The 10 Basics of Social Media for Non-Profits
Welcome to September! In honor of this lovely month in which the leaves start to turn, football picks up in all its glory, and the heat gives way to the cool crisp warmth of fall, we’re going to be chatting social media. I’m calling it ‘Social Media September’ 🙂
Anyway, the term ‘social media’ is one that I find tends to strike fear into the hearts of many a non-profit leader, but it’s really not that bad if you can make sense of it… So, that’s what we’re going to spend this month learning: why social media is critical for nonprofits, how to use it, and how to measure the results.
Using social in the right way leads to increases in donations, engagement, and helps share your story. Stay tuned this month for lots of great tips and tools that you can start rockin’ right away at your non-profit.
As a start, let’s chat through the 10 basics of social media for non-profits:
1. Get professional looking graphics for your cover photos. Your cover photo is the first impression of the social media world. You only get one shot, so make it a good one. If you have a cover photo that looks like it was created using Windows 95, you’re going to have a hard time getting people to follow you. You don’t need to be a graphics expert to get this right either. Just run to canva, a free graphic design site, and you’ll find all kinds of readymade graphics for social media cover photos.
2. It’s important to pick just one platform to rock first. When I started my social venture, I thought that I needed to be on every social account under the sun. I created a Facebook page, twitter profile, google+ account, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc…In reality, I didn’t have the time or the energy to do justice to that many accounts. That’s why I say every non-profit should start in social media by choosing one platform to knock out of the park. There are many reasons for this: you’ll be able to put focused intensity into that platform and really grow your following. You’ll be able to get your feet wet without making too many waves (‘cause you’ll make some mistakes in your early days). And lastly, you’ll keep yourself reasonably sane (because let’s face it, managing 10 social platforms is enough to drive anyone crazy 🙂
3. It’s critical that the platform you pick makes sense for your audience. Let me use myself as a guinea pig again: in my social venture, we needed to become known as a trusted resource in the area of social entrepreneurship. Twitter proved to be our platform of choice because people can quickly see that you’re associated with a certain issue. If you have lots of followers and re-tweets around that issue, then wham-o! You’re a thought leader. So, it’s really important that you sit back and ask yourself what you want to accomplish on social media. If it’s thought leadership, Twitter’s a great start. Building a support group? Facebook may be the way to go. Sharing stories with lots of visual content? Try Instagram or Facebook. In short, if you pick the one platform that makes the most sense for you and you maximize that, you’ll be off to a great start.
4. Create content that is shareable. You’ll recall that when we talked about stories I mentioned that you needed to devote far more time to sharing your story than to producing it. The same is true with social media. You need to create pictures, tweets, and posts that are easy for people to share. For example, did you know that if you write a tweet that’s over 110 characters it is very difficult for people to share? This is because the process of them retweeting actually adds characters to the tweet and pushes the limit up. So, every time you create a piece of social media content, ask yourself: what have I done to make this as shareable as possible?
5. Social ain’t B2B, it’s P2P. B2B stands for ‘business to business sales’, and every time I hear the phrase, it conjures up visions of a bunch of sleazy salesmen trying to talk one business into doing business with the other. The problem with this term is that people don’t do business with businesses, they do business with people. When I walk into the store, I buy from a friendly face. When I call in an order, I want to order from a friendly person. And when I choose to invest my time and donation with your non-profit, I do it because a person asked me to. So, make sure that your social media presence has a personal voice. It’s okay to use your logo and your non-profit name as the account name, but just be sure people feel like they have a personal connection when they interact with your non-profit on social. It’s what I like to call a person to person or P2P connection.
6. Have a voice. Speaking of P2P, the way you make a personal connection with someone is by having a personality and a unique ‘voice’ that you speak with. For your social media presence, this means you need to come up with a voice that defines who you are as a non-profit. For example, here at WonderWe, we like to keep things light and fun wherever we can. That’s why I use words like rockin’, awesomesauce, groovy, rad, etc… don’t be afraid to inject some fun into this whole process.
7. Social media is about providing value, not about shouting with a megaphone. If your social media posts look anything like this, you need to stop now: ‘COME TO OUR EVENT! GIVE US MONEY! DONATE YOUR CLOTHES TO US!’ Far too many folks seem to be treating social as some big ‘look at me!’ platform. That’s not what it is. Social media is about conversation. Get the conversation going by sharing relevant blogs from other sources, sharing the stories of your volunteers, and crafting a dialogue around your issue area. Only once you’ve earned people’s trust can you then ask them to give to you.
8. Social is where millennials go to give. Millennials are the market that everyone wants to capture, and with good reason. Millennials give an average of $481 to non-profits every year (source) and they are exceptionally cause minded. After all, they are the generation that brought us social entrepreneurship and TOMS Shoes. And where do you think they tend to give? You guessed it! On social. Get your social right, make it easy to donate, and you’ll reap the rewards of the millennial movement.
9. Spend some time on LinkedIn. But wait, Josh, didn’t you tell us to just focus on one social media platform??? Well, yes, BUT LinkedIn is a bit different. This professional networking platform has become the place to be for non-profit professionals. It’s a great forum to build partnerships, share your stories, and find some emotional support for those rough days. First steps: pop on there and search for some non-profit groups. Join a few and start participating and you’ll reap the rewards right away.
10. Don’t forget about email. With all this social media talk floating around the universe nowadays, you might hear people trying to make the claim that ‘email is dead’ or some other such nonsense. The idea is that since people communicate on social they must not really like email anymore. That’s hogwash. People read email like crazy and, unlike social, email is still regarded as someone’s personal space. So, when someone offers you their email address and asks you to keep the updated – keep them updated. Oh, and by the way, a recent study found that ⅓ of all non-profit revenue comes in via email communications between nonprofits and donors. Take that ice bucket challengers.
You should never take your eyes off emailing your supporters. Email still beats that little Twitter bird all day long…and twice on Sundays 🙂
These ten tips I’ve shared with you here will help you get started – join us next week as we unpack some resources that will help you take social media to a higher level.