Every association and nonprofit leader knows social media outreach can be a huge benefit to their organization, an easy way to connect to members and donors and get more out of good PR. But these simple, free, and user-friendly platforms are often where nonprofit marketing goes to die, with lots of effort for little return.
Like so much in nonprofit and association management, effective social media use requires intentionality, planning, and clear goals. Let’s review a plan for success.
Set a goal tied to your organization’s most urgent need
There are probably a number of pressing needs competing for your attention but focus on one problem to solve (or advantage to create) at a time. This focus will pay off with a number of benefits:
● Changing the view of social media from a chore to an investment. More on this investment mindset below.
● Better content. It seems counterintuitive that “in the box thinking” will be helpful but putting temporary restrictions on the creative process can produce more inventive and compelling content. Which goal will produce a better series of posts: “Create 10 tweets” or “Create 10 tweets that show the career benefits of becoming a member of our association”?
● You’ll evaluate content more effectively. Instead of “Do I like that” or “Will these take care of Instagram for this week,” you’ll ask questions like, “Will this help us with volunteer recruiting?”
● You’ll avoid scattered messaging that can become background noise for your followers.
Potential goals to focus on might include increasing donations or association memberships, recruiting volunteers or staff, promoting an event, raising awareness about an area of your organization’s work or a social concern, or even building your social media audience.
Consider how success in that area looks on social media
This can be the most difficult part of the process, because the answer to “what does success look like” may not be likes or shares.
True, some goals will have a built-in success metric. Audience building, donations, and recruiting would have followers, donated funds and job applications respectively as metrics.
In other cases, you may have to use social media reach and/or engagement as your main metric. But resist the temptation to chase the algorithm and remain focused on your chosen goal. Social media is full of content which received a kajillion likes and shares and accomplished little or nothing in the real world for the creators.
What is the best way to define success? Define it by the desired end state: “When we have finished this campaign, we will…”
Adopt an investment mindset
Many organizations are on a social media treadmill. As mentioned above, keeping the accounts updated becomes a “we have to” chore. But focusing on a single goal can change your mindset from “This chore we do” to “This investment that will bring in more volunteers.”
It’s also key to spend the time and money necessary for success. The organic reach of a Facebook post, for example, is only a little over 5%, meaning that when you post something for free, 19 of every 20 of your page’s followers won’t even see it in their feed. It’s almost certain you will need to allocate some funds to boosting posts or buying ads. Bringing in a social media manager or advisor may also be well worth the investment.
Use a content calendar, especially if you need to pursue multiple goals
Content calendars are invaluable for keeping your campaigns organized across multiple platforms, especially if you have to make relatively frequent (weekly or bi-weekly) changes to the goal you’re focusing on. For example, if you’ve been maintaining a focus on volunteer recruiting, but know you’ll need to promote your annual conference, use your content calendar to plan that content shift well ahead of time.
Measure, refine, and relax
Refine your process as you go, and don’t stress out about results. Social media is a relatively low-cost platform that allows room for experimentation, and by using it with a solid plan you’re already halfway to success.
Looking for help with your social media outreach?
At V2, we’ve provided full service and outsourced services for national associations for many years and can provide the expertise you need. Get in touch with us today, and let’s see how we can improve your social media campaigns together.