The importance of social media monitoring and web care for Plan Nederland

Plan is active around the world and is committed to sustainably reducing poverty and providing a better life for children in developing countries, with a special focus on equality and opportunities for girls.


Since social media started to take off around seven years ago, monitoring and web care have become a key part of the organisation and how it aims to spread its message and discuss topics that, for many, seem to be of little or no concern. We spoke to Daniëlle Pattiasina, a Customer Contact Centre and Social Media Coordinator at Plan Nederland.

Social media – the early years

Since social media started to boom around seven years ago, Plan Nederland has truly gotten to work. Daniëlle has worked at Plan Nederland since 2010 and manages the Social Media team and the Customer Contact Centre. One of the team’s main responsibilities is web care. Daniëlle is well-versed in social media and knows how important it is for non-profit organisations.

“NGOs must be on social media – just like all other organisations. It depends on the organisation’s goals and objectives, but even NGOs must be visible and provide a service. The difference is that NGOs don’t sell products or services, but a feeling.”

Striking up conversations

For Plan Nederland, starting conversations is key – including on social media. The organisation draws attention to problems unknown to those in the Netherlands. Transparent communication is key to sending the clearest possible message, and Plan Nederland uses social media to bring these topics to the fore and to share stories and experiences. The organisation’s following has grown significantly in recent years. Plan Nederland has built a wonderful community with more than 97,000 followers on Facebook, 21,500 followers on Twitter, and almost 2,500 followers on Instagram.

On Plan Nederland’s social media channels, every message is answered, and everyone is free to join the conversation. One of Plan Nederland’s aims when using social media is to strike up conversations with the target group, and conversations that start through direct messages are an important part of this. The amount of interaction also determines Plan Nederland’s reach via social media, so it’s no wonder that web care has such a crucial role within the organisation.

Tone of voice and guidelines

As expected, engaging in conversations on controversial topics can sometimes lead to differing opinions, leading to discussions. Plan Nederland welcomes these discussions. Additional information is provided on subjects such as child marriage or female genital mutilation (FGM). Racist comments are not welcome on Plan Nederland’s social media channels. Differences in opinion should be encouraged, but no abuse, racism or profanity is permitted. The message will be deleted in serious cases, though this will be indicated in advance.

The tone of voice used at Plan Nederland is accessible and informal but serious; after all, most of the topics the organisation deals with are not things to be joked about.

“Where possible, we try to take a somewhat light-hearted approach, but that’s hard to do when the post is about cutting girls.”

Staying part of the discussion with quick response times

For Plan Nederland, being on top of discussions is particularly important. On average, the organisation receives around 2,500 messages per month. And this number doubles during campaigns. Social media is fast-paced and volatile, so organisations must be present in conversations as they are happening. For this reason, Plan Nederland works within Spotler Engage with service levels of one hour; 90% of all messages received are answered within that one-hour window.

In some cases, answering questions may take more time. For example, if a question arises about projects or less accessible areas where Plan Nederland is present, people from the developing countries where Plan Nederland is active must search for the answer. This sometimes means that the question can only be answered much later. However, when this happens, Plan Nederland confirms that it has received the question and keeps the person who asked it up to date.

Availability and managing expectations

Plan Nederland is available for questions on social media from Monday to Friday during office hours. During campaigns, extra capacity is arranged for the evenings. Weekend services are available. All different kinds of employees can answer urgent questions, from the Communications Manager to the Customer Contact Centre team member. Any comments and less urgent questions will be picked up the next working day. The team is also on hand for urgent matters over public holidays.

Whereas many organisations are increasingly moving towards having longer periods of availability in the evenings and over the weekend, Plan Nederland is making a clear choice not to extend this availability. The Plan Nederland website offers details on availability and manages expectations in this regard.

“At this time, sponsors don’t expect NGOs to be open outside of office hours. We are keeping an eye on the market, however, and if this expectation changes, we can take another look at our approach. But this works well for us at the moment. Choices around availability differ from one organisation to the next, however it is important to manage the expectations of the target group.”

Using sentiment for internal feedback purposesMonitoring can offer quick insights into the sentiment towards your brand or organisation. As Plan Nederland aims to take controversial issues and turn them into topics for discussion, the organisation chooses to take a different approach to determining sentiment. Plan Nederland uses sentiment analysis solely to monitor complaints and positive feedback about the organisation. Messages relating to current topics are marked as neutral. This means that reports on satisfaction with Plan Nederland can be compiled internally. However, the general sentiment around topics is also monitored so that communication about these topics can be adapted accordingly.

“The web care department is the eyes and ears of your organisation. It quickly informs you of everything that’s happening around your organisation and enables you to identify PR risks.”

Web care helps to optimise processes and approaches

Plan Nederland has many years of experience in monitoring and web care. Reports enable structural areas for improvements to be identified within the organisation, meaning that Plan can better join the conversation on various channels.

Do you want to implement monitoring and web care activities in your organisation, or do you want to learn how Plan Nederland has developed in recent years? Daniëlle has a few more tips for you:

Daniëlle’s 5 top tips:

  • Make sure that your processes are well-organised before you start
  • Present cases of similar organisations to your organisation’s management to make them aware of the importance of social media for your organisation
  • Ensure short lines of communication within the organisation – the web care team should be able to go to the corporate communications team with questions
  • Get management to do web care tasks, too. This will give them a feel for what is involved
  • Web care has become its area of expertise (gone are the days when this would be palmed off onto an intern or done “on the side”)

“Plan Nederland made the conscious decision to go with Spotler Engage, and there were a number of reasons for this choice. I carried out market research and I spent time with several organisations and companies to look at their web care tools. Everyone who uses Spotler Engage was very pleased. After discussing our needs, I too was convinced that it would be the best fit for an organisation like Plan. Spotler Engage is a partner that works proactively alongside you and is very flexible and approachable. The tool is also very easy to use and improvements are constantly being made. I definitely recommend Spotler Engage, but if you have any doubts, then please contact me.”
Daniëlle Pattiasina, Customer Contact Centre and Social Media Coordinator @ Plan Nederland

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