By Siddhartha Datta
It might seem that social media marketing is activity best left to consumer-focused companies or internet influencers. But non-profit organizations can benefit too.
With consistent care and feeding, even a small social media program can provide effective connection with important audiences and stakeholders to help reach important goals.
As marketing intern at Laridae, I spent some time this summer researching ways to promote The Pier’s weekly learning sessions. I focused on general best practices for social media but also, on how non-profits can maximize the effectiveness of their Facebook and LinkedIn platforms to generate leads, boost outreach, and maximize growth for their organizations.
Using Facebook to find an Audience
Facebook has over 1.5 billion users worldwide. While newer social media platforms such as TikTok, may be trendier, Facebook is a powerful tool that non-profits can use to find and engage with their audience.
If you are thinking about using Facebook, here are some simple strategies and steps to kickstart a Facebook strategy:
- Set the demographic information for your ideal audience. Under the insights tab, information such as number of followers, number of page likes, ratio of men to women, age groups etc., can be found. From these options, choose who you hope to engage with your content.
- Consider the type of content to inspire action within this group. This may include photos, videos, infographics, shared links, graphics, polls, stories, or promotions. You can experiment to see whether your audience prefers long or short posts, light-hearted or serious, video or still images. (It has been proven that visuals do much better on social media than just text). Many organizations use a more personal tone on Facebook than compared with Linkedin, for example.
- Paying for Facebook Advertisements pushes out your content to audiences that would otherwise not see it. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to gain followers through “organic reach” – or, by just hoping your posts are noticed and shared by friends and family. Paying to expand visibility of your posts is pretty much required – but it doesn’t have to be enormously expensive. You can control your spend to suit your budget.
- Dive into the technical details. Learning how algorithms work and how Facebook prefers and promotes different posts is more than most people can master. Entire careers are made of trying to appeal to social media company algorithms! The best advice I have is to experiment. What works for you might not work for me.
Marketing company Classy, researched when is the best time to post on Facebook. They suggest posting during off-peak hours, when there’s less competition to get into your supporters’ news feeds. For example, they suggest to post between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. But don’t worry! You don’t have to stay late. Facebook’s new Business Suite contains a content calendar feature that allows you to create posts and schedule them to be delivered later. It also contains an Insights feature that shows you how your posts have been performing to budget.
- Be sure to track the progress of your Facebook strategy so you know whether you’re spending wisely. Some Facebook statistics to watch are page and post likes, followers, shares, reach, engagement and clicks to website. Try not to get too micro. It’s tempting to check your stats after each post, but true trends won’t form until after a few months.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional social media network. Companies and organizations use this platform every day to build their professional brand and attract new employees, clients and leads.
Some ways to maximize your LinkedIn experience are as follows:
- Keeping your posting schedule consistent. Whether that be updates, events, job postings, training, or any news relevant to your industry.
- Get the whole team involved. The algorithm loves engagement, even from current employees! In addition, when a staff member lists your organization as an employer in their profile, they automatically become a follower and subsequently as their networks grow, your organization’s network grows. Having your employees and members profiles up to date and a complete with a good description of their role in your organization alongside a quality profile image, can go a long way in building a positive outside perception of your brand.
- Paid promotion on LinkedIn. Just like Facebook, organic posts will only get your content so far. Paying to boost and promote your posts and ads on LinkedIn allows you to target audiences outside your existing network by a number of demographics including skills, job title, company industry, etc. Similar to other platforms, using photos, videos, infographics help capture the attention of LinkedIn users.
Twitter is a platform where people and organizations voice their opinions and views and discuss and debate issues. Users can use the platform to learn about breaking news and to see real-time reactions from public figures, influencers, and politicians. For these reasons, Twitter is an ideal space for nonprofits to advocate for their mission, be a leading voice in their industry and continue to grow and expand their community.
- Tweet frequently and share news and timely content. Your audience follows you to learn more about your organization and keep up to date with what you’re doing, so give them what they’re here to see.
- Post your own content as well as share relevant articles. Aside from showcasing your organization’s content, sometimes reposting another blog that resonates with your nonprofit can help build trust among your followers since you’re now a source for relevant, timely, or newsworthy happenings in the industry.
- Utilize Twitter Ads. Make some space within your marketing budget to spend some money on promoted content. Twitter offers three types of promoted content: Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts, and Promoted Trends. Similarly to the other platforms, Twitter analytics will allow you to track the performance of these tweets and see how you’re doing.
- Always include a call to action. This will encourage readers to click a link and directly engage with the content in some way.
If followed correctly, these simple steps can boost your organizations’ outreach substantially on social media. Utilizing these platforms to their full potential should be a priority for non-profits to ultimately help build and cultivate an engaged online community. Some more in-depth tips can be found here: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter.