7 Practical Tips for Leveraging the Power of Nonprofit Social Media
Due to the popularity of mobile devices and information readily available at the touch of a finger, nonprofit social media marketing is a powerful outreach tool to leverage. The pervasiveness of petitions, the emergence of movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo, and the increase in fundraising options provide a way for organizations to raise visibility, activate and engage audiences online. A Classy report found the rise in mobile giving and traffic to websites is driven by social media with 60 percent of referral traffic coming from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram combined—89 percent of those are from Facebook. According to Blackbaud, #GivingTuesday donations have gone up 500 percent since its creation in 2012; in 2017 there was a 28 percent increase in online giving.
Nonprofit social media marketing is a cost-effective, creative and flexible way to communicate your story to your audience. But how can you maximize its advantages or even get started? Here are seven tips to effectively move forward and benefit from this approach.
1. Write a Plan With Clear Goals That Identifies Your Audiences
It’s important to begin this process by establishing your main goals and forming a plan. Do you want to increase awareness and get more followers? Raise money online or mobilize volunteers? Or build credibility as a thought leader in your field? Consider who your audiences are: What content will resonate most and what action do you want them to take? What are the best ways to reach them?
If you’re new to social media marketing, I recommend choosing one or two platforms that you can stay consistent with and learn from. You can expand later if needed.
2. Check Out the ‘Competition’
It’s a good strategy to know what others in your field, with similar audiences, are doing online. Review three or four organizations’ social media to see the frequency of posts, the kind of content they’re posting, what gets the most likes, shares or comments. Use that to help inform how you set yourself apart and what works well in your field.
3. Stay Informed About Social Media Updates
Social media often changes and tools can be improved, which may enhance how you communicate with your audience or can impact your strategy. Take, for example, the change to Facebook’s algorithm, which means an organization’s page posts are no longer getting organic reach. It’s good to stay aware of these updates, and some good resources are Classy, Social Media Examiner and Social Media Today.
4. Lean on Your Network and Find Influencers
Involve your staff, board and network to share your content. Make it easy by sending them graphics, images or sample posts with proper hashtags. This can also get around Facebook’s algorithm change, as individuals’ pages are not impacted. Seek out and engage influencers, people with large followings that are respected by their community. Invest some time to foster a relationship—there can be a big payoff if an influencer shares your posts.
5. Use Short Videos
People are more likely to watch a video than read a post, and posts with video are 10 times more likely to be shared and engaged with. A Twitter report shows 82 percent of their users watch video, and Facebook users watch approximately 100 million hours of video each day. Social media is more forgiving when it comes to quality, so you can use a phone or a video camera to produce short pieces that are one minute or less, as people tend to precipitously drop off after 30 seconds.
6. Make It Easy for Your Audience
If you’re asking people to take an action in your posts, keep it simple. If you want online donations, use straightforward language like donate rather than support us as using the former gets better results. Ensure there are minimal steps to follow and that people can do it on their phones. If you’re using Facebook, utilize their Charitable Giving Tools, so they can donate directly there.
7. Create an Editorial Calendar and Measure Results
An editorial calendar can help plan and effectively schedule publication times, as there are better times to post. Use it to track ideas for posts and campaigns, holidays or trends to take advantage of, and to determine the best schedule to maximize exposure with other organizational initiatives.
Choose the key indicators you want to measure on a regular basis: number of followers, posts with high engagement (such as likes, shares, click-throughs and comments), posts with strong organic reach or ones that underperformed—use this to inform future strategies and adjust your calendar as needed. Measuring results is also a great way to show the organization or your board the progress you’re making.
Follow these tips to make social media marketing a part of your nonprofit’s outreach mix and stay consistent. It takes a little time to build, but can have outstanding long-term benefits.
Leeann Alameda has more than 20 years of experience in directing and implementing best practices in marketing, branding, communications and advertising in both the private and nonprofit sectors. She is the founder and principal consultant of Alameda Marketing Solutions, which provides marketing strategy and branding services for nonprofits, foundations and mission-driven businesses.