4 Strategies to Nonprofit Social Media Marketing
Whether it’s sharing events and engaging with your community on Facebook or posting inspirational images on Instagram, social media platforms are powerful marketing tools for both businesses and nonprofits. Nonprofit social media marketing can keep supporters informed on new projects, ask for donations, recruit volunteers, thank supporters and grow their pool of donors.
After all, engaging donors and acknowledging their support in unique and interesting ways is the ticket to cultivating stronger relationships.
With a little planning and creativity, you can grow your community of donors and make the most of your social media accounts. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Determine which platforms work best for your organization.
- Create a foolproof communications strategy.
- Grow your following by engaging supporters.
- Track and analyze key marketing metrics.
No matter if you’re just starting out or steadily growing your nonprofit social media marketing strategy, these tips will help you navigate the world of nonprofit social media marketing.
1. Determine Which Platforms Work Best for Your Organization
One common misconception about nonprofit social media marketing is that you need to be on every platform. After all, the only way to expand your online presence is reaching people on all the popular social media sites, right?
Truthfully, nonprofits should stick to two or three platforms, especially if they have a small marketing team or rely on volunteers to post for them. That way, you’re not spreading your resources too thin.
Having two high-quality accounts that you publish on frequently will be much more impactful than having five accounts that you rarely post on.
As you decide which platforms to focus on, it’s important to look at your nonprofit’s main objectives. What are you looking to achieve with your social media accounts? Your primary goals will impact what type of content you post and the audience you need to reach.
After you’ve established your goals, look at the social media platforms you’re considering to see if they can help drive your objectives. Each social media site has a slightly different audience and purpose:
- By far the largest social media network in the world, Facebook gives you plenty of opportunities to expand your supporter base. Your page can be used as a community hub where you post updates on campaigns and events. Plus, the platform is ideal for both visual and text content.
- Short, engaging and timely posts are the most ideal subjects for Twitter. Twitter is a unique platform because it straddles the line between a broadcast medium and personal communication platform, meaning you can market your nonprofit as much as you want while still engaging with individual followers.
- Focused exclusively on images with short captions, Instagram is one of the most visual social media platforms. It works particularly well for nonprofits because they’re able to convey the impact of their mission through photographs and short videos.
Of course, these are just a few of the more popular social media platforms. There are several other platforms and additional tools (like this list from Salsa) that can make scheduling posts and creating content easier for your nonprofit.
Research more about each platform to determine if it’s the right fit for your organization and your goals.
2. Create a Foolproof Communications Strategy
If your nonprofit wants to explore the waters of social media, it can be tempting to jump in headfirst without a plan. However, you run the risk of running out of things to say, and that initial excitement might taper off.
By putting a little more time into the planning stages, you’ll be able to maintain your social media presence, making adjustments and growing along the way.
That’s why we recommend creating a plan to figure out what types of content you’re going to post as well as the tone your social media accounts will have.
Since you’ll be gaining new followers all the time, it’s important that anyone looking at your profile can get a feel for your values and mission—whether they’re an avid follower or first-time supporter.
First, you’ll want to think about the overarching types of content you want to post, then you can get to the nitty-gritty of what each post actually says. Some types of content include:
- Posts that acknowledge your donors.
- Posts that tell a story about the people or communities you serve.
- Informative posts that link back to your nonprofit’s website.
- Posts that feature news articles on currents events related to your mission.
- Call-to-action posts, asking followers to donate to your campaign or attend an event.
- Posts about matching gifts or volunteer grants.
In addition to new content, think about the other materials that your organization produces. For instance, if you have a blog, consider posting on your social media accounts about recent articles you’ve published. Cross-promoting your content is another way to make the most of your nonprofit social media marketing.
Some of the most successful social media plans also take into account when your team should post. Depending on the platform you’re using, posting on a specific day or time of day can increase the number of people that see your post.
Afterward, you can get more specific by creating an editorial calendar. Make sure your calendar includes a good mix of evergreen and timely content, so you can easily adjust your plan if you have to launch an impromptu crowdfunding campaign, for instance.
3. Grow Your Following by Engaging Donors
If you’re just starting with nonprofit social media marketing, one of your primary goals is likely to build your following. When your posts are fun and engaging more people will comment or share your post with their followers, thus widening your reach.
By making your posts engaging, you also build trust with your followers. Supporters want to know that they’ll gain value by following your account and not continually be asked to donate.
Finding that balance between content that directly promotes your nonprofit and content that’s intended to engage your followers is vital.
Here’s an example: You could develop a creative contest, asking donors to submit t-shirt designs for your upcoming campaign. Have your followers vote on their favorite, and then turn it into an actual product that people can buy. Bonfire has a fantastic guide on how to create your own custom merchandise.
This idea not only gets your followers involved in creating something special for your organization, but you’re also strategically promoting your campaign in a way that isn’t too promotional.
Another way to get your donors involved is by simply asking them questions. If you’re struggling on what to plan for your next summer fundraising event, set up a poll on Twitter asking your followers to choose.
Don’t forget: Your communication shouldn’t be one-way. Respond to donors’ comments and get some conversations started.
Events are also the perfect opportunity to encourage donors to get active on social media. Create a hashtag for your next event and ask attendees to share photos with the hashtag. This strategy can generate a lot of buzz around your event and get people interested in attending the next one!
As you can see, there are endless ways you can engage your supporters. Get creative and come up with solutions that are unique to your nonprofit.
4. Track and Analyze Key Marketing Metrics
You’ve put a lot of work into your social media strategy, and the truth is that some of your ideas won’t always work. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn from your mistakes!
Nowadays, most social media platforms have analytics tools to help you see which posts get the most traction and how often people are visiting your profile. Use these tools to your advantage to see what strategies work and which ones could use improvement.
You may also gain deeper insights into the best days and times to post. Ultimately, there are several metrics you can use to evaluate your social media progress.
Here are three metrics we recommend you keep a close eye on:
- Audience growth rate. While your total follower count can fluctuate day to day, audience growth rate allows you to evaluate your marketing efforts over time.
- Average engagement rate. Growing your followers is important, but engaging those supporters is another essential key to success. Look at the number of shares, likes and comments to see if there are any trends in activity.
- Conversion rate. Ultimately, you want your social media followers to convert to donors, volunteers, and supporters. Use a tool like Google analytics to track the number of donations that come from your posts.
Depending on your goals some of these metrics will be more important than others. As a rule of thumb, your nonprofit should focus on engagement rather than being too caught up on follower counts.
If your followers are engaged and sharing your content, they’re much more likely to convert to donors or volunteers in the future.
At the end of the day, it isn’t about increasing the number of followers you have but instead, finding the right audience to voice your mission to.
From picking which platforms to focus on, to growing and engaging with your audience, to tracking vital metrics, we’ve walked you through four essential nonprofit social media marketing strategies.
Incorporate these best practices into your social media marketing to find new donors, engage with existing supporters and establish a community!
Adam Weinger is president of Double the Donation, an organization that helps nonprofit organizations and schools increase fundraising from corporate matching gift and employee volunteer grant programs.