Social Media Success for Nonprofits

by: | May 10, 2012

Social media channels are now a part of everyday life, and impossible to avoid. Which makes it completely logical to believe your nonprofit should be represented adequately within these communities.

After all, the majority of these channels are free or low-cost to get involved with, which makes perfect sense for non-profits. It is; however, imperative to understand the ways to use these new media to your advantage before you register a new account. Defining your objectives, audience, and technologies will help your organization stay focused, which will ultimately lead to success.

Make Sure You Have the Right Tools and Audience

The old adage is to “fish where the fish are swimming,” and this is entirely true. If you can identify your audience, you can begin to strategize where your efforts will be best suited.

Facebook and Twitter are the obvious behemoths of the group, with Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and others constantly biting at their heels. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that checking off Facebook and Twitter as mandatory will be the end all of your efforts.

Every day, new technologies are emerging, and new ways to use existing technologies are released. So, make sure that your organization is aligned with the missions of the various channels and the audience they can provide, as well as having the ability to meet your established objectives.

Integration is Important

An audit of the top 50 nonprofits by Craig Newmark revealed that 92 percent had at least one social media button on their homepages. This not only proves how important integration is when creating a digital ecosystem for your nonprofit, but it also shows the value others have placed on focusing and investing in these new media channels. You may need to catch up!

Donation Drives Walk a Fine Line

Dan Portnoy stated in his book The Non-Profit Narrative “Non-profit organizations weren’t started to consistently ask for money and talk about the troubles of keeping the lights on. Remember, they were started to change the world.”

With that reminder, communities like Facebook and Twitter are excellent places to run a donation drive. Tapping into your advocates’ social media graphs, through the range of sharing features, is a perfect way to gain momentum and garner awareness. However, there is a fine line that is toed between a group that is running a donation drive specific to a cause or initiative and a nonprofit that is constantly asking for money.

For instance, cause marketing with regards to large corporations works particularly well because there is ultimately a short engagement attached to a flow of money that is going to a nonprofit. The difficulty for a nonprofit is that your donations have to come directly from your advocates, and that always takes more effort. This means that your engagements and conversations may, at times, be more important to your success in social media than asking for a donation.

The Value of a Share

Having a plethora of “Likes” or “Followers” is important to the syndication of your message. But in the end, the content you provide that generates a share to your followers’ extended networks (that you may not have access to yet) can be infinitely more important than your initial message.

Because of this, encouraging sharing or providing original content that warrants sharing will help ensure that your next donation drive is quantifiably more successful. It’s an effort to get more advocates to embrace your cause, and then, when you need to reach out for help, you have a larger audience hearing your call.

The Advice That’s Always the Hardest

This may come as a shock to anyone reading this, but sometimes the best social media strategy is to not have a social media presence at all. In a space that is oversaturated and overly populated, if you cannot stand out from your competitors and rivals, then it may be better to focus efforts and dollars to what does work for your nonprofit.

It’s easy for an agency or marketer to say that your nonprofit needs to be saturating a range of channels, but if it isn’t aligned with your mission, your goals, or your strategy to meet them, then leave everything as is until a solid strategy is established.Marketing Zeus

Posted in: Campaign Development, Facebook, Non-profit, Public Relations, Social Networks, Twitter

About the Writer:

Jason Trojanowski is an Associate Creative Director for G2, where he works on large scale strategic digital campaigns for clients such as Campbell Soup Company, JM Smucker’s, and Hertz. Jason is also the founder of Equilateral; a digital resource for nonprofits and civil institutions, focusing on the importance of design in society. He earned a Bachelors of Science in Industrial Design from University of the Arts, where he concentrated on user experience and digital strategies. Jason is often found with his nose and pen buried in his notebook or watching, and coming up with data visualizations for, baseball.

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