I’ve watched many non-profits struggle with the concept of social media marketing. Always spread thin as it is, the time to engage potential advocates and donors online seems the least of concerns. Unfortunately, this means that many non-profits simply miss out on the online conversation that would be so valuable for their image and mission.
What makes social media great for the non-profit sector is that it is an opportunity to introduce the non-profit’s mission in a manner that is at once both interesting and cost-effective. The only problem with sending your efforts to the great online social force is that, well, it does require quite a bit of work, and work is time, and time is money.
However, if you and your non-profit want to gain advocates, raise money and raise awareness for your cause, the investment of a little time and money into online social media platforms will not only help you reach a broader audience, it will show that your organization is willing to reach out to potential resources on platforms that are current and timely. If this is a point your non-profit is wishing to make, try exercising your resources in these 3 ways, and you’ll be well on your way to showing the online world the cause you serve:
1. Form a Social Media Research Team
Create an online marketing plan that spreads the work load among several individuals. Consistency in your approach is key when trying various social media platforms, so get your development team on board by assigning each of them to research the ins and outs of just one platform. When they’ve done their research, have your team come together to create an online marketing plan that includes the platforms they believe will best serve your mission. Jason DeMers, from Audience Bloom, has a great article and infographic on what social media networks are out there and how they can serve your organization.
2. Don’t Overcomplicate Your Message
Develop simple, grassroots content that speaks your message quickly and clearly. Release this content across each platform with a concerted effort to remain as timely as possible. Many organizations overcomplicate their messages, and by doing so, they ensure that people aren’t taking the time to view it.
Build a consistent theme with infographics that quickly tell your story, like this infographic that tells how American funds were used to rebuild Japan after the 2011 earthquake. Remember that if your goal is to get them to donate, create a powerful image that speaks to how their donation will help make a difference. The Red Cross, who recently announced the opening of a social media center in Texas, has many great examples of this technique and can be a great resource for your team as they are learning.
3. Create a Dialog
Though it will take time, your team should definitely be making an effort to react and respond to any online queries and comments to the posts your organization is making. The whole point of social media is to build a conversation and that conversation can’t be one-sided. Use your content to spark the interests of your targeted audience. Be quick in your replies, and avoid any sort of automated message, which will immediately appear as aloof and impersonal. If, for example, your non-profit is working to change the environmental impact of drain cleaners, you’ll want to be ready to respond to any questions or concerns with whatever services and information you can offer a potential donor and/or customer.
By taking the time to develop and implement a social media marketing plan, non-profits will begin to see that the social media conversation is necessary and crucial to gaining visibility and continuity to their mission. Though it may seem a daunting task to begin with, it will soon become a second-nature response to the ever-changing world in which we live.
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