Sector: Nonprofit Project: Social Media Audit and Strategy, Same Page Content Planning Session, Social Media Playbook Development
We partnered with the YMCA of the USA to conduct a social media audit of their national and local social media channels across 2600 geographic locations. Together, we clarified their vision for social media and created a comprehensive plan for enhancing their digital presence through powerful storytelling and collaborative, yet flexible, content planning.
The YMCA is well-known as a nonprofit that strengthens communities through a broad range of youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility programs and initiatives. The 2700 YMCA associations across the country represent a broad range of communities. They are large and small, rural and urban, small and mighty, and large and complex, and the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) serves as the national resource office for all of them. Coming up with a comprehensive plan to advance the Y mission through social media, given its diverse needs and stakeholders, presented a significant challenge.
Y-USA approached Sarah Best Strategy with a vision for reviewing and strengthening its social media strategy as part of a broader digital transformation effort. Some of Y-USA’s goals for the audit process were to define a vision for the social media program, comprehensively assess the program, and determine a clear path forward for engaging consumers and fulfilling their mission.
The SBS team welcomed the opportunity to review the Y’s social media presence at a national and local level.
Initial goals of this effort included:
Comprehensively assessing Y-USA’s social media presence, social media strategy, and vision through the lenses of metrics, best practices, and the competitive landscape both in and outside the nonprofit sector;
Interviewing leadership to clarify the vision for the program;
Surveying and interviewing digital directors across the country to assess their needs, wants, and obstacles to success; and
Crafting an actionable plan for achieving the vision and identifying quick wins that the organization could act on immediately.
With branches in more than 10,000 communities across the country, evaluating the Y’s social media program required a thoughtful, methodical approach. The SBS team collaborated with national leaders to create a systematic, year-long process that encompassed both analysis and staff interviews at national and local levels. Diverse stakeholders were engaged through presentations at every step of the process.
We began by interviewing Y-USA leadership. Based on these insights, we worked with national staff to create a multi-faceted vision statement focused on the ways to advance the Y’s mission through social media, while remaining agile enough to evolve and change based on current consumer needs and the Y’s evolving priorities.
We then reviewed both the national Y-USA social media accounts and the accounts from 40 geographically-diverse local Y associations, looking at their accounts through the lenses of the metrics, best practices, and the competitive landscape in and outside of the nonprofit sector. We delivered feedback, identified opportunities, and identified areas where trainings could facilitate increased success across the movement.
We surveyed and interivewed digital directors at associations to assess their diverse needs, wishes, and any barriers to success.
Based on our discoveries, we created recommendations on how to fulfill the vision and overcome any roadblocks to success. An action-oriented, multi-step plan mapped out key steps to take and honed in on key areas for investment.
We collaborated with Y-USA leaders on the development of a playbook for local associations to socialize adoption of the vision across the organization. We also wanted to empower local Y digital directors with tools that can help them onboard new social media staff members; reinforce best practices; share resources in a central place; and most importantly, bubble up successes and share peer-to-peer wisdom between local Ys.
We taught collaborative content planning practices designed to break down silos and align efforts across teams. Through interviews, we also identified successful models from across the movement, enabling the Y to motivate large teams of people to collaborate successfully on the implementation of complex social media strategies.
All along the way, we prioritized the identification of quick wins that the Y could begin to take advantage of even before the conclusion of our engagement. Given the number of stakeholder groups, we presented these recommendations in a variety of forms, including PowerPoints, debriefs, and a future webinar.
While our work is still being rolled out across the movement, some of the early results of our collaboration include:
Y-USA leaders are empowered with detailed business intelligence on the health of their social media program and, based on our audit results, can make decisions about key investments that will help them advance their goals;
The Y-USA digital team has been able to nimbly act on quick wins to create new and engaging social media campaigns across a variety of platforms, confident in their knowledge of current best practices, current consumer usage of social media platforms, and a deeper understanding of the competitive landscape.
Y-USA staff are empowered with new time-efficient and collaborative social media planning processes that will enable them to create engaging and strategic social media content. The Y has the tools to plan farther out, and working across teams has enabled them to act more strategically and align efforts across departments and between internal and external partners.
National leaders have a clear vision statement that explains the “why” behind their social media program, as well as a comprehensive five-year plan to elevate their social media presence and enhance their support of local Y efforts across the movement.
Y-USA is already doing incredible work to strengthen diverse communities. Our social media roadmap will give them a strong foundation for building upon their current efforts to tell powerful stories, engage audiences, drive key results online, and understand if their efforts have been successful. Additionally, because we have empowered Y-USA with a flexible framework, they’re able to alter and adjust their vision and plan as the Y’s priorities evolve and change.
"The ever-changing social media landscape makes it easy to become overwhelmed. Sarah assessed our unique goals, needs, and capacity and distilled best practices for the most popular social media channels into easy, actionable steps that will make us more successful on social media."
- Meredith Riemersma, Content Producer, Digital Marketing, YMCA of the USA