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Think Like A Showrunner: Week 4

Last week, we explored how showrunners and social doers can use personas to better engage with their audience. This week, let’s expand on engagement by discussing social media.

Don’t just be on social media—be successful on social media. To truly make an impact, you need to leverage the tools at your disposal. Television shows dominate the social media space by incorporating four elements into their strategy: hashtags, livestreaming, social media toolkits, and geofilters.

Hashtags are the best way for your audience to find up-to-the-minute messaging from your organization. On platforms like Instagram, posts aren’t even searchable without a hashtag. However, not every hashtag will resonate with your audience.

Shonda Rhimes, showrunner of How to Get Away with Murder, learned this rule the hard way. When audiences first saw the show, they jumped to Twitter to show their love. The problem? #HowToGetAwayWithMurder is a whopping 23 characters, too long to allow any fan to express themselves. Audiences started their own abbreviation, #HTGAWM, which Rhimes viewed as a brandless mess. The hashtag war is still ongoing.

Instead of focusing on in-brand hashtags, consider what will resonate best with your audience. Start by brainstorming three to five hashtags that fit your platform’s brand. Then go to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and use the search bar to see if anyone else is already using them. Keep your supporters happy by saving valuable character space with abbreviations. Remember, posts are not searchable without a hashtag. Engaging with hashtags is a great way for you to collect social media activity and thank donors who post about their gift.

With the expansion of LinkedIn Live, just about every social media platform now has livestreaming capabilities. But how can you use livestreaming to engage your audience? Here’s a great example. The creators of Mr. Robot hosted a Q&A with the cast on Facebook Live. After fifteen minutes, a “hacker” abruptly interrupted the livestream. This mysterious person said, “Why waste more time on pointless speculation? You deserve something new, something unexpected, something you’ve never seen before.” Said hacker then “leaked” the first episode of season two, days ahead of its initial release.

Think of clever ways to incorporate livestreaming for your audiences. From behind-the-scenes peeks at galas to Q&A’s, the possibilities are endless. The comment functionality in livestreaming allows your fans to ask questions or post commentary. You could host a Meet the Staff Q & A with the executive director, volunteers, ambassadors, and others. For museums, consider having your curator step viewers through exhibitions while they ask questions in real time, driving engagement and raising awareness. You can even create an entire series that broadcasts at the same time and day each week—like your own TV show!—so your fans can put it on their calendars.

Social Media Toolkits
Social sharing—when your audience shares your content with their own networks—is another great way to spread your message. For some, it can be overwhelming and can even cause social anxiety. But by giving them a concise social media toolkit, you can empower your audience to share. Social media toolkits are templated messages with optimized images, hashtags, and clear directions on how to post.

Of course, showrunners have their own social media toolkits. My favorite is from the team behind Narcos. Apparently, up to 90% of U.S. paper currency has traces of cocaine, so the creators launched an educational campaign about “contaminated currency.” The team partnered with social influencers to distribute bills that, when photographed with a flash, showed #NARCOS in large white letters. Thanks to social media influencers and their toolkit, the campaign trended worldwide for days.

If you haven’t by now, make a list of social media influencers you want to partner with. (Keep in mind that not every influencer is going to engage with your brand the same way.) Start with your current followers and turn them into social media ambassadors. Listen to your influencers’ feedback and incorporate it into your toolkit.

Location-based technology has opened a world of possibilities for location-based ads. Since June 2015, Snapchat has capitalized on the trend with geofiltersphoto overlays that appear to users based their location. For the release of Stranger Things, the showrunners designed a campaign to send consumers into the “upside-down” world with augmented reality. Viewers could interact with the world by making books fly or turning on a string of lights. The showrunners kept up the momentum with a filter that gave users nosebleeds, just like the character Eleven.

Whether your organization is looking to promote an event or increase brand awareness, geofilters are a great way to connect with a hyper-engaged younger demographic. For example, Imprint City, a nonprofit focusing on community through art, created a Snapchat filter for a masquerade event. Many community influencers used the filter, which helped spread the word about the organization and its cause.

Snapchat has the tools to define exactly when and where your geofilter will appear. Before designing your template, make sure your Snapchat page is set as a business account. Then create your own template in Photoshop or design it directly in Snapchat. To ensure a seamless approval process, make sure to follow the guidelines before submitting. 

These four tips are just a taste of what your organization can do with social media. But don’t be overwhelmed! Blackbaud University is here to help you determine what you need to do and how to do it. Join the Organizational Best Practices: Marketing—Social Media workshop.

Posted by Jenny Toledo on Jun 6, 2019 5:21 PM America/New_York

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