A Few Tips for Nonprofit Organizations to Leverage Social Media

Amanda Luzzader

Are you leveraging social media? Or are you just on it?

Every nonprofit organization has Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok accounts. Your nonprofit organization may even have multiple accounts for various departments and projects. You create events, post pics from your latest events, and upload videos about new volunteer needs.

But does your organization have social media accounts and create content just because it seems like an obligation? Because someone said you have to be on social media? If so, it’s certainly understandable. Consider these statistics from Nonprofits Source, a digital marketing company geared toward small nonprofits:

  • 18% of charitable donors worldwide have given through Facebook fundraising tools.
  • 29% of mobile donation traffic on Giving Tuesday comes from Facebook.
  • 55% of people who engage with nonprofits on social media end up taking some sort of action.
  • 46.1% of churches say that using social media is their most effective method of outreach.
  • 75% of Instagram users take action, such as making a purchase, after looking at an Instagram advertising post.

So, are you leveraging social media? Or are you just on it? This article will round up some of the Internet’s sharpest advice on making your social media work harder.

Be a storyteller

Journalist and blogger Nick Rojas says one way to humanize your social media presence is to tell stories. Nonprofit workers should already be adept at this technique, because giving feedback to donors, reporting to directors, and requesting funding almost always require stories about the organization's need, progress, and accomplishments. Good news: these stories can be easily adapted to social media. Rojas says stories on social media can be created by answering some simple questions: Who are you? What do you do? Who is impacted by your work? Why should your followers send a donation or volunteer?

Once you have a healthy follower base, or if you already have one, Rojas recommends that you also stay closely engaged with followers. Ask your followers questions, respond to their comments, and share your engagement as appropriate. Create an engagement snowball that is always growing, if only incrementally.

Be a copycat

There are ways to use social media and there are ways to avoid using social media. Identify organizations and individuals who are excelling on their platforms, and then do what they do. Copy them by creating the kind of content they create. Post the kinds of posts they post. This doesn’t mean copying your competitors or duplicating someone’s account beat for beat. Your compassionate-service nonprofit organization can emulate your favorite rock band, influencer, or clothing brand. One social media blogger even suggests reaching out to highly successful social media operators and asking them for tips and tricks.

Be visually efficient and effective

All social media platforms (and websites, too) constantly evolve to become more visual. Facebook once consisted merely of text-based updates about what users were feeling or doing from moment to moment. It soon evolved to accommodate photos, and it has now moved on to allow stories, reels, and embedded videos.

Even Twitter, which began as a platform to disseminate pithy quips of 280 characters or less, is now strongly image-based and even video-based.

What does this mean? It means your images and videos must compete with all the other eye-grabbing images and clips the Internet has to offer. Start with high-quality images by investing in pro-grade equipment or a pro-grade shutterbug. Continue by understanding how visual content is presented on each platform. For example, you may have a stunning image to use as a Facebook cover image for an upcoming, but it won’t display correctly if you don’t crop it to the right dimensions. And an informative video may not attract viewers on Instagram if the video or audio quality is low.

TikTok is an explosively popular newer platform that provides a myriad of tools and techniques to quickly shoot and edit high-quality videos with just a cell phone.

If you use social media without the proper technical savvy (especially with visual content) not only will you be buried in the constant social-media fire hose, but your account will be considered amateurish. So, know and understand (or assign someone to know and learn) the technical specs, constraints, and techniques of each of your organization’s platforms so that your content stands out.

Be a follower

One way to get followers is to follow others. Support, share, and amplify the social media accounts of individuals and organizations that share your values and objectives. Each social media platform uses different ways and rules to share, link to the platforms of others, and attract attention. Facebook and Instagram use name-tagging and hashtagging. Twitter uses @ing. Learn how to network through social media to become a good collaborator and supporter, and others on social media will return the favor.

Be a leader

This involves being deeply informed. Jump on trends, viral movements, and news stories that are relevant to your field. Then, use social media to become an information source, advocate, or commentator with respect to those topics. As you generate reliably useful, informative, and entertaining content, your follower base will grow, but so will your trustworthiness among those you wish to reach.

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