Your Advice? Social Media on Serious Stuff

During my webinars and workshops on how nonprofits can use social media successfully, I often urge nonprofit staff to take a friendly, fun, and more light-hearted approach to their social media communications.

But that’s often a tough sell with organizations that deal with very serious issues, like abuse, rape and death.  Obviously those situations do demand greater care, but I still think that “doom and gloom” isn’t going to work as well as more positive messages, especially on a platform like Facebook.

What advice do you have in situations like these? Here is a real-life question for you from Sarah Sperring, executive assistant of KIDS Center:

“I attended your webinar regarding Putting Real Strategy into Your Social Media Outreach (which I loved) and had some questions for you. I work for KIDS Center and I have taken on our marketing, as we didn’t really have a person dedicated to it before. Our nonprofit is a child intervention center where we see, evaluate, and treat abused children, so it’s a somewhat difficult and emotional subject.

We do have a Facebook and Twitter page, but have fallen into the trap of  “prevention of child abuse” posts or events. Since your webinar, I have put a list of some fun things we could try and do, but I was hoping you also might have some ideas for us. We have a small base of around 400 Facebook fans and 116 following us on Twitter. We would also love to grow that but don’t really know how.

Here are some of my ideas, but I would love to know what you think.

  • Comment of the donations we receive in-kind
  • Questions to poll – do you think…?
  • Emotional stories
  • Human side of KIDS Center – staff spotlight / funny parts of the job/ parts we love / behind the scenes
  • Funny things that kids say
  • Summer memories
  • What was your favorite book or toy
  • Fall ideas – where to go in the area that are kid friendly
  • Giveaways – give a free pass to a training or win a Body safety workbook
  • Multiple choice questions – guess how many children are seen here, etc.

Thoughts?  Thank you so much!”

I think Sarah has some great ideas here!

What do you think she should try first? What other suggestions do you have? Add your thoughts and ideas in the comments!



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  • Just some initial thoughts in the fun category. Focus on the hope, turning lives around, the benefits of helping children, etc. Show their shining faces and so on. You can’t do that all of the time of course, but showing people the outcomes might help to imply the need without having to always talk directly about the bad stuff.

  • I think the “funny things kids say” could be awesome – I imagine you could hit on some ‘viral’ tweets that way. 

    I also think having a continuing discussion on what is healthy could be good too.  I would tune in more to a feed if I saw it as continuing education for how I can raise my kids, mentor youth, improve neighborhoods – rather than updates on only points of failure.  You could post arts and crafts projects for families, articles on healthy diet and exercise, ways and examples of people who volunteer, and healthy discussions to be raising with youth (on sex, drugs, peer pressure, body image).  In this way you would be turning twitter and fb into forums that encourage prevention, and act as a safe space for those interested in building strong relationships with youth and fostering communities of support.

  • I love the “funny things kids say” idea. Other ideas include success stories, volunteer spotlights, questions like “who do you tell your kid to turn to for help” and “what’s the best thing about your kid,” educational resources (both on child abuse but also just things like helping kids with math or science), fun pics from your fundraisers, sponsor thank yous, local kid-friendly events, best kiddo Halloween costume. I think what all of these things have in common is they focus on how great kids are and why we love them to pieces.

  • this is a new light on the use of social media, thanks for the interesting post 🙂

  • It is always good to give a close look behind the scenes. You have to work with the social community. Polls are a great way of doing it. I like the ideas of posting funny things or memories.