Insight on Effectively Using Your Social Media For Nonprofits
In a pandemic era, it is more important than ever to practice good digital communication especially since you may not be able to network at conferences or use other in-person methods for attracting new volunteers or donors. For this week’s blog, we are excited to introduce REC’s partner Valerie Morris of Tintero Creative who shares her valuable insights!
Q: What are some of the most effective digital tools for social sector leaders to use in spreading the word about their cause?
A: One of the best tools is Canva. It’s a graphic design tool that is comparable to Photoshop but takes away a lot of the brain work on how to create graphics. The free version has a ton of great tools but even the professional version is available for free to nonprofits. In the professional version you can organize things by files/folders. People can do everything from making their annual report or social media graphics. For nonprofits, [getting Canva] is a no-brainer. If you want to be able to create the basics, Canva is a great option.
I also recommend a scheduling program (for scheduling social media posts). I use Agorapulse but there are others out there. I encourage this for nonprofits. It helps with accountability. For example, if one of your board members or volunteers creates posts [and puts them into the scheduler] then staff can go in and look at the scheduled posts and preview/edit as needed.
One of the other things from a nonprofit perspective is using LinkedIn. It’s one of the best tools out there. More than 45% of LinkedIn members make over $75,000 per year, so these people have giving capacity. When thinking about your donors, this tool is a great way to share your story. Connect with donors by posting regularly on your [LinkedIn] profile. Use it for networking. A lot of CEOs are on LinkedIn but not other platforms. Often, other social media platforms like Facebook may be more suitable for your target audience you serve (like college students) but LinkedIn will be better for targeting donors.
Q: In your experience, why is it important for nonprofit leaders to know their audience well? How do you do this?
A: Looking at the statistics (of your social media platforms) will give you a lot of information about your audience. What are their demographics? Where are they located? You may decide to change your wording or how you approach things based upon a group’s political leanings or interests. As a nonprofit, you can’t afford to waste your time with the wrong message to the wrong group of people. You can be more effective and efficient with your time if you know who you are talking with and how. If you log in to Facebook or Twitter or any basic platform, you can find basic analytics about key demographics about people who respond to your posts.
Q: What are some of the best ways for nonprofit leaders to communicate their mission (or their unique value proposition) in digital spaces?
A: For nonprofits, it all comes down to “story.” People can then understand the “why,” and then the actual call to action (ask) becomes easier. Social media posts are not necessarily going to bring in a million dollar donation. Sometimes you might get a few dollars from a Giving Tuesday post. But the big ticket gifts are going to come from relationships. Not everyone will see every post, but think about dripping out your story over time. Then your audience will get a better picture of what you do. They will pick up on little pieces here and there. You need to spell it out (your mission) to people. You need to tell people and remind them often. People are inundated with information and miss things, so repetition is important.
Q: Are there any social media strategies or approaches that nonprofit leaders may want to avoid?
A: I think the biggest pitfall is (lack of) consistency. If you are consistent in your communication, your network will grow over time and your donors will see how you are being trustworthy with your donations. That’s where the tools like Agorapulse come into play. A lot of these messages that nonprofits can share are not time sensitive. You can schedule out a year’s worth of content. And then when you have things like fundraisers, you can insert those special posts. You can figure out a pattern that will allow you to be consistent. For example, I help a summer camp with their social media strategy. Their team collects stories from their campers throughout the summer. We schedule two short stories to go out each week throughout the off-season. Think through the great content that you have that you can plan out in advance, so you don’t have to think about it every single week.
Q: How does one build a “tribe” or online community?
A: Create humanity behind the brand. Make people feel like there are real people involved with your nonprofit. Showcase “real” people. Sometimes Facebook groups can be really helpful to create a subculture on social media about your cause. I have a friend who started a Facebook group for adults with aging parents. It’s a great resource for asking questions and venting. If you were a nonprofit focused on foster care, you could create a group that supports foster parents. As the administrator, you have more control. With our world being so divisive, often these niche groups are a “safer space” for posting questions.
Q: If a nonprofit can only pick a few platforms, which ones should they prioritize?
Q: I highly recommend LinkedIn because it is underutilized, especially for donors. Facebook is good too, but their algorithms are limited. Instagram is great for storytelling, but it is a hard place to be if you don’t have a lot of photos coming out of your organization. Also, you can’t link posts to website [as easily with Instagram]. If you are wanting to drive traffic to your website, LinkedIn and Facebook are the best. Twitter is great if you get a lot (or want to get) of media coverage. But you have to post a lot in order to get any traffic.
Q: What do you say to a nonprofit leader who already feels like they are juggling too many tasks? How do they make time for digital marketing? Where do they start?
A: Going back to that scheduling concept. Block off an afternoon each month and “batch” the work so you don’t have to worry about it every single week. That would be my best recommendation. If you have to do the work in smaller chunks, have a plan in place before you sit down. Think through what are your “evergreen” posts – posts that do not expire – that you can schedule out. Work on this during your down times, like holidays when you don’t have a bunch of other obligations and won’t be interrupted.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about your work with nonprofits, your book “We’re all Ears”, and what you’ve learned over the years about providing digital marketing services to various types of clients?
A: The biggest think I’ve learned is that consistency is huge. Share your life and be vulnerable. When I share things, I try to share things about my life but not overshare. I stay away from a lot of hot, political topics. At the same time, I show pictures of my family, our house projects, our goats and chickens, and some of the quirky things because people are more likely to remember me if they see insights from my personal life. It helps you build friends, who can connect you to others, even donors. I see social media as a relational tool to encourage other people.
Need More Help?
Be sure to check out Valerie’s book We’re All Ears or find her on her website. And of course, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact REC!
Afshar, V. (2020). Digital maturity helps nonprofits thrive despite the pandemic. ZD Net. Link: https://www.zdnet.com/article/digital-maturity-helps-nonprofits-thrive-despite-the-pandemic/
Business of Apps. (2020). LinkedIn usage and revenue statistics. Business of Apps. Link: https://www.businessofapps.com/data/linkedin-statistics/
Canva (2021). Canva for nonprofits. Canva. Link: https://www.canva.com/canva-for-nonprofits/
Salesforce. (2021). Nonprofit trends report, 3rd edition. Sales Force. Link: https://www.salesforce.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/ngo-trends-report-third-edition-122120-v2.pdf