In the digital age, nonprofit organizations need social media to increase donations, spread their message, and attract volunteers and new members. Social media platforms can engage audiences in ways that get results without breaking the bank, but social media platforms differ, and how you use each platform should differ for your social outreach efforts to be successful. The suggestions provided in this guide can help you master social media for the long-term success of your nonprofit organization.
Setting Up a Social Media Program
Creating Social Media Profiles
Start by opening nonprofit accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You want to put your organization’s best foot forward and build trust immediately so it is important to complete each profile. When it comes to graphics on your social networking profiles, upload your nonprofit’s logo and professional-quality images depicting your cause, and post the nonprofit’s contact information as well as details about its history and mission.
Facebook for nonprofits and Twitter for nonprofits work best for engaging individual donors, volunteers, and members for your nonprofit. LinkedIn for nonprofits, on the other hand, helps you connect with business-minded individuals and organizations, and works more like your nonprofit’s resume. Some of the details you share will be similar to those included in a business-to-business brochure such as the nonprofit’s size, the number of employees, and industry. You might also encourage your staffers to create LinkedIn profiles using the same graphics and logo as the nonprofit’s main page to help LinkedIn users find individuals with whom to connect in your organization.
Volunteers of Toronto illustrates this way of setting up social media profiles perfectly. The organization shares an abundance of member-focused and volunteer-focused content on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, while its LinkedIn profile shows the company’s business face designed to attract partners, big donors, and potential employees.
Creating a Social Media Policy
You may wish to assign the task of social media management to a volunteer or intern, so you’ll need to create a social media policy to ensure the information the person posts reflects the organisation’s brand, values, and voice.
A social media policy:
- Includes the nonprofit’s values
- Assigns social media roles
- Identifies the type of content to post and share, and how often
- Offers guidelines for engaging in conversations, answering comments, and dealing with negative feedback
While you might want to use another nonprofit’s social media policy as a template, you might spend time customizing it for your organization to minimize legal risks.
Identifying Your Target Audience
You need to narrow down, or target, an audience for your social outreach efforts to be effective. The best way to identify your target audience is to develop a “persona,” which is the ideal person you want to reach. For example, if your nonprofit rescues animals in need, your ideal audience might consist of animal lovers who currently own pets and have volunteered for other animal rescue organizations in the past. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have analytics tools built in to help you pinpoint your ideal audience. Marketing platforms such as HubSpot and SalesFusion also provide tools for developing audience personas.
Using an Editorial Calendar and Content Scheduling Tools
Having an editorial calendar keeps your social efforts organised. You might meet with your staff members to brainstorm social media posts based on upcoming happenings in each quarter. Using an editorial calendar gives you time to assign written content and graphic content creation to staff members in time for posting.
Consider using tools such as HootSuite or Sprout Social to schedule and queue social media posts. Such tools allow you to schedule Facebook and Twitter posts to go live at your desired time. Content management platforms such as WordPress also let you schedule blogs for future posting, which gives your social media manager more time to spend on engaging with followers.
Content People Care About
You want your content to inspire reactions and sharing. To find out what engages your followers, you might post various types of content, such as long articles, graphics with text, infographics, short impactful phrases or inspirational quotes, and use analytics to see which ones people engage with most. You can also bring together some of your organization’s volunteers or donors to create a focus group, which can help you hone the type of posts people in your niche care about.
Paid vs. Free Social Media Posts
All of your blog and social media posts should include share buttons, which is a cost-effective way to spread the word about your organization. But relying on sharing can be limited, especially when you need engagement from a wider audience. As such, you may wish to spend a little money promoting some of your social media posts. You can lessen the financial impact of paid or sponsored social media posts by creating a budget for such costs at the beginning of your fiscal year.