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

4 Easy Steps to Develop a Social Media Content Strategy for Your Nonprofit

social-media-432498_Pixabay-edited-400wIn today’s mobile content-driven society, developing consistency with your social media strategy is vital to the success of your nonprofit. Each nonprofit organization should have a strong, visible presence on social media to reach its audience.

More people use social media networks as their primary outlet for social interaction, content sharing, and overall communication needs than any other medium, on- or offline. Knowing where to find your audience and how to effectively reach them in a sea of online content is the toughest yet, by far, most important part of any social media strategy.

In the world of marketing, the final objective is clear: generate conversions (in other words, get the sale). In the world of nonprofits, however, there can be a range of goals surrounding your social media content strategy. Those goals will ultimately determine what kinds of content you deliver and where you post it. 

Today, let’s examine some of the most popular objectives in social media strategies for nonprofits. As you read, think how you can best approach your ideal audience and accomplish your goals in all your social media content campaigns in the future.

1. Define the Role of Social Media in Your Organization’s Communication Strategy

So what is your message? 

What is the appeal you wish to make with social content? 

Your social media messaging should align well with your organization’s goals and should convey those goals as clearly and effectively as possible to your target audience. 

The foundation to any social media content strategy is a simple one: engagement.  

This is true whether you wish to attract donors, volunteers, program participants, or something else. You must first build awareness of your organization, its needs, its services, and more, then present the meat of your message along with clear, direct calls to action that elicit the responses you desire from your audience.

2. Decide What You Wish to Accomplish on Social Media

With social media, you have the opportunity to connect with people in a way you might never be able to otherwise. For this reason, your social networking goals should be as clear and developed as your organization’s goals. Start by determining the broader objective or objectives. 

These could include any of the following:

  • Community Engagement
  • Education and Awareness
  • Brand Building
  • Reputation Building and Management
  • Fundraising
  • Recruitment

Once you have a clear goal or set of goals established, decide how to best measure the effectiveness of your efforts. What metrics should you be monitoring to assess your efforts? What kinds of engagement matter most?

If, for example, your goal is to reach out to the community in general, you would want to examine metrics that relate to things like post engagement, conversations, likes, shares, click-throughs, form submissions, etc.

If you are attempting to reach potential donors, you might want to monitor specific conversations, clicks, and shares as they relate to things like spending behaviors. If specific blog posts seem to be generating positive responses such as inquiries on how to make donations, deliver more of that kind of content and keep following the numbers.

3. Match Your Content to Your Target Audience

>The above two examples are broad examples of the types of audiences your content could be developed to reach. Community outreach and donor appeals are major parts of any nonprofit, but there are others. The content you deliver must have a direct appeal to a very specific person or group of people.

If you haven’t already, it would be much to your advantage to develop an ideal avatar—a theoretical representation of the ideal consumer of the content you produce. In nonprofit terms, this is sometimes also referred to as an ideal persona. 

If this is the first time you are hearing either of these terms, it is definitely time to stop and learn more about them. They can save you significantly in time, money, and creative resources. Here are a few ideas of the types of content that work with broadly defined audiences. You can tailor content to fit any subcategory or niche audience within each:

The Broader Community—You can reach the general social media population with you message through the effective use of:

  • Strong, unique visuals (images, video, etc.)
  • Clear, consistent branding
  • Consistently positive messaging
  • Stories of real people

Program Participants—Recruiting for program participation can be enhanced by creating these types of content:

  • Curated content that appeals to the demographic
  • Unique, branded video content
  • Informational posts about upcoming events
  • Quizzes
  • Personal invitations to like event pages

Donors—People who give you money want to be informed about where their money is going and how it will be spent. For this audience, you must deliver solid content in these areas via social media:

  • Explainer videos
  • Infographics
  • Live broadcasts or hangouts
  • Blog content (related to specific projects and goals)

I know, that sounds like much work to do. Not many nonprofit organizations have enough employees to do all these activities. If that is the case for you, consider recruiting students who are eager to volunteer in order to get job experience. It’s better to look for students from departments of mass communication or aligned disciplines. It’s not a good idea, however, to deal only with students. You need at least one professional social media manager to organize their work. If your nonprofit depends on season, you can also reduce expenditures by applying to freelance writers. There are a bunch of them on EssayTigers, Upwork, SimplyHired, and other platforms. 

4. Send Your Message Over the Right Network

Every social network has its specific appeal, so content must be structured to align with what users on a given network expect. If it falls short of those expectations, your target audience is likely to scroll past, even if they might have stopped to look had it been posted someplace else. Here are a few starting points for deciding where to post:

  • Is your target audience over 21, but under 40? Instagram and Twitter might be good places to reach them.
  • Are you targeting donors? Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn could be your best bets.
  • Are you trying to recruit teens for your summer youth program? Snapchat and Instagram are likely go-to networks.
  • Is your ideal persona visually motivated? Try serving him (or her) content via Pinterest or Instagram.

Final Takeaway

The ideas shared above are just a few very simple examples of things you can try in your effort to enhance or improve your nonprofit’s social media strategy. Your job now is to take these ideas and start brainstorming. It might mean a little trial and error, but once you connect with the right audience, you should find it easier to start meeting more of your organization’s goals through social media engagement.   

4 Easy Steps to Develop a Social Media Content Strategy for Your NonprofitStacey Wonder is a freelance blogger and a content marketer. She usually writes on educational topics, marketing, career, self-development, and writing. Stacey always tries to develop her professional skills and share best practices with others. When not busy with her projects, Stacey writes short detective stories.

Topics: Social Media digital nonprofit marketing Nonprofits and Social Media
  Your Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar has a new Demographics section.