The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

The 3 Keys to Social Media Success

The 3 Keys to Social Media SuccessNonprofits often ask me – What is the one piece of advice you can give to help us achieve social media success?

I wish it were that simple. There is no silver bullet, no magic key that will unlock thousands of new, passionate followers or online donors.

Not to mention that “social media success” looks different for every organization. The American Red Cross has very different goals than the local dog adoption agency down the street.

However, in my experience, I have found that there are three things when done well, and when done together, often result in success for organizations.

I call them the three “D’s” – and here they are:

1. Diversification

Have you heard the term “multi-channel marketing” or “diversification of channels”? These are fancy ways of saying to not put all your eggs in one online basket.

Don’t just put up a great website and expect people to find it. Don’t expect them to know what you want them to do when they get there!

Don’t have an email newsletter but no way for people to donate online.

Don’t set up a Facebook Page with no place to direct users if they want to learn more and become more engaged.

All of these channels should be working together, like a well-oiled machine, to help you further your goals.

Diversification also means thinking outside your own comfort zone. Be where your supporters and your donors are, not just where you want them to be.

Do not simply rely on the old ways – your donors are smarter and more tech-savvy than you think. Just because they enjoy getting a paper annual report does not mean that they are not active on LinkedIn or Twitter.

2. Dedication

As a nonprofit professional, you are undoubtedly being pulled in a million directions. There is a shiny new tool coming out every single day (sometimes every hour). It can get overwhelming.

Don’t rush to try out the latest new thing if what you are doing is working. Slow and steady wins the social media race.

Your followers need some time to figure you out, to build trust and affinity, to start liking your posts and your tweets.

Don’t give up on a social network because it’s not doing exactly what you want it to do immediately. Be patient.

However, if you find that your supporters are not on a particular channel or not responding at all, regroup and evaluate.

This is not brain surgery – its social media. If something is much more work than it’s worth, or if it is giving you an ulcer, take a break or try something else.

3. Dynamic content.

There is no substitute for dynamic content.

Dynamic content is so good, so funny, so informative, so invigorating, that your followers can’t help but share it.

That is the gold standard on social media, and will expose your message and your brand to a wider variety of potential supporters.

For content ideas, go and download Marketo’s free ebook Contagious Content: What People Share On Facebook and Why They Share It.

This book will give you fantastic insight into what makes things shareable – not just on Facebook, but other social channels as well.

In conclusion, I believe that even the tiniest nonprofit can use online tools to raise its profile, find new supporters, advocate for a cause or promote an event.

The possibilities are only limited by creativity.

Julia Campbell

The preceding is a cross post by Julia Campbell, founder of J Campbell Social Marketing, a boutique digital marketing agency based in Beverly, MA. Julia received her degree in Journalism & Communications from Boston University and earned a Master in Public Administration from Old Dominion University as well as a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Tidewater Community College. A Beverly native, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, a mother and a social media marketing specialist, Julia helps nonprofits connect with supporters by effectively harnessing the power and potential of online marketing and social media tools. Julia’s clients include small community-based nonprofits and large universities. She also offers one-on-one coaching sessions, group seminars and college courses. Her blog was named one of the Top 150 Nonprofit Blogs in the world and she is included in the Top 40 Digital Strategists in Marketing for 2014. Julia has been featured on Maximize Social Business,, MarketWatch, Alltop, Salon, Social Media Today, Forbes and Business 2 Community.

Topics: Trends