Thought Leadership

Social Media Strategy Reboot: Breathing New Life into Your Online Presence

Part 2 in our Social Media Series


Facebook became available to Boston area students in 2004. The first video was posted to YouTube in April 2005. Snapchat was born in 2011. Even TikTok has been around for over seven years (September 2016). It’s no surprise that social platforms have gone through several rounds of evolution, each coming more quickly than the last.

What stays consistent is a question: how can marketers use social media to create meaningful connections and galvanize supporters to action?

What changes often is the approach, and of course our creative and social experts have *thoughts.*

I sat down with Social Media Strategist Juliette Reilly and Associate Creative Director Kevin McAuley for a freewheeling conversation, which resulted in a three-part blog series that we’re sharing here. We discussed how audiences are using social for discovery and how algorithms have changed to feed this beast (or did they create it?); what organizations should consider when evaluating or starting a new social presence; and how to continually build trust with supporters through content and messaging authenticity, with a particular focus on video.

I’m so glad to share this conversation with you, and when your brain starts whizzing with ideas, let us know what you think!

Did you miss Part 1? Dive into our conversation about how social media has evolved and the power of discovery social platforms hold here.

Katryn Geane Crawford: There was a time when people thought social media was a cute thing that interns do, but as we all know, now social media is a critical tool in our marketing toolbox and it’s not going anywhere.

But it can still be overwhelming to start building a new social presence. For an organization thinking about starting a social team or bringing on an agency partner, what are some things you should be thinking about? Where should you start? How do you begin to prioritize? How do you integrate a social strategy and team into your overall marketing and communications engine?

Juliette Reilly: The first thing that I do when meeting with a new client is to define their audience and goals. Who is your existing audience? And who is your desired audience? On organic social, unlike paid media, there’s no surefire way to reach an exact community, but it’s important to understand who we want to reach as we develop our content strategy.

A common trap I see organizations falling into is using very insider terms and jargon in their social posts, instead of using language that their desired audience would understand. Defining who the audience is can help avoid that trap. Knowing what communities you want to reach can also help determine which platforms you should prioritize.

After the audience, I like to talk about our goals and how we will measure success. From there, it’s about developing content streams with audience, goals, and best practices in mind. Focus your content streams on the organization’s authenticity, building audience relationships, and utilizing your network of influencers and corporate partners. Be consistent and get crafty. If there is a shortage of content, you have to get creative and find a way to pull something together.

Usually, the goal is for more people to see, appreciate, and get involved in the incredible work that the organization is doing. And to do that, you have to kind of play the social media game, which is ever-changing and can be very frustrating, but that’s why we’re here!

“Focus your content streams on the organization’s authenticity, building audience relationships, and utilizing your network of influencers and corporate partners.”

Katryn Geane Crawford: Kevin, what are your thoughts?

Kevin McAuley: The only thing I’d add is that once you’ve built that team or hired that agency, you have to let them do their thing and trust their expertise, which I understand can be scary. Your in-house or agency team must have the opportunity to build a solid, clear social strategy and get buy-in from all organization stakeholders right at the start. You have to trust your social experts to pivot and adapt as the platforms evolve and trends change.

Katryn Geane Crawford: Since so much of social media is now based on discovery, does every piece of content from a brand or organization need to be an introduction? What are our expectations for engagement and responses for an audience that doesn’t know us, versus the audience that already follows us?

Juliette Reilly: The reality is your content needs to capture attention in the first one to three seconds. Many clients assume that every piece of content needs to explain what the organization is, but that won’t land unless we give users a reason to care first. So that’s what that first impression needs to do: grab their attention and give them a reason to care, before telling them who you are.

“Your content needs to capture attention in the first one to three seconds.”

Juliette Reilly: The best content is entertaining, informative, and educational. The biggest challenge in the nonprofit and higher education space is to create that kind of content in an efficient way. Some brands have a full-time team of community managers whose whole job is to make TikTok content. If you don’t have that, it’s important to create a content calendar that works for you and is sustainable for your team.

Kevin McAuley: That also means understanding the differences in how users engage with each platform and the importance of creating platform-specific strategies. When it comes to content creation, more important than introducing the organization in every post is engaging and adding value to the feeds of your followers and other users who might discover you—otherwise your content and your presence on the platform will become background noise.

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