It’s hard to recall how we ever functioned in a world without social media. Imagine executing your role as a nonprofit marketer in 2016 without the ease and access social media offers for greater cause awareness, increased website traffic, higher levels of community engagement, and extended campaign reach.
Many of us are old seasoned enough to harken back to a pre-social media era (more than a decade ago)—and in comparison to today, it wasn’t exactly a piece of cake. Thankfully we don’t have to linger in that “what if there was no social media” space for long because it’s clearly here for the long haul and it appears to only get better over time.
But with all its benefits and opportunities, there are still challenges to be aware of when using social media as part of your nonprofit marketing strategy. In this blog post, we’ve summarized how nonprofit marketers can avoid these 5 common social media mistakes.
1. No social media strategy
It is impossible to reap the full benefit of social media without an effective strategy. The most basic social media strategy involves identifying goals, setting objectives, choosing platforms, producing quality content (assuming you already have a content strategy in place) building a content calendar, developing campaigns, defining metrics, assigning roles and responsibilities, and documenting a process, policy and a clear set of guidelines to follow.
Key takeaway: Don’t derail your social media efforts by not having a plan.
2. Weak content
Online community engagement lives or dies by the quality and quantity of content published. Make it your goal to create and distribute an abundance of fresh, relevant, valuable social media content that educates your community and positions your nonprofit as a trusted resource. If you provide each of your audience segments with useful content that answers questions and offers solutions, they will reward your nonprofit and cause with their support, trust, and loyalty. When in doubt about how often you should toot your own horn, apply the 80/20 rule where 80% of your content is interesting and useful and the remaining 20% is more promotional.
Keep your community engaged by publishing content in a variety of formats. A diverse content format mix might include photos, videos, infographics, news updates, event announcements, and promotional messages with links to your blog, newsletter or donation page. And don’t forget to post often and consistently. Fortunately there are documented best practices on the web for post frequency on each social media platform. Check out this one in the form of an infographic from Buffer.
Key takeaway: Keep you community engaged with a large quantity of high quality, sharable content.
3. Poor optimization
For the best possible results, social media content can and should be optimized. When posting content, include links to your website, blog, or newsletter. Be sure to add keywords to your social media profiles to make them searchable. Always use hashtags appropriately, and remember to tag your visual content. To achieve the highest engagement rates, determine the best times of day to deliver your social media posts.
Optimizing your social media efforts may seem more challenging if your nonprofit isn’t using a social media management tool or marketing automation software to manage its social media presence. If your budget allows, consider looking into one of the smart, time-saving tools on the market like HubSpot, Hootsuite, Social Sprout, or Buffer.
Key takeaway: Social media optimization creates opportunities for your community to discover and share your content.
4. Wrong social media platforms for audience
The top three social media platforms used by nonprofits are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn though many nonprofits are leveraging others including YouTube, Instagram, and Google+ to name a few. It’s important to choose the right networks for your social media presence so you don’t waste time and money talking to the wrong people.
This requires a deep understanding of your audience and their habits. If you’ve created audience personas for your nonprofit, you likely already know a great deal about your audience. If you haven't created audience personas, it’s well worth making the effort to do so as part of your social media strategy. In addition, take some time to review comparison charts and learn about the various features for each social media platform before deciding which ones are best suited for your audience.
Key takeaway: Get to know your audience including where they prefer to spend time online.
5. Lack of integration
Social media works best in tandem with other marketing channels. Think of social media as the igniter that can help spark your existing marketing programs into digital combustion [Tweet this]. When integrated with other channels, social media helps fuel your fundraising campaigns, email performance, event and webinar participation, blog and newsletter subscriptions, and research dissemination. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to use social media as a synergistic vehicle to drive your overall marketing strategy.
Key takeaway: Social media is not a standalone channel.
Download a free copy of our workbook to start finding new social media prospects for your nonprofit.