The basic structure of nonprofits - member-based, donation-backed, humanitarian-focused - provides a unique opportunity to put social media to good use. Social media gives nonprofits the opportunity to tell their story, interact with supporters, reach their audience, and ultimately, to get results.
Here are some simple tips for developing a nonprofit social media strategy.
Why Social Media?
Email and websites have always ruled as the top nonprofit marketing channels. However, social media is starting to catch up.
The 2015 Social Media Benchmark Study found that:
Email list sizes grew 11% in the past year
Facebook and Twitter followers grew 42% and 37%, respectively
Social media is growing three times faster than email for non-profits
While email still towers over social, the gap is closing.
A survey from the Case Foundation looked at how nonprofits viewed their marketing channels:
88% of nonprofits said their most important communication tools were email and their websites
74% of nonprofits use social media to announce events and share organizational news
Only 53% followed the best practice of posting issue-centric content to establish thought leadership in their nonprofit's area(s) of focus
So, how do we change this mindset and start using social media to its full potential? It starts by determining who your audience is.
Identify Your Audience
It may seem like marketing personas are only helpful to businesses, but in reality they can be just as useful to nonprofits. Develop audience personas - representations of your ideal supporters - based on a combination of demographic data and information about individual members of your target audience.
Once you have a better idea of your current followers, you can do further research by speaking with donors offline to find out what matters most to them when supporting your cause. This information will enable you to create multiple personas that represent supporters in different groups. Consider the makeup of your volunteer base, your board and junior board, your donors and more. These personas will also come in handy when segmenting your mailing lists.
Give each persona a name, as well as an extensive demographic background. Note specific details about these personas, including what they care about, what their typical day looks like, who they trust, and more.
Choose the Right Networks
After identifying your target audience, look into the latest social media demographics to find out where they're active online. When choosing how many social networks to adopt, the key is to avoid spreading yourself too thin. An excellent job on two or three networks is far better than a mediocre job on five.
According to the 2015 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report, the most popular networks among nonprofits are Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Create a Balanced Content Strategy
When it comes to content, storytelling is one of the perfect ways to get your message across. Ask your supporters what type of stories they want to see from your organization. Gather this information in person, via an email survey, or by asking them on social media. Then, take what you've learned and develop content categories for social media that you can rotate through regularly - such as volunteer spotlights, client stories, and how-tos.
Steven Shattuck from Hubspot recently proposed a fantastic three-part system for creating a balanced social strategy:
Appreciation: One third of your social updates should recognize donors, supporters, volunteers, and employees.
Advocacy: One third should engage with the content of other groups or nonprofits who are relevant to your area.
Appeals: One third should solicit donations or help.
Need some ideas? Here are a few simple strategies.
Highlight a donor of the week - Builds connections within your community, offers attention-getting, visual content, and offers shareable content for the people you highlight
Interact with relevant pages - Helps to connect with fellow nonprofits and companies who support your mission, builds your community, and boosts your visibility.
Share a crowdfunding campaign - Create a crowdfunding page and share it with your social media followers. Makes donating quick and easy.
Thank your sponsors - Thanks those who help make your work possible and increases visibility on high traffic social media pages.
Ask questions - Encourages conversation within your community and leads to higher amount of interactions and responses.
Text-to-give - Lets those who want to donate do so quickly.
Social media provides opportunities for connection that other channels simply don't. However, in order to make the most of social media, it's important to stop looking at it as a megaphone, and develop a strategy to use it to its full potential.
Doing so could make all the difference in your donation results.