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Social media strategies for non-profits

Submitted by Emerson on March 21, 2016 - 5:09pm

This morning I got the opportunity to learn about different ways of boosting a non-profit's visibility through social media from Laura Tierney and Gail Marie of the McKinney Ad Agency. As it becomes increasingly necessary to have an online presence, knowing what to share and how to share it can be the difference between successful and unsuccessful engagement. There are several great strategies for engaging the public with your non-profit via social media. These strategies are broken down into two categories: input and output.

Input strategies:

While engagement with the public usually requires more output, having an input strategy is essential to learning the ways that others have had success using social media. Following and listening to other non-profits, leaders in your field, volunteers, and donors usually helps to gauge the type of social media activity that will help you best meet your non-profit's goals. One of the most important ways to do this, for example, is to develop Twitter lists. You can create your own Twitter list and add any public account to it that you may find useful. There are also a plethora of Twitter lists that have already been made that any user is able to subscribe to. Twitter lists narrow down the tweets you receive to only the accounts you have added to it. This way, you can receive information from different accounts you follow but not all at once. Instead, each list can be organized so that it reflects a common theme.

Output strategies:

Before you start posting, it is important to define your content themes. To accomplish this, you must first identify your audience. By using the aforementioned input strategies, you should already have a good idea of your audience's tastes and behaviors. Once you have identified your audience, you can start developing your content themes. There are several to choose from including, but not limited to, stories about lives changed, volunteer opportunities, news about the organization (which can either be broadcasted by you or others), staff stories/bios, and events.

Another important output strategy is to post across platforms at the right frequency. Just as the average user of social media engages with different platforms in different ways, so should you. Some recommendations:

  • Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn should be used to post evergreen content (posts and articles that will always be relevant to your audience) at a frequency of about one to three times per week.
  • YouTube should be used to post event videos and tutorials about once a week.
  • Twitter should be used for real-time content and should be used frequently.

Sharing content should be consistent and there are a few tools that you can use to accomplish consistent, efficient sharing. Websites such as Buffer allow you the option of automated sharing. This way, you can have your content ready to share and have it shared at a specific time that works best for you. Other sites such as Bitly and BudURL help to shorten and customize links so that they appear clear and concise. One handy tool to utilize is an editorial calendar. This is basically just a table that outlines the process of sharing your non-profit's work. An editorial calendar makes it easy to organize who should publish content and what, when, and where content should be published. Another thing to keep in mind is that sharing content is more than just providing text and links. More people are likely to engage with your content when pictures and videos are provided.