Why Google Grants Is More Important Than Social Media
More important than social media.
Gaining visibility and exposure for your nonprofit is not an easy task, especially in today’s online-obsessed world where you could be shared in one moment, your pictured liked in another, and then all of a sudden the feed on a person’s phone refreshes and you get shuffled out. These days social media seems to be one of the biggest and fastest growing ways to tackle that online marketing sphere. But we think that there is another, a more important way, you should be considering: Google Grants. If you haven’t heard about it (or need another reminder) here’s the main thing you need to know: qualifying nonprofits receive advertising of $10,000 a month in free credit to advertise on Google. So how does that make itself more critical to your nonprofit than social media? We’ll explain below.
About two years ago, an informal survey was conducted by Social Media for Nonprofits and the Case Foundation. The purpose of the survey, to which 500 nonprofit professionals responded, was to measure how nonprofits use social media. The survey found that while 97% of those surveyed use social media platforms like Facebook, 88% of them said that they still considered email and their websites to be their most important tools for communication. So while the growth of nonprofits using social media has been notable, email and websites still reign king; this may be because while links and tweets are great for marketing and building a community online, it doesn’t necessarily lead to donations, which is the aim of nonprofits and the way they measure their overall success.
We’re pretty sure that your nonprofit feels the same way the nonprofits in this survey do. Google Grants can help you capitalize on the communication lines of email and website. If you read around, the general idea is that social media and Google Grants can work together, however, we believe you should invest your efforts in Google Grants first, if not primarily. The aim for both social media and Google Grants is the same; however, Google Grants can accomplish certain things that social media cannot and can overcome hurdles that are specific to social media. Here we try to highlight some of the places where social media may not deliver and how Google Grants can fill in some of those blanks that might have been missed.
Let’s face it, money makes the world go round. While the for-profit world can just launch a few clever advertisements and drop a new product without having to worry too much about the cost, nonprofits (as we have discussed in many articles before) have to have a different relationship with money. Advertising on Facebook or Twitter does not come free, or cheap it seems, according to Kristi Hines in her article “For Clicks Sake: Comparing Advertising Costs between Google Adwords and Facebook.” She says, “Social media networks often charge based on engagement, meaning people who see your ad, people who click on any part of your ad (but not necessarily the link itself), and people who engage with your ad through likes, comments, and shares. This can increase the cost without increasing the results to your bottom line.”
This can be a money drainer if not managed correctly and cost you money you could be using elsewhere.
Google Grants, like previously stated, gives you a monthly budget of $10,000 to advertise on Google using keywords and ad groups. This comes out to a daily budget of $329 in free advertising money. The ads created through Google Grant operate at a cost-per-click, meaning that you will only be charged when users click on your ad. Google even takes the extra step of capping your spending at the maximum 10K, making sure that you don’t overspend. However, if you don’t use up your monthly budget, it does not carry over into the following month. This may be considered a stressor, but we think that the free advertising credit outweighs that detail.
Social media is an avenue driven by content; it is highly dependent on sharing and making shareable links and content, as underlined by PsPrint’s article, “Social Media Marketing Pro and Cons.” Content must be continuously conceptualized, created, and must go through an editing process before it is given the ultimate thumbs up and published. Creating content that is both strong and engaging is difficult, especially since you will have to do it constantly. You have to be aware of and track what is trending as you’ll have to compete with things like cute dog videos and a list of the country’s most haunted places to visit to get your audience’s attention. Additionally, a large part of managing your nonprofit’s presence on social media means engaging with your audience, responding to comments and fostering conversations between your nonprofit and your followers. You may even have to do the extra leg work of policing comments and some of your followers if posts become inappropriate.
Google Grants follows a similar kind of process with the act of choosing and grouping keywords and creating and grouping ads. Where Google Grants moves past social media is when the ads go live. There is, of course, a time period wherein your ads must circulate and be adjusted accordingly. However, once an ad is created and is proven to be effective, it can continuously circulate. In Google Grants, there isn’t a need to continuously create content to the extent that social media requires.
The subject of audience is a huge one in our conversation in this article. Without an audience social media and Google Grants would not be successful and without an audience, there would be not potential for new supporters. However, your usage of Google Grants or social media will be dependent upon the audience you will want to reach.
In the case of social media, your audience is broad, according to a CHPCA presentation made by Vanessa Sherry and Julia Ehrhardt entitled “Social Media 101: Social Media for Nonprofits.” Facebook, for example, is open and used by everyone so you reach less of a professional audience, which may not be a part of your goal. The audience demographic for Facebook has been shifting as well, showing that older people are primary users of Facebook, what they call “the mom effect.” They do have Facebook ads, but that requires some time and money, as we discussed in our previous section. For Twitter, it can be harder to receive a specific audience or connect the right people since there are so many users on Twitter.
Through Google Grants, your nonprofit can better target your audience and reach particular groups of people. The keyword selection feature lets you to create ads that will help you stand out from the masses to reach people who are actually interested in your nonprofit or in its cause. Professionals looking to work in the nonprofit sector, volunteers looking to help in any way they can, and potential donors are some of the groups that you can reach through Google Grants. Not to mention, since you’ll be using the biggest search engine in the world, one people use every day, your chances of visibility increases.
Management and updates
Your nonprofit is probably on more than one social media platform, as that is the norm today. Only taking on one platform would not be considered an effective use of social media for your nonprofit. However, being on multiple platforms means that you will have to do the leg work to manage them all and make sure they are equally updated. This folds back into all the other thinks we have discussed above. Managing your social media platforms means constantly curating content for all of those platforms and monitoring it if need be, especially since they need to be updated at least once a week if you want to continue to be relevant to your audience.
Google Grants, on the other hand, is a “Set it, check up on it” situation. After doing the leg work of creating effective ads, all that needs to be done afterward is to monitor their circulation and make updates, adjustments, or eliminate them as needed. You achieve a certain kind of automation with Google Grants; aside from having to log in a few times a week, once everything is set, you get to sit back and watch.
Privacy and publicity
The caveat that comes with social media is the fact that it can be accessed by anyone and anywhere. Because access is at such a large scale with social media, privacy can easily be compromised through someone taking your content and passing it off as their own, for example. On Twitter, all of your past activity on Twitter is available to everyone. The remedy of course is to be conscious of what your nonprofit shares and how much you share online. Social media, like all things, is also sensitive to being hacked, so your nonprofit has to ensure that your social media doesn’t have any private or sensitive information on its pages.
There are many ways to remedy these things, like we have said; and hacking, though a very real occurrence, is something that should be considered but not something that happens at such an alarming rate. Bad publicity through a misjudged post can also be eased, but your nonprofit’s reputation could face some backlash if not careful.
Google Grants allows your nonprofit a degree of control, like we have said, of who sees your ads and therefore a degree of control as to who visits your website. And since you don’t engage with your audience in the same way social media does, it removes the possibility of inappropriate comments and antagonistic users.
Finally, figuring out if you have been successful is an important part of seeing if you social media and Google Grants campaigns are achieving your goals. For social media, it is difficult to measure success outside of how many followers, likes, retweets, and shares your content gets. With Google Grants you have access to a lot of tools to help create effective ads; can put Google Analytics on your website to track conversions and can set up a strategy for what happens after your users click your ad. Again, this is all dependent upon the goals your nonprofit has set. Social media is definitely an influential and useful tool to gain followers, but in the grand scheme of things, we believe Google Grants moves past social media in the end as it has the potential to bring something bigger to the table: donations.