9 Essential Strategies for Nonprofit Social Media Marketing
Technology platforms represent a major opportunity for nonprofits of all sizes to engage new audiences and attract new donors through nonprofit social media marketing. One issue that holds many nonprofits back, though, is that for-profit companies have completely oversaturated platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
How can nonprofit organizations find marketing success in this kind of media environment? Remember that supporters follow you on social media because they believe in your work, agree with your values and appreciate your perspective!
Nonprofits can easily reach new audiences and bolster their relationships with existing supporters by simply incorporating a few new strategies into their social media marketing. Check out these top social media engagement strategies to boost your marketing efforts:
- Offer a unique giving platform.
- Use storytelling techniques in your posts.
- Promote matching gifts to followers.
- Keep your message fully relevant.
- Conduct a t-shirt fundraising campaign.
- Be direct in your social media appeals.
- Optimize your donation page and form.
- Target your volunteers on social media.
- Focus on the tone of your messages.
Many nonprofits fall into a rut with their social media marketing without actually using it as a tool for growth. By experimenting with some new strategies, your organization can see a boost in donations and engagement!
1. Offer a Unique Giving Platform
Unique giving platforms are a surefire way to catch your supporters’ attention on social media platforms that are saturated with for-profit marketing content.
Typically you’ll use unique giving platforms in the context of a new online fundraising campaign. You can find a more comprehensive list here on Double the Donation’s top alternative giving tools, but here are three main types of new giving platforms that reliably engage online donors:
- Crowdfunding campaigns
- Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns
- Mobile giving tools
Mobile giving tools, like text-to-give platforms, aren’t necessarily their own style of fundraising campaign, but they’re incredibly effective when promoted on social media or at live events.
By offering more diverse ways to give than simply linking to your donation page, you can engage your existing supporters who haven’t donated in a while. Plus, online campaigns are made to be shared, so they’re a great way to reach new audiences online!
2. Use Storytelling Techniques in Your Posts
Incorporating narrative techniques into promotional and engagement content has become a major marketing trend over the past several years, and for good reason!
The human mind processes narratives in a different way than it does statistics or data. This means that narrative content is more likely to encourage emotional connection in a way that leads to deeper engagement and attachment.
Try catering your narrativized message to each social media platform you use, then link them all together. Here’s how this marketing structure might look:
- Use Instagram to share snapshots of people, like your volunteers, attendees, and stakeholders. Then direct followers to your website or Facebook page for more info.
- Use Facebook to post longer stories and campaign info. Direct your followers to your website and YouTube channel.
- Use your YouTube channel to share video content that illustrates your mission. Send these viewers directly to your campaign or donation pages.
Keeping your content human-centric, sharing success stories, and providing vivid imagery are all great narrative techniques and best practices for social media engagement!
3. Promote Matching Gifts to Your Followers
Matching gifts are an important part of corporate philanthropy programs and a huge missed opportunity for many nonprofits! Most importantly, they’re incredibly easy to promote on social media.
Here’s how matching gifts work: Your donors check their eligibility for their donations to be matched by their employers, then they request the matched donation. The employer confirms the initial donation, then issues a check to your nonprofit!
Matching gift databases and search tools make it easy for your online donors to determine their eligibility, and they’re easy to include on any of your promotional materials, including:
- Your social media posts
- Your website
- Email campaigns
- Printed materials
Targeting and promoting matching gifts in your social media posts are a great way to grow engagement all around. They can become instrumental for developing new corporate sponsorships and boosting volunteer rates, for instance!
4. Keep Your Message Fully Relevant
In order to actually attract new audiences and become useful as marketing materials, your social media posts need to be relevant to your supporters’ lives!
This strategy might seem obvious, but many nonprofits fail to fully engage their bases of support for this reason. All kinds of subject matter can make for interesting content and grab viewers’ attention in your social media, like:
- Current events and news stories
- Trends, fads and pop culture
- Anniversaries of relevant events
- Ongoing social or political debates
In order for this strategy to work, though, you also need to keep your messages fully relevant to your own work. Share a recent news story directly related to your mission, or post a message on the birthday of a historical figure who championed your cause, for example.
To avoid looking desperate for attention, your social media content must be relevant to your supporters’ lives and your own work.
5. Conduct a T-shirt Fundraising Campaign
T-shirts are a reliable fundraising staple! While some supporters might hesitate to make a direct donation, it’s much easier for cash-strapped followers or event attendees to justify purchasing a t-shirt when they know the proceeds while also be supporting your work.
Plus, t-shirts are a perfect way to engage everyone on your team, including:
- Online supporters
- Event staff
Look for t-shirt fundraising platforms that let you sell shirts online in crowdfunding campaigns and purchase shirts in bulk to sell at your events. Promote your shirts on social media and link your followers directly to order pages.
To really boost engagement, invite your followers to enter a t-shirt design contest!
Social media platforms are saturated with all kinds of for-profit marketing. Consumers feel inundated with online content, reducing their attention and likelihood of engaging with the marketing message. Nonprofits, though, would do well to avoid following too many for-profit marketing techniques.
6. Be Direct in Your Social Media Appeals
One nonprofit sector that continually succeeds in attracting support through social media is animal shelters.
Animal shelter facebook pages consistently follow a number of best practices for online nonprofit marketing:
- Direct engagement. Tag your donors and volunteers in thank-you posts.
- Image-centric messages. Images are more likely to be shared by your followers.
- Direct appeals. Don’t feel the need to mask your solicitation, simply request support.
- Multiple ways to support. Animal shelters request financial and in-kind donations, volunteers and adoptions.
Your followers already appreciate your work! Following for-profit marketing trends can backfire too easily, while simpler nonprofit-specific techniques tend to be more reliable.
7. Optimize Your Donation Page and Form
Optimizing your donation page and form is an essential element of any nonprofit marketing campaign. As you attract new supporters and solicit donations, you must ensure that wherever you’re directing donors is designed to provide positive user experience.
As the last step in the donation process, your donation form can play a make-or-break role. A clunky form that takes too long to complete can become a major liability when social media users see your content and impulsively decide to donate.
Effective, optimized donation forms share some key characteristics:
- Minimal fields for donors to complete. Keep it to the bare necessities.
- Simple design with no unnecessary elements. Never risk confusing or distracting users.
- Unobtrusive options, like recurring donations or matching gift search tools.
A minimalist approach has quickly become the new standard for user experience and online donations. Check out Donately’s custom donation forms for an idea of what this looks like in action!
8. Target Your Volunteers on Social Media
Volunteer grants are another aspect of corporate philanthropy that often go underutilized. Employers will match their employees’ volunteered time with a financial donation. The programs of some top volunteer grant companies can be particularly generous.
This means that focusing on your volunteers when marketing your nonprofit on social media can be a great idea for several reasons:
- Volunteers have already demonstrated their commitment and would be likely to engage with your content and share your posts.
- Promoting the work of your volunteers is a great way to encourage your other followers to get involved or make a donation.
- Educating your base of support about corporate volunteer grants can result in a substantial boost to your corporate donations.
If your organization has an active volunteer program, pushing a volunteer grant drive on your social media platforms can be an excellent way to raise awareness and engage more supporters in your projects.
9. Focus on the Tone of Your Messages
One best practice for any marketing is to consciously develop your brand and tone. Your nonprofit already has a distinct identity rooted in its unique mission.
While nonprofit branding doesn’t work exactly the same way as in for-profit marketing, developing a characteristic tone or style can go a long way to boost supporter engagement with your brand and donor loyalty.
Strive to incorporate these characteristics into your social media marketing strategy and tone:
- Narrative elements
As discussed in Tip No. 6, directness and simplicity are keys to extremely effective social media marketing. By fostering a relatable and straightforward approach to engaging with your followers, you’ll invest in a more genuine and supportive relationship with them.
The difference between nonprofit and for-profit marketing is that nonprofits can much more easily engage with their followers in meaningful ways, especially on social media.
Incorporating a handful of smart engagement strategies into your social media marketing can result in a substantial boost to your supporter engagement and donations!