iWave’s Social Media Primer for Nonprofits

Let’s get one thing straight. The year is 2019. You don’t need a primer on whether your organization should be on social media or not.

Facebook was born in 2004. They have over 2 billion active users. Your organization most likely has a Facebook page and intermittently shares updates. The same can be said for Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. The fact that companies, whether they be for-profit or not-for-profit, need a social media presence cannot be denied.

That said, simply having a social media profile is not enough. Similar to marketing, finance, and operations, social media needs a strategy and an action plan to realize its full potential. Along with fostering a community of caring individuals, realizing your social media investment involves sharing your organization’s story, and helping drive your organization’s mission.

Here at iWave, we like to make the lives of nonprofit professionals easier. The best way to do so is showing tangible examples of social media best practices. Whether you’re looking to raise more major gifts, improve your brand awareness, or simply share your organizational message, we have you covered.

Ready to learn? Let’s go.

Define Your Purpose

Your nonprofit organization has a purpose. If there wasn’t one, it probably wouldn’t exist. Your social media presence also requires a purpose. When starting one or multiple social media profiles, ensure you have a purpose. Maybe it’s one of advocacy, which involves sharing information from your cause or your constituents. Maybe it’s one of action, where it encourages volunteers to advance your cause. Or maybe your social media channels exist to provide you with an online presence and nothing more. Regardless of what you decide, it’s important to have a purpose and mission determined. Without this, you’ll spin your tires and struggle to see any return on investment.

Before moving on to step two, make sure you know your purpose.

Understand Your Target Audience

This can be a tricky one to lock down. What needs remembering is you want a target audience rather than a target market. These are not necessarily the people who donate to or volunteer with your organization. Rather, these people follow and engage with you online. Finding this audience will help dictate a content strategy and plan the direction for your social strategy, both of which will contribute to your organization’s overall strategy. These insights will also highlight possible new target markets for your social media and fundraising efforts.

Double check your target audience here.

Choose Your Channels

No – not your TV channels. Social media channels! This is the slang term for social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To ensure a concise message, consistent content, and clear direction, chose channels that you are sure you can manage efficiently.

For example, don’t sign up for Pinterest if you plan on pinning a photo every six months. Be sure to consider where your target market exists online. For example, if your target audience uses Facebook, then it may not be worth your time, effort, or money to build a presence on Instagram. This applies to the aforementioned Pinterest as well.

Check out the two social media channels Forbes says your nonprofit should be on.

Drive Event Attendance

Much like using social media to drive and promote awareness of your cause, it’s possible to do the same with events. The obvious way would be to create a Facebook event and share it to your follower base. However, a better way would be through a 3rd party event management website while creating a corresponding Facebook event. This way, potential attendees who don’t use Facebook can still register while the Facebook event page presents an additional avenue to drive event attendance.

See Aventri’s tips for driving event attendance via social media.

Cross-promote your cause or organization

Cross-promotion is a simple strategy to share an organization’s message. Cross-promoting refers to using different tools and strategies to share a message rather than posting the same message to different channels. What’s important to remember with cross-promotion however, it isn’t one activity. It’s a series of actions which provide opportunities for anyone to leverage and share. An example would be including social sharing buttons on blog posts or partnering with complementary brands to cross-post content. Or you could simply tailor Facebook content for Twitter by modifying the copy to 280 characters.

Ultimately, if your message is getting in front of multiple audiences, you’re cross-promoting correctly.

The Social Saviour covers us with 6 essential tips for cross-promoting.

Analyze, Analyze, Analyze

The best part of social media (okay, maybe not the best) is the data. Regardless of how large or small your social followings are, you are always privy to vast amounts of data. And because it’s 2019, social media data presents itself in a palatable and extremely actionable manner. For example, your data could help with understanding your followers’ demographic information. Depending on how confident you are with your target audience, you can derive insight and action to help shape and shift who you’re trying to reach. With these insights, you’re able to further adjust and modify your entire organizational direction, as well as your social media strategy.

See MediaCause’s guide for effective social media analytics for nonprofits.

Revise As Necessary

This step goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. As mentioned, data is abundant within social media. In addition to using data to understand your audience, you can also leverage it to learn about the content you share. Click rates, engagement rates, and reach are all aspects that can help dictate your strategy. Maybe you’ll find that posting photos in the morning resonate with your audience while text-heavy posts will drive above-average engagement on the weekend. An important statistic to track the click rate, as those are the highest form of engagement. Gaining an understanding of the kind of content that drives these clicks will allow you to strategically position content with important call-to-actions for the best results!

ExactDrive Lays Out 4 Tools For Recalibrating Your Social Media

Keep An Ear To The Ground

This section could be called revise as necessary (again). Instead of focusing on the data, look at your social media platforms along with the tools you’re using. Maybe after experimenting with Instagram, you gain no traction. It turns out that your target market doesn’t spend any time on the ‘Gram, all while you find it quite difficult o effectively share your story via images. If that’s the case, take a break and focus on platforms which drive better engagement and awareness. The biggest recommendation is to understand where your target lives online and mimic their behaviour. This strategy will help you both optimize your engagement and help direct your content strategy.

Here are 7 social-media trends to keep an eye on for 2019.


About the author: Patrick Bryden is iWave’s Marketing Manager.  From creating pitch decks for Nike and Mattel to starting his own water bottle company, Patrick brings over five years of marketing experience to iWave. With a strong interest in creative problem solving and finding efficiencies in everyday processes, Patrick’s never met a challenge he hasn’t liked.

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