Social Media Demography: Guide for Non-Profits

Image courtesy Mr. Poock's World History

Plotting a Conceptual Map

You draft your organization’s overall social media strategy by plotting a conceptual map. This is something I have explored in a previous post on ‘outreach for non-profits.’

Let me expand on that conceptual map here. A social media campaign wouldn’t feature only the target demography, but would also take into account the target channels, the technology platforms we will use or have at our disposal, the investments we need to make to expand access to new platforms and new demography, the resources at our disposable in terms of people, number of hours and timelines. Plotting your social media campaign as a conceptual map will allow all stakeholders involved in executing the campaign to share their ideas and be on the same page. No confusion, no assumptions, but with a healthy latitude towards flexibility and creativity.

Your conceptual map should take into account current affairs, upcoming events, cultural activities or even the general elections to allow you to have well-designed messages ready to be released at the appropriate time. “The expectations of social brands everywhere have been magnified tenfold to react and capitalize on real-time events,” says Alan Cassinelli,

A Cautionary Tale

Our corporate counterparts are also famously known to put their foot – literally – in their mouths, or in the case of American clothing designer Kenneth Cole, his company’s shoes. Check out the tweet pic below:

Kenneth Cole Cairo Tweet

In February 2011, during mass political protest in Egypt, the @KennethCole account tweeted: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online.” For a clothing and fashion company to have appropriated a highly sensitive, political and tragic event (Violent clashes between security forces and protesters resulted in at least 846 people killed and 100,000 injured – Wikipedia) is the best case study of a social media campaign gone horribly wrong.

The designer didn’t have a good understanding of his demography and therefore couldn’t predict how they would react to his insensitive tweet. He also didn’t understand the political nature of the situation and his ‘deadpan’ humor was squashed.

Best Case Study: President Barack Obama’s 2008 victory tweet

Barack Obama 2008 victory tweet

Obama’s social campaigning team has built a strong resonance via Twitter and Facebook. The president’s Twitter account features personal messages, funny and emotional videos of the president meeting his constituents, the messages are social, relatable and warm. The team has a thorough grip on the kind of demography following the president. “If Barack Obama’s social media team has taught us anything, it’s that images speak louder than words, with his most popular tweet (and the most retweeted tweet on the entire social network in 2012) consisting of a photo of him and Michelle Obama,” writes Jane Susskind in, adding, “Twitter has become a hub for voters to see real-time reactions, candid responses, and instantly check facts and statistics referenced in debates and speeches. It demands transparency from the candidates, knowing that their arguments can be verified in the blink of an eye.”

If done right, your conceptual map would be a ready reckoner of your audience demography: their age group, what they like about your brand and the social media channels they follow. In the case of a non-profit, the conceptual map should clearly show the purpose and mission of your organization and the audience specifically associated with that mission. The map will move outwards to include the number of followers across each channels, a year-on-year growth ratio for social media platforms, and an annual review of the top 5 most shared content from your website and social media platforms.

Tip: If you have a brand ambassador or a celebrity supporting your cause, mark them on the conceptual map and plot how their followers interact with your non-profit’s messages.

It’s possible and manageable to keep track of the elements of this map if you begin this in the early stages of launching your social media channels. Once the ball is set in motion, you have to periodically revisit the map, update the relevant sections, add the new channels you have developed your content on, and plot upcoming activities that tie up with your cause.

This is the first in a series of posts that will focus on the various stages in the life-cycle of a social media campaign strategy. Next week: Social Media Representation.

What are the elements you plot on your non-profit’s social media conceptual map? Would love to hear your ideas!

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