Nonprofits and Social Media: How to Grow a Community of Online Supporters
Posted Thursday, July 24th, 2014 by Verified Volunteers Staff
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for nonprofits. It can be used to raise awareness for your mission, recruit volunteers, bring in new donors and connect people around a common cause. But if your organization is on the smaller side or you’re new to using social media, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Fortunately, there are proven approaches you can employ to help position your organization for success.
Nonprofits and Social Media: Four Helpful Guidelines
Below we’ve outlined four basic guidelines to help you best engage with social media followers and build an interactive online community for your organization.
1. Tell Stories
The social media space has become increasingly noisy, and it’s often difficult to get your message to stand out from the masses. One of the best ways to engage with your audience is to tell stories that people can connect with on a personal level. In the following article, nonprofit marketing expert Julia Campbell explains the importance of online storytelling for nonprofits and recommends five types of stories you should be telling on social media. Check it out if you’d like to explore this idea further.
Key takeaway: People love to hear inspiring stories, and they want to see the impact their support has in the lives of real people. Allow your followers to really get to know your organization – not only the people you serve, but also your staff, your volunteers and why you are passionate about your cause.
2. Include Visuals
Study upon study has shown increased levels of engagement and click-thru rates for social media posts that include an image. Share photos from events, photos of the people you serve (with their permission), videos telling your organization’s story … you get the idea.
Graphics can make for great visual content, and an abundance of free tools exist to help if you don’t have graphic design experience. Try Canva to create basic graphics and digital flyers or turn data into eye-catching visual content with free infographic-creators like Visual.ly or Easel.ly.
3. Empower Ambassadors to Promote Your Cause
“Brand ambassador” is a marketing term used to describe a person who loves a company or brand so much that they tell their friends and family about it. Cultivating brand ambassadors is incredibly powerful, because people trust their friends and family and will listen to their recommendations.
The great news is that your organization already has ambassadors. You know who they are: board members, volunteers or even the individuals who benefit from your organization’s services.
Ambassadors are the people who are passionate about your cause and want to tell others about the great work your organization is doing. Consider selecting several of these advocates, and invite them to become involved in implementing your social media strategy. You can ask them to contribute to your Facebook page, share your posts on their personal Facebook page and take photos at service events to share on social media.
For more on how to empower your existing advocates, check out this great article from Steamfeed on How to Train Brand Ambassadors for Your Nonprofit.
Social media is a two-way conversation. If someone takes the time to follow you on Twitter or comment on your Facebook update, take the time to acknowledge and engage with that person. This lets your followers know you are listening to them and interested in what they have to say, which prompts further engagement.
Assign someone on your team to check your organization’s social media accounts at least once daily (your ambassadors can help with this as well) to ensure you can reply quickly to any comments or questions from your audience.
A Social Community Committed to Your Cause
Building a thriving community on social media takes time and requires consistency in order to really work well, but the rewards can be exponential. If you use social media to tell your organization’s story and build relationships with your supporters, you will begin to see growth not only in number of followers but also in the impact potential you have within your community.
Looking for more social media tips? Here are some great resources:
- Easy Tips for Smaller Nonprofits to Maximize Social Media
- 10 Ways to Build Loyalty Among Your Online Community Members
What ideas would you add to our list? Connect with us on Twitter and share your comments below.