For nonprofit organizations, finding new ways to spread and get support for their causes have always been an important endeavor. The birth of social media in the early 2000s has given them a new avenue for that purpose. Using social media for nonprofits can be a challenge to use effectively.
Read on to learn how you can harness the power of the best platforms to get people rallying behind your worthy cause.
Social media offers a wide range of benefits for nonprofit organizations. Here are a few reasons why you would want to incorporate these platforms into your overall marketing campaigns.
Before social media, getting the word out to the public about your organization’s social projects require a considerable amount of negotiations to get print space and broadcast time. You might also need to invest a lot in public presentations and mail campaigns.
With the right social media platform, the process becomes easier. You can release your promotional content without the need to haggle for advertising rates. This also means you get information out much faster to the public.
Nonprofits want to do more than just advertise, they want to build communities. Social media helps in this part by making it easier for the audience to participate. The 24/7 nature of social media also means that community development activities can continue without time constraints. this tweet was sent at 6 PM, right when everyone is just getting home and pulling out their phone:
— NEA (@NEAToday) February 18, 2017
Furthermore, social media lets you narrow your target audience, improving the chances of recruiting them for your cause.
Dave Kerpen, of Likeable, notes that almost 92 percent of people trust the recommendation of their family and friends when it comes to nonprofit causes. With the interconnectivity of social media, you can tap into that mindset and get people on board through the help of their peers.
If you're feeling weird about the ACLU, you can also donate to the SPLC, NAACP, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and individuals at risk.
— birthday mo
This makes it an even more powerful tool than your regular dissemination channels. You are using it to tap into social proof.
Connect with influencers who can help promote the cause
While a large number of supporters is the most important factor that drives the success of nonprofit organizations, having a strong backing is also vital. Previously, getting in touch with influential personalities and groups to give their support is no easy feat. The Ice Bucket challenge was a good example of celebs using their power to get donations for nonprofits:
Social media now lets you do that faster and connect with important influencers. Furthermore, you can also use the platform to become an influencer yourself and drive people into action for your cause.
Build an effective social media strategy for your nonprofit
With all the benefits offered by social media for nonprofits, organizations would definitely want to start with it as soon as possible. Diving into the medium without careful planning can do more harm to your cause than good. You need to come up with an effective social media strategy to develop your organization’s presence online. That is the only way that you will convince people to support your goals.
Determining the roles of social media for your nonprofit
When you start developing your strategy determined the role that it will play in your overall campaign. Here, nonprofit consultant Beth Kanter says that social media should not be used alone, and instead integrated into a larger strategy to capture your intended audience.
Kanter adds that engagement is often the most significant role that social media plays for an organization’s overall strategy. Particularly, it can be used for:
- Direct donor engagement
- Attracting the attention of new donors
- Convincing new follows to donate
- Donor retention
Once you have defined the role of social media for your campaign, your next step is determining the goals you want to achieve with social media. The five most common goals are:
- Creating brand awareness
- Community engagement
- Donor acquisition
- Donor retention
- Leadership development
To assess whether these goals are being met, you need to have a means to measure their success. For instance, if you plan to use social media as a means of attracting donors the amount and quality of donations gained through the platform can be used as an indicator of success.
Identifying and attracting your target audience
Identifying the right audience is important for nonprofits to succeed. While you might argue that the general public is your audience, that is not always the case. Keep in mind that you are looking to attract people who fully understand your cause and are willing to support you, even without getting something in return.
To find and attract your desired audience, you need to come up with an audience persona that fits the profile of your ideal supporter. By combining these with information about your current supporter base, you get a picture of the type of people that would most likely respond to your call. Create several different personas to capture a larger audience.
Creating an effective content strategy for your campaign
Trying to convince people to participate in a cause is often a lot harder than getting them to purchase a product. Unlike the latter, they aren’t getting anything physical in return. As such, your content needs to be even more effective in convincing them of the worth of your cause.
Your first consideration is to develop an idea of what kind of content to share. There are two basic questions you need to address when deciding on your content.
- What problems do people encounter when trying to live the ideals of your organization?
- What tips or tools can you provide to help deal with these problems and better live those ideals?
Answer these questions and you get a good idea of the content your audience will be more likely to respond to. Here is the American Cancer Society using an opportune moment to appeal to a part of their audience. The part of their audience that loves basketball:
— American Cancer Soc (@AmericanCancer) February 18, 2017
As for the specific post ideas, keep in mind that your goal is to provide as much information as possible. You need to get your social media followers engaged enough to pledge support. Ha ha
Tell the story of the people you help
Nothing gets people connecting with your nonprofit organization better than hearing the stories of the people you help. Telling the stories to your followers can help them connect on a personal, human, level.
Remember that your goal is to highlight their situation, not make it as a marketing point.
Use trending topics
Keep your posts relevant to the interests of the larger public by using popular themes which recur. Things like #ThrowbackThursday or #MarchMadness.
— WWF (@WWF) March 31, 2016
Work on your posts beforehand and get them ready for posting at the right moment. You can also come up with your own themes to better represent your cause. This does require more work to bring it to public consciousness.
Remember the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words? This is true on social media, and a video can tell even more. More than being able to tell a story better, pictures and videos are also highly shareable on social media. This means your posts reach more people just by making them more visual.
People who have shown interest in your work would want to know the latest about it. people on social media aren’t going to talk about what you’re doing. You might as well make your account center of the discussion.
— American Red Cross (@RedCross) January 27, 2017
In addition to giving direct updates, sharing news coverage made by independent agencies about your organization is also a good idea. This helps builds your public image better.
One of the best things with social media is that it has made event organizing easier. For one, you can do both registration and information dissemination in just one location by creating an events page.
To make these varied events more effective, you have to post them at the right moment. Create a content calendar to help you plan out your publication schedule and coordinate the organization’s social media accounts.
Engaging people and getting them to participate
Creating good content is just the first part of your efforts in social media. For nonprofits like yours to gain ground on the platform, you need to effectively engage and convince your audience to sign up.
It is, in fact, advised that engagement should be your top priority for your organization’s social media efforts. For this, Steven Shattuck, founder of nonprofit support group; Launch Cause, suggests following what he calls the three A’s of social media engagement.
Your main goal is to increase awareness about the central goal of your organization. Aside from providing informative content, you can further help the audience understand your group’s philosophy by directly answering their questions. Live streamed discussions, for instance, have become popular for fielding questions in real time.
Linking to other groups that share the same advocacies is another way you can help your audience. By sharing the content made by these groups, you provide your audience with more information that they can learn from. These groups can also reciprocate your gesture and share your content to their audience.
In recent years, social media has grown into an important channel for fundraising. To get people to donate, you need to appeal to them the right way. Being specific in the kind of donations you are asking for helps better convince people, as they have a clearer idea of what you need. For instance, when running relief operations for calamity-stricken areas, list the items victims need on your post.
— San Diego Blood Bank (@sdbloodbank) February 21, 2017
To make your appeals stronger, you can also leverage your network of influencers. These influencers can help spread your message, and increase your campaign’s coverage significantly. If you’re having trouble attracting influencers, use our Twitter retweet service to boost your best tweets.
Acknowledging your donors’ efforts is crucial in fostering a long-term relationship with them. Social media gives you the opportunity to do that much faster than before. Take advantage of it by creating personalized thank you messages to send out to people who donate.
— 630CHED (@630CHED) February 24, 2017
Another strategy to show appreciation to your donors is by publicly highlighting their philanthropic activities. People particularly like when their friends know of their work. By tagging them on your tweets, photos, and other social media posts, you also increase the likelihood that they will share these posts, increasing your organization’s visibility.
Tracking the results of your efforts
Just like any other organization, your nonprofit group needs to keep track of the results of your efforts. Being able to show positive results to your donors and supporters will convince them that your efforts have been worthwhile.
When selecting a metric to use, the goals you set for the campaign will be a major deciding factor. Social marketing expert Julia Campbell says that the more specific your goals are, the better defined your metric becomes. Instead of choosing “increase donations” you can specify a target amount of donations to reach.
These metrics should also be inline with the nature of the platform. Some example goals include:
- Engagements: The likes, shares, and other responses that your social media content received.
- Hashtag repeats: How many times your designated hashtags get used by your audience.
- Traffic: How many people visited your organization’s website from the links you post on social media.
- Newsletter signups: The number of new signups you gained during your social media campaign.
- Reach: The number of people who saw your content but did not take action.
These five indicators will give you a clear picture of how people actually respond to your social media content. You can track all of them, or only the ones which are most important to your organization.
Social media for nonprofits: Best platforms
The world of social media is quite diverse. Everything from Twitter’s hyper–quick 140 character platform, to LinkedIn’s stately and business oriented environment exist. Let’s look at each one in point form right now, with links to extended articles here on our blog:
- LinkedIn: This is perhaps the most formal of all the social media tools out there. LinkedIn is a great place to release your case studies, longer stories, and your financial reports. Your general tone on here should be formal. You should use it to reach out to those who are higher up in other organizations. It could also be a perfect corporate donor platform.
- Twitter: As I mentioned, this is the hyper–quick platform where everything happens in one 140 characters or less. Your best use for this is to live tweet your events as they happen. Share the images and stories of those who help your nonprofit, and of those that you are helping. You also have to be sure to master hashtags as a business.
- YouTube: Yes, this is a social media for nonprofits platform. Take a look down in the comments section and you will see communities forming. YouTube is a great social media platform for nonprofits as it allows you to really show the results that you are getting. You can go into the communities, speak to the people you help, and let potential donors really know about the good work you do.
- Facebook: There is no escaping Facebook when it comes to being a nonprofit. Facebook is being used more and more as a medium for social change, it’s not just about talking to someone you haven’t seen since high school. Think of the content you will share on this platform as being something between Twitter and LinkedIn. It’s still friendly, but it’s not as formal as LinkedIn. It can also contain content that is much longer than what you would share on Twitter.
The four social media platforms above are what nonprofits should focus on. There’re plenty of other social media platforms out of there, but they’re not as effective for a nonprofit organization.
Social media for nonprofits final benefit
For all the nonprofits out there looking to use social media, perhaps the best thing about it is the fact that it helps you advertise without taking up too much of an important resource: Money. All of the above platforms only cost you the time that you put into it, and the time that your employees put into it. Use them effectively to better stretch your marketing dollar!
Creating LinkedIn Showcase Pages That Grow Your Company in 2017
- LinkedIn showcase pages are clever extensions of your main LinkedIn company page, and each is designed for spotlighting a brand, business unit, or marketing initiative.
- Showcase pages will allow you to share specific content with a targeted audience. As with a standard LinkedIn company page, you can share company updates and sponsored content about very specific aspects of your business that members have opted to follow.
- Essentially, showcase pages are aimed at building relationships with LinkedIn members who get the type of high-quality career information that the site is known for.
- Interested in setting up a LinkedIn showcase page? Here’s how to get started: First, identify business areas that need a Showcase Page, Next, click the “edit” menu on your company page, then select “Create a Showcase Page.” Finally, now you’re ready to start sharing your content.
- Top marketers tap into LinkedIn showcase pages create regularly. They post articles that provide tips and useful information about new tools and products. In addition, this tool allows a brand to offer: Free trial options on several showcase pages, informative video talks, live Q&A sessions, and interviews with employees.