Social media and your nonprofit message
The most recent meeting of the Wine Country Chapter of the Association of Professional Fundraisers (AFP) featured two nonprofit social media experts, Alice Ferris and Jim Anderson from GoalBusters Consulting of Flagstaff, AZ. Throughout their presentation, Anderson reiterated, “ Social media is not only for young people, is not a direct marketing tool, is not a broadcast communication method, and is not a silver bullet.” Instead, he emphasized that it’s a way for nonprofits to simply have a relationship with their donors and other constituents. He commented, “People are in a relationship with us, but it may not be in person at the beginning of that relationship. The relationship may first be through an online connection.”
The presenters said that for a nonprofit to use social media wisely, the leadership of the organization should first answer these four key questions: (1) Who do you want to talk to? (2) Which tool speaks to that group? (3) What do they want to hear from you? (4) How does that engagement help you? So, it makes sense for nonprofit leaders to know their audience and target messages to appeal to that audience.
Every social media post should do one of three things. It should either inform the audience by sharing your knowledge or expertise; entertain the audience by showing your personality or establishing your communication style; or activate the audience by giving them something specific to do or requesting for them to take some sort of action, such as donating or contacting an elected official or attending an event.
Yesterday’s Rolodex is today’s LinkedIn. Yesterday’s cork bulletin board is today’s Pinterest. And yesterday’s little sticky notes you’d write to yourself now appear as Tweets on Twitter. Currently, the number one form of social media is YouTube, followed by Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, then LinkedIn. And each social media platform has its own demographic following and purpose.
Current Quantcast research indicates that YouTube has greatest use among people under age 24 with no college degree and a wide range of income levels, with African American, Asians, and Latinos serving as the largest growing groups of users. Conversely, LinkedIn’s users are mostly 25 to 64 years old, with graduate degrees and incomes over $100,000. Currently, Asians are the largest growing group of LinkedIn users. Twitter is used mostly by the 18-34 year old group from a wide range of income levels, with African Americans and Latinos serving as the largest growing groups of users. Most Facebook users are 18 to 24 years old with children. People with incomes over $100,000, African Americans, and Asians are the largest growing groups of Facebook users.
Based on research regarding the lifespan of a particular posted message and the frequency with which people check their social media, Ferris recommended that for nonprofit leaders to use social media effectively, they should, “Send three to five Tweets per day, post on Facebook once or twice per day, post something on LinkedIn once a week, update Pinterest three to five times per week, and upload something on YouTube once a month.”
She added that she personally follows this advice by spending only 15 minutes per day on updating her social media platforms. Ferris commented that using a social media consolidation dashboard application, such as HootSuite or Buffer, enables her to make one post that is then automatically populated throughout all of her social media channels.
Jodi Anderson, AFP Wine County Chapter president and Database Administrator for Hanna Boys Center, attended the presentation and commented, “Connecting with the community through social media is something every nonprofit organization needs to strive for. With so many platforms available today, learning which sites to use and how to manage them is going to prove exceedingly helpful.”
So, before you decide to post on Facebook that your favorite nonprofit needs immediate donations, it may make more sense to be strategic about which social media avenues to use and be realistic about the type of results you can expect to see.
0Dr. B.J. Bischoff owns Bischoff Performance Improvement Consulting, a Sonoma firm that builds the capacity of nonprofit organizations and public sector agencies to better serve their stakeholders. She is President of Impact100 Sonoma, leads the Sonoma Valley Presidents Council and serves on the Sonoma Upstream Investments Portfolio Review Committee as an appointee of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.