The Social Media Benchmark Study’s 2015 report shows that while NPO email lists grew 11 percent that year, their Facebook and Twitter followers grew by 42 and 37 percent, respectively. Social media is growing 3x faster than email for nonprofits.
Yet a 2015 HubSpot survey of 4,000 professional marketers found that NPOs cited social media as the most overrated marketing tactic. Agencies and vendors both agreed that traditional paid advertising (think radio, billboard, newspapers) was the most overrated tactic.
So what gives? Why are NPOs giving up on social–a FREE vehicle that can increase web traffic, drive donations, and communicate directly with (and therefore build loyalty among) potential and existing constituents?
Nonprofits are tired of using donor funds on mediums that don’t produce results. Or, at least, platforms that they don’t think produce results. They’re really not even sure. And they’re also mistaken.
It’s not that social media is ineffective. Most NPOs don’t see results because the strategies and tools they’re using are ineffective at producing the desired result.
Social media has endless opportunities for NPOs who know how to be strategic. And that’s why we’re sharing these high-impact tips for streamlining your organization’s social media strategy.
Who is your organization trying to reach? Are they 40-year-old moms of three who use Facebook to keep in touch with friends, family, and the causes they care about? Or are they millennials that use Twitter to get quick updates on current events, trends, and topics of interest?
When you understand who your donors are, where they hang out online, and what they’re interested in seeing, you’ll be able to focus your social media efforts on the platforms and types of content that drive conversion.
For example, if your target audience consists of 40-year-old moms who “stopped with Facebook” because there are just too many other priorities in their lives, the extra effort put into Twitter would be wasted because the people who care about your cause and are willing to donate aren’t on there.
If you’re concerned that you don’t have enough of the right kind of fans on Facebook, you could create a strategy to grow your following by paying to promote posts that specifically target and appeal to your demographic. The better you know your constituents, the more targeted your content and strategy will be.
Donor profiles are a great way to help everyone in your organization get to know your target audience. They highlight your ideal donor’s demographics, preferences, and habits. For more on getting to know your donors, check out these useful blogs:
Once you know who your audience is and what platforms they’re using, you can set goals for what you want to accomplish on each.
For example, you might use Facebook to increase awareness about your organization and cause with existing and potential donors.
You might use Twitter to connect with potential sponsors and organizations working toward similar goals, with a secondary goal of driving traffic to your website.
LinkedIn might be the platform you use to develop professional relationships with corporate sponsors and volunteers, also with the secondary goal of driving traffic to your site.
Once you know what your goals are for each platform, you can start developing content around them. A calendar will help you be strategic about what you post and maintain consistency in the frequency at which you post.
Your calendar can be a simple list or a detailed spreadsheet. Its complexity will largely depend on the size of your team and the goals you’ve mapped out. It should highlight when different types of content are posted (more on that in #4).
Much of the struggle can be blamed on time management. Social media content needs to be posted consistently in order to be effective. So how do you possibly stay on top of managing two, three, or even more social platforms that you post on more than once per week—or even more than once per day? The answer is simple, you don’t.
There are countless automation tools that make social publishing a breeze for NPO marketers. Simply upload your content to one of these platforms, and schedule the date and time that you want each of your posts to publish. This way, you can plan weeks or even months ahead of time and know that they will each go out on their allocated days/times. It’s a hands-free, plan-ahead strategy that takes the stress out of managing the schedule.
Thought leaders don’t just post their own content. They know their story is larger than their organization. They also post content produced by others and add their own thoughts, observations, and insight. They add value and perspective to the conversations happening within their community.
Has a new study come out related to your cause? Post the study along and share what lessons can be learned from it. You can even use the report to write a blog that highlights the key takeaways and share that. It all depends on your resources.
Maybe a major event happened that relates to your NPO. Post the news article and share your thoughts on why it matters or what your organization is doing to help.
Let’s say your NPO is focused on natural disaster relief and recovery and it’s possible a hurricane is going to cause massive damage. In the days leading up to impact, you could post safety tips and resources to support people in its path. You could post articles that educate people about what happens after a hurricane. If the worst happens and the hurricane hits a densely populated area, you could post impact stories of the people who have been affected interspersed with asks that will help your organization support them.
This strategy lends credibility to the asks that you do make through social, which ultimately makes them more effective. It also establishes you as a thought leader that donors look to as a resource for information, which strengthens the trust and loyalty they have in your organization.
Don’t let a lack of strategy prevent you from taking advantage of all the opportunities social media has to offer. Take another look at your database. Decide who your target audience is and what platforms they use most. Set the goal for what you want to accomplish on each platform and let that act as a building block for the type of content you post there. Incorporate content from outside sources into your strategy. Develop a calendar and commit to following it. And whenever possible, use the tools at your disposal to automate the process.
If you’re looking for more ways to automate your fundraising process, request a demo of Arreva's online fundraising software and see how you can easily manage donations, events, volunteers, constituents, email, and more.