Social media made tremendous strides in 2012 that have certainly left their mark on nonprofit fundraising and supporter engagement. Over the summer we began a Social Media Series for nonprofits that focused on establishing and managing an online presence for this very reason.
Still many small-medium nonprofits are uncertain of their place on these networks and how to use them effectively in their short and long term fundraising plans. The on-going evolution of these platforms adds yet another layer of uncertainty leaving many overwhelmed. In looking back over the past year there were some key elements that when applied correctly can lead to successful nonprofit fundraising and stronger supporter engagement in 2013.
Focus – There are many social media networks nonprofits can engage supporters through however success is not determined by the quantity of platforms you have a presence on but rather the quality of the connections you have. Often nonprofits have limited resources and therefore it’s best to focus on 2-3 main platforms that target your donor demographic instead of spreading yourself too thin and not maintaining a strong presence in any. The most popular and common platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. How many and which ones you focus on is largely dependent on the resources or time that you have available and which ones best cater to your target audience. You might find Facts and Tips on Strengthening Nonprofit Engagement from Hubspot Report a good read for this.
Engage – It’s important to dedicate time to more than just sharing blog posts, status updates, links, pictures and videos. Social Media is meant to be social therefore actively engaging your audience in conversation and responding to questions and comments is crucial to the success of any organization’s social media plans. Connections will regularly be made the more you engage and it’s important to nurture these relationships. Following up with them in a timely manner will keep your organization in the forefront of their mind, help build on the relationship and keep them coming back for more. 4 Key Considerations for Nonprofits to Grow Social Media Communities speaks to this more.
Adapt – One of the biggest challenges many nonprofits face when working on social media is the constant updates and changes that platforms go through. Adaptability is essential to maintaining a presence and being effective on any platform so it’s important to keep abreast of changes as they happen. The sooner you are aware of emerging platform changes the sooner you can adapt your strategies to maximize the effectiveness of your efforts.
Patience – Results will not happen overnight. It requires dedication and consistent effort before results will materialize. Often organizations become discouraged due to the pace at which their social media community grows but you have to learn to celebrate the small victories as any addition is a step in the right direction. It’s important to assess your plan and goals regularly and chart your progress to ensure you are maximizing your time and effort.
To review best practices in establishing and maintaining a presence on various Social Media platforms, check out our Social Media Series which includes coverage on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin and others. The New Year will undoubtedly bring more changes to social media and I will be sure to provide you with updates as they happen.