Social media has been all the buzz in marketing, but most of the nonprofits we have worked with report mixed results in terms of actual action (donations, volunteer signup, etc). It’s not uncommon to have a lot of likes on a social media post but these likes often do not translate to meaningful action for nonprofits.
Based on our experience tracking and monitoring the campaigns of nonprofits using our services, we do not recommend relying solely on social media for outreach. Rather, the social media strategies should be part of an integrated marketing strategy that leverages email and other forms of communications. However, there are some tactics nonprofits can use to improve the results of social media campaigns. Below we provide 5 tips based on what we’ve seen. Note, in this article, we assume that you have an existing social media presence – our tips below focus on maximizing a specific campaign as opposed to initiating and establishing a social media presence. (There are many articles about picking the appropriate social media platform, understanding your target audience, creating a social media calendar, and more.)
Tip #1: Highlight what your campaign will accomplish – but be concise.
Your social media followers are already interested in what you’re doing, so help them understand what your campaign will achieve. Who are you helping and how? Over the summer, when there are a lot of back-to-school drives, nonprofits often explain how many children they would like to provide new backpacks and school supplies. Food drives often explain how many meals and/or families they would like to support. At a minimum it’s important to explain what the results the campaign will target – more compelling descriptions will also include a story of a family or individual to make the problem more personally relatable.
However you describe your goals, make sure to keep your post concise. Social media users are notorious for skimming. If you do write a longer post, grab your social media users in the beginning with a strong appeal so they are more likely to click the “See More” link to read the rest of your message.
Tip #2: Make sure the “call to action” is clear and easy to find.
The “call to action” is the button or link on your social media post that you would like your prospective donor to click on. The call to action leads the user to the action you’d like them to take – donating cash, purchasing supplies for a drive, or volunteering for an event.
The call to action should be obvious – in other words, easy to find at a glance. Remember, social media users are bombarded by a lot of information, and they scan their posts – if the call to action is not clear, they will simply move on. One issue we’ve seen on some nonprofits are long posts where the social media user is required to click the “see more” link to find the call to action. The call to action should always be visible without any user intervention.
Tip #3: Select a compelling image.
The right image can grab your users and persuade them to act. Because nonprofits have compelling causes, selecting an image that reflects the goals of the campaign is key. Here are a few considerations when for your image:
- Make sure your image matches your campaign objectives. A winter drive should have pictures reflecting cold weather needs. Back-to-school supply drives could include backpacks, school supplies, and/or children returning to school.
- People like to see people, so make sure the image includes cheerful pictures of your client population, or if that is not possible, you can use pictures of volunteers working at your organization. Genuine pictures tend to be more compelling, as opposed to images that are too “polished” (many stock images fall into this category).
- If you overlay text, only use a minimal amount, and check the requirements of each platform. For example, Facebook has historically limited text to 20% of the image. Although there have been some recent adjustments to this rule, Facebook still prefers little to no text, under the assumption that their users prefer images to text.
Don’t have an image, or have any image you’d like to tweak? There are free tools like Canva that allow you to easily create and modify images in a pinch.
Tip #4: Do not rely on a single post.
Although it’s important to vary your social media posts and not push your “ask” too frequently, it’s also important not to rely on a single or too few posts. It’s way too easy for social media users to miss or forget a post, so keeping the campaign fresh is key. However, this does not necessarily mean re-posting the exact same content multiple times.
One of the most successful social media campaigns we’ve seen was from a partner nonprofit leveraging Facebook. They created a 10-day countdown to the end of the drive. This organization generally posts several times a day, and they dedicated one post per day to their in-kind campaign. Each day, they updated their social media users with the status (% complete) of the campaign, with an image showcasing how many days were left. The multiple posts allowed a wider audience to see the campaign, and daily posts also reminded people to take action before the end. It was no surprise to us that this campaign closed out at 100% of target.
Tip #5: Monitor your posts for engagement.
After your post is up, check it regularly and look for opportunities to engage your social media audience. Responding to inquiries in a timely manner is always important, but beyond that, you can also find ways to boost engagement. A simple example would be to thank everyone who liked your post and ask if they can also share it. Remember, you already have an audience that is interested in your messages – don’t be afraid to engage them and ask for their help! Even the smallest requests can make a huge difference on your results.
Although we generally recommend that your social media campaigns be integrated into your overall outreach plans, there are ways to maximize your online social media efforts. The tips provided in this blog are recommendations we’ve assembled based on our experience working with nonprofits on small and large campaigns alike. We often share posts from our partner nonprofits, which you can see on our Facebook page. Questions or thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.