Social media #sorted
Social media is becoming ever more popular as a tool to promote Scout Groups’ activities. To help you get started, here are some top tips…
If you’re wondering if it’s time you and your Group started to embrace social media, the statistics would seem to suggest that it is.
Used well, social media can help you to recruit new volunteers, to stay in contact with your young people and to share information with their parents and carers. It can also be used to tweet pictures of pets in neckers if you like that sort of thing (we know we do).
Sometimes the amount of information on the subject can be overwhelming – not to mention full of jargon. So, to get you started, we’ve put together some simple advice on social networks and how to use them for maximum impact and benefit.
Best for: versatility
Number of users: 1.8 billion
Age of users: 13+
You can use Facebook to post links, photos, questions, invite people to events and share information. If you want to recruit new members a Facebook page is the best option. Thirty million people in the UK are on Facebook; your Group should be too.
Facebook pages are open to anyone who ‘likes’ them and, once ‘liked’, your page will appear in their timeline every time you post. If you want to be able to discuss events and activities, you need to create a Facebook group, allowing discussions between members who know each other.
■ Always be sure to double check your spelling and grammar.
■ Post regularly to keep people engaged – ideally create a schedule of when you’ll post and start to create a backlog. It’s important to post at a time of day when people are likely to be online. Commuter times are most popular 7.30-9am and 4-7pm. Midnight on a Sunday less so.
■ Make sure your images show as wide a variety of young people as possible.
■ Friendly interaction with members will help you to build a sense of community. It will also encourage other members to engage with you.
■ Posting images of young people who look engrossed in their activities is a wonderful selling point for your Group so take lots of photos and don’t forget to share them.
■ Clear and concise sentences are always best for conveying your message, so decide what you want to say and get straight to the point!
Best for: messaging (and following Stephen Fry)
Number of users: 500 million
Age of users: 13+
Twitter enables users to send and read 140-character messages that can contain links and photos. A Twitter account can be used to recruit members, keep your young people and parents updated or share a photo of a cloud that looks a bit like a fleur-de-lis.
It operates using hashtags – words that describe your tweet. Simple hashtags such as #volunteer help people find your tweets.
■ A clear, concise message is the best way to engage people on Twitter.
■ Include links to provide more information.
■ Don’t shorten words to the point that their meaning is lost.
■ #Avoidusingtoomanyoroverlonghashtags as they can confuse your message.
■ Check if a hashtag has been created for the event you’re talking about, rather than inventing your own.
■ Use photos. A lot. They generate a greater response than text alone (especially ones of funny cats or people falling over).
■ Never send out lots of messages asking for support. Emails or phone calls are best for this.
■ A message congratulating a member or Scout is a really nice way to engage with people directly and personally. It’s also more likely to encourage others to go beyond the call of duty.
■ Interact with local social media communities. If you have just been to a local park, club, restaurant or supermarket, give them a tweet.
■ Share or re-tweet content from relevant channels – over 500 Scout Groups are already using Twitter, so get involved, engage, discuss and spread the word with them.
Best for: photography
Number of users: 100 million
Age of users: 13+
Instagram is a social networking service that allows users to share pictures and videos with their followers. Use it to share shots of your young people taking part in activities and to recruit new members. Alternatively, you can collect your young people’s pictures by using hashtags.
People search for pictures using clear hashtags and lots of them, such as #scouts, #camping or #funnycats (we’re not obsessed, honest), which will lead them to your pictures if tagged.
■ Take fun, engaging images in a square format.
■ Show what your young people get up to rather than a posed shot of them smiling afterwards.
■ Make sure you ask open questions and start discussions where possible – it’s the best way to get a response.
■ Use and encourage your young people to tag your account in their photos so that their friends can find out who you are.
Best for: inspiration
Number of users: 70 million
Age of users: 13+
A Pinterest account allows users to upload, save, manage and sort images and save them to boards. Use Pinterest as an aid for gathering future activity and Programme ideas, and to show what the young people in your Group have been up to in order to attract new members. It’s also a rather handy way of collating all those funny cat pics. For maximum impact try to update your boards with only the strongest images/ideas, and try to think about the sort of images that are going to portray your Group and what you get up to in the best possible light.
■ Name your boards clearly.
■ Choose engaging, vibrant images that aren’t cropped too closely for the covers of your boards.
■ Update your boards little and often and avoid flooding people’s feeds with lots of photos at once.
■ If you’re not sure what kinds of boards to post, you could take inspiration from important upcoming dates in the year. Or ask your Scouts for inspiration.
Need some extra help at Scouts? Check out our top tips for tapping into the student market.