Jastine Lumbres
by Jastine Lumbres

How To Conquer Social Media For Your Nonprofit (Part 2)

You have established the foundation of your social media marketing strategy; you’ve made your assessment, assembled your team, set your goals, examined your audience, brought them together as your followers, and hand-picked your platform. Even beyond that, you’ve watched the social media world in action and set up a timing and frequency schedule for your posts. Now that you are primed and ready with all of these things in place, it’s time to move onto the second installment of this article, where we put your social media marketing plans into action.

Create content.

With your time and frequency schedule in mind and armed with your observations of the social media environment, it’s time to achieve the goals you have set for your social media presence by creating and curating some content. To start, because users already expect a different social media experience per platform, creating content has to follow suit on a platform by platform basis. What works on Instagram, for instance, doesn’t necessarily ring true for Facebook, and so on. For content in general, however, Lisa Furgison of Bplans advises using the “80/20 rule,” applicable to all social media platforms. With this rule, Furgison says, 80% of your posts on social media should be content that is directly related to your nonprofit (such as studies and current events) and shared content from similar nonprofits or other relevant organizations with the other 20% being promotional posts for your nonprofit.

Furgison also lists some of the major kinds of posts your nonprofit should be creating content for such as how your nonprofit helps your target group, the previously mentioned relevant studies and current events/news, recognition of donations and Thank Yous, and promotions (for events, campaigns, fundraisers). Your nonprofit could also make use of a recurring theme, such as the hashtag #TBT where you can post a throwback photo of a previous event or a news article that mentions your nonprofit. You could even create your own recurring theme with a corresponding hashtag. Your content is not limited to just these things; your posts could also shed some light on some statistics about your nonprofit’s cause, share images and videos of an event in real time or behind the scenes, spotlight volunteers and staff, and more.

Visuals play a vital part in social media as Likeable Media shows ; it observed that tweets with photos were 94% more likely to get retweeted. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of that kind of data by mixing images and videos with statistics, quotes, or testimonials. Dependent on the social media platform, creating visuals for posts (such as an infographic to tell your nonprofit’s history on Facebook, for example) is completely separate from posts that are purely visual (such as photos on Instagram of volunteers working on their latest project for your nonprofit). Use of visuals, though, must be consistent in order to ensure their effectiveness and not overwhelm users. 

Taking all of these things into consideration, curating content can feel like a gargantuan task; but there are ways to make the process easier, such as curation tools which help with the process of finding and posting content. These kinds of tools “scan the internet based on keywords that you supply. You get a list of relevant content, which you can share instantly or schedule for a later date.” You can use curation tools to help add to your growing content library. This library should be full of the content gathered together by your curation tool or through your own elbow grease looking through other social media pages. It should also be filled with transparent content, meaning content that has no other hidden intent except to spread the word about your cause. This is extremely important according to the Case Foundation, as only 53% of nonprofits using social media “share issue-centric information [that] resonates with donors.” Weave stories rich with visuals, words, and emotions.   

Construct a social media policy.

Every good strategy needs a good rulebook. The nature of social media means that if your online presence is not handled with care, it can potentially sabotage your nonprofit. So to protect your nonprofit and provide some guidelines for its use, policies have to be administered. Here below we have assembled some important points on the subject raised by Gene Takagi of The Nonprofit Times and Andrea Barry and Ben Stuart of TechSoup, all of whom addressed everything from some legal standpoints to online etiquette. 

  • Determine what policy describes you best:
    Your nonprofit’s needs and your overall goals for social media will dictate the kind of policy that you will implement. Your nonprofit can address social media policy in one of two ways. The first, by creating a policy that is built on defined and exact parameters of sharing and interaction per platform with strict rules. The second, by putting together a policy that is more of a guideline than a rule book, leaving it open for your social media team and staff to make their own judgements in how to conduct their interactions with social media. Take a look at your employee handbook and see if there are any policies that would effect policy making for social media and vice versa, where your social media policies must also be included in all of your nonprofit’s handbooks.
  • "Defining your core values":
    Berry and Stuart suggest “defining your core values” in order to “ensure that you incorporate them into social media guidelines.” It would be useful to pull out your nonprofit’s mission statement to help guide your thinking in pinpointing your organization’s beliefs and values. This will inform policy making for social media as it will serve to keep focus on your cause, instead of just taking advantage of the cost-effective marketing social media can provide. Crafting policy is also a good exercise in making sure that your nonprofit’s brand and values are being communicated well in your social media presence.
  • Distribute responsibilities:
    Your nonprofit social media policy will also define the roles each person on your team will play and which aspects of social media they will be expected to manage. A member of your team could take on one or more of the following tasks, for example, such as responding to questions and comments, creation and compilation of content for posts, posting itself, creating a frequency schedule and making sure everyone is on track, etc. 
  • Donations and fundraising:
    Takagi notes that if you are organizing an event through social media that reaches out beyond your state of operation, look into whether you will have to qualify to conduct an online event in a different state. Likewise, if you are obtaining donations online, your nonprofit may need to register in the states that donors are giving from. These are all meant to legally cover the bases for your nonprofit.  
  • Curating, sharing, and protecting content:
    With the understanding of your nonprofit’s core values at hand, your policy should serve to focus content on those core values. There is no shortage of content ideas, but being particular about what kinds of content to create and pursue will keep your social media presence continuously concentrated. Because the emphasis of social media is on sharing, your policy should clearly define how sharing should be conducted. Some nonprofits allow for their content to be shared liberally across all platforms, others copyright their content and require permission to share it.
  • Supervise engagement:
    In your policy, specify what tactics will be used for answering questions, addressing user concerns, and keeping an eye on nonprofit-follower and follower-follower conversations. Think up some theoretical situations and work through how they should be handled, like when a follower starts posting inappropriate comments on one of your images or when a follower posts inaccurate information about your nonprofit. This part of your policy should outline how those situations will be handled and who on your team should handle them.
  • Privacy, copyright, and ownership:
    Right out the door, make it clear in your policy that your organization owns its social media platforms and therefore the content that has been created for it by staff and volunteers. This may sound like an obvious point, but it is always best to have those kinds of assumptions down in writing so that it eliminates any confusion or problems that could arise later on.

    Protect the privacy of your cause and the people involved. Establish some protocols for reproducing pictures, using real names, and making public certain kinds of personal and sensitive information (like testimonials and details within in them), to start.  Also, be conscious of copyright infringement if you are using visuals from a third-party organization or from someone outside of your organization (such as a freelance photographer). It is always good practice to ask permission first before sharing that kind of content online.

    On the business side of things, protect the privacy of sponsors, partners, and other organizations that your nonprofit is working with or associated with. Be aware of the legal limitations and ramifications of sharing anything related to them and study their social media policies as well.
  • The border between Personal and Professional:
    Educate your entire organization, not just your social media staff and volunteers, about online etiquette. Make the line between the professional and personal usage of social media crystal clear. Encourage your employees to put privacy settings on their own social media pages. Figure out how much interaction you want your staff to have with your nonprofit’s social media channels. Do you want your content to be kept strictly within the parameters of your nonprofit’s social media platforms and therefore not shared on staff’s personal pages? Will you allow staff and volunteers to personally interact with your channels like comment on posts? To guide your staff, list what kinds of posts are acceptable and unacceptable. Again, it is dependent on your nonprofit’s needs and concerns but we suggest that your social media team avoid placing strict limitations on interaction. The point is to encourage engagement and conversation. 
  • Enforcement of policy.
    Finally, you policy must also include a section of how these policies will be enforced and the steps that will need to be taken if they are breached, depending on the level of violation. 

Track, measure, assess you progress.

Find ways to manage and be attentive to your social media presence and its development; remain keenly aware of what works and what needs improvements. Knowhow Nonprofit provides a useful outline of some of the categories of social media management:

  • Public Relations and Media measurement:
    Evaluates social media platforms for their outreach capacity; the rate at which your social media platforms are reaching out to your target audience. 
  • Word of Mouth measurement:
    Evaluates the ways in which people interact with your nonprofit online, what they decide to share with their own personal networks, if that kind of sharing shows results (i.e. visits to your social media platforms to your nonprofit website).
  • Web analytics:
    Analyzes user patterns such as how often they visit your platforms, for how long, where are they coming from, etc. 
  • Opinion research:
    Getting the opinions of users and followers, taking polls and surveys.

They also outline the basics of what is called “Social Media Equity;” these are the standards higher-ups in your nonprofit (such as your board) will use to determine how much of your nonprofit’s resources to invest in social media marketing.

  • Strength of relationship:
    This is taken in terms of size, quality, relevance of type of activities, etc. Has your social media presence built meaningful and firm relationships with your audience, how has that relationship been translated such as through donations, clicks to your website, email sign ups? 
  • Degree of familiarity:
    Do users who interact with your nonprofit on social media get what your nonprofit is all about, do they understand the work that your organization does.
  • Degree of efficiency:
    These would be what is called "viral logistics;" how many likes/retweets/shares are your platforms pulling in? How many people are opening the links and content you post?
  • Value creation:
    Hhas your social media presence increased the value of your organization? Has social media helped your nonprofit do more for the cause? 

Engage.

Don’t expect your posts to do all of the talking for you! Engage in conversation with your  followers. Answer their questions, respond to their comments, thank them for donating or sharing your content. Julia Campbell of About.com also suggests that you “celebrate successes” or a milestone in your nonprofit’s social media platforms. This includes reaching a certain number of followers or showing how much money was raised for a recent campaign. Like we said early, host contests and giveaways. Participate, share, and recognize those who decide to share your content.

Make sure you have a voice that is being heard in real time in addition to the content you put out on your users’ news feeds. This shows that you value your followers, their opinion, and their support.

Strategize, post, and conquer.

Taken in conjunction with Part 1 of this article, you should be armed and ready to to take on social media marketing for your nonprofit. Remember, social media is definitely a trial and error process and must be worked with in order to become an effective tool for your organization. Use our pointers as a guide, inject it with your nonprofit's personal flair, put in the time and social media marketing will become another resource for your nonprofit arsenal.

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Jastine Lumbres

Jastine Lumbres
Jastine is Elevate Click's first content writer. She received her BA in English from UC Riverside and Master's in English degree from Claremont Graduate University. She currently lives in Rosemead, CA with her family.

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