Stick To It

With social media attracting a wide range of consumers, nonprofit organizations are quickly discovering that being on social media could be a competitive advantage. Almost half of Americans get their information about nonprofits and their causes from social media. However, simply joining social media is not enough. Just like any other strategy, social media requires time, money, clear objectives and a whole lot of effort in order to be successful.

Pros and Cons

A shortage of staff, resources and knowledge of either the technological or broad side of social media may potentially impede over companies’ success.

Even if companies are fortunate enough for this to not be the case, executives still may avoid dipping their toes in because of social media’s overwhelming and, at times, mysterious nature.

However, the passion a current advocate holds toward the organization’s cause is a huge advantage for nonprofits when using social media.

If a social media user has a sizable interest in an organization to begin with, he or she is not likely to change their opinion. Unlike for-profits, which hold high value to their profit and reputation, nonprofit organizations make donating to their cause top priority. With a common passion between organization and constituency, an organization that has a social media presence serves to further strengthen this relationship.

The Importance of Appreciation

Although advocates of nonprofits recognize why their support is necessary, they are only human; feeling appreciated is at the root of giving.

Constituencies that receive appreciation from organizations, whether that be through posting a heartfelt thank you letter or a photo of a child they positively affected, will feel as though their advocacy, social influence, or donation makes an impact. The constituents’ satisfaction from “doing good” will, as a result, benefit the company’s image, reputation and cause through their constituencies continued support.

Can’t Stop Now!

With that being said, when an organization takes the first step toward effective social media practices, there is no going back.

The importance of maintaining momentum and the enormous potential for positive feedback from constituents who are already engaged in social media leave organization’s with no other option! Once a constituency interacts with an organization, they are much more likely to continue their relationship with the organization in the future. So, what is there to lose?l

Under the umbrella strategy of social media are a wide range of platforms which attract varying constituencies. Since tactics for social media are very much dependent on the platform in use, this blog will go in-depth among four of the most popular social media platforms, discussing the best ways nonprofit organizations can utilize social media to increase funding and awareness.

Give And Take

It is undeniable that social media is a large part of marketing strategies for all businesses in all industries today. Yet, social media is particularly useful for nonprofits in that there is such a broad scope of objectives social media marketing can accomplish – whether it be to increase donations or gain awareness of the organizations cause.

1. Strategy

While social media platforms are extremely successful to apply a social media marketing strategy to, planning needs to come before all in order to be successful in the long-run.

In order to do it right, nonprofits should assess where their organization is, where they want to go and then use social media to help get them there. Nonprofits also have a Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), a community in which nonprofits can share advice and support regarding technology.

2. Application

Facebook: sharing

Twitter: immediacy

YouTube: intimacy

LinkedIn: connection

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and any other social media outlet all have their own strengths when used to support nonprofit organizations. The one thing all of these social media platforms have in common is the need to nurture the relationship between an organization and its constituencies. If relationships are not built and maintained through social media, supporters will feel included and as though they have a personal relationship with the organization. As an organizations’ posts fall on their feeds admits their personal friends’ posts, the members of the organizations come across as more humanized and personable.

For constituencies that do not feel as convinced about organizations by their social media presence, endorsements from long-term role models or grounded individuals can put a face to the organization and provide reliable opinions to the celebrities current fan-base. Michelle Obama recently created a social media site that pushes academic excellence from students by providing a website for them to share their accomplishments. Participants simply tweet their accomplishments with the hash tag #BetterMakeRoom to promote college acceptances. Even LeBron James will join Michelle Obama in endorsing the website at universities across the country!

3. Appeal

One of the most unique take-aways regarding social media for nonprofits is to utilize emotion as an asset.

Nonprofit organizations are one of the few types of organizations that have a powerful story to tell. Social media practices that open the eyes or appeal to the emotion of their audience have the potential to amplify the public’s attitudes and devotion to that organizations cause – which result in an increase of word-of-mouth and donations.

The advantages gained from these platforms in combination are irreplaceable. Not only does a wide range of engagement allow for a wider reach of loyal viewers, supporters and donators, but it also aids in building a organizations brand. By building the brand through social media, organizations have less control over what is out there. Although this may not sound like a positive factor, what constituencies see on social media sites is most likely going to dictate how they feel about the organization. Since social media is more personal than traditional media, organizations have an easier time creating a feeling of transparency and credibility, and in turn, are more likely to gain trust toward those organizations.

What you put into your social media presence is what you will get out. 


Are You IN?

LinkedIn seamlessly provides both self-endorsement opportunities and a networking effect like no other platform. While the majority of LinkedIn users are individual professionals endorsing themselves, there are over 3 million organizations that use the “Company” page feature on LinkedIn to boost awareness and fundraising using a variety of lesser-known tools and strategies.

LinkedIn Tools

  • Company Page: LinkedIn is a platform in which companies should create a Company Page. Posting status updates, sharing recent projects and bringing attention to their organizations mentions in the media will not only appear on connections’ feeds, but also on the company’s page as well.
  • Customized URL: A small yet mighty example of how businesses can gain visibility is to change their LinkedIn custom URL. This will increase the likelihood of a connection or constituency finding the profile.
  • Showcase Sites: Companies can also create Showcase sites, a free tool powered by LinkedIn, which are supplementary sites connected to an organization’s main LinkedIn profile. These sites can display a specific branch of a company, impressive projects, or special events that an organizations wants to highlight.

Making Connections

Undoubtably, building relationships on LinkedIn is an integral part of a business’ success on the platform.

  1. Connect: First and foremost, nonprofit organizations should connect with its current supporters, advocates, volunteers, donors, associates and employees! Many individuals will have their own individual LinkedIn profiles and can be brand ambassadors on a company’s behalf. For instance, it is common for employees to list their employer in their work experience section. It is also just as important for companies to reach out to their employees by requesting them as connections. This small commitment shows employees the extent of their appreciation for them. Doing so only serves to benefit the company’s image.
  2. Join Groups: After connecting with current constituencies, nonprofits should get to know professionals interested in the organization’s cause or have a similar interest. To do so, businesses can join, create and share information through LinkedIn groups, answer questions users may have about something the company is an expert in through LinkedIn’s “Questions” feature and congratulating connections’ successes to show constant support.

While LinkedIn has the potential to support nonprofits both small and large, smaller businesses must be willing to give to get in return. Once an organization gains connections, it must continue the effort by promoting their cause through status updates, job opportunities and relevant media attention to keeping connections informed and persuaded to take action. Sponsored InMail, e-mail marketing on LinkedIn, is a feature organizations can use to reach groups outside of the company’s current reach count. Replicon, a business that provides workforce management software, used InMail to promote it’s event series. The corporation successfully raised awareness and increased attendance at the events!

How Do You Measure Success?

For nonprofits in particular, knowing the target audience is crucial in order to appeal to them and increase support. Through LinkedIn, businesses can see free metrics and trends about their connections simply by the number of views on a certain post and looking at connections interests on their profiles. LinkedIn Today, a customizable feed, also allows users to stay informed on their industry.

The data and networking opportunities LinkedIn provides nonprofits speak for themselves – nonprofits should jump on the LinkedIn bandwagon today in order to increasing awareness, gain donations and improve the company culture as a whole.


See For Yourself

YouTube brings a new meaning to control and flexibility when uploading content. YouTubers can upload video up to 15 minutes long, PowerPoint presentations and turn them into a video, and most importantly, they have no restriction on creativity!

YouTube’s Nonprofit Program

Not only does YouTube provide almost any user with the ability to upload videos with an unlimited length with only a few more steps, but it also provides nonprofits with benefits through YouTube’s Nonprofit Program. This program supplies organizations with tools to help raise awareness to their cause, such as adding a donation button underneath videos.

Celebrity Endorsements

A most recent and successful social marketing strategy organizations are implimenting are partnerships with famous YouTubers. Most successful YouTubers collect a community of devoted subscribers that watch each video, feel a connection to them and trust their opinion. Incredibly, the partnership YouTube stars and brands establish benefit both parties. YouTubers endorse to give back to a cause they are passionate about, and organizations have the potential to gain awareness and fundraising through the YouTuber’s social influence.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

In 2014, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) spread the Ice Bucket Challenge – a highly successful campaign promoting individuals to dump a bucket of water on their head or donate to ALS. Though the campaign began on YouTube, ALS quickly urged participants to share their personal video on social media for their friends to see and nominate 3 friends for the challenge. This integration among various outlets allowed the challenge to spread like wildfire and gain popularity. With integration over all different forms of social media, The Ice Bucket Challenge had over 17 million videos shared and raised over 100 million dollars in donations in the span of only a few months. The success of the 2014 summer campaign motivated the ALS Association to maintain their momentum by spreading the word of the Ice Bucket Challenge round two. This clever and informational two-minute video describes the Ice Bucket Challenge as if it was an entertaining 1950’s sitcom, making ALS a powerful example of a nonprofit effectively using YouTube to creatively raise awareness for their cause.

Why Utilize YouTube?

  • Two-way communication: While many companies believe they have all the control by being able to plan and upload exactly what they want to convey, they also must note that every social media outlet requires two-way communication to be effective. Nonprofits should be both creators and conversationalists on YouTube. Whether reactions are positive or negative, companies must read and reply to comments, answer questions and publicly thank donators and viewers in order to both improve their media strategy and maintain their reputation!
  • Video-heavy: YouTube content is much more likely to attract and maintain the attention of audiences than a lengthy post would.
  • YouTube is free: This factor is a huge advantage to nonprofits that do not have the money to put towards television advertisements or costly campaigns.All in all, YouTube it is one of the best ways nonprofits can show and tell their story on social media.


Happy Followers, Happy Life

Twitter brings immediacy to a new level. Today, 320 million people each month log into Twitter to receive shockingly fast news from across the globe. Whether it be a tweet from a friend saying she’s watching the new season of Grey’s Anatomy or CNN reporting ground-breaking news, users receive information quicker than they can refresh their feeds.

Short and Sweet

A heightened sense of urgency, sharing in bulk, content limitations and interactivity are the core of Twitter’s atmosphere.

  • Can tweet multiple times per day
  • 140 character limit per tweet
  • Both parties play the roles of sender and receiver: As noted in Blog Post 2, short blurbs are more successful in grabbing a follower’s attention – therefore potentially raising the chance a user would tweet at, favorite, or retweet a nonprofit organization.

What is Clean Air London Doing?

Clean Air London, a nonprofit organization advocating cleaner air in London, utilizes Twitter for Business to its advantage.

According to Twitter, one of the keys to Clean Air London’s success on Twitter is through experimentation and management. Just as no two organizations are the same, no two methods have the same success. Consequently, it may take an organization some trial and error.

Clear Air London successfully uses their Twitter page by:

  • Contacting individual Twitter handles with the click of a mouse that would find the story useful
  • Targeting media and news stations to share and address their issues via Twitter
  • Using the factor of proximity to target the people that would be most effected by their information

As a result, Clean Air London more than doubled their follower base.

How to Measure Success

Luckily, Twitter for Business luckily allows organizations of all sorts to measure their page’s data to see what is working and what is not and use the feedback for future reference.

By noticing trends in their Twitter analytics, some organizations found that a monetary request is the last thing voluntary followers want to see on their feeds. Surprisingly, organizations also came to the conclusion that the character limit actually helps them focus on the information at hand. If successful, constituents can even feel the compulsion to donate to the organization on their own.

Nonprofit organizations most frequently use Twitter as an outlet to relay information to their constituencies. By appealing to their Twitter audience, organizations are more likely to suit their tweets to the wants and needs of their followers. If customers are happier, the organization itself is happier too! The saying is “happy followers, happy life,” right?

“Friend” Or Foe?

Facebook has become one of the largest social media platforms for connecting and sharing in the world. Over 1 billion people use Facebook on a daily basis, causing organizations to quickly realize the importance of social media such as Facebook.

When Facebook was created in 2004, organizations that joined were successful in gaining traffic to their pages. Yet, this traffic usually came to a stand still – since users that come across an organization’s page are those that either search it once or are already advocates of the cause. Therefore, while organization’s joined social media in an attempt to expand their reach, their reach was limited to their current supporters.

Share, Share, Share

With the development of the “share” feature, users can now share content on their Facebook friends’ news feeds with the click of a button.

This feature allows organizations’ current audience to somewhat unknowingly expand the organization’s reach by “influencing” their friends. By using each “like” and “share” as an endorsement to their brand, the public is becoming more informed and in more support of the organizations’ cause than ever before.

A nonprofit organization cannot flourish if their posts do not compel their audience to “like” or “share” the post with their friends. In order to accomplish this, it is important that organization’s consider where they are putting their content. With the increasing importance of getting information quickly, consumers are more likely to be impacted from a quick glance of an impactful photo or a two minute informational video than a long traditional post. Displaying content in this fashion will not only be the most comfortable to the target audience, but will be the most successful method to both catch and keep the audience’s attention.

Facebook for Nonprofits

Introducing Facebook for Nonprofits on their WordPress blog, Facebook explains their commitment to nonprofits.

Facebook for Nonprofits provides tips and tutorials for how nonprofits can utilize Facebook to their advantage. Appealing to the ease of social media today, Facebook even includes a “donate now” option directly on nonprofit Facebook pages. With the high number of conversations online and increasing number of shares, Facebook is successfully reeling in nonprofits!

What is UNICEF Doing?

The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), a nonprofit that provides help to children where and when it is needed, recently made it on Facebook’s short list of success stories.

UNICEF predominately uses pathos in photos and video to capitalize on their audience’s emotions, and is extremely effective in doing so. One of the main videos on their Facebook page tells an engaging story of a middle-class husband and wife about to give birth to their child. But, just as the child is ready to be born, the video shows the parents running through a war-zone. With the title “Born into danger”, UNICEF uses middle-class characters depending on the hope that viewers will empathize or picture themselves or their loved ones as those characters.

At the core of Facebook is the purpose of engagement. With the help of Facebook, nonprofit organizations are learning to create meaningful relationships that imitate those with their friends. Without taking part in these relationships, nonprofits miss out at having conversations with important constituencies – as long as those that do are effective.