Social media marketing is becoming ubiquitous with global brands and consumer-oriented companies. As more and more people interact online, social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are being used by brands and businesses to reach their target audience. It's about reaching potential customers to boost return on investment and improve customer engagement. So what about non-profits? Is there a place for social media marketing for non-profits and what is its role?
When people think "nonprofit" or "charity" they tend to think either about the causes they represent or to focus on the organisations as "fundrasing" organisations. Because of the financial pressures they face, it's easy even for non-profits themselves to focus as much energy on the fundraising as the cause.
When people talk to us about social media the two most common drivers are:
- An interest in using social media to raise money
- Wanting to avoid being left behind when everyone else is doing it
Both of these, to a degree miss the point. In the same way that company social strategies tend to fail if they focus first on selling through social media, non-profit social media strategies will fail if they think first about fundraising through social media.
Successful social media strategies focus first on building networks and relationships to engage people in the cause the non-profit stands for. With an engaged audience you can call for volunteers, call for engagement with your cause and occassionally call for donations. But make engaging with people and getting people emotionally connected with your cause the major focus.
A recent study from the Nonprofit Social Network says that the top three priorities for nonprofit organisations are to improve fundraising, increase their followers, and engage current volunteers. With this in mind, it becomes clear that nonprofits are using social media not only for fundraising but recruiting advocates and volunteers as well.
So how exactly can nonprofits use social media to increase engagement around their cause, engage volunteers and grow their supporter base? It's about establishing a set of best practices through content marketing and user engagement strategies. Every nonprofit has a mission and vision, build a relationship with people that helps them emotionally connect with your cause and be willing to make a contribution to achieve it.
Here are 4 ways to get started:
1.) Establish your Voice. Become a Thought Leader.
The great thing about social media is that it enables any organisation to engage with their audience anytime. This is where the value of branded content like quotes and infographics comes in to increase engagement and improve online awareness. It's about conveying your brand story and sharing it as branded content. A branded quote can go a long way if a volunteer with a broad network shares it with his or her network. The core idea - volunteers and supporters can be enticed by current volunteers and supporters because they are brand advocates already.
2.) Post Regular Updates
Real-time marketing is crucial, it makes your followers feel that they are actually accomplishing something by volunteering or donating. Events and meetings are ways to then convert this online interest into offline results. When followers meet, they build a community in an instant. Connecting beyond Facebook gives potential volunteers and supporters an opportunity to get acquainted with one another, learn more about a nonprofit's cause, and to feel a part of a bigger movement.
3.) Visual Engagement
Being social requires a deeper sense of engagement, using Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest helps in reaching potential volunteers and supporters. It's always about sharing relevant content through photos and videos. A photo itself is a call-to-action already, people almost always have a comment or two about a photo. Share something a little different or with a humeours or uplifting angle and even more people with engage. Share actual volunteers having a great time while being involved in your activities. Share successes that have resulted from donations. Remember, your social media strategy is building a community, the more different ways you enable that community to interact online and offline, the deeper the relationships between supporters and with your organisation will become. Post shareable content and every new supporter is a potential advocate who can bring more volunteers and more support.
4.) Inject Humor
Nonprofits don't have to be boring. While brands can make fun stuff using like memes or funny user-generated content, nonprofit organisations can also inject humour as long as it is aligned to its brand story or cause. Creating a content plan for every social media page allows the right target audience to receive these types of content. Remember that you instantly connect with people when you make them smile!
So get your social media strategy underway. Build networks and relationships and strengthen the community that supports your cause. A great community will result in opportunities to grow your supporter base - whether as volunteers or donors.