Social is Here for Good: Urban Roots
Urban Roots uses food and farming to transform the lives of young people and engage, inspire, and nourish the community. I met with Urban Roots’ Tasha Banks to discuss how they are using social to support their cause. During our conversation, we arrived at five key takeaways for non-profits that are looking to grow their own social presence.
Know your purpose.
We’re way past the days of being on social media just to be there. Spend time clarifying what you want your social presence to achieve for your non-profit, what you want it to look like, and how you want your audience to engage.
Urban Roots approach to social is all about storytelling. “We want to tell people what we do and the story of the youth that grow along with the food that we grow on the farm. We have all kinds of stories to tell—about food, youth, the community, hunger relief. “
Get the right message to the right audience.
People connect with businesses and non-profits on different channels expecting different content that fits the medium. Don’t just cross post content across every channel—and don’t feel obligated to be present on every new channel that springs up.
“Sometimes we ask ourselves, do we need a Tumblr? Should we be posting to Pinterest?” Instead, Tasha and other Urban Roots social contributors like their farm manager and volunteer coordinator focus on growing the channels that already work for them, like Facebook and Instagram. “We share pictures from corporate teambuilding events on Facebook. It’s a great way to recognize supporting organizations and their team members. We’re also trying to grow our Instagram presence. We know that a lot of our foodie fans are present there and appreciate photos of the farm, the produce, and guest chef events.”
Do what you can with what you have.
For Tasha, social is just one part of her role at Urban Roots. She also manages grant writing, email marketing, corporate team building, small scale events, the website blog, and the CSA program. “It’s tough when there is a lot on your to-do list. We want to engage and have more conversations, but we’re managing it with many other priorities.”
If you are just starting to grow your own social media programs, start small. Get clear about the types of content you want to share, map it out in a simple editorial calendar, and try to stay consistent. Build a social habit by devoting a set amount of time each day to respond and engage.
Build in checkpoints to your social goals.
“Ideally, our goal on social is to get more people involved and attract more donors. I think that’s probably the ultimate goal of all non-profits.” That said, Urban Roots doesn’t often use social to solicit donations directly. “I think the fear is not wanting to come off as always saying, ‘Hey! Give us money.’”
It is smart to ladder your social goals up to the bigger goals of your organization. Start by identifying actions and behaviors that support those goals, whether that's increasing awareness by growing your social audience, or driving traffic from social media to your blog (that could include a more direct call to action to donate).
Grow with your community.
Social media provides a public venue to network and associate with likeminded community members, whether it is fellow non-profits or supporting businesses.
Urban Roots will host celebrity chefs on the farm. Jack Allen from Jack Allen’s Kitchen came for an event in the summer and shared an entire album on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
In 2015, Urban Roots will continue to be even more deliberate about working with hunger relief orgs like AIDS Services of Austin, Caritas of Austin, and Meals on Wheels and More (another #BeNiceAndSocial participant). “We commit 40% of our produce to hunger relief, and we send our youth to soup kitchens to help serve the meals. It is really special to give food insecure individuals access to not just any food, but healthy food."
Urban Roots is one of five featured organizations in our “Social is Here for Good” Holiday Campaign Vote for Urban Roots and they could receive a donation and day of service from the Spredfast team.