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.