Choosing a social media platform for any organization can be daunting. Nonprofits, which work with limited funds, need to be even choosier on which channels best serve their needs based on their audience, time and resources.
When considering which social media platforms to choose, begin by asking these three questions:
- Who is our target audience?
- What social media platforms do they use?
- How much time is involved in managing this social media platform(s)?
With those answers at hand, you’ll be equipped to narrow down the choices. To get you started, I’ve gathered information on the best social media platforms for nonprofits.
Using Facebook for Nonprofits
According to Hootsuite, 2.23 billion users log into Facebook every month, making it a convincing choice for nonprofits. Add on Facebook features made specifically for nonprofits, like donating buttons, pledge match donations, fundraising tools for supporters and donation reporting features, and this social media platform is a powerhouse for sharing your cause with current and potential supporters.
Nonprofits do need to qualify for Nonprofits on Facebook features, but once they do, their page is a voice for their cause, and along with useful fundraising tools, organizations can post valuable content about their mission, share videos, promote events and facilitate a group page where fellow supporters can interact with each other.
Using LinkedIn for Nonprofits
LinkedIn helps nonprofits establish credibility and gain corporate support.
Because LinkedIn was designed for industry professionals and the business community, a nonprofit organization might overlook its usefulness for gaining support for their cause.
As the “World’s largest professional network,” having a LinkedIn page has the potential to connect with more than “610 million users in more than 200 countries.”
Nonprofits can use LinkedIn to:
- Establish credibility on the organization’s subject matter
- Make and maintain new connections
- Reach potential volunteers/employees
- Increase donor support through professional outreach
- Garner corporate funding
- Show business leaders your nonprofit is a trustworthy nonprofit partner
When using this social media platform, keep post language professional and informative (no swearing or excessive exclamation points), share statistics, pictures and videos to demonstrate how the nonprofit helps its cause as well as how businesses and professionals can be involved by volunteering or with donations. When partnerships with corporations or businesses are established, utilize LinkedIn to highlight how your nonprofit successfully co-brands messaging to enhance credibility further.
Using Instagram for Nonprofits
Instagram is a visual marketing dynamo, especially if you want to reach a younger audience. Tapping into this platform and engaging in the right way means your nonprofit could connect with 1 billion Instagram users all over the globe.
If that doesn’t make you pause, here are more interesting stats by Hootsuite:
- Millennials make up 34% of Instagram users
- 38% of all users check in several times a day
- Users are on Instagram every day for an average of 53 minutes
- 75% of users go to a website or look at products from a brand’s post
- 88% of users are outside the United States
Eye-catching and striking photos increase shares and likes on all social media platforms.
The key to being successful on this social media platform is to use eye-catching photos and video to share your nonprofit’s story or mission, and set up your profile as a business account to access analytic features. Images, videos and stories don’t always have to focus on the positive; they can include hardships, ask thought-provoking questions, and share gripping stories. With each post, add thoughtful or inspiring captions and use up to 30 hashtags.
New to Instagram as of this year is the donation sticker for Instagram stories. This feature is available to all Instagram users, which means supporters can also be part of the fundraising process. A huge plus for nonprofits is no transaction fees!
Using Twitter for Nonprofits
News spreads fast on Twitter and nonprofits can leverage this to share timely news.
One of the benefits of Twitter is the “Incredible speed at which information and news spread” and the ability to have conversations with supporters quickly. Because of the ability to share timely news, on-the-ground updates, videos, photos, and live chats, Twitter goes a long way to amplify a message.
Hootsuite’s 2019 report noted these stats about the social media platform:
- 326 million people on Twitter every month
- 72% of users read news from Twitter
- Tweets with video attract 10 times the engagement as those without
Before you begin, take the time to review nonprofits you admire on Twitter and how they are generating and leveraging content. When developing a content strategy, keep in mind that visuals with branding are one of the ways to rock this platform. According to Classy, “Publicizing your brand with photos and graphics can boost engagement on a tweet by 47 percent.”
Also, take the time to understand Twitter features:
- Follower lists
- Hashtags (2 to 3 at most)
- Shortened links
- Twitter alerts
- Twitter analytics
Time to Choose Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Platform(s)
No matter what social media outlet your nonprofit chooses, you’ll need to dedicate time and resources to it (or them). The strategy should include developing consistent content, engaging with supporters, posting calls to action and regularly reviewing analytics against SMART goals.
Content management systems, such as Hootsuite, Buffer and SocialOomph, help manage and maintain social media channels all in one location; many offer free basic accounts.
Tips for Growing Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Following
Stats show that people engage more with social media posts that include faces.
One of the best ways to engage with your audience and grab the attention of new social media followers is to use colorful and attention-grabbing images with every single post. What types of visuals should you use? That will depend on your cause, but by no means limit yourself. Take the time to brainstorm ideas with your team and look at how other nonprofit organizations use imagery to promote their cause.
Images could highlight the good your cause is doing and whose lives it changes as well as those who work behind the scenes. Don’t be afraid to use occasional humor and include faces. According to HubSpot, Instagram posts that highlight faces in them, “Receive 38 percent more likes than posts without.” With free content marketing tools like Pixabay and Canva, creating striking graphics is very affordable.
Don’t Wait To Respond
Once a social media strategy is in motion, dedicate time each day to check the account and respond within 24 hours. Why? Your followers, current and new, expect it. According to HubSpot, the expected response time for Facebook is 6 hours, and for Twitter, it is one hour. When choosing a social media platform, this is a factor you’ll want to consider; honestly examine resources to ensure there is enough manpower to use the platform to its fullest potential.
Create Your Own Hashtag
A personalized hashtag helps create a buzz in social media and branding campaigns.
Use hashtags regularly in social media updates, particularly posts for Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Hashtags help put your posts in front of the eyes of followers who are interested in specific topics or follow hashtags like #donate, #activism, #dogood, and #charity. Use trending hashtags like #GivingTuesday, #GoodNewsTuesday and #FactFriday to:
- Gather donations
- Share stories of inspiration from those impacted or those dedicated individuals who help
- Share the latest stats about what your nonprofit is doing or why your cause needs immediate action
Another way to create a buzz around your nonprofit is to create your own hashtag, which can be used in organic (or unpaid) social media updates as well as ad campaigns by your organization to help build brand awareness and expand reach. Always use the best hashtag practices for each platform.
Allocate Monies For Paid Social Media
Nonprofits might think advertising on social media is out of their budget range. However, paid advertisements on social media are very affordable. When creating an ad campaign, it is essential to learn how to properly create ads for your social media platform, understand how to use filters and create target audiences to tactically place ads to promote content and increase visibility or conversions.
Consider Contest and Giveaways
Everyone loves a giveaway, and running one is an excellent way to keep your current audience engaged as well as reach new followers who might become long-term supporters.
Keep your supporters engaged with contests and giveaways.
The rules of the contest do not have to be complicated. It could be:
- Liking a page/tweet/photo
- Follow a social media account
- Liking a post/tweet/photo as well as commenting or sharing or both
- Submitting a photo with a branded hashtag
The giveaway item should relate to your nonprofit like tickets to a gala event, an annual membership or a winning photo to be used in promotional materials. Contest tools like Rafflecopter, Shortstack, and Woobox simplify managing a contest, choosing a winner and some offer free basic features.