Social Media and the Process of Partnership Building
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In the fast-moving world of social media, community management is a neglected aspect. You’ve probably heard about community management a lot if you’re involved in communications or marketing spaces, so a brief description will suffice so everyone is caught up. Community management is the strategic management of an online community in communications that seeks to connect with individual members of the community through personalized outreach, one-on-one conversations, and more. Its ultimate goal is to strengthen an audience’s brand loyalty by giving the community a personalized experience with the brand.
Because of the focus on tailoring, personalization, and individual outreach, community management provides a fantastic framework for government organizations, non-profits, and community organizations to establish partnerships with other groups that will mutually benefit them.
Here are a few reasons why.
Going where everyone is
For starters, you want to go where the people you seek are. You don’t do an out-of-home ad for a single and stay-at-home parent who works remotely. So you don’t want to go where your potential partners are not. For governments and non-profits, most often, the partners are smaller community organizations like homeowners associations or other non-profits. As of 2022, 99% of all non-profit organizations use Facebook, and 95% use Instagram. Social media is where most of these potential partners exist, and direct messaging provides a place for tailored outreach and how to connect with them.
The benefit of having all your potential options nearby is that you can afford to be a bit “choosey.” You can monitor potential partners’ social media posts. Is their brand in line with what your brand values? What about their mission and vision? Does it relate to your organization? You can answer these crucial questions from your phone or computer before you ever reach out.
A quick start
On top of the benefits of social media’s place and timing, social media provides an excellent outlet to kick off any partnership. Major formal partnerships, like between FEMA and local climate non-profits, often get announced with a press release and then get picked up by local media. However, not every partnership is that big of a deal to warrant some type of media release and pitch. Sometimes, it’s a small and simple partnership. And social media is the best venue to start that off. Both organizations will have an established audience and can coordinate content to get in sync and establish what work they’ll do together for their audiences. With the built-in following, organizations can take advantage of collaborative posts on Instagram, for example, to expand their reach and attract new followers, already providing a big benefit to both parties.
Social media also serves as a great way to kick off the promotional side of whatever the partnership sets out to do. For an example from my work, the Montgomery County Public Defender in Ohio recently kicked off their Driver’s License Reinstatement Clinics, which provide support and documentation to people wishing to get their driver’s licenses back. To do this, we partnered with the Dayton Metro Library systems and used their meeting rooms to host the clinic. To promote the event, both groups collaborated on social media posts and utilized their wide reach to get a lot of organic sharing (over 40+ shares, in fact), helping them reach thousands if not tens of thousands, of people on Instagram and Facebook. The result? 92 people attended the clinic and started the process of getting their driver’s licenses back and accessing the public benefits (such as ease of employment, the most common ID used for background checks, etc.) of a driver’s license that they had lost for months or years.
Minus the cost of reserving the room and bringing the snack, bringing nearly 100 people together cost both organizations zero dollars in promotion.
The final benefit of utilizing social media to establish partnerships is that social media provides a touch base option that is frequent, and you do not even need to utilize direct messages for this. After a partnership is established, both organizations can interact with each other on social media and support their programming. This way, both groups continue to leverage their audiences and niches to support the other.
For these reasons, social media is one of the most powerful tools non-profits and government organizations can leverage to establish unique and powerful partnerships. It provides an excellent starting point for what could be fruitful collaborations. It also serves as a way of working with micro-influencers in its own right, usually at a fraction of the cost of someone who’d label themselves as one. With these tools and benefits, the only thing left to do is start building those partnerships to achieve better community outcomes.
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