Social media platforms are critical tools for nonprofits to build effective communication strategies, increase donations, and reach new audiences.
In the following article, we will explore how to run social media for a nonprofit, how to develop a successful content strategy, and how to measure the success of your social media campaigns.
You should be able to leverage the lessons learned in this post to inform your own communications plan and grow your social media presence.
Let’s get started!
Importance of Social Media for Nonprofits
Social media is a critical tool for communications—not just for nonprofits but for any organization.
Social media allows organizations to cultivate audiences by meeting people where they are. Social media is free to use and can connect nonprofits with people around the world so that they can network with audiences outside of their physical community.
For example, The American Red Cross connects to its audience by sharing impactful stories of how their work helps save and sustain lives. They use social media to inspire and urge new audiences to support their work and become involved in their mission.
These platforms can also help nonprofits reach new donors and bring in new sources of revenue. Social media is an excellent way to get the word out about ongoing or emerging campaigns and communicate ways individuals and groups can contribute to the organization.
Many social media platforms even have applications and buttons you can use to make the donation process even easier for followers. Note how the Alzheimer’s Association uses Facebook to ask followers to give to their organization as part of a matching program through Walmart.
Social media can also enhance a nonprofit’s public presence and can boost its credibility.
These platforms are an ideal place to share brief success stories or infographics detailing metrics to highlight the impact of the organization’s work. Nonprofits can use social media accounts to spread awareness about a cause, promote a special event, or even host virtual events on their platforms.
Developing a Social Media Content Strategy
You might be wondering how to get your own nonprofit organization up and running on social media.
The first step is developing a social media content strategy. Developing a content strategy will help you set a solid foundation for your social media presence and will help you better understand how to successfully engage with your audiences online.
There are many ways to develop a social media content strategy, but there are a few key steps any organization should take. Let’s take a look!
1. Set Objectives
Before setting your organization up with social media accounts, it is imperative to determine what your goals are for being on social media.
Is your objective to increase revenue for your nonprofit? If so, you will want to ensure you have a presence on platforms like Instagram that offer a variety of tools that make fundraising easy and accessible.
Is your objective to hire new experts onto your team? You can utilize a platform like LinkedIn to communicate news and job openings to professionals in your field and tap into networks that will help you hire the best individuals for the job.
Setting clear objectives will help you choose platforms that will best address your needs and help you reach your goals.
2. Identify Your Audience
Another key component of developing a strong social media content strategy is identifying who your audience currently is and who you want to reach.
For example, studies have indicated that young people are leaving Facebook and moving to other social channels like TikTok. Given this, a nonprofit that wants to reach a younger audience might focus on their TikTok posts and spend less time developing content for Facebook.
For example, GLAAD does a great job leveraging video content to respond to the popularity of new social media platforms like TikTok. GLAAD uses video to engage viewers and illustrate the impact of their work through unique stories and calls to action.
Not only are they following new popular social trends, but they are utilizing social media platforms that work to advance their mission, enabling them to focus on long form videos of performances, speeches, and other content.
Most nonprofits will want to reach many different types of people with disparate backgrounds and will tailor their posts to appeal to the greatest number of people as possible.
3. Develop a Tone and Style Guide
Effective branding is essential for nonprofit organizations.
Nonprofits should establish a tone and style guide for their content across all their communication and marketing collateral, not just social media.
Consistency is key. Even if you know a different kind of audience will be viewing your content on one site versus another, your tone and style should not change between platforms. Keep a clear message and stay “on brand” with every post you publish.
Keeping a consistent style and tone will boost your organization’s recognition and help communicate who you are, what you do, and how you do it.
Feeding America does a great job of maintaining a consistent style and tone through their social media presence. The colors, images, and style of their posts feature earthy hues (greens, browns, and yellows) and they feature photos of farms and green spaces that bring to mind healthy nutritious food and fresh grown produce.
For ideas on how to create a branding and style guide for your nonprofit and how to communicate that brand in your social posts check out Instrmentl’s ultimate branding guide for helpful tips and additional guidance.
4. Create a Content Calendar
It is essential to utilize a calendar when developing a social media content strategy. All posts should be pre-planned and timed for periods when they will get the most engagement and views.
All great social media content strategies are consistent and planned. Accounts that post randomly at different times, on different days, and without consideration for what type of content is posted are generally unsuccessful at reaching their audiences and building new engagement.
There are several ways to effectively map out a content calendar for your social posts. A simple, cost effective approach is to use a spreadsheet. This is a great tool to utilize if you are just beginning to develop your social media strategy.
For more advanced or complex content strategies, it is practical to leverage one of the many social media content calendar tools that are available online. One such product, Asana, provides an easy to use and accessible social media calendar that makes tracking and planning simple.
It is also a great collaborative tool, allowing multiple users to work on the calendar at once. This is a great option for a bigger marketing or communications team!
Once your nonprofit organization has established its social media goals and objectives, has identified key audiences and platforms, and has developed a unique branding style, you should be ready to begin creating content and posts. Add these posts to your content marketing calendar to get your social media accounts up and running!
If you're looking to start building your own nonprofit marketing plan, get started quickly by using our Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template. The template is made in Canva, an an easy-to-use creative design tool. You can jump right in, change colors, add your logo, and adjust the copy so it fits your brand.Why start from scratch when you can use one of our templates?
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Here are some best practices that can help your nonprofit’s social media presence stand out and shine.
Share Stories of Impact
As a nonprofit organization, your followers will be most interested in the direct impact your work is having on people, the community, and the broader world.
The best way to illustrate your impact and to engage your audience is to share powerful stories about your work and how you are actively working to achieve and/or advance your organization’s mission.
Take The Trevor Project, for example. The Trevor Project is a nonprofit organization that provides life-saving crisis services for LGBTQ+ youth and advocates for their rights, freedoms, and future through public education, legislation, litigation, and coalition building.
Recently, on the trans day of visibility, the Trevor Project hosted a round table facilitated by actor and celebrity Daniel Radcliffe and led by several transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming youth who shared their stories, experiences, and lived experiences.
The Trevor Project was able to amplify the voices of those they serve by leveraging relationships with key supporters and using social media as a conduit for reaching new audiences and networks.
Post Shareable Content
One of the principal reasons social media is such a great tool for nonprofit organizations is that followers can share content among their different networks.
Giving your followers permission to share your content and encouraging them to do just that is a great way to garner interest from new supporters and reach new audiences.
Content that is shareable is mostly image heavy or features a concise and compelling video for viewers to watch.
Many nonprofit organizations will incorporate videos or images of participants being interviewed about their experience or how their partnership with the nonprofit has made an impact on their life. Social media is a visual medium and nonprofits with successful social strategies will leverage that to their advantage.
Check Out Other Nonprofit Organizations for Inspiration
Every nonprofit organization is different and their social media strategies will vary depending on their objectives, capacity, and needs.
However, looking to other nonprofit organizations and identifying what kind of social media processes and practices work for them can be helpful when developing your own strategies.
Ask yourself what draws you to their social sites. Is it the overall design, color scheme, and images that engage you? Are you compelled to follow their social platforms because of inspiring stories and examples of participant success?
Other nonprofit accounts can be a great source of inspiration when it comes to developing your own social media strategies.
Measuring the Success of a Social Media Campaign
To determine what content works best for your nonprofit on social media, it’s always worth experimenting and monitoring how well different types of posts perform.
If you’ve created a “business: non-profit” account (available on every social network) you’ll be able to access helpful analytics to learn more about the performance of each of your posts. These insights can help you learn more about who your audience is, what times of day they’re active online, and what type of content they engage with most often.
Your nonprofit organization can measure audience engagement by tracking:
Views (referred to as Impressions)
Click-through rate (CTR) or the number of times an individual clicks on a link associated with or embedded in a social post
Social media marketing can be a game-changer for nonprofits. It’s a powerful tool to help you achieve your goals and reach new audiences. But building out a social media plan requires trial and error, so be patient, test out new content, and refine your social strategy when necessary.
Wrapping Up: The Next Steps
With these resources and information at your fingertips, you now should be ready to run an effective social media strategy for your nonprofit. We hope you use the tips and insights in this article to expand your organization’s reach and deepen connections with your existing donors and stakeholders.