Nonprofit organizations have a huge amount of potential on social media channels. Why is that you ask?
The answer is because nonprofit organizations typically come with very intriguing stories, dedicated advocates and LIBRARIES of statistical research!
What is one of the key barriers to social success? The answer is simple: THE INSISTENCE TO STICK TO BRAND STANDARDS.
Ok, yes! Branding is very important, and keeping with your brand voice is an absolute must. BUT just like everything else, things are good in moderation.
National organizations tend to overthink this a bit too much, in my opinion. Yes, it’s important to stick to research and to make sure that all in-house materials live up to organizational standards, but I think that too often these organizations overlook the opportunity to leverage influencers. How can nonprofits do this and still stay within their organization’s guidelines?
Let me share some of my suggestions with you:
1. Find local success stories! If your organization is truly benefiting your community, then you are sure to have several success stories. And out of those several, a handful of these might be willing to share their stories with your community and ultimately be “the face” of your cause!
Research shows that people are more apt to contribute to a cause when someone that they trust has a significant tie and devotion to that said cause. What draws people even closer? An intriguing and relate-able story! How do you find these stories? The answer is by simply asking!
Ask volunteers why they support your cause. Do they have a personal tie? Do they have a touching success story? Do they have a fond memory of how they personally helped someone else out through their own involvement in the cause? Stories bring your cause to life, it adds reality and personality. Stories show that your cause is truly making a difference in people’s lives, and by getting involved, new people will be genuinely helping man (or animal) -kind!
2. Ask local professionals to talk about the importance of your mission regularly! In other words, UTILIZE YOUR BOARD MEMBERS! These individuals are a part of your cause for a reason, and if they’re dedicated enough to actually sit on your board, then they’ll most likely be willing to talk about your mission to other professionals.
For professionals who don’t sit on your board, incentivize them to talk about your mission. Your organization has volunteers, right? And those volunteers typically have jobs….entice them to form company teams for future events! An example of incentives could be this:
For every five event team members who sign up under your name, you get $5 on a Visa Card! This sounds like it could be a logistical nightmare, but if you’re good at keeping spreadsheets and you have awesome sponsors, it shouldn’t be that bad! It’s a great way to spread awareness of both your cause and your events.,
How does this fit into your social media strategy? Ok come on… you KNOW people will post about your event/cause on their own social accounts, in turn giving you a WONDERFUL gallery of user-generated content! After gaining permission from the person who originally posted the image, you can then go on to use this on promo material or even as throwback posts on your own social channels! Nothing tells your true story like the people who experience it first-hand and then post about it on their own social media pages.
3. Become active in your local community! This one sounds like it could be time-consuming, but the benefits that you will gain from becoming active in your local community will be well worth it. No one wants to support the cause who only engages with the community when they need something. People support causes when the organizations actually GIVE BACK.
Engage with industry-related companies on social media! Take the extra time to comment on and retweet their content, when it’s relevant to your audience.
When it comes to in-person opportunities, be a connector. Help your community out by connecting professionals to companies and organizations that they could benefit from. Part of being a helpful part of the community is being a dependable resource for others. You get back what you put out there, in life and in the professional world. So be helpful and active! (on and off of social media)
4. Broadcast Live! The most intimate way that you can connect with your community (outside of real-life events) is by broadcasting live. There are so many ways that you can successfully “go live” and pose as a benefit to your community.
Broadcasting live, whether it be via Facebook Live, Instagram Live, or even Periscope is a terrific avenue for keeping your online community up-to-speed with things that are going on with your organization. Are you launching a new initiative? Leverage live sessions to tell your community everything about it, and be sure to take the opportunity to allow for questions. Answering your community’s questions in real-time is a true gift to them. Sure, it puts you a little bit on the spot, but that kind of vulnerability allows you to appear more trustworthy to your audience.
Another thing that you can use your live platforms for is audience education. Earlier in this blog post we talked about leveraging board members or volunteers to tell their story. This would be PERFECT content for a live session! Sure, some of them might be a little bit camera shy, but if you simply remind them that they are talking to HUMANS on the other side of the device, it should ease up some of that anxiety.
One more thing that truly can bring your organization to life for your audience is by broadcasting live from events that you either host or become an affiliate for. This shows your audience in real-time what you’re up to and allows those who couldn’t attend the event in real life the opportunity to share with you, either live or through the replay. Never underestimate the power of live video!
5. Leverage industry influencers! Do you know any industry influencers/bloggers who fit well with your organizations goal and mission? Build a genuine relationship with them! Engage with them on social media and make sure they understand what it is that you appreciate about what they do. Never reach out to an influencer for something until you’ve established a healthy relationship with them. Influencers can be very helpful for spreading your message, but they do need to be treated with respect and genuine appreciation. This goes back to Point 3 where we were talking about becoming active in your local community: do it with professionalism and with the intent to give back. Just like in real-life relationships, digital relationships should not be one-sided. You get back what you put out there, so show gratitude!
Staying social media savvy as a nonprofit professional can be challenging at times, but the key is to be genuine and tell your story whole-heartedly. If people want to know where the money is, do a live broadcast to explain it. If people have questions about certain topics, be open and available to help them. Be a human helping other humans.
Do you have thoughts/comments to contribute to this topic? Please add them in the comment section below! And as always, THANKS FOR READING! -Jen