The key to a successful nonprofit organization is building awareness and support for the cause. When it comes to using social media for marketing purposes, there are some key differences between marketing a for-profit business and a non-profit organization. This 3 part guide walks you through the steps to create and implement a sound strategy to build awareness for your non-profit organization and spread social good using social media.
Define Your Goals
Before you can begin to outline your goals for social media marketing, it’s important to have a solid understanding of what social media can and cannot do. After all, no one ever said that social media was magic.
What Social Media CAN Do
- Help you connect with supporters on a more meaningful level
- Foster real relationships with your supporters, volunteers and donors
- Provide your community with relevant points of connection
- Serve as a real-time channel for communication and public relations opportunities
- Build your online and real world community of supporters
What Social Media CAN’T Do
- Work on its own – it does take a bit of man-power
- Create millions of supporters overnight
- Flood your nonprofit with funding and resources overnight
- Serve as your only means of marketing and PR
Now that you have a realistic understanding of the capabilities and limitations of social media, you can identify and set achievable goals for your nonprofit marketing strategy. To do this, think about what you want to achieve through social media. Look at what other nonprofits are doing with social media. Can social media fill a void in your current marketing strategy? Think about what a successful social media marketing campaign would look like to you and base your goals around that vision.
Engage Your Supporters
The next step requires you to think about the kind of people you want to reach out to using social media, both demographically and in terms of their affiliation with your nonprofit. If you can get an idea of the demographics of your target audience, you can take advantage of tools that allow you to direct your message at those specific groups of people online. Try to pinpoint information about your supporter’s age range, gender, occupation and geographic location.
As a nonprofit organization, you also have several different types of supporters in terms of their affiliation with your organization. The message you send to your donors is going to be different from the message you send to your volunteers, which is going to be different from the message you send to beneficiaries.
Assemble Your Toolbox
As social media evolves and develops, we’re seeing more and more tools become available to us in the form of new networks, dashboards and notification systems. However, the endless options available to us can be both a blessing and a curse. While it’s nice to be able to choose from a variety of tools, so many of them just aren’t worth our time. New social networks pop up all the time, and if we took the time to learn and employ each one, we’d spend a lot of time learning a little bit about a lot of different tools. For most of us, our resources would be spread pretty thin using this tactic. It’s best to build your strategy around a select targeted group of tools that integrate and build on one another.
Hub and Outpost Social Media Architecture
Develop your social media toolbox using the Hub & Outpost social media architecture. Meaning, set up a home base, or “hub” for your nonprofit, with several “outposts” branching off of that. In this case, your website will serve as your hub, with designated social networks serving as your outposts. Your hub serves as the anchor for all of the information you want supporters to be able to find at all times. It also sets the tone for your web presence and clearly illustrates your mission.
It’s important to be selective with your outposts for the very reasons mentioned above. Tools should only be implemented if they serve at least one of these three purposes:
- Listening – Find out what people are saying about you, your competitors, your tribe
- Transparency – Show your followers that you are authentic, responsible, reputable
- Community – Build a tribe of supporters who can interact with each other and support your cause
If there’s one thing nonprofit organizations and for profit businesses do have in common, it’s scarce resources. That’s why it’s so important to go into social media with a sound marketing strategy. You simply can’t afford to waste your valuable resources of time and money on aimless social media marketing efforts. Stay tuned for Part II of our series on social media marketing for nonprofits on building awareness for the cause.