I hear a lot of frustration out there from nonprofit leaders about social media. They don’t feel they have enough reach on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media networks. They worry that the only way they can expand their reach is to pay for Facebook ads. Many nonprofits question whether it is worth the effort.
A lot of nonprofits instead focus on email lists and websites as the most important ways to reach supporters, but social media needs to be an important and growing part of every non-profit’s communications strategy. Not only has the gap has been closing between email subscribers and social media followers. But Non-profits also offer great opportunities for putting social media to use given that they are donation-backed, humanitarian-focused, and member-based. And social media is not going to go away.
The Pew Research Center has documented social media use trends over the past decade. A majority of Americans now say they get their news via social media. Half of the public turned to sites like Facebook to learn about the 2016 presidential election, for example. (for better or for worse)
BEING SUCCESSFUL IS ALL ABOUT STRATEGY
One important key is to have documented social media strategy. Most small to medium non-profits do not.
Tracking the social media accounts of donors within a donor database should be another important element of any nonprofit strategy. How many of you track the social media accounts of your donors?
TO DEVELOP YOUR STRATEGY, ASK YOURSELF TWO THINGS
1) WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS? WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH USING SOCIAL MEDIA? ARE YOU TRYING TO RAISE MONEY? ARE YOU OFFERING SUPPORT? OFFERING INFORMATION? BUILDING A NETWORK? THAT WILL DETERMINE WHAT YOU DO.
2) WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE? WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO REACH?
THESE TWO QUESTIONS WILL DETERMINE WHICH SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS YOU USE.
Last year different workshop – exhausted woman – want to cry. 10 social media channels. Honey you can’t do it all.
Find a college intern.
Reality is many of us don’t have those resources.
YOU MUST CHOOSE! YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL. YOU CAN’T BE EVERYWHERE.
It is better to be strong on 1 platform rather than be mediocre on a bunch.- Most common suggestion from non-profit leaders I surveyed who are successful in their social media efforts. Pick one or two social media channels to focus most of your energy on and do them well. Which ones you pick will depend on your target audience and your goals.
GO WHERE YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE IS
Trends always evolving, but according to the latest Pew study, 79% of internet users (68% of all U.S. adults) use Facebook, a 7-percent increase from a survey conducted at a similar point in 2015. Young adults continue to report using Facebook at high rates, but older adults are joining in increasing numbers.
Some 62% of online adults ages 65 and older now use Facebook, a 14-point increase from the 48% who reported doing so in 2015.
Women continue to use Facebook at somewhat higher rates than men: 83% of female internet users and 75% of male internet users are Facebook adopters.
More than half of online adults (56%) use more than one social media platform.
29% of smartphone owners use general-purpose messaging apps such as WhatsApp.
24% use messaging apps that automatically delete sent messages, such as Snapchat.
5% use apps that allow people to anonymously chat or post comments, such as YikYak.
In general, messaging apps are especially popular among younger smartphone owners. Some 56% of smartphone owners ages 18 to 29 use auto-delete apps and 42% of smartphone owners ages 18 to 29 use more general messaging apps like WhatsApp.
Breast Cancer Resource Center – Facebook, Twitter. Occasionally to others. Facebook group for cancer survivors under 30.
Corner House – Snapchat and Instagram.
Association for non-profit leaders – Active on Linkedin
Pick and experiment.
DON’T CREATE ALL SORTS OF ACCOUNTS FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION ON FACEBOOK – My Church – general page, One Table Cafe, Rummage Sale, Bible Study. Each has a relatively small number of followers and does not have the manpower to update. Also in terms of branding.
WATCH OUT FOR ROGUE ACCOUNTS (people might mean well)
PICK A FEW PEOPLE IN YOUR ORG TO POST – no more than 3. Similar voice. Small staff – just take a few hours to read up on your channels of choice. BuzzSumo, HubSpot, Mailchimp
CREATE A SCHEDULE – an editorial calendar. Map out posts for the week or month.
Set a schedule for posts. Pick a time and frequency (platform dependent of course) and treat this scheduling as non-negotiable.
“I put aside 10-15 minutes a day… schedule, retweet, review, reply.”
“I put aside 10 minutes three times a day.”
Respond to comments and reactions as you are able.
Maintain a consistent presence. Use your analytics and look for trends- it will probably show what is a pretty low return on investment, and will help you allocate your (non-existent) time.
“If it’s possible, stick to a posting schedule as much as you can. Even if that means only posting 3 times a week. If there’s no content, people aren’t going to bother following you.”
Post at best times FOR YOU.
PAY TO PROMOTE?
Should you pay to promote your content? If you have a new Facebook page or a page with few followers I would pay to promote it. It doesn’t have to be much. $5 to $25 now and then. You can really target people with Facebook ads. I would use it for a post you feel is really important or a fundraising effort.
Allow organic reach to accumulate for up to 24 hours, then pay some of your total budget to boost the post. Wait for up to 24 hours for reach to accumulate again from the promotion, then, apply more money for increased paid promotion
Your own events – newsletter content (trickle it out)
Mix content types – entertain and inform (capture attention).
Recent study by BuzzSumo:
• Questions, images, and videos were more engaging than all other post types. Videos were most likely to be shared
• The best day of the week for engagement was Sunday
• Post engagement was higher whenever there was a lower volume of public posts in the news feed.
• Short posts of less than 50 characters were more engaging than long posts
• If a post linked to a piece of content outside Facebook, people engaged with it more if the link was to a longer article
• During 2016, images posted directly to Facebook and not through Instagram were more engaging than images posted to Facebook via Instagram
Photos of donors and photos of workers and the people you serve. HiTops tip – close up, eyes and smiles seem to get more engagement.
Canva.com for graphics
info graphics – http://visual/ly
make sure everything is mobile friendly – newsletter, website
A really easy way to find content to share is to sign up for Google alerts, then just punch in the key words you want to monitor. One of my friends who has a website for people with celiac disease monitors celiac disease, gluten-free, Beyond Celiac, etc. It has Google generate an email to you with links to stories on the topics you pick. Just google “Google alerts” and it’ll pop right up.
Share tweets, posts,, even videos from national groups, government, other local charities. Connect to other messages. Competition? All boats rise.
“An advocacy group should have a series of related and hopefully relevant messages that build awareness. Be a producer not just a consumer.” Become a thought leader.
It’s worth taking an hour or two to just wander around the internet and see what other people in the same field are doing. It’ll help your see what could work for you and what won’t.
Everybody’s social channels are different, and everyone develops their own formulas for success. Through trial and error, you figure out what works for you. (Use Mailchimp survey example)
Be authentic. A recent Case Foundation survey found that 74 percent of non-profits use social media as a megaphone to announce events and share what they’re up to, instead of seeking out conversation.
It’s helpful to follow the rule of thirds.
1/3 of your content should be about you and your resources
1/3 should link out to helpful resources, interesting articles, etc. in the field that you didn’t write, but think that people would be interested in seeing. 1/3 should be questions with no links to stoke conversation.
Rule of thirds reframed or non-profits
Appreciation – 1/3 of your social updates should recognize your donors, supporters, volunteers, and employees
Advocacy – 1/3 should engage and share with the content of other groups or nonprofits who are relevant to your area
Appeals – 1/3 should solicit donations or help of some sort or generate conversation
TOP TEN DOS AND DONTS
1. Don’t set it and forget it
2. Don’t over-automate
3. Don’t post too often
4. Don’t post infrequently
5. Don’t always post the same message across platforms
7. It’s a long-terms relationship, not a Tinder hookup.
8. Make sure you drive people back to your site or email list. What’s your call to action?
9. Make sure you brand consistently
10. Use listening tools and google alerts. Tools like crowdbooster and Facebook Insights will give you insights on best times and frequencies for your social profiles. Google Analytics is also a powerful tool that now tracks social media links.
Strategies Specifically for Nonprofits
1. Highlight a donor of the day or donor of the week.
These kinds of simple moments of appreciation can be powerful for building connections with your communities, and they can often make for attention-getting, visual content. Bonus: The people you highlight will share with their friends.
2. Interact with relevant pages and profiles
In addition to building community by highlighting your donors, you can also connect with those fellow nonprofits and companies who support your mission. Stay involved with their updates and shares by liking, favoriting, retweeting, sharing, and commenting. It’s great for community-building and helps boost your visibility to boot.
3. Tweet to landing pages with specific asks
If you have payments enabled on your website, send social media traffic back to your site and to specific landing pages.
4. Create behind-the-scenes content
Non-profits by nature are a bit more open than traditional business. Take full advantage by sharing behind-the-scenes: Backstage at events, inside your planning sessions, around the office, etc.
5. Create and share a simple crowdfunding campaign
As an alternative to events or dinners, you can create a simple crowdfunding page and share this with your social media followers, asking for a quick-and-easy donation.
6. Encourage peer-to-peer asks
Tools like Classy make it possible for your supporters to set up their own fundraising pages. They can then share these pages with their own followers, enabling a strong sense of 1:1 support.
7. Post a thank you message on a sponsor’s page
Thanking those who help make your work possible—everyone from donors to employees to sponsors—is a great way to fill the 1/3 appreciation section of your strategy. Sponsors pages in particular can be great places to engage as they likely have a strong following as well. Share a thank you on their page, and add one to your page, too.
8. Include an image in your tweets
Twitter is like looking out the window of a fast moving train. If you insert insert a “billboard” (photo or graphic image) tweet, people will notice it.
9. Ask questions in your social media posts.
These tend to encourage conversation with your community and lead to higher amount of interactions and responses.
10. Share your content more than once
Add an image, try a new hashtag, share at a different time of day or on the weekend, or add ICYMI (in case you missed it).
11. Track your social media mentions with Mention, Hootsuite
12. Organize accounts into Twitter lists
You can build Twitter lists for just about anything: VIP supporters, sponsors, press, influencers, partners, fellow nonprofits, etc. And if you need to, any Twitter list can be made private.
13. Use Twitter lists for research
Look through the lists of your followers to find new, relevant people and accounts to follow.
There are tools that can make your more efficient. WordPress – I use Jetpack to post across social media platforms. I just check a box for which platforms I want to post on. I use Hootsuite to manage accounts.
Google Social Analytics
One fundamental principle I’d like to stress is – whatever the channel, are you telling the human story? So easy as a non-profit to get trapped in bureaucratic language — we talk about clients and measuring outcomes instead of how our team helps mothers or children. We highlight sponsors too much instead of the people whose lives have been changed because of their support.