Social Media: A Nonprofit’s Best Friend

395 222 Maria Breston

In the nonprofit world, as with most businesses today, the smaller the staff, the more hats those staffers wear. As you look at the many tasks your staff undertakes, there is usually someone who has been charged with social media, perhaps reluctantly. Everyone knows what social media is, but becoming a social media guru can be overwhelming if you’re not up to date on all of the latest platforms and trends. The good news is that, for small nonprofits, social media can be your best friend, and not as difficult as you might think. And best of all, posting is free!

In the world of social media, the most popular sites are Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, with the latter reigning as leader of the pack. Each platform can serve a different purpose and they all function differently. And since they reach audiences differently, knowing a bit about all three can have a great impact on your organization.

Facebook has 1.84 billion users that are visiting the social networking site daily. With Facebook, you can feature the latest news about your organization, images from an event, announcements of upcoming events, videos that demonstrate visually what your nonprofit is all about, the list is endless. Keep in mind, however, that with all of those users, people have developed habits when looking at Facebook, and it’s very possible that they will scroll right by your post. To make them stop and take notice, always think about different ways to post your subject. Is it just text about an event? There’s a good chance that followers will scroll right by. Can you get creative with that same post to make it stand out? Doing so could mean the difference between more likes and shares instead of scrolling right on by.

Instagram is more immediate. If you’ve got a funding campaign coming up, Instagram is a powerful tool to use to help promote it. Try doing a countdown that leads up to the kickoff of the campaign. Each post should feature a different story, or at least picture, that describes what you are hoping to do with a successful campaign. For example, if a food pantry wanted to conduct a canned food drive, imagine the impact of watching 10 cans become five, then one and then none. No cans of food on the shelves is what the pantry wants to avoid, and donating to the food drive can assure that the food pantry will continue to serve the needs of its constituents. You can show the impact of your donors’ support by posting an image of a food package being handed to a program participant. What a great story!

Think of Twitter as your newsflash. Did you just receive a large gift? Tweet a caption about the gift and picture of the check presentation. Make sure that a complete story is available on your website and link to it. Remember, Twitter is not a one-way street. If you’re going to use it, make sure someone is on the other end to engage your followers.

When you’re wearing many hats, time can slip by quickly, and competing priorities can take over. Before you know it, much more time may have elapsed between social media posts than you intended. To keep yourself on track, develop a social media content calendar to show what you’re going to post and when. Remember to schedule times at which you will review the analytics of your social media accounts. These built-in tools help you determine which posts and tweets inspired the most engagement. Use this information to tweak your social media strategy over time.

Be sure that the person charged with social media keeps an eye on the channels. If someone responds to something you’ve posted, you want to be sure that you respond quickly. That person could be your next donor.

By Joe Turner, Director of Fundraising, Marketing, and Communications