How to Build a Social Media Following: Top Secrets Revealed
If someone was scrolling through their social media account and came across a post from your nonprofit, would they like, comment, or share it? Just like identifying an ideal donor profile is useful for fundraising, your social media presence should cater to your defined target audience.
According to a recent Hootsuite poll, only 20% of nonprofits feel ‘extremely confident’ that they are maximizing their social media potential. And in a digital world where 55% of people who engage with nonprofits on social media take some action, that’s a substantial missed opportunity.
Social media is an effective promotional tool when used strategically, whether it’s to promote a recurring giving campaign, spotlight your volunteers, or feature an upcoming fundraising event. In this guide, we’ll explore the top secrets your nonprofit can use to access its social media potential and drive more results. Let’s dive in!
Understand your audience
As the old saying goes, you can’t be all things to all people. That means you must have a comprehensive understanding of your supporters’ demographics and interests
Leverage tools like your CRM platform and previous social media analytics to pinpoint who your audience is and what they care about. Once you’ve gathered this information, you should be able to answer common questions like:
- Where should you post? According to Getting Attention’s guide to digital marketing, the age of your audience can directly inform the platform you use. For example, Gen Z and Millennial audiences are active Instagram users, while older generations tend to be more active on Facebook.
- What should you post? The content you post should be crafted with your platform and audience in mind. Longer-form content suits Facebook users, while shorter-form videos work well for Instagram users.
- When should you post? Take a look at your target audience’s time zone and reference research on engagement rates based on publishing times. For example, recent studies have found that an effective time to post on Instagram is Mondays from 10 a.m. to noon. Compare this research to engagement data from your previous posts.
From there, you can curate a strategy to target a defined supporter group. For example, you could plan to post short, engaging Instagram reels to share your nonprofit’s story and easy ways a younger audience can get involved.
Schedule your posts
Scheduling your posts ensures you’re making the most of your social media presence without sacrificing additional time and resources. Not to mention, with scheduled posts, you can:
- Maximize peak hours. As previously mentioned, your audience has peak engagement times, but you need to plan to hit those hotspots consistently. Plus, your nonprofit likely has a stacked schedule, so taking time out during the middle of a pressing meeting or volunteer event to post is not ideal.
- Communicate consistency. Studies show that successful social media brands tend to post around 3-5 times a week. Additionally, posting regularly allows you to cultivate a loyal audience who looks forward to your content.
- Track reliable results. The most comprehensive results are tracked using a large amount of data. With a structured schedule, you can look back and discern your content’s performance with confidence.
Consider using automated posting tools so your content can go live automatically without missing the ideal window.
Though planned posts are crucial for saving time, spontaneous posts can have just as much strategic value for your nonprofit. For instance, if you find a post sparks lots of comments and conversations, capitalize on that opportunity and consider live streaming with a Q&A. Or, showcase a fundraising event’s atmosphere on your story to let your supporters experience it virtually.
Use consistent branding
Distinguish your organization by using your branded assets on social media. Here are a few ways you can infuse your brand within your social media profiles:
- Manually set your social media account as a nonprofit (many platforms also offer special perks like promoted hashtags to nonprofit profiles such as TikTok for good).
- Use your logo as your profile picture.
- Post your mission statement (an abbreviated version) on your account.
- Use a similar tone and language as your other accounts.
- Post content that directs back to your website for more information.
Consistent branding indicates professionalism and makes it much easier for others to find you online. That said, you can tweak your tone based on the platform you’re using. For instance, a Twitter audience expects brief statements, perspectives, or announcements as the character count is limited.
Create interactive engagement opportunities
Use your social media to go beyond posting static, one-sided updates. Instead, leverage interactive content to grow your online community. This will give others the chance to join the conversation and meet like-minded supporters.
Interactive content like challenges, contests, polls, and filters offers a different way for supporters to get to know your organization’s personality. Plus, they allow your followers to create user-generated content that can help you reach even more audiences! For instance, a volunteer-created “day in the life” challenge video posted under a unique hashtag can be a compelling volunteer recruitment tool.
If you’re new to the social media scene, you might consider partnering with a nonprofit influencer to kickstart your engagement efforts. Their experience and expertise will help you quickly spread your mission and connect you with other passionate supporters.
Lean into storytelling
Although posting often should be a priority, you’ll also want to look for ways to elevate your existing content. One of the best ways to do this is by storytelling. As a nonprofit, you offer something other brands do not — a plan for promoting social good.
Lean into your culture and vision to showcase your values and what makes you unique. Here are a few ideas to consider trying out:
- Share testimonials. Post supporter, beneficiary, and staff testimonials to indicate your nonprofit’s impact on the community.
- Highlight your appreciation. Funds2Orgs’ volunteer appreciation guide suggests hosting a “volunteer of the month” social media spotlight to show your gratitude and inspire others to give their time.
- Share your thoughts on recent events. If your nonprofit is advocacy-based, share your perspective on relevant news topics as they emerge to establish yourself as a thought leader.
Posting varied content will allow you to showcase different sides of your organization without boxing yourself in. This way, followers will truly get to know you without doing extra digging. As a result, they’ll be much more likely to give or volunteer should you decide to host a social media-based fundraiser.
Your social media presence is a powerful digital marketing tool. Use it to its full potential by planning a strategy that appeals to your audience and showcases your nonprofit’s unique mission.