Social Media for Nonprofits on a Shoestring: Three Steps to Success
What is your social media budget? Do you use pay-per-click or sponsored posts? Most likely you are laughing your head off right now – who has the money in their valuable nonprofit budget to spend on social media posts? No fear, I am here to share with you my three step process to success when it comes to social media for nonprofits.
Step 1: What are your goals?
Social media for nonprofits can be a powerful tool, but can devolve from a wonderful promotional tool to a time sucker if you lack a strategy. Keep the endgame in sight and remind yourself the reason you will spend time and energy on social media presence.
Which of these actions do you take already on social media? What else is possible?
- Increase engagement
- Connect with new prospects
- Recruit volunteers
- Celebrate milestones
- Thank donors and volunteers for their support
- Fund raise
As you look at the list above, remember the key ingredient is to have fun! When posting on social media, you do not need to worry about perfection; this medium has moved away from the restrictions of print. Informality and errors are acceptable. Remember, you can always go back and edit! This attitude toward social media helps build relationships with your current and prospective audiences. When they see behind the curtain of your organization, they are more likely to connect with you.
To begin your social media strategy, you must set SMART goals. You should see clear results from these specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based goals. Examples of SMART goals are to gain 100 followers after a one-month campaign, or to recruit five employees to advocate for you by sharing five times per month.
Step 2: Who is your audience?
Identify your audience(s). Often this will include your donors, volunteers, staff, and the general public. Maybe you are a blood bank seeking to connect with potential donors. Perhaps you provide adoption services and are targeting potential parents.
There are a few questions you should ask yourself and be sure to record the answers for your goals and future use. The answers will need to be updated periodically.
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What are their demographics?
- What channels are they using? Which social media sites do they frequent?
- How often are they using social media?
- How often do they wish to receive content?
You may have many audiences who use many social media channels. That will require you to post more frequently or in varied ways. That is great! However, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the workload. Don’t fret! The third and final step will help relieve many of your fears.
Step 3: When will you post?
Now comes the fun part for the hyper-organized and the stressful part for the rest of the population: it is time to create a schedule and plan out your posts. There will definitely be times when spontaneous posts are necessary, but regular posting will increase trust and visibility with your audience and Google, as well as keep you on track with your goals.
The methods for scheduling are numerous – each with its own benefits. You can use your physical or electronic calendar, an excel spreadsheet, scheduling applications (e.g., Buffer, Hootsuite, Meet Edgar), or project management software (e.g., Trello, Basecamp). Most of these options have a free component, so it all boils down to time and preference. If you like to keep it simple, you may want to go for the spreadsheet format. If you are a tech guru who loves processes, you may want to use a scheduling application. Whatever your style, it is critical to create a schedule following these guidelines:
- Facebook: 2-3 posts per week
- Twitter: 2-3 posts per day
- Instagram: no set amount; balance consistency with quality
Social media for nonprofits is necessary and can greatly benefit your organization. But you have to do the groundwork in order to be successful. Remember to set goals, identify your audience and plan your posting. If you follow those three simple steps, your efforts will make a difference. Remember to have fun with it and enjoy the extra connection with donors, volunteers and clients you can achieve through social media.
Don’t know what to post? Here are some ideas:
- Post behind the scenes glimpses of projects or events.
- Share the history of your organization.
- Create a survey for your fans to take.
- Share photos of events and programs.
- Show the impact of your work through testimonials, photos, videos, etc.
- Create events and post invitations.
- Educate the public not only on the work you do, but also on the issues at the root of why you do your work.