It’s time you started using social media for your nonprofit.
With nearly 4 billion social media users worldwide, it’s safe to say that there’s a large online audience today. While some people use social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram to keep up with friends, many more use them to engage with various organizations.
If you’re running a nonprofit, you’ve got an incredible opportunity to connect with supporters on the web. In fact, you can start fundraisers, recruit volunteers, or simply share your story to turn readers into followers. But with so many social media platforms out there, where do you even start with the process?
Luckily, social media for nonprofits doesn’t have to be an overly-complicated journey. The first step is to settle on the right platform for your organization. From there, you can use a variety of social media tools and strategies to post engaging content to the right audience. Even better? These social media platforms are 100% free, meaning your organization’s budget will not dictate your success.
Should nonprofits use social media?
Besides the fact that there are such a vast amount of social media users, there are many other reasons your nonprofit should be posting online:
- Build trust: Posting on social media builds trust between you and your followers as you demonstrate your authentic voice and knowledge of your industry.
- Promote events: You can post details about in-person events or host virtual events, such as galas, fun-runs, adoption meet-n-greets, panel discussions, or town halls.
- Expand reach: Social media allows you to reach new people and share your message and mission with them.
- Fundraising: Social media fundraising is available on platforms like Facebook and Instagram to encourage followers to get virtually involved.
Posting on social media platforms furthers your organization’s goals and purpose in a different format. If you’re wondering if social media for nonprofits can turn into numbers for your organization, the answer is yes. In fact, 55% of individuals who engage with nonprofits on social media take action and 59% of those donate money.
Which social media is best for nonprofits?
Many nonprofits enter the social media game believing they should be on as many platforms as possible. In actuality, each platform caters to different demographics. By choosing one or two platforms, you can target a specific audience that is more likely to be interested in and engage with your content.
Facebook has nearly 3 billion users, proving its enormous impact on social media worldwide. It’s not just about the site’s quantity, however. With a primary demographic between the ages of 25 and 35 years of age, Facebook offers plenty of tools for nonprofits, including fundraising.
Here, your nonprofit can easily set up a fundraising campaign and receive donations online. You can also create a donation button on your profile, posts, or ads.
Besides fundraisers, there’s the possibility to stream live videos, broadcast events your nonprofit holds, or share text or visual content. It’s a good opportunity to appeal to a large audience.
Instagram is owned by Meta, the same company that owns Facebook. As a result, there are many of the same features available on Instagram as there are on Facebook. However, Instagram’s demographics are not exactly the same as Facebook’s.
Instagram tends to skew to a slightly younger crowd with nearly 62% of Instagram users between the ages of 18 and 34 years old. And, while most social platforms skew more heavily toward male users, Instagram splits the gender gap nearly down the middle with the percentage of male users only slightly higher than female at 49.3% female to 50.7% male.
For nonprofits, the biggest feature is Instagram fundraising.
You can incorporate donation buttons or stickers on Instagram stories or profiles to encourage action or host a live fundraising event.
Keep in mind that Instagram is a visual platform for sharing photos or videos. Therefore, it’s an ideal option if you want to post visual content but not as effective if you’d like to share text-heavy pieces.
The character limit on Twitter sits at 280 characters per tweet. This makes it a great choice to share quick updates, links to your site, or start discussions with your followers.
It’s also a popular place to start hashtag campaigns, a common strategy for social media for nonprofits.
These are social media campaigns that use a word or phrase preceded by a hashtag (#) to raise awareness or spark a conversation. However, Twitter’s brief character space requires all posts to be concise, which can take practice to master.
In recent years, Twitter has been a big hit for Gen Z, making it a great option to target the younger generation.
LinkedIn differs from other social media sites on this list as it’s geared more toward business professionals with its primary user demographic falling between the ages of 46 and 55 years old.
With this demographic, LinkedIn provides your nonprofit opportunities to network professionally with potential partners, donors, volunteers, or even employees. Moreover, you can post more in-depth pieces that explore your organization and share insights on your progress.
And, in recent years, LinkedIn launched LinkedIn Live to allow your organization to stream live videos from your profile. This live platform is a good choice for hosting panel discussions or events.
Lastly, there is TikTok. The biggest audience of TikTok sits between 10 and 19 years old, giving it a very different appeal than sites like Facebook.
Here, users share and watch videos that speak on the latest cultural trends.
As a result, there’s less direct promotion of organizations here than there are viral marketing videos. Brands often make TikTok videos or work with influencers to increase brand awareness.
If you simply want to get the message out about your organization to the younger generation, in an entertaining way, TikTok is the right choice.
Creating a nonprofit social media strategy
Once you’ve chosen which platform to use, you can start developing your nonprofit social media strategy. The first step is to set up SMART goals. SMART goals are a useful acronym to help you craft structured and achievable goals. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based:
- Specific: Specific goals ensure your team can focus on getting a task done in a certain timeframe. Doing so also helps with your planning.
- Measurable: Measurable objectives show your progress. Many social media platforms grant you access to analytics to work from.
- Attainable: Your goal should be attainable and consider your time, budget, and resources. Avoid setting goals that have little chance of success.
- Relevant: Make certain that your goal reflects your organization’s mission and fits your long-term plans.
- Time-based: Time-based deadlines are a surefire way to keep your priorities and motivation in place.
For the best social media for nonprofits strategy, break down your SMART goals by both the year and for a specific campaign.
Setting SMART goals for the year
Constructing SMART goals for an entire year takes some thinking in the long term. These goals will also depend upon where you sit right now. Is your nonprofit just starting its social media journey? Or have you already created a social media page that you haven’t quite taken advantage of yet? Either way, think about where you’d like to be in a year. Is it having a Facebook page with 1,000 likes? Having completed five live fundraisers on Instagram? Or perhaps having a Tik Tok account with a video released each week?
Take another look at your goal and ask: Is this possible? What budget, time, and staff do I have available to work on this goal? Will this still be viable a year from now? What other goals do I have for my organization, and will they be positively affected by this social media goal?
A year may seem like a long time, but when you have other objectives to meet, it’s easy for your social media goal to fall to the wayside. Get together with your team and be as specific and reasonable as possible in creating your year-long goal.
Setting SMART goals for individual campaigns
You also want to set SMART goals for each social media campaign you create.
You can launch many different types of campaigns, including hashtag campaigns, polls, Q&As, or giveaways. The SMART goal process is similar to setting goals for one year, though you’ll get a little more specific.
For instance, if you launch a quiz campaign on Twitter, your goal may be to have 50 users play your quiz within 24 hours. While you’ll be narrowing your focus down more, you still want to ask the same questions. Is this reasonable? Do I have staff able to check for responses for one day? How will this campaign benefit our organization?
Create a content calendar based on goals
A content calendar is a must-have for your social media accounts. It helps you plan ahead, stay organized, and lessen the possibility of missed posting dates. Plus, you can plan for a consistent mix of new and exciting content on different days and at varying times.
Moreover, you can assemble your content calendar using automated social media tools. These allow you to integrate all of your social media accounts together.
As for how often and when to post, it usually comes down to trial-and-error. Play around with days and times to see what kind of engagement you get. Once you understand when your target audience seems to interact with you most, stick with that timeframe.
Create a way to measure success
Measuring success is imperative to discover what’s working with your posts and what needs tweaking. You can do so by using key performance indicators (KPIs).
These are measurable forms of value used to determine the effectiveness of your efforts. With social media marketing for nonprofits, some community outreach KPIs could be the number of followers, impressions, likes, or comments you receive. While some financial KPIs might include donation growth, overhead cost limits, and fundraising return on investment (ROI).
Social media for nonprofits: Best practices
To ensure you’re getting the most out of your social media strategy, take a look at the following best practices.
1. Start by setting guidelines and policies for everyone to follow
Before anything else, it’s essential to establish guidelines and policies. That way, there’s no confusion about who will do what, when, and where. While guidelines and policies differ by organization, there are some general ideas that many successful organizations implement.
For example, your guidelines can cover your brand posting style, spelling, grammar, and punctuation of content. Moreover, you can explain your brand voice.
What personality do you want to show on your accounts? Some nonprofits take on a more playful, humorous voice, while others aim for more formal and professional language. Your voice reflects your mission and organizational values.
On the other hand, policies discuss more legal or technical topics. These could include policies on how employees should conduct themselves online or how they should respond to any negative interactions. It also often includes security protocols, copyright laws, or confidentiality agreements.
2. Create social media profiles
No matter which social media platform(s) you choose, include your location, contact information, and a link to your website.
Make it easy for people to contact you. It’s also a good idea to include a brief bio that explains your nonprofit’s purpose so newcomers can learn more about you. Lastly, use your brand logo as your profile picture to make it recognizable to those who search for you.
3. Post shareable content
The best content is shareable content. These are posts your audience is eager to share with their friends or followers on their social pages. While there’s no secret formula to making everything wildly shareable, there are posts that often get more shares than others.
- Motivational quotes
- Statistics and facts
- Tips and tricks
4. Use an authentic/relatable voice
Being authentic is one of the indicators of success in using social media for nonprofits.
A big part of authenticity in social media is showing struggles and successes. For example, are there any hardships that your cause is currently facing? How does your organization plan to address and overcome those?
Demonstrating that your organization is as human as your supporters makes it more relatable.
5. Start a conversation
These platforms are meant to be social places.
To get your audience talking, start a conversation. One way to do that is to share relevant, external news articles about your industry and ask individuals for their take. Alternatively, ask direct questions about community affairs or recent events that relate to your cause.
Don’t be afraid to go deep with your questions, either. Thought-provoking questions that ask followers to take a side can lead to some of the most engaging conversational content.
6. Interact with your audience
Along with starting a conversation with your audience, you want to make sure you’re interacting with them.
You can do this by “liking” or reacting to comments or responding to as many as possible. Take it one step further by re-sharing content your followers post on their social media profiles about your organization. For instance, retweet Tweets on Instagram or share others’ posts on your Facebook page.
Sharing user-generated content from your users shows that you care about them and inspires others to get involved.
Using data to be more successful
Another vital part of social media for nonprofits is the ability to both view and analyze data about your content. Having access to this data can help drive decisions about what to post in the future. You’ll know what’s most effective to what audience.
Some social media platforms, like Instagram Insights, offer analytics directly on their platform. You can also use various other tools to collect, measure, and analyze data, such as:
- Number of likes, shares, comments, or reactions on posts
- Demographics of your followers, such as where they are located
- What time people are most engaging with your content
- Number of conversions or actions people perform after viewing your posts
- The number of social media accounts reached
How to use the data
Once you’ve compiled this data, you can use it to determine the future of your social media strategy.
Adjust your content calendar to post content when it’s most likely to be engaged by followers. Moreover, focus on creating content that matches your audience’s interests or what they are interacting with most.
Finally, figure out what kinds of accounts to target. For example, you can focus on targeting posts by age, location, or gender.
Don’t miss out on the benefits of social media for your nonprofit
Curating social media is essential to finding success with online marketing for nonprofits.
Incorporating social media strategies allows you to have a wide reach, share interesting content, and promote your organization in an authentic and trustworthy way.
To get started on this journey, spend some time developing a SMART goal with your team. Think about what are you hoping to achieve by using social media and which platform suits your organization and your goals best.
After that, have some fun brainstorming and creating your posts. Start with a single campaign to get to know the platform and what works best for you, then plan out the rest of your year and see where social media can take your nonprofit organization this year!
Ready to do more with your nonprofit marketing? Take a look at what Constant Contact has to offer your nonprofit!