Social media tips for non-profits…from non-profits!

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by: Kelly Fliller

The world of social media is ever-changing and can be overwhelming at times, but it is an important part of your marketing strategy and can even be fun! Here are tips from a few of our non-profit marketing friends on how to make the most out of your organization’s social media efforts.

  1. Pick your platform(s). Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn – there is a long list of free social media platforms you can use to start spreading your mission to the world! When you narrow down your target audience, pick the platform that will reach the most people in that demographic. Each social media site is a world of its own and has specific policies, limitations and benefits. You may find that one works best for your goals or maybe it’s a combination of a few. Either way, make sure you are using as many social media methods as you need to reach everyone in your target audience.
  2. Post engaging content. This is extremely important. Why do people visit your social media accounts? For the content! They want to see what you are doing, how you are helping and how you are connected to the community. Post photos, videos, links, and content that encourages interaction with your following. You want your posts to be engaging and relevant to your audience. Kaarina Romero, Director of Marketing and Communications at United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties said, “Always include an eye-catching graphic or compelling video with your posts. It will make people much more likely to stop scrolling and read, even if only for a few seconds.” And don’t forget your donors! It’s very important for your donors to see the impactful work you are doing. “Facebook and Instagram offer great opportunities to tell your non-profits story through images. Donors have the pleasure of seeing how their donation is used to strengthen the community where they live,” said JoAnn Kermick, Membership & Marketing Director at Ocean County YMCA.
  3. Frequency of posting. This will be different for every organization, but there are some general guidelines to follow here. You don’t want to post to Facebook as often as you tweet on Twitter. Because Twitter moves so quickly, it’s unlikely for peoples’ newsfeeds to get inundated with your tweets. Facebook is a different story. It’s important to be consistent, but you don’t want to lose followers due to oversharing! I like to post a least once a day but no more than two times (if there is a special event or something happening on a specific day in addition to my planned post) to our foundation Facebook page.
  4. Timing of posting. An important tip here is to look at your Facebook Insights and find out when the majority of your following is actually ON Facebook. That will help you with timing of your posts. When you click on insights on your Facebook page, you will see “posts” on the left. Here, you will find when most of your fans are online by day of the week and time of day as well as which types of your posts had the most reach and engagement. This is very helpful in finding trends and learning about what your audience likes so you can give them more of it!
  5. Use hashtags. Hashtags are a word or phrase followed by the hash mark (#), they identify keywords and are searchable. Whether it’s a general topic, event, holiday or celebration, you can make it a hashtag, which then becomes clickable. When someone clicks on a hashtag or searches for it on social media, they will find a list of all posts using that hashtag. Of course, there are some guidelines with this as well. You don’t want to use too many hashtags in a single post and you definitely want to research a new hashtag before using it. It may already be out there and mean something totally different than your original intentions, which can be damaging to your reputation if it goes against your brand. There have been some pretty epic hash tags fails which you can easily find by searching (if you are in the mood for some laughs, Google “hashtag fails”). When it comes to hashtags, use them, but use them wisely!
  6. Be consistent. Not only should you be consistent with your posting frequency, you must be consistent with your brand. This means your messaging across all social media platforms should be reflective of your brand. If you have a logo, consider making that your profile photo. We use our logo as our profile image on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. For our Facebook page, we use the cover photo as an opportunity to showcase our major projects. You can be a bit more creative with your Facebook cover photo but again, make sure it reflects your brand, values and mission.
  7. It’s all about community. Your social media pages should absolutely be a reflection of your organization – services, successes, staff – but it’s also a great place to highlight your partners, volunteers, supporters, donors and board members. Use this opportunity to post photos from your events, take videos of your board members sharing their “why I serve” moments and celebrate the successes of your partners. Those are just a few ways you can engage your inner circle and community while posting meaningful content. Ashley Hadar, Coordinator of Business Office and Social Media at Holiday Express said, “Social media is about connecting with people. You need to show your audience, that you are a real person so they can connect to you. Always ‘like’ and if needed, respond to their comments. Try different types of posts to see what speaks to your audience.”
  8. Follow others with similar missions. Our friend Kaarina from UWMOC has another great tip, “Follow the pages of other nonprofits that do similar work and local community organizations. They can serve as a source for inspiration and it doesn’t hurt to share their content if it’s relevant, a win-win for everyone!”
  9. HAVE FUN WITH IT! Social media is meant to be well, social! Have fun, be creative and get involved in conversations. Carrie Ruddick, Manager of Marketing and Communications at Monmouth Arts said, “Each of the Monmouth Arts social media accounts have their own goals and strategies, but all of them typically have this in common: Be authentic and have fun. The Internet has communication barriers and throws so much at us on a daily basis, so we do our best to make meaningful connections using this guideline to better serve our arts community.”

Social media is a great, FREE tool that can help you tell your story and you should absolutely be taking advantage of it! There are so many platforms to choose from, but pick the one that best fits your organizational goals and target audience. It does take some strategy, so start by writing down your goals and how you want to achieve them. Don’t be afraid to try out different things to see what works and what doesn’t. If you aren’t getting the engagement you were hoping for, you can always adjust what you are doing until you find what best fits your goals.

Next up is the world of social media metrics which I’ll get into in a blog post coming soon!

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