How To Create a Killer Nonprofit Social Media Strategy
Social media for nonprofits serves as a user-friendly virtual storage bin for our personal and organizational memories, the people we love, and our casual conversations. The information shared within these platforms is truly endless. Love it or hate it technology is here to stay so having a bulletproof social media strategy in place is essential.
Set yourself apart from other organizations and get the attention of interested members and donors with a great strategy. Easier said than done, right? Well, we took some guesswork out of the process by developing this handy guide to help you navigate the process of creating your content strategy!
- Define Your Goals and Target Audience
- Get Yourself a Social Media Calendar
- Collect Important Dates
- Choose Your Social Media Platforms
- Define and Adapt Your Tone
- Monitor Your Progress
- Draw Inspiration From Others
Define Your Goals and Target Audience
When you know exactly what you wish to achieve with a social media marketing campaign right from the beginning, you have a much higher chance of identifying a clear path. Start your project by mapping out some specific goals and work on defining your target audience. Who buys your product or enjoys your service? Look for similarities between different people in your audience and curate your marketing campaign to feel as though you are speaking to them directly.
Salma is laying out all her goals!
Keep your goals to a reasonable number, no more than three. Write them down clearly and concisely. It may feel safe to keep it all in your head, but you run the risk of forgetting an important task, and you may not realize it until it is too late. Write them down, share them with team members, and then leave them in plain sight. Consistency is key when it comes to reviewing and updating them as you go. When current, you can refer to your goal list as often as you make decisions in your campaign. This is your north star, so treat it as such and follow it!
Here are a few common strategic goals to inspire you:
Build a narrative for your members to follow in order to show them the impact their donations and volunteer efforts are having on the communities you serve
Increase general awareness about your organization or increase engagement with your existing audience
Improve member engagement by ensuring members are aware of the latest events, dates, and organizational changes
Generate a stronger community or strengthen connections between your community members
Get Yourself a Social Media Calendar
Having a calendar that is dedicated to your social media overview is a necessity to keep everything organized within your campaign. When you use a digital calendar the most important information is right in front of you, and your content team, at a glance.
Calendars allow you to stay ahead of your work, which makes it easier and less stressful to get everything done with time to spare. Rather than rushing to complete content, building a plan gives you appropriate time to write, edit for tone, and add design images. Working in advance makes it much less likely that you will miss a posting date. The algorithms on many social media sites favor content from creators that post on a regular basis, so if you stay active you are more likely to reach a wider audience.
Pro Tip: An algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed for calculation. When random posts make their way over to your newsfeed, they have been filtered through many of these calculations that we commonly refer to as algorithms. It could be beneficial for you to understand what the algorithms favor. There are probably a handful of things you can do over a period of time to increase the likelihood that these algorithms will show your post to a wider audience, higher on their newsfeed, so they are more likely to see it. Read up, and take your time to adhere to them for each platform.
All great social media calendars have these three things:
A place in your schedule to create the content
Day and time for the post to go public
The platforms you are posting on
Using this calendar, you should schedule your posts two to four weeks in advance, which saves you time in the long run without sacrificing the valuable visibility you get from your regular updates.
Pro Tip: Color coordinate your calendar. This way, you can interpret the important deadlines quickly when you look at them. Ensure your critical posts are in one particular color e.g., time-sensitive posts or those specifically requested by the community. Also consider utilizing a series of additional colors to clearly differentiate your channels, e.g., Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Maybe it is just me, but when something is nice to look at, I am more likely to stick with it!
Collect Important Dates
In order to stay on top of your community engagement levels, you need to remain aware, and act on, what is happening within your organization. You could give recognition to someone who helped you through a tough situation, send well wishes on an influential person’s birthday, celebrate the anniversary of someone becoming a donor, or give a key member looking for a new position a shoutout as a part of your LinkedIn for nonprofits strategy. These could all be meaningful dates to keep track of on your calendar so you can stay in touch with the people in your sphere.
Anthony is brainstorming important dates for his nonprofit.
You may choose to recognize Giving Tuesday or other, more personal, dates specific to your community. Including them in your content calendar is a great way to never miss a beat. Finally, consider which holidays require themed posts and plan and create them well in advance to help you keep your sanity during those busy seasons.
Pro Tip: If there is a big event approaching, it is a great strategy to plan several related posts. You could tease the date with some buildup posts, check out best hashtags for nonprofits for some ideas, to get your audience guessing. Wrap up with a conclusion post that includes pictures from the day. This will make your community feel like a part of your social life, which is great for engagement.
Choose Your Social Media Platforms
It can be a defining moment for your strategy when you choose your primary platform. Let the data regarding your target audience guide you. Having a solid understanding of exactly who resides within your target audience is the key to efficiently broadcasting to them. If you post on whatever is the easiest or the most appealing to you without verifying that your target audience will see it, you miss out on that all-important viewability. For example, if your audience mostly uses Facebook, Instagram may not be the best platform choice for you.
Pro Tip: Wondering about how to better define your target audience? Check out our best practices article on 5 Things to Know Before Building Your Nonprofit Website, which offers a number of tips on defining your audience.
While you do want to cater to your audience and their preferences, the "right channel" may also depend upon the type of content you are producing. For example, video content may work best on YouTube while a short, funny note is a perfect addition to your Twitter for nonprofits strategy. Determining how to use the various platforms as a part of your overall strategy makes it that much easier to coordinate your team for a successful marketing campaign.
Define and Adapt Your Tone
Now you are aware of your audience, you know exactly where (and when) you are posting, and the time has come to create your content. As you take photographs, conduct interviews, and write captions, try to deliver a consistent and intentional tone. Tone evokes feelings, particularly in video content. When defining your organization’s tone:
Get inspired: What about various other organizations that resonates with you, and with your various audiences?
Remember your values: For example, the tone of an organization that values simplicity should focus on making content as easy to read as possible.
Give some ground rules: Consider whether there are stylistic choices that you want to make uniform across all of your content. For example, do you want to avoid contractions (like we do at Springly)?
Adapt over time: Create a basic style guide and update and adapt over time.
Make sure you create your posts with awareness of your organization's brand and mission while keeping it light-hearted when you can.
You might choose friendly and humorous energy, or you might go for crisp and clear energy with a professional touch. You can reuse the same post on several platforms, but this is where the adapting happens. While you may have slight differences between platforms for tone, the content type and format are the bigger drivers. You do not want to seem out of place when your goal is to capture your viewers’ attention in a positive light.
Monitor Your Progress
Social media platforms offer a number of free tools that can help you track the KPIs, or key performance indicators, that are the most important to you. This could mean you track metrics like the number of:
Post shares over a certain period of time
Comments per post
Clicks on embedded links
Your KPIs can help you figure out what works and what does not, which can give you more room to focus on the things that do. Monitoring is arguably the most important part of a social media strategy. While it takes time to set up, you learn what is effective. Once you have that information, you adjust your strategy to emphasize what gets results. Setting goals and utilizing your data to refine your strategy allows your hard work to make greater strides towards meeting them, whether brand awareness, member or donor additions or some other organizational objective.
Matt is putting together reports on his nonprofit's social media channels!
If you can tell that certain methods are usually not garnering as much attention, your first step should be determining why the message is not resonating. Utilize your KPIs to determine whether some posts work better than others and investigate why that is the case. Adjust accordingly and recenter your content around your new direction. You leave valuable time for yourself to take action on the methods that have proven to yield better results. Get familiar and track your progress on each platform to understand what is working across all boards. This analytical step is one of the most pertinent to your total success.
Draw Inspiration From Others
Do not be afraid to check out what other for-profit companies and nonprofits are doing and allow yourself to be inspired. Exhaust your network, collaborate with others, and go fishing on the web for fresh ideas to market your organization.
The WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature) has a strategy that actually spans all the way out into the messaging app, Viber. They work across all the major social media channels, meaning Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but it is awesome to see them expand out of the norm and take another platform into consideration. Instagram for nonprofits may seem tricky. However, on WWF’s instagram, they consistently, and effectively, provide content that is centered around little-known environmental facts and different ways to participate in healing our earth. For this reason, the site serves as an amazing example of a wholesome and well-done social media strategy.
Make-A-Wish America has a YouTube channel that the organization uses to offer heartfelt, personal video stories to their various audiences. The videos are split by various topics including Disney, ESPN, Kobe Bryant, hope, holiday, and others to make it easy to search for videos that are the most meaningful to site users. These video stories augment their Instagram account and Facebook page, which follow our Facebook for nonprofit recommendations around regular updates. Make-A-Wish updates Facebook nearly daily with posts following real children whose wishes are consistently coming true.
Whether you manage all of your social media in-house through homegrown calendars and manual posting or employ some of the best social media management tools for nonprofits available, a social media strategy may be just what you need to get and maintain the attention of your audience!
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