While email marketing is still the most efficient way to raise money and build donor relationships, a strong and engaging presence on social media is an essential component of any nonprofit brand strategy.
Over time, you’ll measure results and engagement to determine where your time and money is best spent. What should you do to start? Let’s look at each of the top platforms to figure that out.
Regardless of any other social media posting you do, your organization must have a Facebook page. It’s the 21st century equivalent of having a phone. Facebook also offers many tools for nonprofit organizations. You can check them out here: https://nonprofits.fb.com/.
Facebook is a great resource for your organization if you have donors and supporters who are passionate about your cause. That’s because FB users can now add a “Donate Now” button to their personal profile and raise funds for their favorite charity. If your supporters tend to be evangelists for your organization, encourage them to add that button.
However, if you’re hoping to find new supporters from your social media presence, Facebook isn’t necessarily the best bet. That’s because even with all the support for nonprofits, your posts will still only get an organic reach of 3%. If you want to reach more people, you’re going to have to pay. Organizations with small budgets may find themselves spending money of Facebook ads that could be used much more efficiently elsewhere.
The platform can be good for event promotion, but again, if you’re looking for people outside your established network it will cost you.
Demographics: You’ll get a good cross-section of people on Facebook, with 44% of users 18-34 and 36% 35-54.
If your organization has great visuals, Instagram can give you great exposure. You can post up to ten high resolution photos or video per post. While not quite as big as Facebook, Instagram hit the 700 million mark in users in 2017.
Instagram’s use of hashtags will help your audience find you. You can use the common hashtags for your industry and create one unique to your organization that your followers can use to help promote your cause (Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post). If your mission is global, consider that 80 percent of Instagram users come from outside the United States.
You’ll get likes and comments on Instagram, but there’s not a good way to figure out if you’re getting much more. Since you can only post a link in your profile bio, but not in a post, it’s difficult to use Instagram to drive traffic to your website or to donate. If you want to do that, you must pay for a sponsored post.
Demographics: If you’re looking for a younger target audience, more than half (59%) of people 18-29 use Instagram, while only a third (33%) of those 30-49 do.
Think of Twitter as a broadcast medium rather than an interactive one. While you can respond to tweets from your followers, Twitter’s most effective at blasting out a message that doesn’t require a response on the platform. In that way, it’s much better for driving traffic to your website than Instagram, but not nearly as good for storytelling as Facebook.
As with Instagram, hashtags can help your audience find your content. You should be judicious with hashtags on Twitter though. You only have 140 characters to work with, so make your hashtags count. One way to circumvent the character limit is to create an image of the text you want to convey. That way you can use all 140 characters for hashtags and a link if necessary.
Twitter users use the trending hashtags often, so if there is a topic relevant to your cause or organization in the news, tweeting with a trending hashtag is a great way to take advantage and get exposure for your organization. Additionally, tweets appear in Google search results so your organization can be found that way as well.
The downside to Twitter is it’s less popular than it used to be. According to Pew Research, 24% of internet users use Twitter, compared to 32% using Instagram and 79% using Facebook. Twitter also has a lot of spam, bots and fake accounts that users have to wade through.
Demographics: Twitter has a younger and more educated audience. 36% of internet users 18-29 use Twitter, as compared to only 23% of those 30-49. 29% of people with a college degree use the platform, while only 20% of those with a high school diploma or less.
If your nonprofit works with or for Millennials and Generation Z, you might want to take a look at Snapchat. It’s definitely the most fun and creative of the major social platforms. Filters and lenses can add a sense of whimsy to your posts. If you choose to use Snapchat, be sure you’ve got someone on board who really understands the platform. If you have great stories, you can help your branding among the 18-34 group with Snapchat, but if your stories aren’t great it can actually hurt your image with that audience.
You won’t reach many older people on Snapchat and there’s no real way to determine ROI still. You can’t link to your website in snaps and you have to promote your Snapchat username on other platforms because Snappers must know your username to find you on the platform.
Demographics: More than half of smart-phone users 18-29 (56%) use some auto-delete app (but not necessarily Snapchat), while only 13% of smart-phone users 30-49 use them.
There are many good reasons to use social media for your nonprofit. Be sure you’ve carefully considered what your expected outcomes are before taking the plunge on each platform.