Why is social media important for not-for-profits (NFPs)?

Connected as we are today, through our mobile phones, the internet, and all the applications that we run on a daily basis, our life has become more and more technology driven. We only call when it’s important. We text if the answer to our question can wait or if we simply want to notify someone about something. Also, we converse via video chat and we keep in touch with our circle of friends via social media.

We pick up what they are up to by following their posts, watching their videos and viewing their digital photo albums. Because we are getting insights into the most private moments. Obviously, we feel more connected and as if we know the person a little bit better.

Social media is where all of this magic happens. Where the conversation happens. Where people are sharing their thoughts, the things they are passionate about or topics that interest them. A great starting point for a NFP to find like-minded people who are interested in your cause.

Further, thanks to the power of social advertising, you have the ability to target people with the exact interests that are relevant to your case. As nearly every NFP is very budget driven, it’s good to know that you can utilise social advertising even on a very small budget (.e.g $5/ day per post).

Advertising allows you to bring

A certain piece of content (article, video, photo) into someone’s newsfeed
Present your content in a different format (e.g. Facebook Canvas)
Increase the reach of your content (boosting)
Lead users to a landing page (external of the respective social media channel) e.g. your kick-starter campaign, membership sign up page, etc.
Retarget website visitors (and further, people who have visited a certain page or viewed a certain product)
Retarget people who have watched your video (e.g. 5% or longer)
Collect leads (within Facebook)
Encourage app instalments
Promote an event

The abilities of social advertising, especially the opportunity to work with the world’s most sophisticated algorithms, allows for more accurate targeting and takes the guess work out of marketing. Instead, outreach campaigns are much more data-driven and it’s possible to set certain KPIs around campaigns, activities and the expected results. Further, you can learn from previous campaigns and/or piggy back on activities that have been very successful in the past. Never before was marketing so process driven and the reporting on results so accurate.

What are the five biggest mistakes NFPs make with social media? 

The biggest mistake any organisation can do is to not have a dedicated social media person appointed within the organisation. This leads to a lack of strategy and inconsistency of implementation.

Especially NFP with an older membership demographic seem to struggle finding someone who can be in charge of their social media channels which includes

Understanding which channel is actually relevant to my organisation (do we need to be on all channels or would it be sufficient to only maintain one or two?)
Understanding what your members and prospective members want to see on social media (content strategy) and what encourages engagement
Reviewing KPIs regularly and ditching those things that are not working and focussing those that are working well
Writing editorial calendars (posts that go out on social media on a regular basis)
Posting on a regular basis (or having tools for scheduling)
Monitoring the used channels on a regular basis (this can be done manually by following notifications or with software, e.g. Hootsuite)
Managing the community you are building by replying to posts, comments and messages (there are options to set automated message replies in Facebook if you are not sure you can commit to watch your inbox regularly)
Maintain a FAQ so you don’t need to repeat yourself all the time

Understanding Insights, data and results and setting realistic goals, expectations and KPIs

Measuring and reporting on campaigns (again there are tools and software for that)

The biggest business risk we see across all NFP though is not using Facebook business manager! Over and over again, we find lots of people have admin access to pages who actually shouldn’t. It’s important to understand that you should NEVER attach personal profiles to your Facebook page. In case a personal profile gets hacked, the hacker can take down the whole page with them. Same counts for ad accounts which should also always be set up in Business Manager. https://business.facebook.com Each collaborator should be assigned with its respective role within business manager. E.g. Admin, editor, analyst, advertiser (this counts for page as well as for ad account).

Are there any real-life examples you can give us of some mistakes that NFPs have made with social media and how we can learn from them?

One day, we got a call from a very upset marketing manager of an organisation with decent follower size. (each page had around 25k followers at that stage and they were managing approximately 5 of them). Her personal Facebook account had been hacked. As this wasn’t terrible enough, the hacker had also attacked all the pages. Then, removed all admins and editor so no one in the organisation had any access to the pages any longer. On top, the hacker started distributing porn via the pages which seriously damaged the brand.

What you can learn from it? Check how your organisation is set up in social media land. Take advantage of business manager and for all other pages, ensure you’re changing your passwords regularly.

What are the biggest challenges/hurdles that can prevent NFPs from having success? What tactics should be put in place to prevent these hurdles from taking place?

The 2 biggest hurdles are staff and budget restraints. If you want to have a decent reach with your campaigns you either need to have money to run ads. Or you have to have a really good network of people who help you sharing your cause.

Outsourcing to a marketing firm can help, if you can’t find someone within your organisation to take control of social. However, again you have the budget issue. The only way to solve that is to figure out, how many new members you need to cover your costs and have enough profit in the bank to fund your causes. In that respect, NFPs are not different to any other business.

Another big hurdle is working with committees. We find that if too many people have an opinion on social media, nothing gets done. Appoint one person who can be in charge, set KPIs and review after a quarter. If the person is not the right fit or the campaigns are not performing you can always change directions after a proper review.

Want to get your hands on how to develop a strategy for your organisation?