Building a social media plan: walking through how to build a sound social media strategy

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Building a social media plan: walking through how to build a sound social media strategy

We all use social media - but how do we ensure that it is helping us meet our goals? Share your experiences developing and implementing a social media strategy. If possible, include information on:

  • How to define your social media goals and targets;
  • Strategizing about how to reach your stakeholders with social media;  
  • Making decisions about the resources you should devote to building and maintaining a social media presence;
  • Resources that you have used (guides, checklists, templates, etc)

Share your experiences, thoughts, ideas and questions by adding a comment below or replying to existing comments!

For help on how to participate in this conversation, please check out these online instructions.

just started a blog on human

just started a blog on human do we get people involved especially Human Right Commission that is not technology concious

Please share more information, Rommy

Hi Rommy - welcome to this conversation! Can you share some more information about the kind of human rights work you are doing, how you are hoping to engage the Human Rights Commission, what kinds of social media tools do you use, etc? I hope that if we can get some more information from you about your goals, your tools, and your targets, we might be able to give you some good ideas for how to move forward.

I look forward to hearing from you!

- Kristin Antin, New Tactics Online Community Builder

About your blog

As Kantin mentioned, more info would help us understand how to advice you. It's not clear for me what's the intended interaction of the Human Rights Council with the blog. Do you want to get people already involved in Human Rights on your blog or help people get in comunicate with Human Rights bodies?

If your goal is the former, a good starting point is working together with other groups that are in touch with international or regional Human Rights bodies and start building networks from there.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has a small book on the issue that might be of value to you, it's titled Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society which can be downloaded for free in many languages at

A new blog

What about informing your contacts that you have a blog and you would like them to be part of the conversation?

Creating Benchmarks for Small Organizations

The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee is a small US organization looking to increase its visibility on social media to promote war tax resistance (protest or refusal of paying taxes that fund war, particularly but not limited to federal income taxes) as a tactic to oppose war and militarism and build an anti-war movement.

Presently we are engaged primarily on Facebook and Twitter, and we have a small following. Mostly we would like to introduce people to war tax resistance and give them the information they need to take that step of refusing to pay war taxes, as well as revitalize and grow our small and spread out national network of war tax resisters and their supporters. The actions we want people to consider and take are much much larger (or feel much larger) than retweeting/sharing messages and writing letters or making phone calls. Does anyone have ideas for using social media in this context?

I would create a ladder of

I would create a ladder of engagement for your organization. Identify the really easy things that people are already doing, and from there go up in rungs on your ladder with progressively harder (more energy-intensive) actions until you get to the highest rung on the ladder. You can then choose identify ladder rungs as benchmarks, and measure your success by the number of people you've been able to move upwards from the bottom of this ladder. 

For an example of this, I like this diagram from Grist's social media work. Ok, so it's not an actual ladder, but see how the first item is what they call a "fun o ramp" - basically easy, fun actions like responding to a Tweet or clicking something on Facebook. From there it moves to people either telling stories about them selves (as it relates to the issue) or listening to other stories, and then to taking actions and engaging substantively (and time-intensively) on policy discussions. For another example, here are some slides of my own - scroll through to the ladder slide and you can see some different examples of actions that you can put on your ladder of engagement. 



Ways to use social media to enhance offline efforts?

Great ideas, Susannah! Love the ladder approach - start with simple actions and then engage them in deeper actions.

I was thinking that another approach would be to explore the actions that the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee is currently doing, and think about ideas for how social media could enhance and or support those actions. For example, could supporters take pictures of themselves refusing to pay taxes (like a picture of a form)? I don't know exactly what that would look like, but if you could imagine a way to make your actions capture-able through photographs, you could empower your supporters to 'brag' about their actions and encourage others to join the movement.

Here's an example of a campaign in Iran that asked supporters to dress up in traditional women's clothing to show support for their movement. They collected and shared these images via Facebook. This could be something that would compliment your offline efforts by raising more awareness and allowing your supporters to be recognized.

What other ideas are out there?

- Kristin Antin, New Tactics Online Community Builder

This works great in my

This works great in my experience. From letting a small discussion florish on an inquisitive hashtag you can take it to people creating creative content for you or even organizing small events on their own!

measuring success


Following up on the thread on how to define success of social media tactics, here are some thoughts to get the conversation going.

I think most importantly, we should not only focus on numbers. Success can take on many forms, and should be re-defined for every action. While metrics are important, I would also consider the following benchmarks, which are in addition to plain numerical goals (ie. 1000 tweets using a specific hashtag) or making a hashtag trend:

Response from target: For example, for the Bahrain Twitter Action that was one of the case studies presented yesterday, we were not going for any high numbers at all. Since this was a widely ignored topic, both in traditional and social media, we already considered it a success if we get a few hundred people talk about it on social media. To set the bar a bit higher, since in this case our target was a US government agency that is very active on Twitter, a response seemed realistic, and something we were definitely considering as the main success.

Participation by key organizations and experts: We often treat our audience as one cohesive group. However, sometimes we want to reach a very specific audience. For example, when we launched a new website on international justice, it was key for us to get the word out amongst organizations and individuals that work in that field, to make sure our new resource gets used. In this case we measured success in terms of how many experts and specialized organizations participated in the promotion of the new project. 

How do define success

I do agree with that.

Guidelines social media strategy for small organisations

Adding to the questions of war tax resister, I was wondering whether there are guidelines for developing a social media strategy for a small organisation. As for WPP, we would like to share information about our events and those of our partners, but also to raise more awareness on gender-sensitive active nonviolence. We do not have specific campaigns for this, it is a structural aim in our strategy.

We are only a small organisation, with one of the employees occasionally posting on twitter, facebook and a blog. How can we make most efficient use of our time to reach good outreach?

Resources on creating a social media plan

I have come across a few resources that WPP and National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee might find useful in developing a social media plan that helps you achieve your goals:

  1. Social Media Strategies for Advocacy and Targeted Communications, published by Internews, written by Tim Norton. This doc specifically addresses using social media in advocacy and communication strategies.
  2. Creating a simple 'Creative Brief' is helpful in identifying your targets, goals, etc.
  3. Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide, by IdealWare, is designed to help organizations like yours determine what results and benefits you can reasonably expect from social media, and to guide you through the process of identifying the right channels for different goals.

Are there other resources that we can add to this list? Share them here by replying to this comment.


Thank you for these information.

Measuring succes - link to traditional media

In regards to Christoph´s comment on benchmarks, to us it has been important to get the attention of traditional media when we start a campaign.  This is included in the very good resource that Kristin has added by Tim Norton.

Since dialogue of civil society organizations with the Venezuelan government is almost completely interrupted, an indirect way to reach authorities, particularly regarding urgent matters, is putting issues in the public arena through traditional media.  In turn, traditional media pick up our issues not only by direct contacts, but also through information spread by social media.

Recently, there have been interruptions in the provision of antirretroviral treatment for people with HIV.  We needed to get the message across rapidly to the new Health Minister.  The weekend after she was appointed (April 27 and 28) we started spreading messages through twitter about the lack of two important antirretrovirals.  This was followed three days later (Wednesday, May 1) by one half-page in a national newspaper, and this was picked-up by other newspapers, radio and TV.  The Health Minister signed the purchase orders for the two medications at the beginning of the following week (Tuesday, May 7) and the antirretrovirals were delivered three days later (Friday May 10). 

Here are a few other resources on social media

Here are a few other resources that might come in handy as you explore how to use social media more strategically for your human rights campaign:

The New Organizing Institute has lots of great resources for organizers working to create change through campaign organizing (political campaigns and more). They have a great toolbox with lots of videos and guides - and they have one section dedicated to 'social media for campaigns'. It's a great introduction to Facebook and Twitter, and includes lots of great tips and examples of how you can utilize these tools in your campaigns. NOI also has a blog post category on online organizing, and a new report on Experiments in Online Advocacy.

Tactical Technology made 10 Tactics for Turning Information into Action: a 50-minute film and on and offline toolkit documenting inspiring info-activism stories.Out of the 10 Tactics project came two new initiatives: 10 Tactics Remixed and 10 Tactics Unstitched.

10 Tactics Remixed brings together snapshots of information-activism, featuring stories of how citizens have reacted to and challenged institutional power from the ground up. 

Three key themes are covered: Exposing the Ridiculous, Exploring the Truth and Mobilising for Action.

  • Exposing the Ridiculous is about remixing of popular culture: exploring how activists are challenging and reframing what it means to be political through humour, irony and satire.
  • Exploring the truth looks at how corruption, doublespeak and abuses of public office are being exposed through skillful sharing and collating of data.
  • Mobilising for Action evaluates the various claims made about social media and takes on troubling questions about the dynamics of information flows.

10 Tactics Unstitched was created to help people run their own info-activism trainings. Browse, download and remix stories, images and videos of more than 50 inspiring examples of info-activism from around the world – by tool, country or issue area. The examples are tied to the Campaign Basics cards, which include tools and tips for you to plan your own campaign and hands-on group activities which can easily be integrated into trainings.

There are a lot of great social media examples in the 10 Tactics Unstitched site so I encourage you to explore those resources!

- Kristin Antin, New Tactcs Online Community Builder

Social media strategy for small NGOs

It is important to know whos already working on issues you are working. for instance on twitter you may want to follow leading voices on the issues and exchange with them so that when you have something important to release they already know you exist. Also use of twitter actions especially tagged to important days is also good way for people to follow you. A facebook page, photos and use videos important.

A Worksheet That I Find Helpful

Hey -

The guide you linked to by Tim Norton looks like a great resource - and quite exhaustive. I've found that it is helpful in social media trainings (whether in person or virtual) to walk people through the most essential components of a strong social media strategy, starting with audience. Here's a worksheet that I've used and shared in the past for working with people who want to build social media plans for their initiative. 

If i had to give just one tip...

If i had to give just one tip for engaging people successfully online it would be to find your audience and stay in touch with them. Make sure you are putting the right amount of resources into doing basic audience research because if you do this right you will get people to take action on behalf of your issue (they’ll already care about it!). After that, keep up the relationship with them by providing them with updates about your campaign and rewarding them in unique ways. Rewards should be related to you issue/work. For an example of this, look at what works in crowdfunding: supporters receive items = related to the thing that they’re funding - it could be a new product or their name in the credits. Making sure that the people who engage with you on social media get rewarded for doing so and have the opportunity to influence your work is (I think) really important.