Like it or not, social media is a powerful entity in our world today, creating and defining everything from products and services to community involvement to an all-encompassing entertainment network that ties people together in ways previously unknown. And when it comes to building and sustaining a successful non-profit, leveraging the power of social media is an absolute necessity. Indeed, there’s no mode of communicating with your donor and volunteer base that is equally effective, as the days of telephone “cold calls” and glitzy but expensive mailers are quickly receding.
Looking to kick start a social media campaign for your non-profit? Keep these four ideas in mind.
1. Don’t expect instant results
One of the hallmarks of social media is the flash-in-the-pan fad. They can be exciting no doubt, but real results come from creating and reinforcing a consistent—and constant—message. If you find that once you launch a social media campaign you’ve become an instant Internet darling, don’t rest on your laurels and expect the attention to last. Indeed, if you make no further efforts to stay in the limelight you can absolutely expect that people will forget your organization quickly. So once you’ve created an online presence, maintain it by accelerating posts across the various social media platforms and creating new campaigns around new themes. For instance, if a startup non-profit such as one that provides clean water to third-world countries suddenly explodes on Facebook, that’s the ideal moment to quickly unveil a short-term (perhaps only one day) fundraising campaign, such as a dollar-matching offer from an angel donor or an online forum meeting where people purchase “virtual seats” and can ask questions and contribute ideas.
2. Integrate, integrate, integrate
This should be a no-brainer, and yet many non-profits ignore the importance of having a consistent message across ALL social media outlets. For instance, if your Facebook presence is solid, so too should your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. And be sure your message renders the same across all social media platforms: this means logos and designs should be identical so that users instantly recognize and identify with your brand.
3. Don’t be afraid to be bold
When it comes to social media campaigns, it’s impossible to predict what will work and what will not. So experimentation is a key to success. Is there a specific month of the year that relates somehow to your cause? Leverage that by challenging your followers to do something extraordinary, like volunteer at a charity for a set number of hours or run a marathon in the name of your cause. Another way to be bold is to create a message that can be somewhat shocking and disseminate across all your channels: UNICEF did such a thing when they posted on their Facebook page “Like us on Facebook and we will vaccinate zero children against polio. We have nothing against likes, but vaccines cost money.” It worked, and the charity saw a huge swell in donations when the message went out.
4. Recognize and take advantage of trends
As previously mentioned, social media thrives on trends, so take advantage of them. If online quizzes are hot, unveil one for your non-profit. If Google Hangouts are drawing people into other organizations, host one yourself. Trends may be fleeting, but if you draw attention to your group in the short term, that lays the basis for a more sustained social media presence that you can leverage in the long term.