Scared of Social? Your Nonprofit’s Guide to Leveraging Social Media

So your nonprofit has decided to boldly make your mark in the social media world. Sweet! You’ll want to sign up for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn…

Heck, you’ve heard some organizations are even leveraging Pinterest to drive traffic, so you should probably jump on there too, right?!

Avoid "Shiny New Object” Syndrome

It might feel tempting to dive headfirst into these shiny new accounts all at once and exploring what they each have to offer. But you’ll only spread your limited resources far too thin, and nothing looks more unprofessional than a social account that’s outdated, inconsistent, or inactive.
Establishing your organization on a single platform takes several months of intentional, focused strategy! It’s best to build a solid foundation for one account before expanding to a second and third.

Do you know where your ideal supporters are hanging out online? Crowdsourcing an online forum like Reddit is a great place to start as there are communities for every interest imaginable (see these subreddits for nonprofits, volunteering, animal lovers, and runners).

Keep your audience demographic in mind. Your teenaged future volunteers are likely to be hanging out on Snapchat and Instagram passing around funny, "meme-worthy” content; your older, higher earning potential donors are sharing inspiring videos and stories with their network on Facebook.
Hoping to expand your team in the near future? Your bright, ambitious, and innovative future employees are most likely plugged in with a LinkedIn account. A LinkedIn page for your nonprofit would allow interested supporters to learn insights into the work you’re doing, the milestones you’ve accomplished, and future opportunities to join your team.

No clue where your future donors and volunteers might be hiding online? Tap your most valuable resource — your current supporters! Ask about their favourite social platforms with a quick 2-minute survey (try SurveyMonkey).

Save Yourself From Endless "What To Post” Fatigue

Social media does not need to be an overwhelming part of your everyday workload. Dozens of user-friendly apps exist to help you batch your content weeks or months in advance. Many also assist you by auto-publishing at your chosen days and times.

Does investing (or perhaps more accurately, wasting) 2 hours every day scrambling to decide what to post sounds like a headache to you? It should! Creating a week or two of content in one go is miles ahead in terms of efficiency, as it frees up your team’s time during the day-to-day. 

Nearly half of nonprofits (44%) have just one person managing their social media presence. Is that you? If so, batching social content in becomes especially crucial — because in all likelihood, social media management is not the only role that one team member has within your organization.

Check out these social planning and automation apps to get you started:
Planoly for Instagram
TweetDeck for Twitter
Hootsuite for multi-channel management

Visuals, Visuals, Visuals!

People are suffering from content fatigue. One way to stand out is to use eye-popping visuals. Tweets that include photos are 94% more likely to get retweeted, according to award-winning social media scientist Dan Zarrella.

This isn’t isolated to Twitter — Facebook posts with images see 2.3x higher engagement too. It goes without saying that crisp, high quality visuals get the most attention on Instagram as well.

Although it would be ideal if you can swing the cost of a professional photographer or graphic designer, it’s A-okay if there’s no room for that in your nonprofit’s budget right now. You can still create an appealing, professionally designed social media feed for free.


These resources are mostly free (with premium upgrades) and will become an indispensable part of your social media strategy:

Canva for the amateur graphic designer in you
LunaPic for free Photoshop-like image editing tools
Unsplash for high quality, copyright-free stock photography

Remember, It’s Not All About You

We see it all the time: people on social media who talk, talk, talk… all about themselves, what they think, what they do, and what they want. Sometimes organizations on social are no different.
Want to win on social? It’s important to give love much more than you get it — at least in the beginning when you’re working to build a community.
Instead of standing on a virtual soap box shouting into the online void about the donations or volunteering you need, use social media the way it was intended!

Make the social experience fun and engaging for you and your audience:
Answer followers’ questions about your nonprofit with the Q&A feature on Instagram Stories
Run an informal Facebook survey to gather insights for your next marketing campaign
Publish a Twitter poll asking for their favourite way to get involved
Host a contest or campaign asking participants to share a memorable volunteer experience and tag your organization’s account
Shine a weekly spotlight on a volunteer, donor, or notable follower to make them feel acknowledged and appreciated by your nonprofit
 
 
 
Above, the Keep a Breast Foundation’s #CheckYourSelfie movement aims to raise awareness for breast health education. The clever campaign has seen 6000+ Instagrammers participate and spread the word so far.

Respond Daily, Or Risk Losing Support

This is best practice for any platform, but especially true for your Facebook Page — which informs new and inquiring visitors how likely it is they’ll get a response from you within a certain time frame.
 
 

Imagine you’ve piqued the interest of a potential donor or volunteer who wants to get involved… but are told not to expect a response from your organization for several weeks. Talk about a buzzkill for the 83% of Facebook users and 71% of Twitter users who expect a response that same day.
 
If someone is willing to offer you their valuable time or hard-earned money, the least you can do is provide an easy and inviting experience for them to do so. Win them over while their interest in your cause is still fresh!

Social Media Is A Long Haul (Not Quick Fix) Strategy

Is it tempting to throw your marketing budget at a Facebook ad or sponsored Instagram post and hope the platform does all the work for you? Sure… but the unavoidable truth? 

Building a community of loyal supporters who passionately promote your nonprofit across social media never happens overnight.

Even if you get lucky and one of your posts goes viral, you should still have an intentional strategy and planned content in place to make the most of that newfound popularity.

Whether your nonprofit’s goal with social media is to raise awareness, receive funding, or recruit volunteers, stick with one platform at first to avoid overwhelm and burnout. Plan your content well in advance, make it visually appealing and interactive, and ultimately show your supporters that you appreciate their involvement in every way.

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