The short answer is..., it depends. Social media marketing for nonprofits can definitely work, but one size does not fit all. It's best to get your nonprofit inbound marketing strategy in place by defining your audience, and then targeting them on the platforms they use most.
Audiences for non-profits are going to be nuanced but you can start by focusing on some major groupings.
- Donors - this group is obvious! These are the people or organizations that are going to donate to your nonprofit. Donations can be cash or in-kind (construction supplies, food, etc.). Figure out who your donors are and how many categories they are comprised of. Are they local? Do your donations come from a large number of small contributions or just a few large annual gifts? Are they mostly from individuals or do you receive funding from businesses or government organizations? It's important to get these categories in order to target your audience effectively.
- Volunteers - Does your nonprofit rely on volunteers? Do you host a lot of community events where many hands are needed or do you need an ongoing source of people to help with annual fund duties or other maintenance? Who are these volunteers and how are they finding out about your organization? Why do they volunteer? Is it the cause or the community that attracts them?
- Customers - Many nonprofits have a revenue source other than from donations. If your nonprofit falls into this category, it is very important to know your customer audience. How did they find you? What resource are you providing that is different and unique. How has their experience been with your staff or volunteers?
You will probably be able to break these categories into more granular groupings and feel free to get as specific as possible. The above questions should get you started so you can define your target audiences and then grab their attention on one or more of the following platforms.
LinkedIn is a business-oriented site - so it's a great way to attract people who are working on a professional level, including major financial donors and community businesses who want to do some charitable activities. Note that LinkedIn is primarily a networking site that helps people get to know each other, so you'll want to focus on building relationships over time.
LinkedIn is also ideal for finding volunteers. Many of its users want to have proof of volunteer work on their profile, especially if they're thinking about finding a new job in the near future. By actively seeking out these people, your nonprofit could gain access to a steady supply of helpers.
Facebook is ideal when you want to use social media for nonprofits to reach the community as a whole. Facebook is a great platform that to promote your organization. This is particularly effective if you share photos (ideally of jobs being accomplished) and let people know about your services.
For this, you'll probably want to make use of buyer personas - even if you aren't explicitly selling something, buyer personas can help you determine what's likely to resonate with your target audience.
Learn more about why identifying and targeting your audience is crucial. How Buyer Personas Drive Inbound Marketing Success
Instagram has a younger audience than most forms of social media - and younger people are often more willing to volunteer (or even work for) a non-profit where they think they'll be able to make a real difference.
Note that Instagram is all about image, and you don't have to be as general as Facebook requires - it's perfectly acceptable to be funny, quirky, or off-beat as long as you remain positive.
Unlike the other options on this list, Google+ isn't about contacting people, precisely - it's about doing well with digital marketing.
Google favors websites that are registered and share updates on Google+ so if you are active on this platform, chances are you'll be able to rank higher in search engine results and get more people to your website.
Take the time to define your audiences, and then speak to them on the platforms they frequent. Don't be afraid to experiment a little and see what resonates with your followers. After a while it will become clear what works best for you and your organization and you can make social media a cornerstone of our nonprofit inbound marketing strategy!
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Breezy Hill Marketing is a Vermont marketing and web design company that serves clients throughout the United States. We work closely with our clients to create customized strategies for social media marketing, digital marketing, and web design.