8 Social Media Tips for Nonprofits

On JanuaryOn January 8th at our monthly All Corps Day, SCI AmeriCorps members were treated to presentations on social media best practices from Allison Postlethwait, SCI AmeriCorps alum and Communications and Media Producer at Boston Architectural College, and SCI President and Founder, David Crowley. Allison and David had much experience and information to offer our AmeriCorps members, host supervisors and other SCI partners that attended the open workshop. After the presentations, attendees broke into groups to brainstorm about social media tips and tools using both what they learned from David and Allison and what they discovered thus far in four months of service. Here’s what we came up with!
On January 8th at our monthly All Corps Day, SCI AmeriCorps members were treated to presentations on social media best practices from Allison Postlethwait, SCI AmeriCorps alum and Communications and Media Producer at Boston Architectural College, and SCI President and Founder, David Crowley. Allison and David had much experience and information to offer our AmeriCorps members, host supervisors and other SCI partners that attended the open workshop. After the presentations, attendees broke into groups to brainstorm about social media tips and tools using both what they learned from David and Allison and what they discovered thus far in four months of service. Here’s what we came up with!
 
On January 8th at our monthly All Corps Day, SCI AmeriCorps members were treated to presentations on social media best practices from SCI AmeriCorps alum and Communications and Media Producer at Boston Architectural College, Allison Postlethwait, and SCI President and Founder David Crowley. Allison and David had much experience and information to offer our AmeriCorps members, host supervisors and other SCI partners that attended the open workshop. After the presentations, attendees broke into groups to brainstorm about social media tips and tools using both what they learned from David and Allison and what they discovered thus far in four months of service. Here’s what we came up with!
 
1. Be consistent
This applies across the board, but especially when trying to build a following on a new social media platform. Post regularly and don’t be discouraged if the results aren’t immediate. If you can’t commit to creating content regularly on a less established platform, focus your energies on the ones that are already getting engagement. 
 
2. Candid pictures always win
Data suggests that posts with photos receive higher engagement levels on Facebook and Twitter. This doesn’t mean that some photos aren’t better than others! Candid photos of your nonprofit in action are always preferable, as they put faces and actions to the mission/message you are trying to convey. Who doesn’t like a smiling kid?
 
3. Seek out and archive content for later use
Some days are light on news and no amount of gleaning Twitter will find you an interesting or relevant article to post. To avoid a dry spell, create a Google Doc (or whatever you prefer) for article links that are relevant to your mission. Set up Google Alerts for key terms and always be on the lookout for reserve content when you are browsing your newsfeeds and favorite online publications. It’s hard to remember to bookmark these pages, so your Google Doc of good reads is an easy way to archive these links for a rainy day. It also creates a ready-made reading list for sharing!
 
4. Make it personal without making it about you
At nonprofits, social media managers are representing a mission as well as a brand. It’s important to adopt the language and tone of your organization. That doesn’t mean you can’t personalize your posts, inserting your own humor and highlighting issues that are important to you when appropriate. This will happen naturally if you are sharing content that is both relevant to your organization and important to you. Just be careful not to cross the thin line into self-referential territory. Your audience might like your voice, but ultimately they are following your organization. 
 
5. Know your audience
Audience demographics are one of the first things you should decipher when taking over or creating a social media presence. If your audience is young-ish, savvy, and interested in current events, Twitter will likely be a better engagement tool than Facebook. To reach teens and young adults, utilize visual mediums like Instagram or Vine. On the other hand, if you are looking to target retirees or seniors with extra time on their hands, Facebook is probably the way to go. It’s fine to have a presence on all of these platforms, just be sure to change gears and be mindful of your audience when switching between them.
 
6. Use your networks
This is a basic tenant of daily operations here at SCI, but especially important when using social media. Research your followers and connections to determine who has the most influence and utilize their networks to increase your visibility. Tag those individuals and orgs in Facebook posts and Tweets so they’ll share and retweet. It’s also good to keep close tabs on your personal networks (where is that old college friend working these days?), as your friends and acquaintances can often give an added boost when you need it. 
 
7. Post regular updates on progress and thank your volunteers and partners
Your followers will be more likely to engage virtually and physically (through volunteering or donations) if they see results. Be sure to update your audience, after special events that require volunteers and after fundraising drives, about goals being met or exceeded. As always, give credit where credit is due and thank your volunteers, donors, and partners whenever you can.
 
8. Be mindful of trends and hashtags
Knowing what subjects and hashtags are trending is a great way to gain new followers. When posting a current events topic, find and use the most popular hashtag to describe it (either by using a search engine or Twitter’s “Trending” tool). Also, research the hashtags that are relevant to your mission or organizational focus. For example, health orgs can follow and post with #health to be part of a larger conversation.
 
Knowing what subjects and hashtags are trending is a great way to gain new followers. When posting a current events topic, find and use the most popular hashtag to describe it (either by using a search engine or Twitter’s “Trending” tool). Also, research the hashtags that are relevant to your mission or organizational focus. For example, health orgs can follow and post with #health to be part of a larger conversation. 8th at our monthly All Corps Day, SCI AmeriCorps members were treated to presentations on social media best practices from Allison Postlethwait, SCI AmeriCorps alum and Communications and Media Producer at Boston Architectural College, and SCI President and Founder, David Crowley. Allison and David had much experience and information to offer our AmeriCorps members, host supervisors and other SCI partners that attended the open workshop. After the presentations, attendees broke into groups to brainstorm about social media tips and tools using both what they learned from David and Allison and what they discovered thus far in four months of service. Here’s what we came up with!
 
1. Be consistent! 
This applies across the board, but especially when trying to build a following on a new social media platform. Post regularly and don’t be discouraged if the results aren’t immediate. If you can’t commit to creating content regularly on a less established platform, focus your energies on the ones that are already getting engagement. 
 
2. Candid pictures always win
Data suggests that posts with photos receive higher engagement levels on Facebook and Twitter. This doesn’t mean that some photos aren’t better than others! Candid photos of your non-profit in action are always preferable, as they put faces and actions to the mission/message you are trying to convey. Who doesn’t like a smiling kid?
 
3. Seek out and archive content for later use
Some days are light on news and no amount of gleaning Twitter will find you an interesting or relevant article to post. To avoid a dry spell, create a Google Doc (or whatever you prefer) for article links that are relevant to your mission. Set up Google Alerts for key terms and always be on the lookout for reserve content when you are browsing your newsfeeds and favorite online publications. It’s hard to remember to bookmark these pages, so your Google Doc of good reads is an easy way to archive these links for a rainy day. It also creates a ready-made reading list for sharing!
 
4. Make it personal without making it about you
At nonprofits, social media managers are representing a mission as well as a brand. It’s important to adopt the language and tone of your organization. That doesn’t mean you can’t personalize your posts, inserting your own humor and highlighting issues that are important to you when appropriate. This will happen naturally if you are sharing content that is both relevant to your organization and important to you. Just be careful not to cross the thin line into self-referential territory. Your audience might like your voice, but ultimately they are following your organization. 
 
5. Know your audience
Audience demographics are one of the first things you should decipher when taking over or creating a social media presence. If your audience is young-ish, savvy, and interested in current events, Twitter will likely be a better engagement tool than Facebook. To reach teens and young adults, utilize visual mediums like Instagram or Vine. On the other hand, if you are looking to target retirees or seniors with extra time on their hands, Facebook is probably the way to go. It’s fine to have a presence on all of these platforms, just be sure to change gears and be mindful of your audience when switching between them.
 
6. Use your networks
This is a basic tenant of daily operations here at SCI, but especially important when using social media. Research your followers and connections to determine who has the most influence and utilize their networks to increase your visibility. Tag those individuals and orgs in Facebook posts and Tweets so they’ll share and retweet. It’s also good to keep close tabs on your personal networks (where is that old college friend working these days?), as your friends and acquaintances can often give an added boost when you need it. 
 
7. Post regular updates on progress and thank your volunteers and partners
Your followers will be more likely to engage virtually and physically (through volunteering or donations) if they see results. Be sure to update your audience after special events that require volunteers and after fundraising drives about goals being met or exceeded. As always, give credit where credit is due and thank your volunteers, donors, and partners whenever you can.
 
8. Be mindful of trends and hashtags
Knowing what subjects and hashtags are trending is a great way to gain new followers. When posting a current events topic, find and use the most popular hashtag to describe it (either by using a search engine or Twitter’s “Trending” tool). Also, research the hashtags that are relevant to your mission or organizational focus. For example, health orgs can follow and post with #health to be part of a larger conversation.