It’s more important than ever for businesses to partner with nonprofit organizations—not just to look good, but to make a difference in the world. These partnerships can experience major benefits from a well-planned social media strategy.
According to Nora Ganim Barnes, who co-authored a study from the Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research, “an astounding 97 percent of nonprofits are using social media, far surpassing even the business world.”
Social media extends beyond the world of Facebook and Twitter. It encompasses blogs and other social platforms, too. If you want to share your message with the world, expand issue awareness, and create change where it’s needed most, social media is a vital marketing channel.
Here are six tactics you can use to strategically make your cause known, and increase your donations.
As is the case with any marketing campaign, you have to start with some concrete goals.
Goals are the precursor to success. You need big-picture, long-term goals and smaller, digestible goals that allow you to stay on track. Make sure you’re being realistic with these objectives, and involve as many key stakeholders as possible to hold yourself accountable.
People want to become involved in a conversation and really learn about a cause before they jump in and open their wallets. Social media is the perfect platform to create a powerful conversation around whatever cause you’re focused on.
Before you bring out your petitions and PayPal donation links, ask yourself how you can generate a powerful conversation that will encourage people to ask questions and discuss potential solutions. People are more likely to take action on causes they feel connected to, so take the time to foster your relationships first.
The best way to generate a conversation is to get involved in one that is already going on around your topic. You can use a listening solution to do this easily and on a regular basis, so your strategy can evolve as the larger cultural conversation does.
A lack of relationship building is the biggest reason social media is an ineffective platform for fundraising for most people. Discussing the 2014 “Ice Bucket Challenge” that raised more than $115 million for ALS research, advocacy advisor Ginny Simmons told NPR this success was “like catching lightning in a bottle.”
While social media is a great way to raise awareness, awareness alone doesn’t get people to open their wallets. It takes hard work and determination to connect personally with people in a way that elicits the desire to make a monetary donation.
According to Wiredimpact.com, one of the biggest causes for online fundraising failure is pushing people to donate when they aren’t ready to give. You can solve this problem for your nonprofit by understanding the different audience types active around your topic on social, and targeting different content to people at different stages of the “buyer’s journey.”
You are, after all, trying to get your audience members to buy into your nonprofit’s mission—both literally and figuratively.
Virtual campaigns to raise funds and awareness can reach more people in a shorter amount of time than physical marketing methods, but they need to be combined with action in the physical world to make the biggest impact.
People want to know that your organization is doing more than just collecting money and shipping it overseas. The more action people see you take in the real world, the more likely they’ll be to donate to your cause.
You can reflect this “real world” action on social, organizing Instagram Stories takeovers, Facebook Live interviews, and Twitter chats at your various nonprofit sites.
When you’re creating a conversation online about a cause you’re passionate about, don’t leave people hanging. You need to make sure you’re engaging regularly with your commenters. If you have more social media accounts than you can handle, keep the conversation limited to the ones you can manage. Features like being able to “like” comments on Instagram are an easy way to interact in a low-lift way, if your time and resources are limited and you are driving a ton of interactions.
You will need to hire someone to manage your conversation on social for hot topics and major events. If the resources aren’t there, get as organized as possible: schedule at least an hour daily to check your social media accounts, and block out time to share your replies. One of the biggest mistakes that nonprofits make is not posting regularly enough to generate an engaged following and increase awareness.
Remember to direct your replies toward cooperative communication and solutions. You’re going to come face to face with people who disagree with your cause, and some who may disagree with your solutions. Be the person who turns the conversation into an open discussion where all ideas are welcomed to be shared.
Pro Tip: Engage with other nonprofits on social who have similar audience members to extend your reach and amplify results for both of your organizations.
People always love hearing about philanthropy. Build a blog, and make sure it tells a strong, clear story about what you’re doing. This will make your website more interesting to your visitors, and give you one major hub to point your social media content back to.
Take the Kitchen Cabinet Kings blog as an example. They’re making a wonderful contribution to the world by teaming up with an organization called Plant Memorial Tree. Each time someone purchases a kitchen, they plant a tree in one of the 155 US national forests.
Your blog is also a social media channel – don’t forget to allow comments on your blog so your visitors can leave you a message to support your cause!
You started your corporate philanthropy push by setting some specific goals. In order to understand if you’re meeting these goals and where you can improve, you have to also commit to measuring your success.
So long as you havethe right measurement tools,answering questions like these should be fairly straightforward.
Whether you’ve already launched a social media marketing campaign for your charitable cause, or you’re still in the planning stage, these tips will help you stay focused on the activities that will generate the most results.