Nonprofit organizations always need to find new ways to get support for their causes. This is always been a challenge. Social media has given nonprofits a new avenue for that purpose. Social media for nonprofits can be challenging, but we are going to work to make it easy for you right now.
Social media for nonprofits: Determining platform goals
When you are developing your social media strategy you need to determine what you are going to use it for. The most common role is for engagement, specifically:
- Direct donor engagement
- Attracting the attention of new donors
- Convincing new follows to donate
- Donor retention
Direct calls for people to speak with you are common:
— WWF (@WWF) April 22, 2017
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 you can use 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. Find those who are going to love supporting you:
— Mike Ellis (@TheMikeEllis) March 24, 2017
To find this 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 you. 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 harder than getting them to purchase a product. Unlike the latter, they aren’t getting anything physical in return. Your content needs to be even more effective at convincing them of the worthiness 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.
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 these 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 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.
Create better visuals
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.
You can’t just asked for donations and not let people know what’s going on. Social media is a perfect avenue for sharing the latest updates on your efforts.
— 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 build your public image.
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 on most platforms.
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 on social media. For nonprofits like yours to gain ground on the platform, you need to effectively engage and convince your audience to sign up.
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) March 2, 2013
It is 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.
What an amazing weekend at the #TravelBrit17. We raised an incredible amount of awareness and donations, thank you all for your generosity🇬🇧
— ABTA LifeLine (@ABTALifeLine) July 3, 2017
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: Spread your cause faster
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.
Use social context to encourage people to participate
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.
— angry queer 🏳️🌈🌹 (@littlelull) February 11, 2017
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.
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!