Does your nonprofit have a profitable social media strategy? Do you feel like posting on social platforms doesn't work for your organization? The truth is, social media is a powerful way to engage with people online, but many nonprofits aren't getting the full benefits of social platforms. Studies show that over 70% of nonprofits have found social media to be effective. You're thinking: "What are they doing that I'm not?" We're about to tell you!
In this guide, we'll discuss five steps you can take to start building your nonprofit's social media approach and the benefits you should expect to see. Get ready to join the ranks of nonprofits with successful social media strategies!
How Does Social Media Help Nonprofits?
Unfortunately, a social media strategy isn't just about posting photos and links online. When done right, social media can
- Help your nonprofit build relationships with its target audience
- Expose your cause to more viewers, which increases the chance of donations
- Become a place for you to share events and updates
- Find and recruit volunteers
- Boost your nonprofit's fundraising efforts
Social media can work for you! But it would be best if you built a social media strategy tailored to your nonprofit and your audience first. Here's how to get started in crafting a strategy that drives your goals:
Step 1: Find Your Voice
Clear messaging goes underrated but has the highest impact. Messaging allows you to convey key points of your organization across departments and to the public. As a nonprofit professional, you need to ensure that all staff understands the brand's tone, voice, and personality. If parts of your organization send different messages, viewers will be left confused about your end goal. We've detailed a blueprint to homogenize your messaging:
Step 2: Find Your Audience
Now that you have appropriate and easy to implement messaging, it's time to hone in on your target audience. It's good to start with creating personas that define the audience you want. Read more about Ideal Customer Avatars and Customer Portfolio Management. Why not attract everybody? Won't that increase my chances of converting donors? Don't make the mistake of believing that everyone is in your target audience. You'll end up doing a lot more work and spending a ton more money by not clearly defining and targeting your viewers. What's more, if you attract the wrong people to your organization, you'll run the risk of attracting more of the same. Our advice is to do the work now of forging a clear path so that you won't have to clean up and revamp later.
Next, you want to research the data. Your social media platforms have built-in collection mechanisms that store information about what types of people visit and interact with your page. You can leverage this data by crafting your strategy around it. Here's how to find the metrics:
- Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/help/118314051609562
- Twitter - https://blog.twitter.com/en_us/a/2015/introducing-audience-insights.html
- Instagram - https://help.instagram.com/1533933820244654
- LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/71493/view-analytics-for-your-posts-shared-posts-and-articles?lang=en
- YouTube - https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/9002587?hl=en
- Pinterest - https://help.pinterest.com/en/business/article/audience-insights
- TikTok - https://www.tiktok.com/creators/creator-portal/en-us/tiktok-content-strategy/understanding-your-analytics/
- Snapchat - https://businesshelp.snapchat.com/s/article/audience-insights?language=en_US
- Google - https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/7162572?hl=en
You'll start seeing metrics like age, location, gender, interest, job industry, income, and more. Wouldn't it be helpful if you knew that most of your viewers are women who work in the healthcare field? Or millennial men that like the outdoors? Instead of blindly posting, you could start creating social posts highlighting these traits, actions, and characteristics to attract the people who are more likely to support your cause.
Step 3: What Types of Social Platforms to Use
The social platforms you use should always depend on where your audience hangs out and not necessarily where your strengths lie. True, if your organization is having a hard time keeping up with a particular social platform, that can harm your marketing efforts, but not overcoming these inconsistencies won't do you any justice either. To master purposefully posting on social media, we first want to look at the donor involvement on the platform. Then, we want to ensure the content matches the atmosphere by gauging how the platform affects our overarching goals. Here's a look at the most popular social media platforms:
Number of worldwide users as of 1-2021 (ranked by active users), Statista
Now you can begin to focus your efforts on finding your audience amongst the top-performing social platforms. Did your preferred platform make the cut? Are there other platforms you might be missing out on?
Social Media Atmosphere and Effectiveness
- Facebook allows high character limits for posts, as well as multi-media posts, including images and video. Facebook is great for storytelling and in-depth conversations with your target audience.
- Instagram users like high-quality images and videos (with video driving more engagement) with minimal captions and maximal hashtag usage. It's primarily used for the discovery of interests through brilliant imagery.
- Twitter is best used for short updates, as Twitter users prefer to interact in a series of threads while hearing about news and hot topics. Video and images aren't well suited here, but GIFs are.
- LinkedIn is a viable social platform catered to growing professional networks. This platform will help find volunteers and other nonprofit professionals to connect with. The focus here is on timelining company milestones and creating a place to showcase your company's history and news.
- Pinterest is best for organic advertisements (with event flyers, how-to guides, infographics, and other photo guides). The advantage here is users are encouraged to save your content to their board, making it visible to their followers.
- YouTube is the king of video. In fact, it's the only method of sharing. While users can interact in the comments, if this feature is enabled, the focus is on engaging directly with the viewer over video. The most popular content is vlogs, comedy skits, how-to videos, gaming videos, product reviews, unboxing videos, and educational videos.
Tip: Different platforms have different audiences and, thus, varying purposes. Although some social platforms may not have the largest audience, this may be useful if the audience is well targeted to your donor persona. Either way, you may want to develop a strategy for each platform separately.
Step 4: Develop Your Content
Are you wondering how to create social media content that will be more engaging and productive for your organization? You have the metrics, you know your audience, you know yourself and what your brand has to offer, but how do you implement all of this? First, come up with what to post. Second, plan when to post. And third, design your content around your brand and audience.
Different Content Types
The idea behind posting on social media is to bring users back to your website, or other off-platform marketing home base, to take action. You want to tell your story while keeping your nonprofit in the minds of your current and potential supporters. So you'll need to have the capabilities to create and share:
- Downloadables (like checklists, guides, etc.)
- Blog posts
- Case Studies and Reports
- And other creative content
Take Advantage of Content Calendars
Posting consistently is one of the most significant issues faced by nonprofit organizations. Plan on investing in software or a program that does the heavy lifting. Your automatic content posting strategy could be as simple as setting reminders on Google Calendar or as extensive as building out a custom workflow using apps like ClickUp, Later, and others. No matter what method you implement, organizing your posts will make social posting more fluid.
Design the Content
Following your brand's messaging, create high-quality content that keeps your mission and promise in mind. Be sure to reinforce your brand colors, tone, and actionable goals while adding value to your user's lives. You should:
- Collect appropriate imagery and videos
- Create catchy and relevant captions, hashtags, and headlines
- Keep up with current events and trends
- Offer incentives or host contests
- Engage with your audience organically to build trust
Step 5: Analyze, Evaluate, and Adjust
For your organization to benefit from social media, you need to step back and analyze your short and long-term goals against the actual output. Analyze past social media efforts and see what resonated with people by looking over the engagement insights. Evaluate what drives high ROI (Return on Investment) or ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) or what/why certain areas are struggling. Be willing to stop doing what isn't working or tweak your strategy to see if anything changes. The secret to staying afloat in the content marketing game is accessing and assessing the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), running split tests, and never giving up!
Be sure to audit:
- Your branding and organization statements - Make sure your brand is clear and unified across all platforms. This may include updating links and contact information.
- Messaging, comments, and reviews - Look through past conversations between your organization and its users to find areas of improvement or develop formulas for effective response.
- Performance - Record which posts are performing well and which ones aren't. Try and decode why in an effort to improve.
After auditing your social media pages, posts, and engagements, your organization will be better equipped to trim what isn't working and do more of what is.
If you are ready to grow your social media channels and see your organization succeed, all you have to do is:
- get clear on who you are and what you stand for
- find people who connect with your message
- start using different social media platforms based on their effectiveness to drive a result
- design high-quality content around your audience, and
- take the numbers seriously by analyzing your engagement data.