Social Media: Finding the Channels That Fit Your Nonprofit

Kristen Blessman; Volunteer- Goodwill Denver
Posted

The social media marketing movement is huge. That probably isn’t news to any of you. Both for profit companies and nonprofits are moving further and further away from traditional paid media and transferring their time and energy into developing social media outlets. In fact, if your organization isn’t on some form of social media by now, then you’re already behind.

Many orgs, especially those with a limited staff, find social media to be a daunting task: it’s ever changing, it requires time and attention, and quite frankly, it’s still a new kind of “animal” in the marketing world. Oftentimes, brands make one of two mistakes: they ignore social media altogether or they jump on every channel available. The problem with the first mistake is clear; you’re going to get left behind. The problem with the second mistake is less obvious, though. Why wouldn’t it be a good reason to be on as many social media outlets as possible? The short answer is quality. With social media, one of the most important things to achieve is quality communication with your audience.

Every social media channel has its own special identity, and many will appeal to certain groups of people much more than others. For instance, Twitter is going to skew heavily to people under 35, while LinkedIn lacks the youngest age bracket. Sure, Pinterest is booming, but the users are heavily female, so it might not be of a lot of value to your nonprofit if you serve or work with a predominantly male base. Take the time to really examine who you’ll be conversing with on each platform, and make sure that you spend time developing a voice in a space that will generate followers who are invested in your message. 

Here at Goodwill, we’re excited that our messaging suits several different social media sites. Our Facebook followers love a good deal. Our Pinterest followers are searching for the next cool DIY project. Our Twitter followers like newsworthy information. While all of these mediums sound vastly different, it is extremely important to maintain congruency between platforms (just as it’s important to keep a consistent brand between traditional media buying). 

In addition to creating a quality presence and staying in brand, it’s important to keep up with growing trends. For instance, crowd-funding has become an extremely efficient way for nonprofits to garner revenue and new supporters. Some sites, like Fundly.com and Fundraiser.com are set up specifically to help nonprofits. Video is a key element to the success of these channels, so it’s always worth the extra dollar or hour of work to make a meaningful video.

Don’t have the funds to hire a full-time social media expert? Consider taking on an intern or hiring an individual on a contract basis. As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to be sharing your message with the online audience—especially when it can be so beneficial to the success of your organization.