Sprout Social recently published A Strategic Guide to Social Media for Nonprofits. This excellent resource uses insights from Beth Kanter, charity.water, Kivi Leroux Miller and others to outline eight steps to craft an effective nonprofit social media strategy.
If you’re a nonprofit professional involved in marketing and fundraising efforts, we strongly recommend you take a look at this guide. In the meantime, informed by Sprout Social’s Strategic Guide, we have four key questions you should ask if you’re looking to refresh or revise your nonprofit’s social media strategy for greater impact.
Ask These Questions to Create an Effective Social Media Strategy
If dipping your toes in the social waters, establishing an audience, and experimenting with different networks is level one, then level two is developing a more focused strategy. This is where things gets a little trickier as you aim to streamline your efforts and be more precise with the audience you’re aiming to reach.
The first step in developing a social media strategy for your nonprofit is sitting down and really thinking about the answers to these four questions:
1. How will you use social media?
In your nonprofit’s communications spectrum, where will social fall and how will it support your other efforts? How will it connect to your blog, website, email marketing, fundraising events, etc?
You want to pop the social media piece in the puzzle to help form that bigger picture. For example, maybe social media is the place where you have conversations about all the things you’re doing:
- In our latest blog post, we discuss xx topic—what are your thoughts?
- What did you think of our fundraising event? How can we make it better the next time?
- We sent an email today about our new friend-to friend campaign. Are you on board?
That’s just one example. Here’s another one: Maybe for your nonprofit, social media will be the place to share the impact you’re making through personal stories, pictures, and videos.
Make it point to determine the specific role social media will play—and make sure to connect it to everything else you’re doing and communicating.
2. What goal do you want social media to help you accomplish?
In order to measure the effectiveness of your social efforts, you must have a goal. Why are you on social media? What do you hope to achieve?
The Sprout Social Guide included these top five nonprofit social media goals for 2015:
- Engaging community
- Retaining donors
- Acquiring donors
- Generating brand awareness
- Building thought leadership
It’s a good basic list. Which of those do you want to accomplish? What’s your number-one priority this year (your goals may change from year to year)? Knowing your goal will help you answer the next question and, eventually, play a key role in determining the content you post.
3. Who are you trying to reach?
The answer should never be everyone. If your goal is retaining donors then that points you in one direction. If your goal is acquiring new donors then that points you in another. With your goal as your compass, you want to get even more specific.
The Sprout Social guide recommends creating audience personas, which means using demographic and behavioral data to paint a picture of the people you are trying to reach—and the people most apt to engage with your nonprofit via social media.
- Maybe these people are mostly male or female
- Maybe they fall into a specific age group
- Maybe they’re people who have taken a specific action in the past
All that information can be incredibly valuable in helping you craft content that speaks to your audience’s wants and needs, and helping to answer the next question…
4. Which networks will you focus on?
Different audiences interact with different social networks in different ways. That’s how your audience will help inform your nonprofit’s choice of social networks. Do some research to find out where your audience is. For example:
- If you’re trying to reach Millennials, you may want to check out Snapchat or Periscope
- If you’re trying to reach working professionals, LinkedIn might be your focus
The other part of this question is determining which networks will help you most effectively relay your message in a creative and memorable way.
- Is it a visual network like Instagram or Pinterest?
- A more textual, in-the-now one like Twitter?
- Maybe a video-based site like YouTube?
Make sure the select networks you choose (and you should definitely limit the number to 1-3 networks starting out) fit both your nonprofit brand and your audience.
Build a Strategy to Focus and Strengthen Your Social Media Efforts
Developing an effective social media strategy requires some thought and legwork. But the result will be a more focused set of efforts designed to drive donor engagement and help accomplish a specific organizational goal. A well-thought-out strategy will also make your social media efforts a whole lot easier to execute—always a benefit in the time-consuming world of social marketing.