Does increasing your social media posts directly relate to the success of your business? Let’s focus on two non-profit organizations which share similar beginnings but have taken slightly different paths, not only in their services but also in their social media. Both are celebrating over 50 years of operation, both have recently hired communication/marketing positions and both began as Community Residential Facilities (CRFs or half-way houses) providing support and supervision for individuals making the transition from correctional facilities to the community. Similar starts, similar services, but different social media strategies.
St. Leonard’s Community Services in Brantford is more open and transparent online than their counterpart in London. Brantford expanded in the late 90s to offer a Career Resource Centre for Youth and opened Employment Centres in Caledonia and Dunnville in the past decade. Their mission is to provide programs and services in Addictions and Mental Health, Housing, Justice, and Employment. They are fairly active on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. A recent Facebook post promoting a Virtual Job Fair had a large number of Likes, Comments and Shares. SLCS was quick to reply to the comments and offer additional information as needed. The timing for this event couldn’t be better as so many people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 restrictions and/or closures. This post was shared by job seekers, community partners and over 40 regional companies. Most of SLCS’s feeds are filled with job skill workshops, education and support groups. Over 95% of this content is original. Video content is a great way to advertise your business and SLCS capitalizes on this by sharing YouTube videos of their virtual AGM (262 views), and workshops on Conflict Resolution (51 views) and Job Searching During a Pandemic (159 views). Even though they provide justice programs like bail verification, supportive interventions, and transitional housing, this information is rarely promoted or mentioned in their social media feed.
On the flip side, St. Leonard’s Community Services for London focuses primarily on justice programs for adults and youth who are, or could be, in conflict with the law. On social media, Twitter is their primary communication tool, however they post much less often than Brantford. Original content accounts for only 50% of their posts, opting to share news articles and updates from similar organizations regularly. St. Leonard’s London has historically kept a low profile on social media but are now looking to build up their presence to increase awareness and understanding for their programs and services. Understandably they want to respect the privacy of the individuals that they serve, but could look for opportunities to feature their staff and community supporters. To maximize their efforts, this content should be visually appealing, utilizing photos or videos and can be presented in such a way to protect privacy. Of course, promotion is a double-edge sword and organizers need to be prepared for the NIMBY Syndrome (Not in my back yard) and the misperceptions that CRFs increase crime and lower property values. This can be countered with open and honest conversations with neighbourhoods, community leaders, corrections experts, and individuals. Perhaps we all need to understand how the correctional process works and the steps being taken to create communities, where everyone feels safe, valued, and supported.
Both organizations are successful and offer valuable, much-needed services to their communities. Does more social media posts make one organization stronger than the other? Does bigger mean better?