Social media is a powerful communications tool…

Here are the nuts and bolts to help you leverage it in the right ways.

Typically when developing a logic model, we start with a statement that defines our theory of change: i. e. If we do X, then we can expect to see Y happen.  So, if we apply this logic to fundraising, we might say: If more people hear about our impact (good work), then we should expect donations to improve.  With this as our premise, our short term objectives should include increasing the size of our audience.  Which logically leads to the next question:  So then, what’s the best way to accomplish this objective?

Content marketing may be the most powerful marketing strategy that a nonprofit can employ…

It works to earn you respect as an expert in your field!

Any essential marketing course would include a lesson on communication channels or touch points.  There are many from which to choose: advertisement, direct mail, referral, newsletters, collateral, and social media to name a few.  Which avenues are best for your organization depends entirely upon your audience.  But nearly every audience would include at least one social media channel.

Of late I’ve been working with several nonprofits (and one up and coming musician) with their social media marketing efforts.  While I have dabbled in the arena for several years, I hadn’t really taken a deep dive until now.  As a result of research and trial and error, I’ve learned much about what works and what doesn’t, here are a few Hip Tips.

Hip Tip #1:  It’s a conversation; talk with your audience.

If all you do is “Tweet” about your next fundraiser, you’ve already lost in the social media marketing arena.  Perhaps the biggest mistake I see is one-way, lack luster communications on social platforms where nothing thought provoking or engaging is presented.  The rule of thirds works to create more interesting conversation by dividing your posts into three categories: 1) A third of your content is promotional, 2) Another third shares ideas and stories from others in your area of expertise, 3) the final third consists of personal interactions and brand building content.  Ask and answer questions, gather opinions, and advance the conversation.

Hip Tip #2:  Consistency and cadence are crucial to engagement.

No matter your channel or channels of choice, (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) your audience expects consistency in publishing.  By consistency I’m referring to theme, quality, or interaction.  Your audience expects to see mission specific content, keep your message on target.  It’s great to post a kitten video if you’re an animal shelter, not so great if you’re a suicide prevention organization.  By cadence I’m referring to the frequency of your posts.  Audiences thrive on knowing when to expect communications from your organization.  If you prepare a newsletter or blog, make sure you do it on time: every month, or week, or day and deliver that message on a specific day (Hint: Tuesdays at 10A are the best for email opens).

Hip Tip #3:  A call to action is more important than you think.

Your message should always have a higher purpose.  Whether it is to create awareness of a problem, to ask for volunteer help or a donation, to drive traffic to your website, or to get readers to subscribe to your YouTube channel, the reason for your post should always be a high priority.  If you put some thought behind the post, your engagement will improve, because your audience will come to look forward to your knowledge and expertise.

Hip Tip #4:  Align your social media objectives with your business objectives.

Don’t be fooled that your number of followers is in and of itself evidence of success.  Your social media engagement needs to align with your mission and convert to more tangible objectives such as: new volunteers, higher donations, improved partnerships, or greater mission impact.  Reach, clicks, and likes equal engagement and closely monitoring these actions on your posts will clue you in on what you should be doing to improve your engagement and fundraising.

Hip Tip #5:  Choose the channel that best fits your audience and adhere to their rules of engagement.

Since all social media is a conversation, I often describe LinkedIn as a business lunch, Facebook as a cocktail party, and Twitter as graffiti.  There are plenty of other social channels, like Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube, but you remember that you don’t have to be on them all.  What you want is to be recognized on those channels where your audience lives.  Study the demographics of each social media forum and then match them up to your audience.  Once there, live by each channels rules, for instance, Instagram thrives on hashtags, but more than a couple hashtags on Facebook will drive your numbers down.

!Footnote: Facebook is the granddaddy of all social media channels, so you probably need to be there.  In a future post, I’ll take a deeper dive into Facebook and provide some Hip Tips you really need to know and won’t want to miss.  In them mean time, consider a social media audit and give us a call to learn how you can improve your engagement.