Social Media Marketing Guide for Nonprofits

Apr 30, 2019 10 min read

Social media marketing for a nonprofit organization constitutes similar fundamentals that most of the businesses would implement. However, one key difference in their marketing strategy lies in the objectives of their marketing plan that they set out to achieve.

Unlike the marketing plans for businesses that may focus on increasing sales and revenue, nonprofit social media marketing plans aim at raising inspiration, motivation, and awareness for social causes and charity events.

If your nonprofit aims to fuel a movement of change, you need to reach a lot of people. Social media makes that possible for you – it allows your nonprofit to grow followers, engage them in discussions, and encourage them to take action, both online and offline.

The challenge, however, is not that nonprofits don't understand the potential of social media. The biggest issue is the time they have to spend on social media is limited.

According to a survey from Hubspot, around half of all nonprofits spend two hours or less each week on marketing.

Why Is This A Problem

Due to the shortage of time, the vast majority of nonprofits are failing to have a documented social media strategy in place. What more? They are not able to measure the effectiveness of their social media efforts.

However, in spite of all these shortcomings, there exist some nonprofits that are setting an outstanding example in the social media landscape. One such reputable NGO proving that nonprofit social media marketing does not have to be this chaotic is Red Cross.

Red Cross needs no introduction. The humanitarian organization is driven by a people-powered movement campaigning to protect human life and health, ensuring respect for all human beings, and alleviating human suffering.

For the Red Cross, social media had been a gateway to advance their overall mission. With over 16 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide, Red Cross has an effective social media strategy in place that empowers them to reach and inspire their massive audience to action.

We analyzed RED CROSS' social media strategy for their latest 'End Home Fire campaign'. As we go ahead with outlining the steps to craft an effective strategy, the methods and tricks used by Red Cross mentioned in this social media marketing guide for nonprofits will guide your way.

1. Define Your Nonprofit's Goals

Social media provides an opportunity to tell your story and engage with your supporters. To make sure that people feel connected with your nonprofit's story and perform an action, you have to comprehend what your mission and vision is, how you want to put it across and to whom. Similarly, it is essential to set social media goals that are in line with your organization's mission and vision.

For instance, Red Cross is doing it just right! They have their mission in place and have prepared a list of goals they want to achieve from their End Home Fire campaign.

The idea behind the Red Cross' End Home Fire campaign is to:

  • Help save lives by installing free smoke alarms in homes that don't have them
  • Educate people about home fire safety
  • Raise funds for lifesaving services during the course of events such as Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installations

Red Cross End Home Fire Campaign

To spread this idea, they are capturing the power of social media extensively to strengthen their community of supporters, educating people about home fire safety and raising funds as well.

Likewise, your social goals should be clear. Here I've listed a few possible goals that can inform your social efforts:

  • Increase Brand Awareness
  • Build Trust And Relationships
  • Community Engagement And Education
  • Reputation Management
  • Fundraising
  • Increase Membership, Volunteers

Thus, before you start using social media for your nonprofit organization, guarantee that you have prepared a list of goals you want to achieve and plan your social media marketing strategy accordingly.

2. Understand Your Nonprofit's Target Audience

Once you’ve determined your goals, the next important part of forming an effective nonprofit social media strategy is understanding your target audience.

Have you ever put time and energy into a campaign and totally missed your engagement or fundraising goal? I'm sure it would have been a horrible experience.

Remember, donors or volunteers would prefer not to know your story simply because they consider your work to be necessary. But the truth is you have to give people the kind of content that grabs their attention or the content they enjoy on a deep, personal level.

What more? To furnish them with what they need, you need to get to know them better. Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Use Google Analytics to analyze your readership and the posts they love which would help you understand the causes or campaigns that appeal to them
  • Make a list of your target audience demographics (age, sex, education, nationality) and psychographics (habits, hobbies, values)
  • You may also interview your current audience to understand what matters to them

Statusbrew - target audience demographics

To learn about the demographics of your current social media following, you can use native analytics on social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or use a social media management tool. When you start a free trial of Statusbrew and connect your social media accounts, your audiences’ demographic data will begin to populate, which can be seen easily in your dashboard.

3. Identify The Right Networks

Instead of adopting every social network that comes up your way, you can start by focusing on the most important social networks with a significant potential for reaching your audience.

To get a sense of which social networks your target audience is on, check out this post on social media demographics by Jay Goldberg where he had broken down the demographics of every major social network.

Also, you can choose the right network for your nonprofit by analyzing what other similar NGOs are using. Here I've mentioned two social networks that NGOs frequently use to promote their message:

  • Facebook: With over 2.74 billion monthly active users, Facebook is one of the easiest and most effective ways to leap into social media. In fact, 98% of nonprofits are already using Facebook.

    But due to the decline in organic reach on Facebook, many nonprofits are facing challenges to gain engagement on posts.

  • Twitter: Many nonprofits are on Twitter, but few have been able to tap the potential of this platform. Researches show that NGOs using Twitter raise much more funds online than those not using it. Apart from helping you raise funds, Twitter can also result in increased awareness about a cause, more active volunteer engagement, brand-building, and so much more.

    One way to tap the potential of this platform is by following the example of Red Cross' Home Fire campaign.

    Red Cross incorporates a great call-to-actions (CTAs) not only in their tweets but also on their cover photo. The prominence of the hashtag #EndHomeFires makes it easy for users to connect with the cause and perform an action.

Red Cross Twitter Cover Photo

Takeaway: Identify on which social media platforms users are most likely to engage with your nonprofit, and add a call-to-action.

4. Create An Effective Content Strategy For Your Nonprofit

Now that you have identified the goals, audience and the suitable social networks for your nonprofit, the next thing is to create an effective content strategy, i.e., create the content mix that abide by your goals, content category, and posting frequency.

Type Of Content

Contemplate what type of content is useful for spreading your message and keeping your audience engaged. You can start by examining what performed well in the past. Ask your supporters about the type of stories they like to see from you.

Also, ask yourself the following:

  • Do you need a lot of visual elements such as images, GIFs and videos?
  • Do you want to write shorter texts or more prolonged, in-depth articles?
  • Will your content be in the form of a call-to-action or mainly in the form of entertainment?

Red Cross share a variety of posts -- from pictures and graphics to short videos, gifs, and text -- across its social networks. Visual content helps Red Cross share powerful moments from events which trigger emotions in a way that words alone cannot.

Note: Here is your guide to social media image sizes 2021 that would help you stay on top of your content marketing strategy.

Categorize Your Content

Consider categorizing your content for social media; otherwise, you'll end up sharing the same content, which gets annoying.

When you have a look at Red Cross's Home Fire campaign's content strategy, you will discover that they have developed fantastic content categories for social media that they cycle through regularly. They share content like:

  • Victim Stories And Volunteer Spotlights

    Red Cross wants their audience to take action by seeing their posts regarding home fires. The organization is even giving its audience enough reasons to take a step by consistently telling stories about volunteers and victims, with which their audience feel connected on a deep, personal level.

  • Data And Facts

    Along with mentioning their own story and best practices, Red Cross is also using some facts and figures related to its mission to make the users understand the severity of the social cause that they are addressing through their home fire campaign.

    Data and facts Red Cross

  • How-Tos Of Installing Smoke Alarms In Home

    One of Red Cross' Home Fire campaign goal is to educate people about home fire safety, and they are doing it very well! There's no denying that Red Cross is successfully educating people to stay safe from the nation’s most frequent and deadliest disaster.

    Redcross content category

    Note:- It is not always essential for you to create original content to share with your audience; you can also curate content from your supporters. Read our guide on how to curate content like a pro.

Posting Frequency

Planning everything will make your life easy. If you are working in a team, or depend on others for your marketing assets, you should determine a posting frequency. Use an editorial calendar to map out what you’re going to post and then use a social media scheduling tool like Statusbrew.

Statusbrew's social media calendar

This will let your content be seen over a balanced period while leaving you time to share newsworthy content, manage your community and measure your impact.

Pro Tip: Use Hashtags To Reach A Wider Audience

I'd suggest you to use hashtags. Hashtags are a great source of marketing virality. So use them whenever possible.

For instance: The hashtag #EndHomeFires is widespread and trends regularly. Red Cross used this hashtag to reach a wider audience and enabled them to eliminate suffering caused by Home Fires.

The strategy proved remarkably effective as it was not just an attempt to end the suffering that home fires cause, but to use social media to affect a real change in our world.

Even you can make your social media post admiring the work of the Red Cross on World Red Cross Day 2019 by using the hashtags wisely.

5. Make Engagement Your Nonprofit's Priority

Social media is far more than a broadcasting medium -- it is made for two-way conversations, and that's when it is most powerful. Engaging your audience should be your priority on social media as it empowers you to capture people’s interest, connect with supporters and build communities.

Respond to your audience's questions, comments and look for relevant hashtags or keywords to find new conversations to join. Learn what’s working and what’s not working, and then tweak your strategy accordingly for better results.

Part of what Red Cross is trying to do with engagement is to show volunteers, victims, and donors that they are humane not only in person but also on social media. I firmly believe social media accounts that show humanity can get more noticed, mainly when they give quick responses.

Begin listening and replying to the conversations in real time directly from within Statusbrew.

Statusbrew's social listening and monitoring

6. Analyze Your Results For An Effective Nonprofit Social Media Strategy

So you've engaged well with your audience, now it's time to dig deep into your social media analytics to ensure that you are progressing toward your goals.

Tracking your social media efforts will help you understand where exactly you need to invest your time and efforts into social media, and it will further enable you to adjust your content strategy to concentrate on the type of content that performs best.

If you find it challenging to spare time to track and measure your nonprofit's results, this is one of many things where a social media analytics tool will help.

Every organization working towards a better world is an inspiration to Statusbrew. Our social media marketing platform provides an extra 50 percent discount to support the humanitarian cause.

Start using Statusbrew to boost your nonprofit's social media strategy across all the crucial steps of publishing and scheduling, engaging the audience and forming customized reports on everything that is important to be tracked -- from sent message performance to audience changes to engagement.


Wrapping Up

Red Cross has been making fantastic use of social media marketing platforms to drive engagement and spread their message to help people in need. Following the methods and tricks used by the Red Cross will help you improve your nonprofit's marketing endeavors.

However, getting your community talking and fine-tuning your nonprofit’s social media strategy for the best possible results is not going to happen in a day. Social media marketing is a long game.

So be consistent, implement the tips listed above and give your success some time. In the meantime, keep inspiring, and keep posting, as social media is fantastic!

This World Red Cross Day 2019, help us assist the Red Cross with its goal of making the world better through meaningful donations. You can start by sharing their posts to spread their message, join them as a volunteer, or donate here


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Ritika is a digital marketing specialist and a writer who works on putting together creative and useful content for Statusbrew. Other than this she's an adventure seeker and a photography enthusiast.