Leverage These 15 Social Media Best Practices Today!

By Nils Smith, Chief Strategist Social Media + Innovation

Effective engagement with constituents and donors via social media is still a new thing. The majority of thinking and best practices are focused on print and mail. For example, if you search “the power of thanking a donor,” you will find a lot of information about thank-you letters and won’t see a single mention of digital technology until page seven on your Google search. It’s time to start making the best use of the social technology you have available, and connect with your donors every chance you get!

  1. It’s not always realistic to be on every social platform. Figure out the demographic of your donors to better decide which social platforms would be the best fit, and then commit to doing those well. It is better to be on fewer sites and deliver good content and responses, than to be everywhere and not pay attention to any of your social media sites. If you set up social sites but then make the decision not to be active on those sites due to various constraints, point people to the sites where you are active. It is not a bad thing to have placeholder sites. Just set appropriate expectations for how you will communicate with those who engage with you on social.
  2. Social media has been relegated to a “marketing thing” in many organizations—but it’s important for the development team to have a hand in your social media, especially in the responses. Marketing and development should work together to define who answers what types of questions and mentions, so everyone feels heard and donors feel appreciated.
  3. We recommend monitoring not only your Facebook page and direct messages on Twitter, but also the name of your organization and any hashtags you have used. Some people may mention you but not tag you—it’s still worth hearing what they have to say!
  4. Many organizations link Facebook to Twitter, thereby auto-populating their Twitter feed with whatever they post on Facebook. However, each platform is different, and it is important to make sure you are formatting posts, tweets, and photos for whatever platform you’re using.
  5. Ideal response times vary between platforms, but no matter the channel, one thing is certain: We live in a culture that expects a quick response. General questions, inquiries, or even statements of praise should all be answered as soon as possible. Based on industry best practice, we recommend keeping response time to under one hour on Twitter and under two hours on Facebook.
  6. Remember, social media is a conversation! Be genuine in your responses and mention the donor by name (or Twitter handle). These responses should feel as authentic as possible and not like they have been copied and pasted the same way for each donor.
  7. Make sure that social sharing links are easily trackable so you can thank donors who use them. Put your Twitter handle in the tweet or a specific hashtag in the body of the message for Facebook or Twitter, and then be sure to track that hashtag and thank people promptly.
  8. When donors feel appreciated, they are more likely to tell people about your organization. So make sure you are giving them the chance to share with all of their social networks when thanking them. Don’t miss out on this chance to equip your donors to help spread your message!
  9. Social media is not a stand-alone piece of donor relations. It’s a piece of a larger process. Include it in the thank-you process the same way you would a follow-up email or thank-you letter.
  10. Encourage your constituents to engage with you on social media by including links to it in your print and email campaigns, by making sure they are linked from your website, and by promoting them at donor events. Make sure these folks know you want to connect with them!
  11. People have come to expect quick responses from companies for customer service or technical support questions. These consumers have the same expectation of the organizations they support. Nonprofit organizations should strive to be great at responding to the people who are passionate about their causes. Exceeding expectations and going above and beyond to respond to posts will help build the relationship with your organization.
  12. When it comes to content, stick to the 80/20 Rule: 80 percent of posts should be centered on the user—offering value to them, giving them something for their benefit. And 20 percent should be focused on asking them to do something for the organization, such as donate, sign up, share, etc. Keep in mind the Law of Reciprocity—give and take with your audience.
  13. Take the time to develop a strategy and a plan with goals and direct measurements to track progress. Doing this will help you know when you need to adjust the tactics as necessary to make progress toward your stated goals.
  14. Social media is becoming more and more about one-on-one connections, rather than being a one-to-all type of communication platform. This means investing resources into doing social media well, including someone (full- or part-time) who is dedicated to social media management.
  15. If you can’t afford to monitor social media 24/7, post the hours that people can expect to hear from you in your bio/profile. “We respond to tweets daily from 2pm to 6pm EST.” Communicating well means helping set expectations on when you can respond.

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