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How Online Marketing Brings Awareness to Non-Profits

Posted by Rick Lambert on Thu, Oct 25, 2012

non-profit marketingIf your non-profit organization isn’t yet engaged in social media, you’re missing out on an opportunity to raise awareness – and potential new supporters – based on the way people find their information today.

What do we mean by engagement?

  • It’s not a matter of just adding a “like us on Facebook” link to your website and hoping for the best – people are inundated with that message all the time.
  • It’s not a matter of simply going online regularly Tweeting or Facebook updates – true social media engagement involves a strategy based on what Hubspot calls a “network mindset” of using data to measure success.
  • And it’s not even a matter of how big your organization is. Some of largest non-profits in the United States do not enjoy social media success even with their large budgets.

So what is the goal of social media engagement? “It’s not about money,” Craigslist founder-turned-philanthropist Craig Newmark was quoted in a Mashable article. “It’s about getting people to talk with each other to make people’s lives better.”

Examine the environment
Just as you have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run, your social media strategy builds upon itself until your non-profit reaches full engagement.

  • Identify which social networks draw the type of people you most want to reach. Facebook and Twitter are certainly the most recognized names, but Pinterest draws a larger ratio of women to men, Google + skews toward a younger and more affluent demographic than Facebook, and YouTube attracts people who respond well to the emotional power of video. Some networks will deliver a better return on your investment of time and resources.
  • Appoint someone in your organization to head your social media efforts – someone familiar with the networks and eager to take your organization forward. Have your guru implement ideas for integrating social media among existing staff positions.

Create a strategy and policy

  • What are the goals of your social media strategy – changing a policy, creating public leading to action, emergency fundraising, or some combination of all three?
  •  What kind of information does your non-profit want to share? Are there privacy issues connected to the people your organization serves that must be addressed

Post content based on strategy
Based on your strategy, your content-sharing can take various forms:

  • Blogs, articles or videos meant to share widely and create more awareness;
  • Contests to nominate worthy recipients to become beneficiaries of your organization
  • Real-time photos from Instagram to draw attention to immediate need, like public assistance following a natural disaster

Share the best content
Share tools encourage people to distribute your best blogs, videos and images -- which ultimately helps build credibility and awareness. 

  • Make sharing easy: instead of posting a link to a video, for example, upload the video itself to Facebook.

Measure your success …
… then adjust your efforts accordingly. Social media is a fluid medium, which means that you may have to try more than one approach or call-to-action before you hit on the method that works best.

  • Use tools like Google Analytics to measure the traffic to your social site.
  • Assess metrics like overall traffic, number of shares or comments, the quality of the response, your website’s “bounce rate” (the people who leave your site without venturing beyond the homepage) and the amount of money raised.

As a 2010 survey by Venturneer put it, the tie between social media and non-profits “ain’t optional.” To stay in the public eye and move your organization forward, the time and resources you invest in your non-profit’s digital awareness campaign must become a priority.

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Topics: non-profit marketing, Inbound marketing, charitable organization marketing, Social Media Marketing

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