I've been there. I imagine you've been there too. Sitting around a boardroom table talking about the urgent need for the organization to "develop a twitter strategy" or "social media plan".
Here's the thing - before embarking on any social media or digital marketing strategy, you need to know WHY. And "to engage young people" is not the right answer.
Our sector is so constrained when it comes to resources, time, money, and knowledge, that we can't do everything. Which is what I love about Avery Swartz, founder of Camp Tech, who teaches small businesses and nonprofits how to do their own digital marketing. But before she dives into any of the tactics, she asks "why".
According to Avery, when you ask why it immediately allows you to get down to what what's the goal and does social media or digital marketing align with that goal? What does it look like if we're successful?
Once you know your "why" you can then start to think about what strategy would work best for your organization. Are you trying to engage your existing supporters? Where are they online? Trying to reach a new audience? What platforms allow you to meaningfully target the right people. Don't approach this as a blanket social media strategy. If you're trying to engage younger people, Snapchat or Instagram is where you should be focusing. If you want to target professionals or higher level donors, maybe Facebook or LinkedIn.
Organic vs. paid
Organic social media are posts and engagements that are free - using the social media tools available to all of us - like posting photos, videos, etc. Also think about commenting and engaging beyond just pushing out content. This is where an authentic engagement is really important. Also regular engagement - a lot of people don't understand that only a fraction of people who "follow you" online actually see the content you post, so post consistently and encourage engagement.
With paid promotion on social media, you can often specifically target people based on their past engagement with your organization (google Facebook Pixels), if they already "like' your organization online, or based on other interests. It's a great and cheap way to target specific audiences or behaviours.
Clicks, shares, comments are much more meaningful that reach or impressions. But measuring success can go beyond that. If you want to drive donations, you can build the back-end of your system to actually measure how much it's costing you to acquire a donor. Data also allows you to test and tweak your strategy so that you can improve results and drive down costs (who doesn't want to drive down costs???). In fact, measurement is so critical that Avery event suggests NOT doing any social media if you aren't willing to measure and collect data.
When you don't have to be on all platforms, all the time, it makes it easier to learn how to do social media yourself. Because you shouldn't just rely on a student or other "young person" to do all the heavy lifting. You still need to be driving the process (don't worry, you can still leverage them to do some of the implementation), but you should kinda know how things are working.
But it all comes down to email
With constant changes to social media algorithms, Avery really emphasizes the importance of owning your email list and regular engagement through email.
The algorithm is what determines what people see in their newsfeed when they log into social media. So when you log in, and you see pictures of your friends, kids, and, what this organization is doing, there is an algorithm at play that determines what content should be shown to different Facebook users. Facebook publicly announced that they were going to do a massive recalibration of their algorithm that would make it much much harder for organizations and businesses and charities to have their content seen on Facebook. This is a massive WARNING to organizations. If you want your content seen by even the people who follow you, you're more likely to have to pay for that exposure now.
But with email, your organization owns the access.
Got a question? ask the data!
Everyone always thinks that their organization sends out too many emails. Or two few. Or is too designed. Or under designed. The great thing is that you can see how your audience is engaging with your emails to help you determine what the right strategy is.
And finally, websites
These days, websites are dynamic. They don't get done once every 3 years - they are updated constantly. And there is no excuse to have an outdated website - it's so easy and inexpensive to create them now. Unless you have complex functionality, your website should be designed to take your visitor on a journey. What do they want to know (hint - it's not every single detail about your organization)? What action do they need to take?
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Cindy Wagman spent 15 years as an in-house fundraiser at organizations large and small before founding The Good Partnership – a boutique fundraising firm focused on small nonprofits. She has worked in social justice, health, arts, and education organizations. She has overseen and executed everything from annual campaigns to multi-million dollar gifts. She became a Certified Fundraising Executive in 2009 and received her MBA from Rotman at the University of Toronto in 2013.
With more than ten years of experience in development, staff and stakeholder management, strategic thinking, partnerships, board governance, and program development, Aine McGlynn is a diversely talented, self-starter committed to finding creative solutions in unexpected places. Aine holds a PhD from U of T and has a history of academic publishing, along with her decade of nonprofit sector experience. She is a practitioner-scholar focused on how to help nonprofits build their capacity to be successful at fundraising.