5 Social Media Strategies For Nonprofits

More than 70 percent of nonprofit organizations expect to develop social media strategies in 2012, according to a survey conducted by Charity Dynamics, a consulting service for nonprofits. These organizations recognize the power of targeted social media outreach when it comes to increasing awareness, finding new donors, and converting one-time donors into repeat donors.


Social Media Strategies For Nonprofits

Social media is uniquely suited for nonprofit marketing because it stretches what are often limited funds and resources. It's no longer enough to simply create Facebook and Twitter accounts for your nonprofit. Forethought, planning and persistence are needed to maximize the communication benefits of social media platforms. Here are five social media strategies that can help nonprofits engage with the public, raise awareness of their causes, and increase their fundraising capability:

1. Make A Commitment

Social media platforms are free to use, but leveraging their power takes time. To make an impact with social media, you'll need to devote at least 10 hours per week to sharing, following, friending, liking, commenting, and contributing. In fact, some larger nonprofits dedicate at least one full-time resource to digital communication, which includes social media outreach. This important job requires a deep understanding of your organization's message and probably isn't suited for an intern.

2. Keep It Personal

Social media is social by definition, so be ready to communicate one-to-one on a personal level. Instead of blasting out one-way messages, engage in conversations. Let your followers know that there are real, caring people behind your organization.

3. Reach Out Through Video And Blogging

Nonprofits can increase awareness of their cause by telling their stories in videos and blogs that can then be shared on social media platforms. YouTube and Facebook are good places to start sharing. Keep the content fresh and interesting so that followers will check back for updates. With luck, your video campaign will go viral.

4. Recruit Volunteers

Most nonprofits depend on the efforts of dedicated volunteers. LinkedIn is often used for professional recruiting; it can also be use to bring new volunteers into the fold. Other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can also be used to spread the word about your need for volunteers.

5. Promote Events

Social media is the perfect tool for publicizing real-world events, especially nonprofit fundraisers. You can register an event on Facebook and LinkedIn, and use a steady stream of Twitter updates to keep enthusiasm high. Using a Twitter hashtag (#) will help attendees track tweets that are related to the event. You can also blog about your event and post photos from similar past events on Flickr and Facebook. Seeing the results of your social media outreach won't be instantaneous. Some organizations make the mistake of giving up on social media too soon. You should measure and assess your social media results on a regular basis and possibly fine-tune your efforts, but don't give up because you think things aren't happening quickly enough. Before you can expect to see real results, you'll need to build a solid base of avid followers.
Logan Harper is the social media outreach coordinator for the online Master of Public Administration program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Government - the largest university-based organization for local government training, advising and research in the U.S. He is currently working on a project to help students discern MPA vs MPP degrees. Follow him on Twitter @harperlogan.
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