State Policy Network
Social Media Marketing World 2019: Four takeaways for think tank marketing professionals

By Brett Kittredge, Communications Director at Mississippi Center for Public Policy

In spring 2019, Brett attended Social Media Marketing World, an annual conference for professional marketers that covers best practices, emerging trends, and practical skill-building in social media and digital marketing. In this article, Brett shares a few takeaways that nonprofit think tanks should keep in mind as the world of digital media continues to evolve.

Social Media Marketing World provided an invaluable look into what is happening in the world of digital media today and what we should anticipate in our work. From the conference, I was able to hear unique insights from the inside—both about the best social media channels today and what direction those channels are moving in—and learn what nonprofit think tanks should follow to stay one step ahead.

Takeaway #1: Facebook is headed toward groups.

A great deal of the conference focused on Facebook for obvious reasons. Facebook is a top platform, by far, for acquiring email addresses, getting visitors to our website, and raising general awareness around an issue. There were several great discussions on what organizations should do to prepare for Facebook tomorrow, as the world of algorithms constantly changes.

The first takeaway from Facebook was the power of private groups. There was a consensus that groups are where Facebook is headed, and they are the best opportunity to reach people organically at a time when a page attracts little attention unless an organization can spend money to boost content.

That’s why Mississippi Center for Public Policy (MCPP) launched a Facebook group, MCPP Patriots, this past spring. The goal is to turn this Facebook community into a core group of engaged supporters who MCPP can educate and mobilize during the legislative session. So far, MCPP Patriots has more than 300 members, and while this community doesn’t always agree on every detail, the Facebook group has given MCPP a way to build a liberty-minded community in the state.

Takeaway #2: Use Facebook Live in conjunction with other channels. 

Facebook Live was also a big topic of the conference. Again, this isn’t new, but it is something Facebook prioritizes when delivering organic content to audiences. Social Media Marketing World underscored the Facebook Live can be a valuable to leverage content that you are creating for other channels.

For example, MCPP has used it alongside its new podcast. In addition to recording the audio podcast, MCPP records a Facebook Live version. As a result, MCPP can publish a podcast for traditional avenues (Apple, Google, Spotify) and a Facebook Live video version.

Facebook Live is also useful for engaging with groups. For MCPP, it’s likely to be a significant avenue for sharing quick legislative updates within our Facebook group during the session.

Takeaway #3: Don’t overlook YouTube, especially if video content is a priority for your think tank.

There were also many discussions about YouTube—a channel MCPP has largely ignored apart from posting videos and almost forgetting about it. But one key metric I heard was that, while Facebook video will get you more total hits, people visiting YouTube tend to watch more of the video. So, YouTube videos tend to see higher results when it comes to total minutes watched. 

Takeaway #4: Email lives on, but it should be personal.

MCPP still doed traditional weekly emails that highlightwork from the past week: stories, podcast, video, etc. But Social Media Marketing World featured discussions about making your email content more personal, meaning it should come from a person, not just a company.

MCPP recently started an update from its CEO that goes to investors. It outlines three or four recent updates from the organization without asking for anything. Finding this balance has been a work in progress.

While Facebook, YouTube, podcasting, and email campaigns aren’t anything new, the features of these platforms continue to evolve, along with the ways nonprofit think tanks can use them. I enjoyed being able to hear more in detail about what works today, how to attract new fans, and how to build a loyal audience.

If you’re interested in learning more about Social Media Marketing World or chatting with Brett about MCPP’s work, contact him at kittredge@mspolicy.org