Why does your nonprofit use social media? Perhaps you want to raise awareness of an issue or promote an upcoming event. Maybe you want to recruit volunteers and attract new supporters. And in all scenarios, you definitely want to improve fundraising results. Social media offers a cost-effective way to accomplish all of the above while telling your nonprofit’s story.
Social media use by nonprofits continues to increase. A benchmark report found that nonprofit audiences on the three most popular social media platforms grew steadily in 2017, with Facebook audiences growing by 13%, Twitter by 15%, and Instagram by 44%. These numbers aren’t surprising, and they’re not expected to slow anytime soon.
But if your organization is like most small and medium-sized nonprofits, you face a number of challenges. Optimizing your social media use can feel overwhelming, especially given that most organizations must operate within tight budget constraints.
Fortunately, you don’t need unlimited funds to make a splash online. The following tips can help your nonprofit make a big impact on a small budget.
Create a Plan
You wouldn’t operate your nonprofit without a strategic plan. Similarly, don’t approach your social media without a written plan in place. Start by gathering or developing the following information:
- Which platforms you currently have a presence and audience on
- Which platforms are currently producing the best results (likes, follows, engagement, donations, sending viewers to your website, etc.)
- A social media mission statement that aligns with your organizational mission
- Your organization’s target audience
- Key goals (Sharing news? Increasing donations? Attracting volunteers?)
- Key success metrics
Once you’ve identified these factors, you can come up with a content strategy. It may help to think of your social media content as an extension of your other communications efforts. Align your social media posts with your website, blog and email outreach to create consistent brand messaging. Remember: your content should offer value to your audience, as well as ask for their support.
Next, create a publishing calendar that meets your audience’s needs. Balance your social media communications with other types of content like blog posts, emails, and newsletters. Not only will having a calendar make it easier to keep up, but you’ll also ensure that your organization stays top of mind for your audience.
Enlist Supporters to Boost Your Messaging
If you’re just getting started on social media (or your efforts need a bit of a boost), enlist some trusted supporters. There’s no shame in asking staff, volunteers or long-time donors to engage with your posts. An active group of supporters can go a long way toward amplifying messages, especially when you’re building up a new audience.
Include Interactive Content
When it comes to social media success, engagement is key. Posting interactive content boosts engagement, as it asks your audience to do something. Bonus: creating interactive content can be easier for you, as it may not require hours of writing to come up with a unique post.
Examples of interactive content include:
- Q&A sessions
- Asking your readers to share their stories
- Asking your readers to like, share, or respond with an emoji
Respond Quickly and Consistently
You want your social media to spark engagement…but that means you have to be engaged, too. When a reader reaches out through social media, respond quickly. The timing of your response is important, as it may help cement their image of your organization as responsive and reliable. Check your notifications regularly and respond as soon as you can.
Some sites, such as Facebook, will publicize your response rate on your profile. If your organization “typically responds within a few weeks,” people will be discouraged from reaching out to you at all.
Large social media platforms — like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — are pay-to-play. That means they have their own search engines and organizations can pay to increase the reach of their posts. But if your nonprofit doesn’t have the budget for this, using hashtags may offer a solution.
Adding the right hashtags to your social media posts will increase your organization’s visibility in search results. How do you choose an effective hashtag? There are two ways:
- Using an already-popular hashtag
- Creating your own branded hashtag
At first, jumping onto an already-trending hashtag may be most effective. As you grow your audience, start using branded hashtags of your own. Encourage your followers to use your hashtag when they share or re-post your messages. You may have to test a few options before one takes off, but the payoff can be huge.
Use Visuals in Your Posts
Studies indicate that social media users are much more likely to engage with posts that include pictures or videos. Large, high-quality images tend to attract the most attention. Experiment with embedding videos, infographics, GIFs and photos that resonate with your audience. Pictures of donors and events may be especially effective, as they showcase your organization’s personality.
Build Relationships with Donor Management Software
Once you’ve acquired a crowd of social media followers, how do you turn them into a strong support base? Using the right donor management software makes it easy.
As you engage with new supporters online, be sure to add them to your donor management software. From there, you can easily organize your contacts, track offline interactions, and improve your outreach through customized and automated workflows.
To further streamline your social media and fundraising efforts, include a link to your online donation page in your social media profiles. When an individual enters a donation, they’ll automatically be logged as a new donor in your database — it’s that simple.
When you’re working with a small budget and limited staff, as most nonprofits do, optimizing your social media usage can feel overwhelming. However, tracking the connections you make, automating your follow-up communications, and providing convenient opportunities to donate allows you to make the most of this popular marketing strategy. That’s why Method:Donor is here to assist, with donor management software that helps you turn social media followers into loyal supporters.
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