Social media matters for nonprofits. Whatever cause sector you work in, whatever the size of your organization, social media is a valuable tool to engage with supporters and grow your audience. Furthermore, reputable organizations are expected to have profiles on major social media platforms. Not being on Facebook or Twitter is like being left out of the Yellow Pages 20 years ago.
Social networks are not all the same, though. Which platforms you use and how you use them will depend on your existing community and audience. You can get the most out of your social networks if you clarify your purpose on each platform, build great profiles, and understand the type of content you should post to each one.
Use these steps to set up or revamp your social media presence and make the most of the opportunities afforded by major platforms.
Why Are You on Social Media?
Aside from the fact that everyone seems to be on social media, and that it’s expected of nonprofits and for-profits alike, you need to have your own reason for being there. Outline the goals your organization has for each social channel to help guide how you use the platforms. Some goals for your social media presence might look like this…
Provide updates on our cause and programs to engage existing supporters and attract new ones.
Recognize outstanding fundraisers and publicize upcoming events.
Educate the public and connect with millennials entering the workforce.
It will also help to identify what your audience on each platform will look like. For example, research has found that people over age 50 are far more likely to be Facebook users than Twitter users. Older supporters are therefore more likely to see you on Facebook than on Twitter. Programs or events that are especially popular with older donors should then be promoted on Facebook.
Adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are more likely than others to use Instagram and Twitter. This may make those platforms a good place to be if you’re trying to promote University chapters of your organization.
Any nonprofit should have profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which are three of the most popular social networks and have existing nonprofit communities. Facebook and Twitter are great channels to reach supporters of all kinds and LinkedIn is ideal for forging connections with volunteers, colleagues, and large donors. You should also consider adding these other networks, especially if you’re targeting their user demographic.
More popular among men, growing most among ages 45-54.
More popular among ages 18-29, women, Hispanics, African Americans.
More popular among women and people with at least some college education.
Once you know what you want to accomplish, you can move on to optimizing your organization’s profile on each platform.
Polish Your Social Media Profiles
Your social media profiles are often your first impression with a new potential donor. You want to make a professional, inviting profile to introduce your nonprofit. While each platform will have different specifications, there are a few main elements that show up in most social media profiles.
- Profile Picture
- Header or Background Image
To help you get set up, here are the important details you need to know about these profile features on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
- Profile Picture: at least 180 x 180 pixels
- Header Picture: at least 851 x 315 pixels
- Description: Keep it short, preferably to one sentence.
- Profile Picture: 400 x 400 pixels
- Cover Picture: 1500 x 500 pixels
- Bio: 160 characters or less. Keep it short and sweet.
- Profile Picture: Ideal size is between 200 x 200 and 500 x 500 pixels
- Cover Picture: at least 646 x 220 pixels (for brands)
- Summary: Tell an effective and compelling narrative. Choose one storyline that paints a comprehensive picture of your nonprofit.
Your goal is to quickly and simply show other users who you are. Your organization logo is often the best choice for your profile picture, but cover and header photos are a chance to show a compelling image from your cause or programs.
What to Post
Once you have goals for your nonprofit social media presence and have spruced up your profiles, you should think about what you will post. One way to get started is to look through any past social media posts that have garnered engagement. Which posts got the most likes, comments, or shares?
Generally speaking, social media posts with images and videos tend to get more engagement than simple text posts. And some posts display better or are more appropriate on certain social networks. Facebook is an ideal outlet for acknowledging and thanking existing supporters and promoting impact stories, Twitter allows you to give quick updates and make announcements, and LinkedIn is especially good for starting discussions, asking questions, and recruiting pro bono help.
While getting more people to donate and fundraise for your organization may be one of your goals, don’t let appeals and calls to action dominate your social media activity. Social networks are a platform for connection and conversation, not an endless series of asks.
Use impact stories, images, and videos to show off the work you’re doing and recognize the supporters and staff that are making it all happen. You should also spread the love by sharing updates from supporters and other organizations. This will help to avoid making every conversation about yourself.
Keep in mind that the primary goal of social media is to connect with other people and organizations. To make those connections, you have to be active and attentive. You don’t have to scour Twitter and Facebook all day, but set up your email notifications so that you know when others are talking to or about you.
Responding to comments and questions is a great way to strengthen your relationships with supporters and build a good reputation. Social media allows you to speak directly to your audience, which is an opportunity no nonprofit should pass up.