When you want to amplify your message, you need to get online. According to Nonprofit Source, 55% of people who engage with nonprofits through social media end up taking some sort of action. Meaning, every new follower gives you approximately a one-in-two chance of doubling as a new volunteer, supporter, or brand advocate for your organization.
The realm of nonprofit social media marketing is constantly evolving, as organizations try to keep up with new platforms and algorithm changes. Here, we offer tips, tricks, and best practices for social media for nonprofits to help you develop a strategy for your organization.
Social media for nonprofits: 6 best practices to follow
Social media is a valuable tool to help you build brand awareness, find new supporters, gain traction at events, and ultimately hit your fundraising goal. Consider these six social media best practices for nonprofits that every organization should follow.
1. Accept that you can't do it all 👯
Many times, organizations launch into a social media strategy thinking they have to do everything. They launch accounts on every social media platform, try to post every day, and respond to every comment from their audience. But frankly, that's just not realistic—particularly when you're a grassroots nonprofit.
Instead of spreading yourself too thin (only to burn out in three months' time), take a step back and ask yourself these questions regarding social media for nonprofits:
- Time and bandwidth: Who will own social media at our organization? Do we have the budget for a dedicated social media manager? How much time can they reasonably dedicate to social activities within a given week?
- Social media channels: What are the top 1–2 social platforms that will bring us the most traction?
- Ownership: What's our approval process? Who will edit, provide graphics, and ultimately post to our stories and feed?
From there, work backward. Set an attainable goal with realistic timelines and deliverables attached. For example, “We will post on Instagram twice per week for two months, then reevaluate our progress.”
2. Do your research 📊
Social media for nonprofits should be—as the name entails—sociable, creating a conversation between two parties. Therefore, rather than creating random social media posts and sending them out into the great white abyss that is the internet, get strategic about what you will share and when. Do original research with your target audience, determining which messages would resonate most. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- In-depth interviews: Gather together 5–10 loyal supporters, volunteers, or other individuals within your key demographic and conduct 30-minute to 1-hour interviews. Ask them what information they want to see from your social accounts, then determine if you can gather together any common themes.
- Polls: Send out a poll to your email list with a series of 3–8 questions (any longer and you might limit your responses). Ask what type of content your audience wants to see from your accounts.
- Do a competitive analysis: Follow other organizations within your sector, making note of their most-shared posts. Which hashtags, stories, or themes do they share with their audiences?
3. Diversify your social media content 💃
As a nonprofit organization, it's all too easy to get caught up within the hamster wheel of fundraising. Your gut may tell you to constantly "make the ask" for individual gifts and corporate sponsorships—but this isn't the best way to cultivate a community online.
Instead, try to create 4–6 different social media for nonprofits "buckets" of content that you can pull from.
That way, you can continue to connect with, educate, and solicit donations from your community without inundating them with the same message over and over.
Pro tip: To determine which buckets will resonate most with your audience, consider developing marketing personas, then create one bucket for each persona.
Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Individual stories: As a nonprofit, you can deeply change the lives of families or individuals. Invite these people to share their stories on your channels, creating a sincere connection with your audience.
- Statistics and figures: Share recent news articles, industry reports, or other third-party research to help reinforce the "why" behind your organization.
- New initiatives: Keep your audience updated on all the work you're doing behind the scenes, helping to share goals and initiatives for the upcoming year.
4. Get creative with your mediums 📹
When developing your social media for nonprofit strategy, remember this: People absorb information in different ways. Therefore, try to get creative not only in what you share, but how you share it. Rather than simply sharing a recent photo with a two-sentence caption over and over to your news feed, experiment with creating infographics, making short videos, or putting on a virtual event. Here are a few ideas:
- Do an Instagram or Facebook Live: Allow your audience to develop a sense of camaraderie with your organization by live streaming your next virtual campaign or event.
- Develop video content: Create Instagram Stories, TikTok videos, or Snapchat snaps with videos from a community clean-up day, an interview with your executive team, or last month's 5k run/walk.
- Repurpose third-party content: One of the easiest ways to fill up your content calendar is by repurposing content in different ways. Take a recent article or industry report and transform it into easy-to-digest visual content, like an infographic.
5. Don't forget about your community 💕
Social media for nonprofits is a two-way street—you can't expect your audience to comment, like, or share your posts if you don't do the same for them.
Be sure to follow like-minded organizations, influencers, or even your own trusted volunteers to help spark the conversation.
Here are a few ways you can deepen the connection and help grow awareness:
- Do a takeover: Create a partnership with another organization where you "swap" handles for a day, each amplifying your respective messages on the other's social media account.
- Launch an influencer campaign: Work with local celebrities or influencers to help raise awareness for your good cause.
- Share outside content: Retweet articles, share stories, and repost outside content that resonates with your audience.
6. Experiment with your cadence 📆
At the beginning of this article, we explained that you should develop (and stick to) a social media schedule that works for your organization's bandwidth and budget. While we stand by our advice, we want to remind you that social media is an immediate interaction—therefore, you will need to respond to current events and increase your social media presence during certain times of year. For example:
- During times of giving: Nearly one-third of all annual giving occurs in December, right after #GivingTuesday. You will need to ramp up your digital marketing strategy during these times, posting at a higher frequency.
- Surrounding a current event: Depending on your sector, it may be appropriate (and even expected) to comment appropriately and sensitively on periods of social unrest, natural disasters, or other current events.
- When your engagement stalls: The algorithm for all platforms is constantly changing. If you ever experience a significant drop-off in engagement, consider tweaking your schedule or cadence.
Use these social media best practices for nonprofits to launch your strategy
Social media for nonprofits is one of the most valuable fundraising tools at your disposal. An effective social media campaign can help you attract new audiences, put on sold-out events, and ultimately hit your fundraising goal. But to accomplish all of the above, you need a clear strategy and the right marketing tools to pull it off.
To help refine your nonprofit marketing and social media strategy, contact Positive Equation for a consultation. Positive Equation is a trusted Givebutter expert that helps organizations like Movember, Dress for Success, USTA, and The Gary Sinise Foundation refine their social media strategy. Visit the Positive Equation page to learn more.
Kylie thrives on supporting others, making everyone’s jobs easier, and cinnamon in her coffee.