How Nonprofit Organizations Can Make the Most of a Social Media Presence

Audrey Tanberg / April 20, 2018

With budgets often tight and staff spread thin, social media can be a saving grace for nonprofits to help them share their story without spending too much time or money. Social channels can be an easy way to engage target audiences in their mission, build support and help foster donor retention. In turn, this can help rally new donors and volunteers and grow awareness for an organization.

Social Media Supports Overall Strategy

Don’t think of social media as a standalone plan. It should be part of an overall communication strategy and tie into an organization’s plans for PR, internal communications, advertising and events. It’s not likely that social media will rake in large donations unless there is a big campaign going on (think Giving Tuesday, GiveBIG or influencers driving a conversation about your organization), but social media can help drive event attendance, build email lists, grow web traffic and increase brand awareness. Here are some examples of how social media can tie into the overall communication strategy for a nonprofit.

  • Email supporters with prewritten tweets or posts and ask them to help spread the word to support big campaigns
  • Promote events on social media to drive attendance
  • At events, let people know how to find you on social media and use hashtags to track conversations
  • Include links to your organization’s social media profiles on your website, newsletters, emails and on printed materials
  • Amplify earned media by sharing on social media channels
  • Amplify the organization’s content shared on blogs and in emails by sharing on social media

Social Media Goals for Nonprofits

Don’t start posting without a plan. Figure out what your nonprofit’s goals are for their social media efforts. Is it to increase awareness and do some brand building, or is it community engagement and education you may be after? Overall, social media is social so keep that two-way conversation in mind when creating goals. Consider the value of goals that tie into engagement such as donor retention, as well as goals with clear results such as email signups and website conversions.

Identify Your Target Audience and Social Media Platforms

Clearly outlining who you are trying to reach on social media will help you focus on what platforms to have your nonprofit be active on and identify what kinds of posts to do. For example, while a majority of Americans use YouTube and Facebook, platforms like Snapchat and Instagram are heavily used by 18 to 24-year-olds. You may think your organization could appeal to everyone, but without a narrowed focus, it may be difficult to engage a following. Not to mention, depending on your staffing and budget, being on every channel will likely spread your team too thin. A better approach is to focus on two or three platforms rather than trying to master them all.

Review your goals and what you are trying to achieve and then identify the demographics of the people in your target audience. For example, if your goal is reaching reporters to help spread the word about your mission, then you’re going to want to be on Twitter. If you’re going after an older donor audience, Snapchat isn’t the place to be. If you’re targeting supporters and volunteers, a Facebook group might be your best bet.

Knowing What to Post

Knowing your goals, target audience and what platform you need to be on will help you determine what to post. Are you sharing updates on your organization, trying to get people to attend a fundraising event, looking for volunteers or thanking a sponsor?

You don’t need to have big budgets for professional photographers/videographers; one of the beauties of social media is it can be informal. Likewise, there are many video editing apps for your mobile device that are easy to use and share on social media, and graphic design tools that can help you create visuals for social media. Stories on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are also a quick and easy way to share a message without the commitment of it being a more formal post. When creating content, be sure to follow best practices for the platform you’re on and the type of content you’re posting.

Tracking ROI

If you know your goals and who you are trying to reach, tracking your ROI on the resources you put into social media should be easy. While there isn’t a set dollar amount to assign to the value of metrics such as likes and reach, it’s still important to keep track of. Doing so can help prove the effort is worth the time and budget and hopefully can help decisionmakers justify investing more into social media to continue to achieve your goals.

Let’s Get Social

We offer a free 30-minute social media audit to help organizations identify what is working for them and where there is room for improvement in their current efforts.

For a more in-depth analysis, including a competitive audit, developing a robust social media strategy or launching a social media campaign for your business, contact us and we can get social over coffee.