It’s nearly impossible to overstate how important social media is these days. Not only has it almost completely changed the way we communicate with each other, but it has changed the face of marketing. Platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have such a far reach that they are now being worked into the marketing strategies of businesses everywhere. Research has shown that social media can increase the profits of small and large businesses, but it can work wonders for nonprofit organizations as well. In fact, social media marketing may be more beneficial to nonprofits than they are for businesses that are meant to make money. Here are just a few reasons why.
More Affordable Advertising and Promotion
Perhaps the best part of any social media marketing campaign is that it is so much less expensive than any other advertising campaign. It is possible to run an expensive social media campaign that involves elaborate video ads released over a period of several months, but it is just as possible to set up a free Facebook page to help spread the word about your organization. Many charitable nonprofits are small and by their definition aren’t trying to make money, so they don’t have the money to spend on an expensive direct mail campaign or an equally expensive benefit dinner. On the other hand, even the smallest grassroots charitable organization can reach their target audience with a well-made Facebook page that is regularly updated.
Building a Community of Supporters
Nonprofits have always had to work hard to find supporters, and that is easier than ever thanks to social media. A typical group on a social media platform might start out as a relatively insular group of friends, but in time that group will grow. People obviously trust their friends, but they can also trust the friends of their friends, which can work to the advantage of a nonprofit that relies on a community of supporters. Technically, this has always been how nonprofits grow, but social media allows it to happen 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Eventually, the word of your nonprofit will spread not just to your group of friends, but an entire community that can include people from all across the country.
Not only can your social media marketing efforts attract followers who will support you and your nonprofit, but it will allow you to better reach those you are trying to serve. For example, charitable nonprofits who focus on education can use social media to raise funds to improve schools or make it easier for prospective college students to find and earn scholarships. Other nonprofits that focus on improving their communities through grants and other means can use social media to find those in the community who can stand to benefit the most from these efforts.
Driving Traffic to a Homepage
No organization can rely solely on Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to build its following; they almost certainly need to have an active website. Most of the promotion and business can actually be done through these homepages, but organizations can still rely on social media to drive traffic to them. Not everyone will remember to check a homepage regularly to see if it’s been updated, so they can be prompted to do so if they “like” your organization’s page on Facebook. You can also suggest that newcomers to your Facebook page can go to your website to learn more about your organization and what it stands for. All of this can be done with relatively little effort or energy on your part; all you need to do is remember to post regularly to your social media profiles of choice, which is a simple matter that only takes a couple of minutes at the most. Of course, you still need to remember to update your organization’s homepage as that will help give users a reason to check it out.
Posting Shareable Content
Social media is based at least in part around shareable content, whether that is in the form of memes that go viral or a news story that piques users’ interest. The more your own content is shared, the more people will become aware of your organization and what you are trying to accomplish with it. This is the kind of thing that practically promotes itself when it is done right; even when something you post doesn’t go viral, the word will spread to someone if at least one person shares it with their followers. This will also help make your organization feel more relevant. Simply put, if people see that your content is worth sharing with others, they might decide that your organization’s cause is worthwhile and be more likely to contribute to it.
Telling Your Story
A social media account or even a blog can be the perfect platform to tell your organization’s story in great depth. In the past, nonprofits had to rely on short ads in television, radio or print, and while those are obviously still being used, they don’t have the versatility that a series or blog posts or Facebook updates can have. It becomes a kind of long-form storytelling, one that can go on for months or even years. There really is no limit to what you can post, and your audience will start to grow simply due to the nature of social media.
If you have any kind of nonprofit organization, a social media presence is a must. It provides you with an inexpensive means to advertise your organization and what it stands for, it can give you a following that is larger than anything you will gain through other avenues, and it can be combined with any other mode of advertising. That’s not to say that social media campaigns build themselves; you will still need to put in a lot of work to make sure that your campaign is effective. As with anything else you do online, remember to keep on posting, and don’t forget your followers.