This is one place you don’t have to social distance.
In fact, this is perhaps the most opportune time ever to do exactly the opposite.
But, not to worry.
Getting up close and personal… getting connected to your supporters and potential supporters in an authentic way… this is among the safest things you can do to give people warm, virtual hugs. At a time when folks are missing human contact the most.
And guess what?
It will make people feel good!
And when you make people feel good, they’ll associate that good feeling with you.
This sets the stage for them to be receptive to your call to action when you’re ready to make it.
Social Media is Not a Stand-Alone Strategy.
Yet it can significantly increase the depth and breadth of your marketing reach.
You might think of social media as the new nonprofit advertising.
Per fundraising expert Tina Cincotti, donors are more likely to give, and stick with you, if you connect to them through multiple points of contact. In fact, they give at least 20% more than those connected through only one channel.
You don’t have to be everywhere, do everything, all the time.
When you think this way, you’ll never start.
Begin at the beginning.
Make social media marketing a priority today, because folks are spending more time in front of their devices. They’re here, so you be here too.
Any organization, of any size, can – and should – do this.
- You feel overwhelmed.
- Don’t know where to start.
- Have failed in the past.
- Feel stuck where you are.
- Don’t see the point.
Don’t Treat Social Media Strategy as an Afterthought
It’s not an afterthought for the lion’s share of your peeps. More and more, people are using social media not simply to stay in touch with family and friends but also as a search engine (did you know YouTube is now the number one search engine?), a way to interact with businesses (for-profit and nonprofit), and to make purchases (e.g., donations).
- 79% of Americans have a social media profile.
- 94% of NGOs worldwide agree it’s effective.
- 30% of nonprofit website media comes from social media.
- 36% of social media users have posted something to show their support of a cause.
- 27% of donors worldwide cite social media as the communication tool that inspires them the most often to give.
There is No One Best Platform
You need to use multiple channels to reach multiple generations. Don’t discount any generations — Gen Z, Millenials, GenX, Boomers, Silent Generation – all are using social media. It’s been called GenC – Generation Connected Consumer.
What will work best for you depends on your audience. My best advice is to survey your constituents and find out which platforms they use most.
- Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are the most popular channels right now.
- LinkedIn is great if you have a lot of professionals in your constituent base.
- Instagram and Pinterest are the top visual channels. Personally, I still love Pinterest. But as a visual channel Instagram is trending towards more daily use.
- TikTok is great if you’re marketing to teens, but that’s not the preponderance of nonprofits.
Keep in mind each platform requires a different style. Some of them, like LinkedIn, are word heavy, while Twitter has a strict character limit and Facebook can pretty much go either way. You can use the same basic content, but be sure to tweak it so it ‘fits’ the platform format optimally. Social media writing expert Courtney Ramirez recommends:
- For Twitter, keep it under 90 characters if you can, use relevant hashtags, and make the headline clickable.
- Facebook gives you more room to customize to your audience, and allows you to encourage discussion. Don’t forget the nice picture.
- LinkedIn is very formal. As with Facebook, tailor it to your audience and stimulate discussion. However, you’ll want to be sure and highlight some actionable insights as well.
7 Social Media ‘To-Do’s’ for Today and Always
1. Have Your End Game in Mind
You should never create content for the sake of creating content. That’s just ‘make work.’ It may keep you busy, but it won’t take you where you want to go.
First consider what you want your content to accomplish. Are you creating awareness? Building interest? Driving engagement? Requesting investment? If you lack clarity on your goal, there’s no point to your social media post.
Next consider what you know about the person(s) you want to reach. Where are they online, what questions do they have you can answer, and what needs do they have you can address? You might consider creating a persona for key audiences, so you can then consider “What would ‘Funky Grandma’ like?” or “What would interest ‘Stressed Mama’?”
Another metaphor for this might be know your fish and go where the fish are biting.
2. Be Useful
Stop selling so much and start helping. I’m a huge fan of Jay Baer’s writing and book, Youtility, and suggest you focus on giving gifts rather than just asking for gifts. Social media during a time of Coronavirus, or really any other time, should not be about trying to be popular. Focus on being useful instead.
People need more than ever to feel connection, community, empathy, and a sense of purpose and meaning. Consider the beneficial content you can offer to help people feel better. Understand human nature. People want stuff that helps them. That answers their questions. That solves their problems. Figure out what your constituents want and need; then give it to them.
Social media – like fundraising – is a value-for-value exchange. Your audiences want to be entertained, inspired, informed and helped. Give them a ‘gift of content’ (see examples). As social media guru Brian Solis reminds us: “If social media warranted a mantra, it would sound something like this, “Always pay it forward and never forget to pay it back.“. You must make sure that what you’re offering up through social channels is a generous, meaningful gift to your constituents. Generosity begets generosity.
3. Post and Engage Consistently
Consistent means consistent. It’s not any one amount of engagement.
It must be an amount you can commit to. Something realistic, manageable and achievable. For you. Effective social media management includes research… listening… content creation and curation… community management… measurement and analysis. You need a plan that includes all these things.
Don’t rely on automation. Every platform is different, so every strategy must be different. You can’t be thoughtless – set and forget – about this. What works one place does not necessarily work another place.
Whatever you can commit to, that’s your schedule. Most important is to show up. Consistently.
The underlying principle here is simple: to get folks to engage and invest with you over time they must:
- Know you
- Like you
- Trust you
If you begin blogging 2x/month, but then get distracted, stop and don’t pick it up again for seven months, folks will model your behavior, alas, by forgetting about you too for the next seven months.
4. Communicate with Honesty, Transparency and Relevance
Donors don’t want ‘politics’ from the nonprofits they love (with a few exceptions; you know who you are). Politics is associated with sleaze, greed and narcissism. There’s no quicker way to tank your nonprofit brand and personal reputation than to tell outright lies, half-truths, exaggerations or simply omissions of relevant facts.
Donors have a sixth sense. They can sense if all is not well, but if you won’t tell them they’ll simply worry. And anxiety is not an ideal principle of persuasion. Donors who love you, want to rescue you, if needed. Don’t cry wolf, but if you’re struggling say so openly. Don’t pretend all is well by sticking your head in the sand. Donors don’t like to have to guess what you need.
Piggyback on hot topics. Whatever is top of mind with your supporters should be top of mind for you. Stay on top of current events so you’ll know the issues keeping your supporters up at night. Can you help them with something? Your audience probably sees you as an authority figure, so the information you share – or don’t share – can do a lot of good, or evil.
5. Invest in Visual Storytelling
You can’t just post the same stuff every time, especially if it’s boring.
Even if it’s a compelling underlying message, like fighting hunger, you can’t just say “We fight hunger”…“Help us fight hunger”… “People are hungry”… “Fighting hunger is important”… “Hunger is bad” ad nauseum. First, you must grab folks’ attention and draw them in. And you’ve got about 8 seconds.
This is why it’s so important to keep in mind the reality of how human beings process information:
- We’re visual. A picture is worth 1000 words. Pictures grab attention. Photos of kids with bid sad eyes. Videos. Even infographics.
- We’re wired for stories. So… tell them! Your big vision stories. Your individual clients’ stories. Your community stories. Your supporter stories. Talk about the problem. Suggest a realistic solution. Show the donor how to be the hero.
6. Focus on Building Relationships
If you want to unlock your competitive advantage within the current social zeitgeist you must construct a relationship-building machine. Social media can help you do this. It isn’t called “social” for nothing.
Social is the way people become aware. Social is the way people get needs met. Social is the way people learn more. Social is the ties that bind. . Social is the language people speak.
If you’re still putting the fundraising cart before the friendraising horse you’ve got it backwards. That’s not how building sustainable constituent support ever worked. Today it’s truer than ever. Today you absolutely must be donor-centered. All the time. It’s not just a buzzword. It’s a way of life.
7. Monitor what is working/not working for you at this point in time.
Yesterday’s best strategy may not be today’s. We’re in unusual times right now. It’s not business as usual. Thriving today requires an ability to be agile and nimble. You need to test and learn quickly in order to move forward with confidence.
Use the tools at your disposal to build the relationships you’ll need to achieve sustainability. Google analytics. A/B testing. Reports produced from larger outfits like M+R and NextAfter who have access to research from hundreds and thousands of nonprofits.
The “new normal” requires a degree of connectedness and compassion that’s up close and personal. Donors may decide who to support based on those organizations’ ability to be relevant to their needs.
You can do this!
Remember you don’t need to do everything.
Less is more. It’s better to be focused and consistent in one or two places, offering high quality and relevant content, than sketchy and sporadic in half a dozen.
You can do this!
Consider your goals in using social media.
Defining the right message and discovering the right platform for each target audience is key to success.
You can do this!
Offer up stories and visuals that draw people in.
Offer up content that’s helpful and relevant to what’s top-of-mind for your supporters.
You can do this!
Be the one to shine a light in the darkness.
People will thank you for it, sooner or later.
You can do this!
Want More Tips to Help with Fundraising and Marketing?
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