A strong social media presence is a simple, cost-effective way for nonprofits to reach their existing donors and expand their network of supporters. You don’t need an advanced degree in Marketing to engage followers, just a solid understanding of your platforms and a little effort and creativity. At Givebutter, we know that nonprofits don’t always have the resources to support a full-fledged marketing team, so here are some tips to help curate a loyal and engaged follower base.
Numbers Aren’t Everything
As nice as it may be to have thousands of Twitter followers, it does nothing for you if they mindlessly scroll past your post. It doesn’t matter if you’re a for-profit or nonprofit organization, social media marketing is not just about raising your follower count, it’s about engaging with potential customers or donors so that they’ll support your brand, product, or cause. This means that a market expansion strategy is not always the right track for social media accounts.
The best part about social media marketing is how your supporters do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.
If you create quality content for the followers you already have, they will actively engage and share with their followers. Develop a close relationship with your followers by making your social media presence engaging and relatable so that your followers feel like they are following a friend, not a brand-bot. Respond to their questions with personality, host branded t-shirt giveaway contests, and have fun with your feed.
Have a Sense of Humor
The most successful social media accounts engage their followers by making jokes. This makes you likeable, and when it comes to nonprofit marketing, being liked is critical. You don’t have a product that your followers need, so you need to make sure that they like you and your brand. There are thousands of nonprofit causes that need donor support and are using social media to gain supporters, so it won’t be enough to have a valiant cause. And anyway, you want your donors not just to donate to your nonprofit as a good deed, but because they are passionate about your mission.
Incorporating humor into your nonprofit social strategy is a little trickier than it is for for-profit businesses. Tostino's uses memes to reach young people on Tumblr, and Wendy’s Twitter account has gone viral many times by delivering sassy one-liners to people who claim allegiance to other fast-food restaurants. But how hard can it be to have a sense of humor about pizza rolls and chicken nuggets? Nonprofits center around more serious subjects, so using your sense of humor must be done tastefully. For example, Movember, who promotes men health through moustaches, posted a video featuring comedian Nick Offerman, who’s known for his facial hair. Of course, not everyone has a celebrity budget, but a witty hashtag or a cute puppy pic could go a long way.
Content, Content, Content.
No matter how many followers you have, you won’t get any retweets or shares if your content isn’t quality. Walmart has almost 1 million followers, yet most of their standard tweets only get double digit favorites or retweets. When they shared a video of the viral yodelling kid, Mason Ramsey, meeting with their shareholders, they got almost 300 retweets and 2,000 favorites. Promoting your cause while also considering what your followers are interested in will make sure that your followers have a reason to be on your page.
One way to make your feeds eye-catching is featuring images or videos on every post. Let’s say your executive team met with a congresswoman about changing a policy regarding an issue that your nonprofit advocates for. That’s a big deal and an opportunity to post some quality content. But it would be really easy for your post to get lost on someone’s feed if you don’t have an image to go with it. And they don’t always have to be beautiful, professional photos; authenticity is valuable. Using stock photos at times will probably be necessary for most accounts, but you want your followers to be able to imagine a real person behind the post, so, when possible, use original visual content.
Know the Differences in Platforms
Nonprofits should have a presence on all the major platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.—and understand that each one has unique strengths and weaknesses. Your follower demographic may be significantly different on Facebook than it is on Snapchat, so make sure you are catering your content to the platform you’re posting it on.
Even if most of your social media energy is going towards promoting a specific event, vary the content you use across platforms so that your followers have new, interesting content when they switch from Twitter to Instagram.
Each platform has key features that make them appeal to different demographics. Your active Facebook followers will probably be older than your Instagram ones. Videos do really well on Facebook, who curates people’s feeds based on an algorithm that predicts what they will be interested in seeing. Facebook is all about relationships, so you can’t just be all about brand and promotion. Make sure your posts are something your followers will want to share with the family or tag their friend in the comments.
Twitter appeals mostly to millenials and, your posts have to be short and snappy, and hashtag use is a key balance. Hashtags are helpful when trying to reach people outside of your current follower base, but using too many too often can make your posts look spammy and cluttered. More people follow brands on Twitter than they do on Facebook, so this can be more explicitly promotional, but make sure you’re still engaging with followers.
A lot of people use Twitter as their main source of news, so your Twitter feed should be informative, whereas your Instagram can be centered more around aesthetic. You can have a lot of fun with photography and design on your Insta feed and is a great way to show your followers what your cause is all about. Keep in mind that you will have a younger demographic here, as it is popular among college students and teenagers.
No matter what social strategy or platform you choose to focus on, make sure you are staying engaged with your followers. Establishing your voice on social shows current supporters and potential donors what your nonprofit is all about and why your cause is worth supporting.