There are 1.23 billion users on Facebook each month. There are 232 million people on Twitter, 150 million on Instagram, 259 million on LinkedIn and 25 million on Pinterest.

The evolution of social media has been rapid and there is no indication that it’s going to slow down. Generation Z isn’t entirely responsible for the epidemic either. The number of “Silver Surfers” (social media users over the age of 50) has increased an average of about 65% over the past 12 years.

If those figures don’t get you moving, just think of the $115 million dollars the ALS Foundation raised since July with the “Ice Bucket Challenge”, all because word spread like wild fire through social media.

It would be foolish not to leverage a free marketing platform for your organization, but it’s important to keep in mind that posting content just for the sake of it isn’t going to produce results. Like any good game plan, you need a strategy.

Here are 4 ways to use social media to advance your mission:

A picture speaks a thousand words.

Catholic Charities

Social media presents the unique opportunity to show your donors why they should support your organization and how they are helping make an impact.

Take a look at how Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte puts this practice into place with their photo of a young teen purchasing baby supplies in anticipation of the birth of his daughter, who inspired him to graduate high school and pursue a college degree. Of course, acquiring consent from your clients is critical in order to respect privacy, but this type of post allows supporters to see the footprint they’re making within the community.

You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

Making a specific ask on your social media sites is also a must. Generalized asks are not well received and very ineffective. Instead of simply posting “Donate now!” on your site, reference a current initiative that you are working towards. Similarly to posting pictures, this will help donors better understand the impact of their gift. In addition to financial asks, you can use social media to encourage involvement in events or campaigns, like the way Charleston Animal Society advocated for The Low Country Paws and Claws Expo.

Sharing is caring.

Speaking of advocacy, it is important to do your part in spreading the word. You’ll notice that Charleston Animal Society “shared” that event link, because it pertains to a similar cause. Every organization has something in common and that is to make the world a better place. If someone “shares”, “likes” or “retweets” one of your posts, you should return the favor. It’s a win-win for everyone: your message is being spread to an audience you wouldn’t otherwise reach. Utilize online analytic services like Klout or Facebook Insights to monitor just how impactful your social influence is. You can use those statistics to tweak content accordingly, maximizing your results.

Recognition goes a long way.

The quickest way to lose a donor is by not properly acknowledging their support for your organization. With social media, you have the chance to make a high impact at a low cost by giving props to your top supporters or hardworking staff. Teach for America demonstrates this by recognizing their few and far between male pre-k teachers. Sing those praises loud and proud for consistent support and positive morale!

Social media platforms act as a megaphone for your organization, broadcasting your message for the entire world to hear. It’s okay to start small only using one type of social media outlet if you don’t have the bandwidth; after all, it’s better to have no content than lapsed content. 70% of activity should be value-adding, 20% shared posts and 10% promotional. Keeping current with these simple guidelines will bring you one step closer to achieving your mission – are you ready to take the leap?

                

This is a guest post by Melissa Mirchin. Melissa is a Baltimore, Maryland native and graduated from Clemson University with a degree in Psychology. She’s currently living in Mount Pleasant, SC with her rescue dog, Gideon, and spends her weekends cheering on the Tigers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

From time to time, a guest blogger will appear on npENGAGE. Guest bloggers are industry experts contributing useful, relevant content to the conversation on npENGAGE. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, contact the editor.

Get nonprofit articles, best practice advice, fundraising ideas and invaluable industry reports and webinars delivered for free!