More than 70 percent of non-profit organizations expect to develop social media strategies in 2012, according to a survey conducted by Charity Dynamics, a consulting service for non-profits. These organizations recognize the power of targeted social media outreach when it comes to increasing awareness, finding new donors, and converting one-time donors into repeat donors.
Social media is uniquely suited for non-profit marketing because it stretches what are often limited funds and resources. It’s no longer enough to simply create Facebook and Twitter accounts for your non-profit. Forethought, planning and persistence are needed to maximize the communication benefits of social media platforms. Here are five social media strategies that can help non-profits engage with the public, raise awareness of their causes, and increase their fundraising capability:
1. Make a commitment.
Social media platforms are free to use, but leveraging their power takes time. To make an impact with social media, you’ll need to devote at least 10 hours per week to sharing, following, friending, liking, commenting, and contributing. In fact, some larger non-profits dedicate at least one full-time resource to digital communication, which includes social media outreach. This important job requires a deep understanding of your organization’s message and probably isn’t suited for an intern.
2. Keep it personal.
Social media is social by definition, so be ready to communicate one-to-one on a personal level. Instead of blasting out one-way messages, engage in conversations. Let your followers know that there are real, caring people behind your organization.
3. Reach out through video and blogging.
Non-profits can increase awareness of their cause by telling their stories in videos and blogs that can then be shared on social media platforms. YouTube and Facebook are good places to start sharing. Keep the content fresh and interesting so that followers will check back for updates. With luck, your video campaign will go viral.
4. Recruit volunteers.
Most non-profits depend on the efforts of dedicated volunteers. LinkedIn is often used for professional recruiting; it can also be use to bring new volunteers into the fold. Other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can also be used to spread the word about your need for volunteers.
5. Promote events.
Social media is the perfect tool for publicizing real-world events, especially non-profit fundraisers. You can register an event on Facebook and LinkedIn, and use a steady stream of Twitter updates to keep enthusiasm high. Using a Twitter hashtag (#) will help attendees track tweets that are related to the event. You can also blog about your event and post photos from similar past events on Flickr and Facebook.
Seeing the results of your social media outreach won’t be instantaneous. Some organizations make the mistake of giving up on social media too soon. You should measure and assess your social media results on a regular basis and possibly fine-tune your efforts, but don’t give up because you think things aren’t happening quickly enough. Before you can expect to see real results, you’ll need to build a solid base of avid followers.