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Five Questions About Developing Social Content When You Serve People in Crisis

Five Questions About Developing Social Content When You Serve People in Crisis

Every marketer knows that personal stories make the most compelling content. But how do organizations that serve people in crisis tell these stories, while still respecting the privacy of the clients they serve? As part of the Albers Asks Five Questions series, we spoke with Krissy Madej, development director of homeless prevention organization Together, and Andrew Klinkenborg, development coordinator at Together, to learn about their strategy.

1. What is your posting criteria for social media? Does it differ from channel to channel?
Andrew Klinkenborg – Development Coordinator, Jeanette de Veer – Development Assistant, Krissy Madej – Development Director

Andrew Klinkenborg – Development Coordinator
Jeanette de Veer – Development Assistant
Krissy Madej – Development Director

Yes, it definitely differs. Facebook is our broadest audience. It reaches donors, clients, volunteers and people who just want to learn more about Together. So that’s where we have the biggest mix of information between telling our clients’ stories, sharing information about our services, and sharing other online information about topics that are related to our mission of providing emergency resources and assistance to working families in extreme poverty so that they can achieve a stable housing situation.

On Twitter, we post more often, usually about four times a day, but it’s mostly shared: other people’s content that’s relevant to our work and our readers.

On LinkedIn, we also share a lot of content generated by others, but it’s more industry-based: best practices for boards, fundraising, contributions to the national conversation about policy, that sort of thing.

And of course, Instagram is more fun. We post photos of what’s going on at Together, so people can see the faces behind our organization.

We usually follow the 6/3/1 rule when posting: 60 percent is content we share from others, 30 percent is content we create, and 10 percent is calls to action.

2. How do you balance your posts so that you appeal to each of your target audiences (in this case, clients and potential clients, donors, and partner organization)?

We have a content calendar, and we try to mix it up to ensure that we are speaking to each audience consistently. Have we had a lot of volunteers that we want to recognize? Do we want to encourage more corporate volunteer groups? We look at what’s needed, and we pull from our best.

3. What best practices would you advise other organizations that serve people in crisis follow when they are developing their employee social media policy?

Play nicely in the sandbox with everyone. Don’t talk politics. Don’t talk religion. We evaluate every outside article before we post it on our organization’s social media to make sure it’s not expressing an opinion that is controversial or might offend someone. And, when our employees are posting on their personal social media accounts, we trust them to do the same. We’re a small enough organization that everyone follows everyone, so if anything came up, we’d definitely address it. But everyone here is very invested in what we do and we all know what it means to represent Together– not only when we’re working, but even when we’re online in our down time.

4. What best practices would you advise other organizations that serve people in crisis follow to protect the dignity and privacy of those they serve when they are sharing client stories?

People are moved by client stories but, as a general rule, we don’t post pictures of clients. And we never post photos of children.

Of course, this makes it harder because people on social media want to see pictures, but there are ways around that. We try to get the feeling and the emotional aspect through storytelling, instead of photos. We recently did a video where we recorded people’s stories and used only the audio, with different images. We have even used stock photos, but with actual quotes from real clients. It’s our view that even if you understand you’re looking at a stock photo, it’s the story that matters. If we do use a photo of one of our clients, we always have them sign a waiver.

5. Can you give an example or two of a time when you shared a client’s personal story and it resonated beyond your expectations?
Handwritten note from client

Handwritten note from client

People love to see the impact our services have on an individual. We once posted a handwritten note from a client whom we had helped out a year prior with rent and utilities, which got a great response. But one of our favorite stories is from a man from Norfolk who went to the store and purchased a thank you card to send to us. In it, he enclosed a $20 bill. He wrote that we bought a one-way bus ticket to Norfolk for him in 1986 and it changed his life. So he wanted to thank us and pay us back so that we could help someone else. 30 years later, and he’s still grateful for that one thing we did, that changed his life. We will never get rid of that card, ever.