This guest post is written by Pedalo, a digital agency with over 11 years experience in web design and development. Pedalo work closely with charities and not for profit organisations, helping them to promote their cause using digital channels and social media.

As consumers become better at filtering out marketing messages, traditional forms of advertising are having less of an impact especially in the current climate.

Power is shifting away from brands into the hands of the consumer and this is a problem for charities too. There are a great number of registered charities out there, campaigning tirelessly to change the lives of others and making a difference where they can. And with so many organizations campaigning, and often competing, for donations, it can be hard for charities to reach the audiences they need.

The way the web and digital media has grown has had a significant impact on the way people communicate. Social media in particular has opened up many new lines of communication. Increasingly as we travel along the underground, on trains or by road, we see more and more campaigns that integrate with social media. Whether it be displaying a Facebook link, a Follow us on Twitter or a QR code, it’s easy to see how organisations are stepping up their game and taking notice of just how much social media is a part of everyday life for many people.

Using sites such as Twitter or Facebook to promote your charity is now pretty much a necessity. Not only will people who need help from your charity be using these sites, but those with the capacity to donate are likely to be active on social media too.

With these points in mind, this post offers five tips on how you can use social media to help your charity.

1. Develop a social media strategy

Before embracing social media, it’s a good idea to make a plan. Outline what your objectives are and what outcomes you want. Identify your audiences and research what social media platforms they’re most active on so you can make sure you are best placed to reach them.

A well researched plan will help you on your way and you can refer back to it regularly to make sure you’re working towards your objectives.

2. Customize your profiles

You can add customized designs to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This is a good idea because it’ll help you keep the branding of your charity consistent across all your marketing material, and your profiles are easily identifiable by users.

3. Build relationships

Social networking is all about building relationships and generating conversations. You should actively communicate with other users and make sure you reply to any messages that are sent to you. It isn’t all about promoting yourself and pushing people to donate, instead show them why your cause is worthy.

Try to balance out your content: of course it’s ok to make requests for donations, but don’t bombard people, mix  in some discussions around important issues and interesting information. In this way you’ll generate attention and help to give your charity an online personality.

4. Include links to your website

In your bio or info you should add a link to your website so users can find out more about your cause. Social media alone isn’t likely to help you raise donations and promote your cause but instead your social networking should coincide with your overall digital strategy – including your website. Where possible you should link your statuses and posts back to content on your website which has more depth about your cause and where donors can learn more about the work you do.

Your website should also include links to your social media profiles so users can follow you.

5. Monitor your impact

Take a look at what people are saying about your organisation and monitor what content of yours has been shared or liked. This will give you a good indication of how well your content is doing and what impact it’s having.

You will get notifications on most social websites when your content has been shared or liked so keep track of this.

It’s important to be aware of how your audience is using social media so that you can target them in the best way possible. Social media has opened up an array of possibilities so it would be worth your while to join in and promote your charity. To read more charity related articles, take a look at Pedalo’s blog.

Pedalo’s clients include Beating Bowel Cancer, Ricability, East Thames and social enterprise Tough Stuff. Visit their website, contact them on 020 8747 3274 or follow them on Twitter.