10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Strategy

This won’t be one of those numbered blog posts that starts with something like “Start a Facebook Page.”

Because it’s clear that many nonprofits have already cleared the first hurdle of social media.

At the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in San Francisco, laptops and iPads are near-ubiquitous at breakout sessions, not to mention the fact that every session has its own Twitter hashtag.

Now, it’s time for nonprofits take that personal social media fluency and apply it to the professional level.

One NTC session on Tuesday served as a firehose of ideas for social media strategy: the aptly named “101 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits,” hosted by Melaine Mathos and Chad Norman of Blackbaud.

Here are 10 of the strategies they shared:

1. Showcase What You’re Doing with Donations

As Melanie put it: “Donors are thirsty for impact.” Nonprofits should use all of their social media channels to show off how members and donors are having a positive impact – a photo of a renewed park or a video of a child saying “Thank you” can go a long way.

2. Hijack the News

Look for contemporary topics that speak to your cause and put yourself in the moment. By virtue of the hashtag, Twitter is a great vehicle to join an ongoing conversation by injecting your brand and your unique knowledge.

3. Fundraise through Social

Chad highlighted Causes Wish and Help Attack as great sites that incorporate fundraising with social media. Causes Wish, for example, allows donors to dedicate events of their lives (like birthdays) to nonprofits, so a gift is donated in their name.

4. Use Pinterest as an Interactive Store

Guest speaker Carie Lewis of the Humane Society of the United States spoke about the value of Pinterest to nonprofits, especially when it comes to raising awareness of merchandise, top 10 lists, and DIY tips.

5. Stalk Your Supporters

Another guest was Beverly Robertson of March of Dimes. She discussed the importance of “stalking” your supporters. She explained that, by using a tool like Hootsuite, you can see when your organization is mentioned – and, if it’s appropriate, you can talk with supporters who are already talking about you.

6. Go Photo-Crazy

The web is rapidly becoming a visual medium. Photos are just a smartphone away, and Chad recommended taking pictures of your staff and the organization’s initiatives, then using everything from Facebook to Flickr to share them.

7. Try Out a Few Home Videos

Videos are within everyone’s grasp these days, too. Chad pointed to sites like ustream.tv and YouTube as great ways for nonprofits to showcase their work and promote their mission.

If you choose to use YouTube, don’t forget to look into the benefits of the nonprofit program!

8. Connect with the Blogging Community

Bloggers can be powerful allies to have when you’re just launching a social media strategy. Search for people who are already writing about your organization’s causes and see if you can have them post on your site or write a series of articles about the organization’s mission.

9. Geographize!

FourSquare shouldn’t be ignored, either. Make sure you’ve established your organization there, and, if you want to take it further, Chad recommended finding ways to map out specific spots that are relevant to your mission.

10. Launch a Like Campaign

With something like a social campaign, nonprofits can fundraise through Facebook, although Melanie pointed out that the best thing about Facebook may be the advocacy potential.

Having one spot to communicate your mission to supporters can make it that much easier to mobilize and energize people for the cause.

But don’t forget…

At times, it can seem like social media sites are growing exponentially… and nonprofits continue to have the same number of volunteers.

Don’t try to do everything at once – find where your audience is and work from there. Having a single, established social media destination is better than having a dozen, half-finished ones.

Are any of these tips new to you? Are there any you’d like to add to the list? Tell us in the comments section below.

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