The W’s of a Nonprofit Social Media Strategy

by Ephraim Geffen

When it comes to marketing, PR and fundraising, most nonprofits create a strategy with short and long-term goals, milestones and objectives. So why do so many organizations neglect to do the same for their social media presence?

Let’s be frank: Having a Facebook page with 1,000 Likes does NOT mean you will be able to raise funds from that channel. To wit: in 2010

  • 0.4% of nonprofits raised $100,000+ via Twitter or Facebook
  • 77.6% of nonprofits that used Facebook to fundraise ended up raising less than $1000

Does that mean you cannot use social media as a vehicle for fundraising? Of course not – but much of your efforts will depend on your strategy.

A major component of a social media strategy is being able to answer “The W” questions. Here is a quick look at each issue:

  • The WHO: Your organization needs to determine who your target audience is and, just as important, who will be the community manager. (Keep in mind: just because someone knows how to run their personal Facebook account does not mean they can manage your orgs. Facebook page).
  • The WHAT: Here you need to consider what are the short and long-term goals from entering the social media arena, what kind of content you will be pushing out and what are the guidelines for your community manager (EXTREMELY important for dealing with such issues as negative comments).
  • The WHERE: There are many, many platforms you could be joining. You need to determine where your target audience is and which outlets best suit the content you will be posting.
  • The WHEN: When you post content and engage followers largely depends on when your followers are online and when your community manager is available. Posting content while being unavailable to engage those who comment is not conducive to online community building.
  • The HOW: This section has many parts: how will you measure success, how will you bring readers to your blog, how will you help your followers and how will social media fit into your organization’s overall PR & marketing strategy.
  • The WHY: It’s not to fundraise! Yes, the Red Cross raised millions via social media during last year’s tsunami catastrophe. But they have hundreds of thousands of followers and they engage them around the clock!

Let me add one more thing: me vs. you. Social media is not about being Walter Cronkite – broadcaster; it’s about being Dear Anne Landers – a relationship builder. As nonprofits, we may feel the need to promote our work as much as possible. On social media, patting yourself on the back too much is frowned upon. Be “you” oriented and make followers feel important, feel that you want to engage them. Build their trust in your mission and eventually they will become your biggest advocates.

In conclusion, conduct research, learn from the best and worst practices of others, measure your current online presence, find answers to “The W” questions and build a lasting social media presence.

Plan ahead and have a well-thought out roadmap to success!

Ephraim Geffen is a Social Media Strategist who helps nonprofits and businesses plan and mange their online presence. Ephraim is happy to connect and discuss web content and social media anytime.