Archived Story

Marketing through social media

Published 8:35pm Sunday, July 22, 2012

As the Nonprofit Leadership column continues discussing marketing for nonprofits, the next several articles will focus on the social media marketing strategy/plan.
In the last article, we discussed the pros and cons of using social media for a nonprofits marketing strategy or plan. We also identified selected tools to use for a variety of applications within the social media marketing plan. In this article, we will discuss the steps to getting started using social media for the nonprofit marketing plan.
The first step comes from the most popular question that I am asked all the time: Why should our nonprofit be interested in social media?
The response is simply if your nonprofit is interested in raising donations, creating awareness and recruiting and engaging volunteers,  you should implement a social media plan within your marketing strategy.
Raising money is one of the most sought-after aspects of social media, especially given today’s economy. In raising money, social media helps the organization by giving its donors and constituents an easy way to donate and also allows them to ask their friends for money to help support their cause. Social media also lets people know how many other people have donated and why.
In the fundraising world, we all know that although people choose to give to a charity for the cause they represent, the real reason people continue to give of their time and money is the common rule – people give to people.
For those of you reading this, I would encourage you to stop and think about the reasons you continue to give to the nonprofits you do. You will likely uncover that the nonprofits you give to are for a wonderful cause, but the reason you continue to give is because of the board member, staff member or volunteer who keeps you involved in the organization.
In recruiting and engaging volunteers, social media helps nonprofits with the following tools:
• Providing services where knowledge is the volunteers’ contribution
• Education and training for staff, volunteers and clients
• Friends asking friends to get involved by volunteering
• Self-service scheduling and participation
For many nonprofit leaders, recruiting and engaging volunteers is a full-time job. The number one reason a volunteer leaves a nonprofit is they feel that they did not have a specific enough job duty and they did not feel that they contributed or were involved in the nonprofit.
Nonprofits that have many programs and services can sometimes find it difficult to keep everyone up to date on the nonprofit’s successes and daily rewards. Social media now makes it easy and free to keep everyone up to date, including volunteers.
In addition, social media allows volunteers to share this information easily, and seasoned volunteers are sometimes the ones updating the social media tools.
If you have read my previous articles you know my feeling on volunteers – that they are an essential piece of the nonprofit’s puzzle. Without volunteers, many nonprofits would not be able to survive and offer the much-needed programs and services vital to today’s society.
As nonprofit leaders, we must use all tools available to use to ensure 100-percent ownership of the organization and to retain our valued volunteers. When board, staff and volunteers feel they have ownership and their comments, questions and suggestions are taken seriously, the organization excels at a rapid rate.
By helping build awareness and spread messages, social media helps nonprofits enhance their campaigning and advocacy. We know that advocacy is now a mainstream word in today’s society and nonprofits are now leading the way at the state and federal level.
As with any endeavor nonprofits undertake, they need help from the general public, and what better way to sell it than telling the nonprofit’s story. We know storytelling is the best way to pull at potential supporters’ and donors’ heartstrings. Social media use allows the nonprofit to tell the story to a wider, broader audience without the expense of mailings.
In addition, social media can help nonprofits in educating and engaging the general public on issues that affect them.
In the next article we will continue discussing the steps for getting started using social media for your nonprofit.

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