You ask your kids to do something. No answer.

You ask again, in a pleasant voice. Still nothing.

You ask a third time but this time it’s without a smile. No response from the kids.

Finally, you walk into their room and you raise your voice and that gets a response.

“Why you shouting?”

What Your Social Followers Expect

Remember the days when you sent letters in the mail to people and it could take awhile before they responded?

Those days are long gone. People have been conditioned to instant- they want a response right away.

Just last week I was booking a ticket with JetBlue on their website. I wasn’t sure of something and needed an answer before paying. What did I do?

Tweeted! I tagged them in my tweet with my question.

Here’s what I already know: JetBlue’s customer service on social media, especially Twitter, is at the top of the brand pyramid. They always get back to you ASAP.

Now consider your organization on social media: People follow you to learn more about your mission, see the impact you’re having, find out how you’re solving a particular problem.

You use social media to raise awareness, educate people, demonstrate impact, show who you’re helping.

It’s a win-win for both sides.

However, your followers don’t just want you to broadcast information. They want you to engage. Respond to their comments. Answer their inquiries. Supply them with the information they need.

And they want all of that ASAP.

Social media is a fantastic way for you to build relationships and strengthen connections. But you need to remember the “social” part: If you’re not engaging your audience, they’ll ignore you and turn their attention elsewhere.

Response Time

Have a look at this Twitter exchange. Notice anything wrong with it?

Amtrak's response time is lagging

That’s correct. It took Amtrak SEVEN MONTHS to respond! If they were trying to be snarky, it fell flat. If they really wanted to help, then they’re a little too late. Best not to have responded at all or to apologize publicly for missing the tweet.

Now have a look at this tweet:

Scope UK responds quickly on Twitter

Scope received an inquiry. The person managing their account (that day was a “takeover”- more on that in a future post) answered right away.

When someone tweets at you or tags your organization on social media, your response time should be as close to immediate as possible. Does that mean instantaneous? Nope. But letting it just hang there is bad form.

Consider the following questions your charity might be asked on social:

  • What date is your gala event?
  • Where should I drop off clothes for Ukrainian refugees?
  • When does your after-school enrichment program start?

It would make sense to reply as soon as you can. People will appreciate knowing there’s a face behind the logo and they’ll connect with that person.

Build relationships!

I am well aware that your response time can be dependent on peoplepower. You only have so many staff members and not enough hands to get everything done.

My advice? Don’t open a presence on any social media platform unless you have an engagement plan! Just being there for the sake of being able to say you’re there defeats the purpose.

In fact it has the opposite effect: People will get upset that you’re not connecting with them. They’ll feel ignored. And that’s not a great starting point for converting social media followers into donors.

Face The Facts

Have a good look at the social media channels where you’ve opened an account and are trying to have a presence. Are you actually talking with followers? Are you able to answer them in a timely fashion? Do they feel that if they turn to you, you’re available with a response?

If your answer is “no” to any of the above questions, reconsider. Do an internal audit and decide if you really need to be on that particular platform.

It’s ok if the answer is no. Building relationships is a two-way street: It’s not always you holding out your hand asking for a donation.

You need to provide for your followers. If you can’t do that, shut it down on that platform and move your efforts elsewhere.

Want to learn how to engage your social media followers? Download my latest ebook, published in partnership with OneCause, “11 Commandments of Nonprofit Social Media Engagement.” Learn about using humor, takeovers, user generated content, hashtags, great copy and more to engage. You’ll gain insights, receive expert tips and see examples of what works…and what doesn’t.
Download this free social media engagement ebook so you can strengthen your bond with your social followers and mobilize them to take action.