Social Media: 6 effective tips for non-profits

A number of studies have been done to help understand the conversation around how non-profits integrate social media to engage their communities. It is a fact that billions of internet users spend time on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube every single day.

However, for the past years, NPOs never stood a chance on these endless playgrounds of digital space. How do they get more interaction? How can they make social network users care? These concerns, plus many more, have been constructively addressed in this post, where six effective tips for non-profits are discussed. It’s true that effective social media campaign may take time to create, strategic planning to execute and more money to maximize visibility, but by implementing these strategies, you will get thought wheels turning and hopefully spark your next attempt.

More focus on guest blogging

Guest blogging became mainstream about 4 years ago and it keeps on increasing in popularity ever since. From major fortune brands to small businesses and individual websites, businesses that rely on internet in one way or the other, especially traffic from search engines, are expected to put more focus on guest blogging. However, whereas guest blogging is expected to become an increasingly significant social media tool, it is also important to note that it will be all about the approach you pursue, your budget, your experience with guest blogging and content management systems, and your need for advanced features. Expect to be burned in the end should you approach things the wrong way. WordPress, Google-owned Blogger and Movable Type are arguably the most popular blogging platforms. Besides, they are simple, easy to use and offer special pricing for non-profits. Tumblr and Weebly are also good options with the former allowing for Adsense, allow you to purchase your own domain name and maintain a more traditional blog on your website. Many NOPs also use Tumblr for image-based marketing.

Get visual

Content has really been important for the last two or three years. In fact content has been important since the web started. And today, majority of websites are jumping into the content bandwagon – not just with blogs and articles, but with the idea of using content to spread word. Social media users are beginning to think more strategically about content. Unlike a couple of years back when the biggest challenge was just to have something on the web – just to get some content going, today’s challenge for NPOs is ideally how to get strategic about the content and use it to communicate their objectives to the targeted audience. Attaching a video or photo to your post, especially of your community and donors, is a surefire way to grab attention and lift engagement. Basically, it doesn’t matter if your content is professionally produced or not. Important is that your stakeholders – donors, beneficiaries, staff, leadership, volunteers, etc – see your content and interact with it in a way that is tangibly beneficial to you and your cause.

Be structured, share the load and have a plan

It is important to create a structure and a strategy around your social media efforts, because if you don’t, you run the risk of wasting valuable time and resources for you and your non-profit organization. Most nonprofits often have a team that oversees their social platforms. An editorial calendar is, therefore, necessary to help clarify who is in charge of posting what, when and where. So, the first step in this strategy is setting goals. Start by asking yourself what you are actually looking to accomplish in social media. The most common objective for NPOs on social networks is, of course, to create an online presence by generating online conversations or increasing the number of followers on their Twitter accounts or the number of likes on their Facebook pages. Whatever your goal is, make sure you clearly define them, and make sure they are realistic.

Stay focused

Since social media landscape is so vast with thousands of resources to choose, it is recommended that you narrow down the resources you wish to use to a manageable size. So focus on the two major sites at first – Twitter and Facebook. This important because, these two, are the most popular and commonly used. Just be sure to implement the best practices so your audience can find you. Additionally, get involved with YouTube. Don’t be afraid of the expensive video production costs; you can create an inexpensive two-minute video about your community – clearly outlining your objectives – with a digital camera or iPhone. In addition, do not forget that the present (and the future!) is mobile. More than half of internet users access emails via their smartphones. The key to any nonprofit’s online engagement and fundraising include their newsletters and websites. So make sure yours are as mobile-friendly as possible.

Listen and engage

It is important to read and comprehend the conversations that are going on about your nonprofit community before you engage with the social media. Engaging would then become the fun part. Start by updating your status and sharing information with your community, comment on other people’s blogs and get involved with online Q&A. Remember that social media is about two-sided communication. So engage your community by asking them lots questions or sharing interesting and meaningful information about your organization with them. From experience, only the most engaging posts from non-profits with highly active communities can hope to attract large numbers of active audience. Make partnerships (such as partnership of Mater Foundation with Brisbane Lions), invite people to volunteer or organize fundraising activities that could help in brand awareness.

Measure and Evaluate

Always ensure that you define the specific tools and methods of measurement that you are going to use to gauge your online performance. Successful social media campaign is not only measured by the size of a company’s fan base. In fact even more important than the number of followers and fans your company r community page can gain, is how many it can keep. Facebook Insights is perhaps the most popular measurement tool/metric. With the best measurement and evaluation methods, you will realize just how social media can make your page stand out in this ever-increasing noisy marketplace.


About the Author:

Mary Ann Keeling is a freelance consultant and an experienced social media networker. She likes to spend her free time cycling and doing water sports with her friends. Connect with her on Twitter – @MaryAnnKeeling

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