Five Ways to Grow Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Presence

Are you currently looking for a way to grow your nonprofit organization’s presence on social media?

In this ever-changing digital world, it can be difficult to know which platforms are best for you, which trends to follow – or even if it’s worth being on social media.

Every organization is unique and has its own strengths and needs. Just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you.

That said, here are five ways to help you grow your nonprofit’s social media.

1. Set your social media goals.

Before you can determine which platforms to be on, what to post, how to post, how often to post, and every other question often asked, you must determine your goals for social media.

As you understand social media platforms and their own strengths and weaknesses, you can determine where to invest your time and resources to help you reach your organization’s specific goals. Here’s a snapshot of the big platforms today:

Facebook

A community-driven platform where people share life updates through photo albums, videos, and text. A place to connect with friends and families to stay in touch through Facebook’s profiles, pages, groups, marketplace, events, and more.

Instagram

Started as a photo-sharing app, but now includes short-form videos, Instagram Video formerly known as IGTV (long-form video content), Reels (vertical video content), IG Live, and other features like shopping.

This platform is owned by Facebook and has connectivity to post similar content on both platforms seamlessly.

YouTube

A video-sharing platform used as a search platform. Full of how-to content, videos, information, music, and personalities. This platform favors longer form video content.

Twitter

Social media platform for news, updates, and entertainment. Used primarily by politicians, celebrities, and brands for real-time news.

LinkedIn

Social networking for professionals. LinkedIn is used to share content from your industry, engage and network with other professionals, look for jobs, and recruitment.

TikTok

Primarily used by a young audience to post video content of dancing, songs, trends, how-to’s and entertainment. Favors short, sharp, funny, or quirky videos.

For more information, see the top three social media platforms to watch for in 2021 and for more specifics about choosing between Facebook and Instagram, see this article.

As you get started, compare your organization’s goals to the appropriate platform.

Are you looking to educate people on new or niche topics? Or share a need that needs to be met? Share stories to help inspire your audience? Disseminate information of upcoming events, news articles, and research?

Getting clarity on the purpose of your specific social media channels will help you formulate a strategy for what you should or shouldn’t post and how your organization can engage your audience effectively and confidently.

A key part of determining your strategy is knowing your audience. Is your current or desired audience typically on that platform? If you’re a nonprofit focused on reaching senior citizens, chances are that TikTok and Snapchat aren’t the channel for you. Know the audience you want to communicate with – and you’ll be a big step closer to determining your goals.

Once you’ve identified your audience, selected your channels, and set your goals, it’s time to look deeper at your best platform. What are the current trends? What is going on in the broader industry? Take a look at your competitors and get inspiration for what types of content work in your specific sector/niche.

This way, when you step onto the platform, you’ll be stepping up with confidence.

2. Determine your objectives.

Your objectives sit below your big-picture goals. If your goal is to cross a river, your objectives are the stepping stones to the other side.

So, before you analyze your social media presence (if you currently have one), you’ll need to determine these objectives – measured by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – to help show if you’re on your way to hit your goals.

Say your goal is to Grow your audience.

It’s a worthy goal – but there are many ways that you could or should measure this. Should you look at likes, fans, or followers? Should you look at engagement, reach, or impressions? How much would you like to grow and what specific numbers will tell you that you’re growing at the rate desired?

Agreeing to your desired KPIs will help your organization know what to look for with each campaign or piece of content to determine the success of posts.

You’ll be able to look back and see progress – and look ahead to the next step.

3. Start blueprinting and concepting.

Blueprinting and concepting is taking your objectives and analysis, your content (both pre-existing from other channels of communication and new projects you have planned), and your calendar for upcoming events and combining them.

First, the low-hanging fruit. Adapt your existing content for different channels. Is there a YouTube video you could split into small clips on Instagram, or three bullet points from the video you could send out as a tweet? Adapt blogs into graphics, tell a supporter’s story in short-form videos… your options are only limited by your creativity.

Then, plan ahead so you don’t get stuck in a scramble to post every day. If particular dates or seasons are important to your organization and your audience, you can slate those ahead of time. Or maybe you have a fundraiser coming up that will need new, fresh stories and inspiration.

Include all these things in your blueprint as you concept your calendar for social media.

Note: It’s important to have a project management system and/or calendar to help you stay on track and keep your team on the same page. This helps when requesting creative from other team members or looking at the types of content you’re planning on posting.

Other questions to ask in this phase include:

  • What types of posts should we have on each platform? There are many choices: Instagram Video, Reels, Stories, Text only posts, photo, graphics – to name just a few.
  • What types of content should you post? Here are a few categories to consider:
    1. Inspiration
    2. Information
    3. Conversation
    4. Connection
    5. Celebration

*For more information about content types, see this blog from Nils Smith.

4. Analyze and optimize.

You’ve planned out your quality content on different platforms organically and started testing and reviewing. Now, it’s time to optimize your content to grow your channel.

Your two key metrics are reach and engagement.

Are people seeing your posts? There are organic ways to increase your reach – to get your content in front of more eyeballs – and encourage more people to engage with it. You must be constantly testing and tweaking to nudge this number up.

If people are seeing your content, are they engaging with it? Meaning, are people liking, sharing, or commenting? (Remember, each platform has its own way of engaging with posts.)

You’ll want to review and analyze your posts on a consistent basis, say every week or two. Take a given date range and test different content types, in a consistent manner, to see which gets the best reach and engagement.

And as you build an audience, get to know them.

Do you have a social media listening strategy? There are plenty of tools that will automate this for you and give you in-depth data. At the simplest form you’ll want to regularly read through your comments, messages, and interactions on each channel to learn what your audience likes and dislikes. This will help you change or pivot your goals depending on what you learn.

Don’t just check the box of social media and roll out the same content because it’s what you’ve always done. Spend the time to learn from what is working. Test new things that will work for your organization’s growth.

5. Paid advertising.

Once you have quality content that you’re constantly optimizing and learning from, it’s time to look at paid advertising.

Using paid advertising on social media can help you:

  • Get your content in front of more people who don’t already follow you.
  • Push people to a certain conversion (e.g., purchase, donate, or sign up to an email list).
  • Acquire a larger audience on an owned channel (e.g., email).

Putting money – it doesn’t have to be a lot – behind your posts is a good way to supplement your organic content. It helps you find targeted new audiences based on your current owned lists (page likes, emails subscribers, website traffic, to name a few).

And that grows your social media presence!

To recap: A growing social media presence can help to reach more supporters – and more supporters can mean more impact. So, start your social growth with these five steps today:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Determine your objectives.
  3. Create a blueprint.
  4. Test, analyze and optimize your results.
  5. Maximize your reach with paid advertising.

Now you have an effective social media strategy for your nonprofit!


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Ready to take the next step? Dunham+Company is here to help your organization have more impact and establish deeper relationships with your donors and supporters. Contact Bethany Cranfield at 469-454-0100 to get more information.