With so much work to do, and limited staff and resources, social media often takes a back seat for nonprofits that are too busy planning board meetings, drafting annual appeals, and raising enough money to keep the lights on.
I get it. I used to work in the nonprofit world myself and know the demands firsthand.
But whenever I meet with harried nonprofit workers, I still make the case that social media is critical to their success and should be a higher priority.
The good news is that giving social media more time doesn’t mean it has to be a time suck.
Why Social Media Should be at (or Near) the Top of Your To-Do List
- Your website isn’t where the action is.
Unless you have a blog on your site (which you should have!) your site probably isn’t updated very often. To find out what’s really happening with your nonprofit, people will quickly bounce from your static website to your social media sites.
Social media is dynamic and fresh. If you don’t have a vibrant social media presence, people will think that your organization is boring and stale.
- You need a magnet for millennials.
Men and women between the ages of 17 and 36 are the world’s largest generation.
Let me be clear: Millennials are the generation your organization cannot afford to live without. The best way to attract and engage this group is through digital marketing channels like email marketing and social media.
For millennials, sites like Facebook are news sites from which they get the majority of their information. That includes what they know about your organization.
- Doing great work isn’t enough.
Sorry, making the world a better place isn’t enough anymore. If you’re as old as I am, you remember the days when there were only a handful of television stations to watch and a few major newspapers to read.
These days, thanks to technology and social media, we all have the same tools to tell our stories and promote our nonprofits. Publishing interesting and relevant content via social media is the rising tide that will help you raise more money from individuals, businesses, and foundations.
How to Get the Most Out of Social Media Without Killing Yourself
- Focus on one site at a time.
Your nonprofit doesn’t need to be on every social media site. A better strategy is to focus on one site, and only add another once you’ve mastered the first.
So if you start with Facebook, you should stick with it until you know all the ins and outs of the site and have a growing and engaged community.
- Schedule most of your updates.
On busy days at the office, your social media posts will be on autopilot. However, don’t leave your social media on autopilot for too long. You’ll want to regularly check for any questions or comments from readers.
- Accept that you must pay for play.
The reality with most social media sites these days is that they are pay for play. This means if you’re expecting fans to see your update immediately after you post it on Facebook, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
For example, organic reach of Facebook posts is currently hovering around one percent! To ensure that your post is reaching your fans, and has the potential to recruit new ones, you need to budget for Facebook ads.
- Combine social media with your email marketing.
Social media is most effective when you combine it with your existing marketing strategy.
Make it easy for your email subscribers to find you on social media by adding buttons to all your active social media channels in your email newsletter.
See what social media can do for your nonprofit.
Telling your story and building an audience is one of the most important things your organization can do.
Your nonprofit needs a strong communication strategy to match the powerful impact it’s having in the world. And a strategy that doesn’t include social media isn’t a winning formula for success.
Use these tips to start your organization’s social media strategy and let us know if you need help along the way.
You can find more social media tips and how-tos in the Social Media Quickstarter.
About the Author: Joe Waters shows nonprofits and businesses how to build win-win partnerships that raise money and change the world. Joe writes the web’s leading cause marketing blog and co-hosts CauseTalk Radio. Visit him at Selfshgiving.com.