some promotion on the page before the app is installed, but we will not buy any ads until the page is ready.

Once the app is completed and installed on our page, we will buy Facebook ads targeted at 18-22 year olds. According to Facebook, as of June 27, 2011, there are just over 49 million Facebook users in that age range. This is so large a group, it would probably be wise to target a more precise group, so we will limit it to those who list "charity/causes" as an interest in their profile, which reduces the number to just over 7 million. If this produces too few hits, we will revisit it.

Once the page, app, and ads are in place, then we will need to ensure that the project moves forward.
  • On a daily basis, I will log in to the page and do the following: post a story about the need for clean water, post a link to the app that people can install to support donations, post a link to directly donate to World Vision's water project. I will also review wall posts to be sure nothing inappropriate has been posted.
  • On a weekly basis, I will review all of our site statistics to be sure that nothing is broken and that we are moving forward. This includes statistics for the app. 

8. Forecast results.
Our goal is to increase donations to the World Vision water project. We have no way to directly measure the donations, but we can measure several other statistics:
  • The number of people who "like" our fan page. Our goals for this will be to have 1000 people "like" our page each month. That is less than 0.2% of those we are targeting in our ads.
  • The number of people who use our app. Our goal is to get 10% of the people who like our page to use our app: 100 per month.
  • The number of people who install our app. This goal will be the same as the umber of people who use our app: 100 per month.
  • The number of clicks on our ads. A 0.1% click through rate is considered a success here, so 700 clicks on our ads will be our goal.

9. Assign roles and responsibilities.
I will be doing most all of the work in this project and will be the main point of contact. We will find a Facebook app developer using For my steering committee, I have recruited two trusted colleagues: Mary Lee and John Mendoza. Mary runs a local food bank and has experience using social media to help her cause (including Facebook). John is a lawyer for a non-profit in my town and has a passion for helping people. The steering committee will meet once a quarter to review our progress and compare our actual statistics to our goals. The committee will recommend changes as needed.

The strategy document can end here. The final steps (10-12) do not require anything additional written down.