Spitfire Strategies

Staying Smart on Social: Cross-talk, Trust and Topsy

Kerry Leslie

By Kerry Leslie

The world of digital communication is ever changing, which means a smart online communication strategy needs to be flexible enough to change with it. We saw a slew of developments in social and digital media in 2015, and we expect online interaction to evolve even more in the coming year. Nonprofits and foundations should keep in mind a few major changes and trends to make sure their online voices rise above the noise in 2016.  

Considering cross-talk.
For many social change organizations, social media is a crucial way for you to reach your audiences and drive them to take action. Whether that action is learning more about your cause, donating time or money, or changing a behavior, your audiences will likely have to leave your social media page to do it.  This makes understanding how much cross-talk (navigating to sites outside the platform) each platform allows critical for nonprofits to be successful social communicators. Some channels are making that harder and harder as they attempt to keep users active on their platforms.


  • Snapchat also encourages users to stay on the platform with the Discover feature and by preventing users from sharing links.
  • Similarly, Instagram doesn’t allow users to add live links to posts. And while it does allow clickable links in Carousel Ads, they open a new in-platform page versus redirecting users to a new site, meaning it’s easy for users to click back into Instagram.

However, other platforms such as Twitter, YouTube and Medium offer users a way to create original content while bypassing traditional media and freely directing audiences to pages outside the platform. Depending on your organization’s goals, considering each platform’s openness – or lack thereof – may influence how you prioritize your efforts around each.

Building trust, building engagement.
In 2016, engaging your audiences will depend more than ever on building their trust and being authentic. More and more, people are turning to their peers online to gauge the credibility of brands, products and news – especially millennials.

  • More online audiences are using social media as a search engine, circumventing traditional marketing mazes and taking cues from the communities they trust. Even Google has recognized this trend and made deals with Twitter and Facebook to integrate the platforms’ information into its search results.
  • The growing popularity of real-time, live communication is another big signal that audiences value brands that feel “real.” Live-streaming with apps like Periscope and insta-videos through Vine or Snapchat help audiences feel more connected to the day-to-day of a person or organization they care about.

Because of users’ deepening desire for trust and authenticity, nonprofits and foundations that successfully use these tools and strategies to communicate their messages on social media will likely see a more engaged and invigorated following online.

In Memoriam: Social strategy without Topsy.
In December, Apple shut down Topsy – a Twitter analytics favorite among nonprofit and business communicators alike. And while we will miss Topsy, we took its closure as a call to find new tools to help social change organizations continue using analytics to create the smartest online communications for their causes. Start the new year by exploring these free tools and you may even find a new favorite.


  • Hashtagify: Helps identify your topic’s trending and related hashtags.
  • Social Bearing: Searches tweets by keyword, hashtags, handles or location, and analyzes timeline and follower statistics for public handles.
  • Social Mention: Searches user-generated social and digital media content to track the conversation around a brand, topic or keyword, and identify the conversation’s top users and hashtags.
  • Tagboard: Searches and curates real-time public social media content based on a unique hashtag.

Want to pick our digital brains even more? Download your copy of the Digital S.M.A.R.T.S. toolkit or send us a note at digital@spitfirestrategies.com – we’d love to help you make your digital strategy even stronger.

“This is a truly transformative program and there is no question that it is preparing leaders to be courageous communicators.”

- Colleen Bailey, Executive Director, The National Steinbeck Center

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