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Three Ways to Increase Your Nonprofit's Social Media Engagement

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Your nonprofit uses social media marketing to reach its various audiences, right? So, how's it going? Wish you could acquire and engage more supporters?

No matter how big or small, your nonprofit can improve its social media results by doing the following three things.

1. Develop a social media marketing strategy

Nonprofits that engage in social media marketing without a strategy are at a major disadvantage. Without a strategy in place, your team is likely barking up the wrong social media platforms.

And let's take this one step further... Nonprofits that engage in social media marketing without an overarching organizational marketing strategy are at an even bigger disadvantage! That's like the insurance commercial in which the motorcyclist made of money loses bills everywhere he drives.


Your organization may be wasting valuable dollars scattering its marketing money around, hoping that something will work. And since social media is so popular, many are doing it without defining their objectives.

All that is not to say that you have to stop everything until you have a plan in place. Develop your plan, and then—to meet your nonprofit's strategic marketing goals—tweak or revise the tactics you've been using.

2. Discover what's in it for them

Using social media to broadcast your organization's news, events, and campaigns doesn't fully take advantage of the social media channel. That broadcast approach is what organizations did before the advent of digital marketing.

Social media is not a one-way communications street. It was created to encourage dialog, feedback, sharing, and much more. So, think about what your organization can bring to the table as a benefit to your followers and fans. If yours is a health-related charity, for example, share the latest study findings with your social media friends. Become the "go-to" place for information that appeals to your audiences.

Not everything you post has to be solicitation-centered. There's room for many conversation starters. Let's say your organization is hosting a golf tournament. Create a unique Twitter hashtag for the event and periodically post golf tips using it. Hashtags are picked up by other social media sites; it's not just a Twitter thing.

When your nonprofit has a customer-oriented mindset, it can serve its followers and friends better. Give them what they want! Then, engage them in conversation about the topics. To keep the messaging consistent, have your team use the organization's brand personality.

3. Follow them back!

It's a bit challenging to engage your social media friends unless you can read what they're contributing, too. By far, the most overlooked social media marketing tactic is to follow your followers back!

That is especially the case on Twitter, where many nonprofits have three-plus times more followers than they follow. Unfortunately, such a lack of interest in your followers speaks volumes about your brand, whether intentional or not. It can demonstrate a lack of interest, perhaps a smug attitude, and self-centeredness—not the type of brand experiences your nonprofit wants to impart. There are ways to remedy that problem.

First, if the reason you're not following back is because your organization doesn't have enough human resources to manage its accounts, it's time to purge! Why keep stagnant social media accounts?

When you develop your social media marketing strategy, you'll determine which social media sites can give your nonprofit the best bang for its buck. Stick with the one or two that you can manage, and close the other accounts. If you grow later on, you can always add new ones.

For organizations that have dedicated employees who manage social media marketing, a purge may still be necessary, depending on how many accounts they oversee and how many they can truly manage. It's better to be effective in fewer SM channels than to try to be everywhere... with poor results.

Start by going through your organization's followers and fans in the sites you want to keep.

Read their brief bios, and check to see which are legitimate—i.e., not the porno babes, high-pressure salespeople, and others who follow your nonprofit for their own obvious self-promotion. Those are the people you want to avoid.

Give the others the benefit of the doubt and follow them back. It won't take long to see which ones are "real" and which ones to unfollow. Then, take the time to see what your "real" friends are posting, and respond to them.

For example, if one of your Facebook fans posts about a death in her family, it's appropriate to wish her condolences on behalf of the organization. Do it authentically, and you'll be surprised how your supporters will respond. They'll appreciate your reaching out.

There are many other instances where your organization can engage with its social media friends; be human in social media spaces, and your team will discover them organically.


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Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.

LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel

Twitter: @Elaine_Fogel

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Comments

  • by Jack Irving Thu Feb 13, 2014 via web

    The ability to synchronize your efforts; 1, all of the on-line, social, mobile and digital...as a vehicle to ensure consistent delivery of whatever strategy is in place, and 2, marrying all of the promotion and marketing efforts, whether on-line (including e-mail and SMS) or off-line (i.e. direct mail, newsletters, events, etc.) to this synchronized social/mobile/digital environment is key to actually executing the strategy. And, last, having a platform that allows for a resource friendly and economically responsible effort. You can't build a strategy unless you know you'll have tools to be able to execute it. A synchronized social/mobile/digital environment creates more reach, more leverage and more viability for those efforts. And, as a result, amplifies all the marketing efforts for maximum impact.

  • by Wheeldo Thu Feb 13, 2014 via web

    As another idea we would like to propose innovative content that guarantees the engagement and it is by using games. The games can be customized and your audience participates in order to win the prize, by answering the questions regarding your non-profit or a topic you like.

  • by Sarah Bauer Thu Feb 13, 2014 via web

    I like these ideas because once the strategy is in place, the maintenance can still be managed on a volunteer basis (there might be multiple people switching off social media duties). It's important to consider the resource/labour constraints of marketing a non-profit.

    Cheers,
    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  • by Elaine Fogel Mon Feb 24, 2014 via web

    Sorry for the delayed reply.
    @Jack: I agree that all multichannel marketing efforts must be aligned.

    @Wheeldo: Interesting concept - one I realize is gaining popularity.

    @Sarah: You're 100% correct. Once a strategy is in place, nonprofits must use any appropriate resources they can to maintain their presence.

    Thanks for your comments!!

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