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Nonprofit Social Media Strategy Guide

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Nonprofits have become one of the top users of social media since joining the platforms. However, many choose to pay hundreds, if not thousands for seminars that take away from the donors and the …

Nonprofits have become one of the top users of social media since joining the platforms. However, many choose to pay hundreds, if not thousands for seminars that take away from the donors and the causes they support.

In an industry that thrives on relationships and relationship building, social media marketing is the perfect tool for nonprofit organizations to engage with donors, volunteers, and supporters.

How can social media help your nonprofit achieve its goals? According to a recent study, the top nonprofit communication goals for 2014 are:

Acquiring new donors
Engaging the community
General brand awareness
Retaining current donors

How are you achieving these goals? This informative guide will introduce nonprofits to the importance and best practices in social media to build relationships, reach out to the community, and increase brand awareness for your nonprofit.


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  • 1. HotPotatoSocialMedia.com Social For a Cause: Social Media Strategies For Nonprofits m
  • 2. 2 Hot Potato | Social For a Cause: Social Media Strategies For Nonprofits Though initially slow to adopt social media in comparison to their for-profit counterparts, nonprofit organizations (NPOs) have grown to become one of the top users of social media tools for a multitude of reasons. In an industry that thrives on relationships and relationship building, social media marketing is the perfect tool for nonprofit organizations to engage with donors, volunteers, and supporters. How can social media help your nonprofit achieve its goals? According to a recent study1 , the top nonprofit communication goals for 2014 are: 1. Acquiring new donors 2. Engaging the community 3. General brand awareness 4. Retaining current donors Overview Acquiring new donors takes on two meanings. The foundation of many nonprofits is volunteers. Social media can help you attract and acquire new volunteers as well as monetary donations or funds. Engagement is one of the most powerful features of social media and can vary depending on the scope of your nonprofit. Social media provides the opportunity to engage with local, national, and even your volunteer community. Social media provides one of the greatest opportunities for you to reach perhaps one of your biggest audiences: those who don’t know about you. And with its viral nature, there are many strategies to help you increase awareness and, ultimately, donations. Donor retention rates have continued to decline over the past 5 years. Social media offers several opportunities for you to extend donor communications and improve retention rates. Below we will share detailed strategies and actionable tips for your nonprofit to achieve the 4 goals listed above with the help of social media. First, lets start with the top 10 social media marketing best practices for nonprofits. Then, take a look at which social media networks are the most popular for nonprofits. And finally, a great example of a nonprofit, WATER is LIFE using Twitter to promote their cause. Social For A Cause
  • 3. 3 Hot Potato | Social For a Cause: Social Media Strategies For Nonprofits Top 10 Social Media Marketing Best Practices For NPOs 1. Show Don’t Tell – Nonprofits are inherently emotional, making visual storytelling a necessity on social media. And visual content is the most popular on social media! Consider the following statistics2 : • Photos on Facebook get 53% more likes than the average post • On Twitter, tweets with images get 150% more retweets. Images. Infographics. Videos. Be sure to develop and use this content often on social networking sites. 2. Grow Your List – Growing your email list is at the center of your nonprofit’s email marketing strategy and social media can help you attract and convert new registrants! Getting social media followers to join your email list can ensure your communications reach them. With the constant changing algorithms and sheer amount of content on social media, they may miss it! Embed a registration form into a custom tab on Facebook. Tweet the link to your registration page on Twitter. Let visitors know the BENEFIT of signing up for your enewsletter. 3. Drive Traffic To Your Website – Your website should be the hub and base for your social media strategy. In other words, your website holds or hosts all of your content. Provide short-form content on social media with links back to perhaps the long-form version to encourage readers to visit your website. 4. Provide Recognition – The lifeblood of all nonprofits is its donors, stakeholders, volunteers, staff, and supporters. Recognizing these people is such a simple but powerful statement. With permission, recognize these people publically on social media. Post photos from events featuring your volunteers, share a biography of an important donor, tell a story about your volunteers. 5. Share Statistics – Statistics are powerful and often attract more engagement on social media than a standard text post. Importantly, statistics are shareable! For example, a Red Cross tweet after Hurricane Sandy helped increase volunteer signups. They tweeted that 90% of their 5,700 workers helping with Sandy relief are volunteers, and linked to a website to sign up for Red Cross opportunities. 6. Empower Brand Ambassadors – Your most powerful promotional tools are those who already support your NPO. Build an army of brand ambassadors – these are people who want to share your story and raise money for you.
  • 4. 4 Hot Potato | Social For a Cause: Social Media Strategies For Nonprofits 7. Repurpose Existing Content in Creative Ways – Nobody wants to read that 10-page brochure. Make a short video (less than 1 minute) to give an overview and share across your social media profiles. This sort of ‘micro-content’ is more engaging and digestible on social media websites. 8. Recruitment – Leverage social media as a recruitment tool to attract volunteers and supporters by showing them how they can make a difference! Share volunteer and donor stories with permission. 9. Integrate Social With Website – Make it easy for website visitors to find you on social media. Promote your social media profiles on your website by putting icons with links in your header and calls to action throughout your website. Add social links in email signatures and all online communications. 10. Social Listening/Monitoring – Monitor what people are saying about your organization. Does market perception of your organization align with what you want it to be? Leverage free listening tools: Google Alerts, socialmention, etc. What social media content are people responding to? Create and publish social media content that changes the conversation (if desired) and that continues to engage people. And, be sure, to respond to negative and positive feedback! Top Social Media Networks For NPOs The nonprofit communications study referenced earlier also looked at the most important social media sites for NPOs. 95% Use Facebook 64% Use Twitter 38% Use youTube 26% Use LinkedIn
  • 5. 5 Hot Potato | Social For a Cause: Social Media Strategies For Nonprofits Hashtag Campaign Gone Viral One of the top nonprofit social media campaigns of 2013 came courtesy of WATER is LIFE. WATER is LIFE provides clean drinking water, sanitation, and WASH education programs to schools and villages in developing countries. They created an amazing video that went viral through hijacking the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems. The video featured people in third world countries reading tweets that were labeled with the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems, truly putting ‘problems’ and its insensitivities into perspective. You can watch the video here. Outcome: WATER is LIFE provided over a million days worth of clean water to those in need as a result of the video. Takeaway: Aligning your nonprofit’s social media campaign with current trends can help increase engagement, reach, and shareability.
  • 6. 6 Hot Potato | Social For a Cause: Social Media Strategies For Nonprofits Social is the Future For NPOs The use of social media to facilitate fundraising, solicit donations, attract volunteers and supporters, retain donors, and create awareness will continue to grow as NPOs optimize their social media strategies. Additional Resources 1 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report Infographic 2 Images are the Most Preferred Content on Social Media Platforms Infographic About Hot Potato Based in Naperville, IL outside of Chicago, Hot Potato Social Media is a full service social media marketing agency that helps companies and brands implement and manage social media and other inbound marketing programs for measurable, and often profound sales results. For more information, check out the website at www.HotPotatoSocialMedia.com, or call 630-868-5062.

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