Social media has long ago sloughed off its reputation for being a senseless place where people make fake friends and post pics of their lunch. Most platforms have established themselves in the unique way they each add value. Social media has also firmly established itself as a real part of our everyday lives. In fact, we spend more time on social media platforms than we do eating.
The reason we’re spending so much time scrolling through Twitter and uploading photos to Instagram is because of the valuable content being shared. Businesses have benefited from connecting with followers and customers and have used social media to build powerful brands. Nonprofit organizations are finding equal value.
One of the most important ways to use social media to build nonprofit awareness is determining which platforms make the most sense to use and how. It’s best to determine who your supporters are, and how and where they use social media. Know your demographics to decide the different ways in which you’ll reach out via popular channels like Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
As a nonprofit, you have the opportunity to use social media to tell your stories and show the direct impact you’re making. Sharing these stories is powerful for your supporters and potential new donors to see. It’s an immediate and effective way to engage them, and keep them engaged again and again.
As with all business strategies, it’s important to always keep in mind the why behind the reason you’re doing something. Using social media and having a social media strategy is no different. Having a lot of followers on various platforms doesn’t necessarily equate to fulfilling and serving your mission. Think of your online audience as a community, and within that community, you’re asking them to take action such as donating and volunteering. Make your call to action clear and simple, and be clear about how it ultimately helps your mission.
What Doesn’t Work
Oftentimes, social media strategies include posting on a regular schedule. While potentially effective for certain types of businesses and brands, it’s important that nonprofit organizations keep in mind that it’s not necessary to post just for the sake of it. It’s time consuming and can become an annoyance to your followers. Be sure that your posts open up two-way communications. Remember, your audience is a community. Also, keep your posts varied. Ensure that they’re a variety of pictures, videos, blog posts and related articles.
One thing that nonprofits have an advantage of over other brands utilizing social media, is that they can showcase who they really are by letting their employees run their social media accounts. Allow the real faces behind the organization to be seen. Let them show supporters what they do, and why they’re so passionate about it. When people are genuine and share their own perspective and are allowed to let their voices be heard, they have a better chance of truly engaging with supporters in your online community and beyond.
Keep in mind also that this is your opportunity to let your community share a bit about themselves, too. Pay attention to what they have to say. It’s amazing what you can learn from them as it relates to the difference your organization is making in their lives. Try planning out a social media calendar in a project management tool. Implement a mix of employee posts and user posts with your events and donation drives to keep users interested.
As with any effort, you will want to measure your results. Social media is no different. For profit businesses have been measuring the results of their social media efforts for years. Nonprofit organizations haven’t necessarily had as easy of a time being able to do that, until now. Today there is software available that allows nonprofits to measure their ROI on social media so that they know which donations are coming from what platforms. Once you understand your ROI, you know where to spend your time and how to streamline your message.
Social media can be a good place to fail. Don’t be afraid to try things, and course correct when those things aren’t working out. Keep your mission in mind, and be sure that you’re sharing your passion with your online community.
Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer forTechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.