November 21, 2017
 
Incorporate Social Media into Your Marketing Plan

By Julia Campbell

Julia Campbell
The social and mobile web has dramatically changed the way nonprofits of all sizes communicate with supporters, donors, and volunteers—and is no longer optional—but lack of training in and understanding of the growing array of social media tools has left many nonprofit managers feeling left out of the loop.

The newly-released 2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report showed that despite limited budgets, staff and capacity, nonprofits continue to find great value in their fast-growing social networks.

Since many nonprofit marketing and communication practitioners have not been trained to best harness the potential of social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google+, many feel overwhelmed and frustrated and view social media as “just one more thing” on their plate.

To gain mastery of this increasingly vital communication channel—to increase fundraising success and fiscal sustainability—nonprofits need to incorporate social media into their marketing plans and communication strategies. Even if there is no formal plan, social media can be used in conjunction with other strategies such as an email or print newsletter.

It is important to note that social media should not be viewed as a silver bullet that will solve all of an organization’s problems at little cost. When used with traditional communication tools, social media can have a powerful, positive effect.

Consider the following:

1. Repurpose content you have already created.
Think about social media as a brand new space to use your “greatest hits” of content. This includes an email newsletter that received a lot of opens and forwards, a local or regional news story that sparked a debate, a great photo or video that generated a great response.

Think strategically about how you can harvest what you already have:
  • What newsletter stories could be chopped into smaller pieces and re-used as blog posts?
  • What inspiring program statistics could you take from your annual report and post on Facebook?
  • What quotes from clients could you tweet?
2. Use social media’s unique features to tell your story in a compelling way.
Social media opens up a whole new world for your organization to share inspiring stories in real time, as they happen. You can get feedback on a new campaign video, a new brochure image and a new website immediately. Use these reactions to help you craft the next fundraising appeal and newsletter.

3. Revamp existing marketing materials for a Web 2.0 and mobile world.
Using social media forces nonprofit professionals to be succinct, to lose the jargon and long wordy text, and to get more visual. Videos and photos are the most shared and most commented on items in the social media sphere. You cannot post a PDF of your brochure on Facebook (thankfully). You have to get creative.

4. Be selective in what you share and where you share it.
In the past, nonprofits would blast out their email newsletter to everyone you had ever met and put paper copies all over town, hoping that someone would respond. Using social media, it behooves the user to follow the etiquette and rules of each individual site. Don’t bombard supporters with frequent posts and asks on Facebook. If you use Twitter, you’ll need to commit to it and tweet at least once daily, along with replying to mentions and acknowledging people who retweet (share) your tweets.

5. Use an array of outlets for advocacy campaigns and fundraising appeals: remember the Rule of Seven.
The Rule of Seven is an old marketing adage that says that a prospect needs to see or hear your marketing (or fundraising) message at least seven times before they receive the message and possibly take action. Don’t engage in a one-time email advocacy campaign. Incorporate an array of social media outlets, including your blog and your website, as the full power of these channels are achieved when they are used in tandem.

It is important to remember that, as with traditional marketing avenues, not all social media channels are right for your nonprofit. Pick and choose. Do a few well rather than many half-heartedly.

Incorporating select social media tools into your overall marketing strategy can be a cost-effective and time-efficient way to reach out to potential funders and constituents. Many of them are waiting to hear from you through social media.

Julia Campbell, principal at J Campbell Social Marketing, helps nonprofits reach new supporters and strengthen relationships with current ones using online tools. Email her at julia@jcsocialmarketing.com or call 978-578-1328.
April 2012


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