How to build your online presence with content you already have.
It’s impossible to deny the influential role social media plays in our lives — as consumers, as family members and friends, and as nonprofit leaders in our local communities.
Today, social media is about so much more than your follower numbers, especially when it comes to marketing your cause and mission. It’s no longer a side-project or a quick task; it’s become an all-consuming and incredibly powerful outlet to share a message and create connections for others to carry your message farther.
At Catchafire, nonprofits frequently come to our marketplace and ask:
- I’ve tried all the channels, what one should I be using?
- I don’t have content to post every single day. Should I be on social media at all?
- I’m a nonprofit on a budget. Can I afford paid ads?
Here is a short and actionable approach to narrow in on the social channel that is best for the content you have, the time you can give, and the quick wins you need social networking for.
Determine what social will mean for your organization
Does your nonprofit need to be consistently using at least one social channel? Yes! 47% of Americans learn about a nonprofit from the internet, specifically social media. Global movements like Giving Tuesday all happen online. Your website, email, and social presence are all interconnected and a constituent is going to be moving around the internet to learn how to get involved. It’s up to you to supply them with current information when they want it.
However, social media marketing is a tool to accomplish a goal, not an end in and of itself. The answer is not to purely meet a daily quote of posts on social or be on every channel to say you “do social”. If you think that is what you need to “crack social”, it’s a myth, ineffective, and inefficient.
Important clarification: We often advise time-constrained nonprofits to commit to one social network because it’s no longer a best practice to post the same content across all the major channels (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter). You should own your handle on all the major sites, but point people to the channel where they can find live updates.
To choose your network, play to your content strengths
Primarily, you need social media to solve for a brand recognition problem, fundraising, or scalable networking. A lot of resources about social media say you have to start with researching what social platforms your audience is on. Well, the reality is your audience is already on each channel. 1 billion+ people use Facebook everyday, 400 million use Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat all follow suit. Your job as a marketer at your nonprofit is to play to your content strengths and get familiar with where that content is setup to perform best.
A few nonprofits that are playing to their content strengths:
On Facebook, Oregon Natural Desert Association is following the Rule of Thirds. 1/3 promoting their work (i.e. attend an upcoming rally), 1/3 interacting with others (i.e. asking “Why do you love Oregon’s desert?”), and 1/3 sharing useful tips and trail guides that benefits their followers whether in Oregon or not.
On Twitter, The Hidden Genius Project is building a feed with user-generated content. They are interacting with their volunteers, partners, and community by following them and contributing to the conversations already being had about their work.
On Instagram, AARP is documenting stories with strong photography, capturing their end users and repurposing the caption to read like a mini-blog.
All three examples are nonprofits who are using the channel that renders and distributes the type of content they have. If it seems simple, it’s meant to! Despite all the money and incredibly creative content produced every day across social channels, nonprofits are best at building relationships and making local connections authentically which is what Facebook was intended to do originally. So much so, even as the algorithms and news feeds evolve, personal content and genuine connections between people will always be seen over a consumer-facing brand paying top dollar in paid ads.
Find the right people for the job
Your supporters will mobilize once you’re able to commit to a channel and share content authentically. For many of our grassroots organizations, they are partnering with skills-based volunteers who have the time to do social right and consistently.
After you get a sense for the channel you can commit to and types of content you have consistently available, take a moment to consider the different types of professional services involved in making social media marketing the machine it is. You can use this information to decide what external support you really need and enter conversations with experts to get your own strategy organized:
- Channel Marketer: This person is deep in the online world, staying on-top of social networking trends and has a wealth of ideas and tactics to get high engagement on your page.
- Graphic Designer: This individual will take your content ideas and create the digital elements and social share images that will stop a reader as they scroll through their news feed.
- Copywriter: This professional can help you craft bite-size posts that will stand out to your followers and bring your posts to the next level.
- Paid Ad Strategist: When you have an important initiative that needs a lot of exposure, this person can help you spend $25+ to strategically place your best content in front of the followers that most likely are to take the intended action.
Because social media is constantly evolving, it’s hard for it to feel manageable and even more difficult to see how it actually supports your broader organization goals when the ROI is not instant. It’s possible for social media marketing to be a key source of conversion if you commit to using content you already have and aligning it with the channel its best suited for.
View our custom collections of Catchafire projects that will help you solidify your social media strategy.
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