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Easy Tips for Smaller Nonprofits to Maximize Social Media

March 11, 2014

Last year here on Impatient Optimists I wrote 8 Social Media Predictions for Nonprofits in 2014 and 8 Tips for Effectively Using Social Media for Social Change. After both pieces were published the primary criticism I heard was that many of the tips, ideas, and examples I shared were solely applicable to large nonprofits and international NGOs. I often cite large nonprofits and international NGOs as examples of social media done right. It’s true. They tend to be the most visible on social media in the nonprofit space and get the most attention. They, then, become examples used in countless case studies and PowerPoint presentations and even in my posts.

I do realize that only citing the biggest organizations in the nonprofit world does a great disservice to smaller nonprofits. Oftentimes the exceptional social campaigns that large nonprofits easily pull off are only wishful thinking for small nonprofits. I will say, though, that it is always beneficial to look at the best-in-class to learn how to effectively execute memorable social media campaigns. That is, continue to follow the large nonprofits and INGOs like the World Food Programme, Save the Children, Charity Water and Malaria No More, for example, to see some of the best social campaigns on the web. Then adopt their strategies and tailor them to fit the size, scope and objectives of your nonprofit.

I often hear from small nonprofits that manpower is scarce when it comes to dedicating someone to be the social media maven of the organization and that the social media learning curve is difficult to overcome. That said, I have created a very simple social media plan that any small nonprofit can execute to ensure social media is being used to its fullest. Here’s a simple 5-4-3-2-1 plan that your nonprofit can follow. Here’s how it works.

5 days a week, post to Twitter: This is really easy. You can dedicate this task to a communications person, an intern, or a hardworking volunteer. Posting to Twitter is essential. This is how many of your supporters will find your latest news, information, and updates. Posting to Twitter doesn’t have to be a chore. Don’t stress about it. Just make sure someone posts every weekday even if it’s only once and then encourage them to gradually post more. Make sure the person who becomes the primary tweeter also begins to communicate with supporters, donors, and partners and doesn’t resort to simply using Twitter as a megaphone.

Also, for Twitter, consistency is key! Followers will forget you as soon as they find you! If you don’t post, you don’t matter on Twitter.

4 days a week, post on Facebook and Google+ : Facebook is now new social media terrain because they require that you “boost” (pay for) your posts in order to reach the people who actually like your page. Back in the good old days you used to be able to write great content Facebook snapshots and many people would see your Facebook posts and act upon them. That has changed altogether. Practically no one sees your posts these days unless you have a huge following on Facebook or you pay for them to see it. That doesn’t mean you need to abandon the medium. Post and post often! What I have learned is that even though people don’t see your updates in their stream, if they are ardent supporters they will seek you out! Continue to make Facebook a priority and post often, even though Facebook has changed their algorithm.

Also, four times a week post to Google+. Some nonprofits really understand Google+ and others don’t. Now that Facebook is making it harder to reach users I would make sure Google+ is in your social strategy. Just as you would on Facebook, post all of your new content on Google+, too. It’s extremely easy to cross-post. So, for example, what you publish on Twitter, also post on Google+, and also post on Facebook.

3 days a week, post to Pinterest and Instagram: I know you may not want to dabble in the visual social networks like Instagram and Pinterest, but if you ignore them you will regret it. Have your newly appointed social media editor (because eventually you’ll realize you need one) go through photos that tell your nonprofit’s story and then make sure they post regularly on both Pinterest and Instagram. And moving forward take every opportunity to share visually whether it’s a program you want to highlight or an annual fundraising dinner.

2 days a week, post on your blog: Having a blog is extremely important to keep your advocates and donors up-to-date about what your nonprofit is doing. What you might not realize is that when people log onto your web site many people automatically look for the “blog” tab because that is what they have been trained to do. For years, everyone has been talking about blogs, blogs, blogs, so when your longtime donor logs onto your site, guess what they’re looking for? Your blog! Be sure to keep it timely. Everyone loves to see the latest that’s your nonprofit is doing. Don’t disappoint them. If you can’t post twice a week, make once a week a priority. 

1 day a week, post on Vine, Instragam (Video), Youtube, or SoundCloud: You will never regret multimedia access to your nonprofit.  Make it a priority to share video and audio of your nonprofit on the Web - consistently. Let’s say your nonprofit touts the importance of local foods. Make a Vine video of a local farmer talking about her produce. Or, let’s say your nonprofit helps poor mothers get prenatal care. Capture their thoughts about their life and the help they’re getting through an audio snippet on SoundCloud. Audio and video give a new dimension to your nonprofit and will help you find new followers and community that you might not have met otherwise.

Remember all of the content your nonprofit creates has the potential to be shared on social media. Think of social media as a new community of donors, advocates, and supporters just waiting to connect. While this 5-4-3-2-1 strategy may seem simplistic to some there is always a small nonprofit out there that doesn’t know where to start. This is for them.

Also, remember that you can connect accounts so that when you post on Twitter it automatically posts on Facebook. And if you post on Pinterest you can automatically tweet out your pin. Or if, for example, you post on Instagram you can choose for the photo to also be tweeted out and Facebooked. Connected accounts are great, and can make your social media director’s life easier in the long run. This is especially beneficial for smaller nonprofits that have limited time to devote to social media.

I hope these tips help if you are a part of a small nonprofit. The biggest tip is to simply make social media and blogging a priority this year. 

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