The following is a guest post by fundraising expert Larissa Long.
Social media has taken over the world. It is used for everything from socializing to news. It has become a necessity in marketing and advertising, and non-profits are no exception. Social media is crucial to reaching your donors, supporters and board members. If you are not already using social media, hop to it. If you are, is it being used to its full capacity?
I spoke with the development director of a non-profit who told me she didn’t see the benefits of using social networking sites. She tried it once, but only got one response. There are many things wrong with that statement, but the key word is “once”. Your online community won’t engage with you if you do not engage with them.
You must be consistent about posting information, even if it is something as simple as “we dropped off coats to the local school today”. Information like that helps your donors to know how their money is being spent. The more they know the more they want to donate.
Use social media as a branding strategy:
Don’t expect donations directly. Look at it more like a way to brand yourself. Branding creates what people know about you. Social media is the best way to make sure the information you want people to know is the information people are getting. If you’re not posting something, someone is, and it may not be what you want it to be.
Use social media to monitor your brand:
Monitor what people are saying about your organization. In Twitter type your organization’s name in the search and all of your mentions will be listed. You can also use Google search, because social media sites are typically going to within the top results listed.
Use social media to advertise:
Social media is also a great resource for advertising events. It’s free!!! Nothing is better than free for a non-profit. An added bonus is that viral information is fast and reaches thousands of people you wouldn’t reach through your website.
Five important ways to get your social media strategy going:
1. Create a new Facebook page. For more information on creating a presence for your group or non-profit, click here.
2. Twitter isn’t just a great resource to promote your non-profit; it’s a great learning tool. Follow people who are “experts” in your field because they are posting information constantly that could help you become an “expert” yourself.
3. Sign up for Plancast.com. It is an amazing site that allows people to see your events and vice versa. I have attended events I would not have known about if it wasn’t for Plancast. When you create an event in Facebook it is automatically transferred over for all of your followers to see.
4. YouTube is invaluable. You can make simple how-to videos that will help tremendously with your branding. View an example of how the AHA gained over 7,000 viewers from posting an ad.
5. Use sites like bit.ly to shorten URLs. Your users don’t like to see a mess. This cleans up your posts and it gives you more room to post on Twitter and on other sites.
I hope this information will give you a starting point for harnessing and using the power of social media for your non-profit. Social media can help you spread your budget further while reaching more people. Don’t give up if you don’t get results right away. Ask those experts you found on Twitter.
Larissa has been recruited by many non-profit organizations for her fundraising skills. She has been in the public relations industry for over ten years and has been volunteering for over 15. She believes all non-profits have the ability to promote themselves for free with a little hard work and some networking. Read more about her on her blog.