How Your Nonprofit Can Get the Most Out of Social Media

Social media allows your organization to reach a broader range of people while increasing visibility and brand recognition. Since these platforms can be used at no cost, they are a great source of free advertising.

Digital marketing and establishing an online presence can seem daunting to many young nonprofits. With the variety of platforms available, it’s hard to know where one should devote limited resources. Attempting to maintain too many platforms will quickly become overwhelming. Pick a few that your team has the time and resources to reasonably manage.

Before beginning, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. What platforms are similar organizations using?
  3. How do you plan to measure success?
  4. What content do you have or can you create to disperse?

Armed with your responses, you can strategically decide where your nonprofit should have a digital presence.  To help you determine which sites best fit your nonprofit’s needs, here is a breakdown of the most popular marketing tools:

Facebook

  • Primary Function: An established social network that has expanded to include updates from organizations and brands as well as friends
  • Advantages: Largest social media platform
  • Disadvantages: Due to its size, there is a lot of other content to compete with
  • Goals:
    • Use to create specific calls to action targeted at your audience
    • Reinforce your other marketing channels through community building

Twitter

  • Primary Function: A micro-blog that allows for fast updates and immediate conversation
  • Advantages: Allows for information to be relayed quickly and succinctly
    • Reaches a different (younger) age demographic than Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Disadvantages: Requires more regular updates than many of the other platforms
    • Tweets have a short shelf life as they get lost in followers’ feeds
  • Goals:
    • Establish a community
    • Drive traffic to your other platforms
    • Interact directly with influencers and followers

LinkedIn

  • Primary Function: Networking site for professionals and job-seekers
  • Advantages: Reaches a different (older) age demographic than other social media sites
    • No expectation of daily posts
  • Disadvantages: Primarily used by individuals to connect with other professionals
  • Goals:
    • If your organizations works with volunteers, encourage them to list their work with your organization
    • Generate content aimed at establishing your organization as a resource

Blog

  • Primary Function: Ability to provide more in-depth insights into what your nonprofit does
  • Advantages: Increases your organization’s search-ability — keywords are key for search engine optimization (SEO)
    • Great way to centralize your organization’s content
    • Establishes your authority
  • Disadvantages: New content for this site would probably be the most time-consuming to create
  • Goals:
    • Create a more comprehensive picture of who you are and what you do
    • Drive traffic

YouTube

  • Primary Function: Video-sharing site that is also a search engine
  • Advantages: Adds a visual component
    • Maintenance would be minimal and the lifespan of content is much longer than on other platforms
  • Disadvantages: Time and resource intensive — shooting and editing high quality videos requires specialized equipment and software
  • Goals:
    • Share and embed videos across other digital platforms

Instagram

  • Primary Function: Image-sharing site
  • Advantages: Adds an informal visual component
  • Disadvantages: Not a strong tool for driving content or creating calls to action
  • Goals:
    • Share content across other platforms
    • Interact with community and encourage user-generated content

Pinterest

  • Primary Function: Image collection and sharing
  • Advantages: Adds an informal visual component
    • Lifespan of content is significantly longer than other platforms
  • Disadvantages: Not a strong tool for engaging in conversation
  • Goals:
    • Brand awareness

Once you’ve selected which platforms work best for your organization, determine how the maintenance will be divided among your team. What are the broad goals for your social media efforts and how can each site help reach those goals. Be sure to keep your message consistent. Additionally, be careful not to recycle the exact same content across platforms.

Remember to have fun! If you’re enjoying what you’re doing, it will translate into your work.