Carlota Pico recently sat down with Dimple Vijaykumar, global social media manager at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Meaningful storytelling has always piqued Dimple’s interest; she previously wrote for The Guardian and worked as a social media officer for the British Red Cross. In this interview, Dimple explains how she creates content to raise awareness and support for people in crisis, why social media budgets are important for NGOs, and how the third sector is expanding its reach through new social media platforms.

Watch the full conversation in our YouTube video above, and listen to our podcast and read our recap below.

Key takeaways

  • UNHCR’s communication strategy has three objectives: lead the narrative, generate empathy and mobilize action. The social media team strives to create motivation to help refugees and displaced people, which is vital in an era of declining trust.
  • The organization uses social media to amplify refugee voices, tell memorable and hopeful stories and address common fears and misconceptions. For them, content is a tool to forge connections and inspire understanding, empathy and action.
  • It can be hard to disconnect from work as a social media manager—especially for an organization like UNHCR—but to be there for your audience you have to take care of yourself. Muting or deleting apps when you’re taking time off can be very beneficial.
  • For NGOs, trust is an integral part of success, which makes brand awareness and transparency vital; if people don’t know and trust the brand, they won’t support it. Social media is a great way to spread awareness and build trust through content.
  • Humans want to connect with other humans, not brands. This is especially true for NGOs, making compelling storytelling paramount. UNHCR tells refugees’ stories in their own words and photos, and uses Goodwill Ambassadors to help generate support among followers.
  • Telling stories is how you bring an issue that’s “over there” to “over here” and say to people: “This is an issue that you should care about.”

Social media has the power to change lives. A simple video with a call to action can really make a difference in raising awareness, educating people and getting them to take action on important issues.

Rapid-fire recs

What’s an app or tool that you can’t work without?

I love TikTok. It’s a platform where anyone can become big because of something that they do. I find a lot of inspiration from the app and how people tell stories in the most creative ways.

See also: Top 10 apps for content and marketing professionals

A marketing influencer who you follow?

I follow a woman on Twitter called Taylor Lorenz, who works for the New York Times. She’s really made a name for herself by reporting on influencers on social media and TikTok, and in the digital space in general. I’m always finding out about new stuff from her!

A valuable resource, event or group?

I recently read “The Tyranny of Metrics” by Jerry Z. Muller. The basic message was: just because something can be measured, that doesn’t mean it should be. It was definitely an eye-opener in terms of how we use data, and a fascinating read.

See also: Top 8 content and marketing books to read right now (according to experts)

Also, I’m in a Facebook group called Third Sector PR & Comms. It’s a great networking group and space for charity comms professionals in the UK to meet and discuss ideas and learn about opportunities. So if you’re based in the UK, definitely join!

See also: 7 online networking groups for content marketers on Facebook & LinkedIn

I also write a newsletter about what’s hot and what’s not in the social media world: Dimple’s Digital Digest.

Connect with Dimple and Carlota on LinkedIn.

This post was edited by Mary Kresge, a freelance content creator based in Madrid.

For more insights into NGO social media marketing and spreading awareness through content:

Fight apathy and isolation – Valeriia Voshchevska, Amnesty International’s global social media manager

Build a socially conscious brand – Yaron Hubin Plimmer, global social media manager at EF

Commitment without action means absolutely nothing – Luc Berlin, enterprise marketing expert

To see the full transcript, click on page number 2 below.