It’s called social media cause it’s meant to be “social.”

It’s a conversation with followers and with your target audience.

But far too often I see nonprofits who are simply not engaging in conversation. They’re busy broadcasting their latest news. Their most recent accomplishments. Posts about what THEY want to put out there, not what THEIR FOLLOWERS are interested in reading and learning about.

A lot less Walter Cronkite would be the way to go. (For the younger readers, here ya go.)

Build Relationships!

Every digital platform your nonprofit has at its disposal- website, email and social media- should be used to help educate, build brand awareness and encourage people to take action.

The central, most important goal? Build relationships.

Social media is built for connecting with people. You can use images, videos, graphics, pictures and more to stop people from scrolling on by. The content and hashtags you use help drive the conversation. You want readers to take action, respond, share with their network.

And that’s how they become more invested in your cause and mission!

American Red Cross on Instagram post which will stop people from scrolling

Fundraising and marketing is all about building relationships. When you use social media effectively, you’ll see great results.

But when you don’t…

Five Social Media Mistakes To Avoid

Below are five common mistakes I see nonprofits making on social media.

No strategy: Social media is closely connected to your fundraising, marketing, content and communications efforts. ALL of those should have an overall strategy to tie them together.

Think about it: How will you know what content to post if you haven’t thought out what content to post?!

We know that in fundraising you can’t just hold your hand out and expect people to donate. The same applies to social media. “Tweet and they will donate” is not a strategy.

Sit down with your various teams. Work on a strategy so that social media HELPS your fundraising. Ensure that your content is engaging and followers will respond to it.

Yes, like any strategy, it will need testing, analyzing, learning and tweaking. But without a plan, your social efforts will flounder. Followers will stop paying attention. You won’t get any traction.

Metrics meshugaas: Please take a look at the following tweet:

Caring about number of followers is a social media metric to avoid

And now this one:

Social platforms provide users with a plethora of data and metrics. But you need to know what to measure and what’s fool’s gold!

Big numbers may impress the Board but if those numbers aren’t moving the needle for your organization, does it really matter?

This is why I hate when organizations use number of followers as a measure of success or failure. A large following but zero engagement? Not helpful.

So what should you be tracking? Try these:

  • Clicks and conversions: Are people clicking on the links you add to your posts? If yes, when a link sends them to your website, are they taking action?
  • Comments: When people are interested in what you’ve posted and take the time to comment on it. The comments can be a great way to build a relationship with an individual follower!
  • Reposts/shares/retweets: When followers feel that your content has value and they then share it with their personal network, bringing more eyeballs to your organization and what you posted? Two thumbs up!
  • Views and view time: Are people watching the videos you post? If yes, for how long? If your average view time is low, take a long, hard look at your content. Are you promising something that isn’t being delivered to viewers?

Lagging response time: Read this. Take note of the Amtrak example.

Less you: Please look at your thank you letters to donors. Is the letter full of praise for your organization and your tireless efforts or does it focus on the donor who is helping to solve a problem in their community?

I’m really hoping it’s the latter.

Social media is the same. Constantly posting about your organization’s work will get real old real quick.

I suggest using the 80-20 rule: 80% of the content you post on social media should not be organization centric. Educate followers. Raise awareness. Enrich their lives with interesting content. Make them laugh or cry.

You want to make them stop scrolling, pay attention to your posts and engage.

The other 20%? That’s where you share how they’re having impact in the community and helping to serve those who need it most. These posts can also mobilize people to take action: Register, subscribe, donate, sign up, advocate, volunteer and more.

The above mix can be laid out in a strategy and then planned accordingly using a content calendar.

Posting everywhere: I know, I know. The boss ran into your office one day and ordered you to start posting on TikTok. “My kids are on it and they said all their friends are too. We have to be there NOW!”

I feel your pain.

Let me start with this: You do NOT need to be on every social platform! Especially since you’re already overworked and don’t have time to engage followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube and… I think you get the point.

So how many platforms should you be on? Learn from Josh Hirsch, Social Content Marketing Manager at Susan G. Komen: “It’s not necessary to be everywhere at all times. Just because there’s a shiny red car driving by doesn’t mean that you need to go to the dealership and buy a shiny red car, because if you don’t have the ability to drive that shiny red car, then why are you going to try to do it?

I always say do one or two channels really really well. Don’t worry about the others. If your organization doesn’t produce video content, why are you gonna have a YouTube channel? It doesn’t make sense.”

If you have a large team and have the peoplepower to maintain an engaging, consistent presence on 5 platforms, go for it! But if you’re operating in a small shop, start small and then expand.

Be Social!

Social media provides your organization with a platform to engage your target audience and connect with them. Use it smartly and strategically and you’ll provide a boost for your fundraising and marketing efforts!

Want to learn how to engage your social media followers? Download my latest ebook, published in partnership with OneCause,11 Commandments of Nonprofit Social Media Engagement.” Learn about using humor, takeovers, user generated content, hashtags, great copy and more to engage. You’ll gain insights, receive expert tips and see examples of what works…and what doesn’t.
Download this free social media engagement ebook so you can strengthen your bond with your social followers and mobilize them to take action.