In one form or another, non-profit organizations have existed for centuries. As an integral part of American society, they are certain to continue on for many more. These important groups provide food to the needy, medicine to the sick, and education to the illiterate, among many other admirable aims. Of course, in order to endure as vital institutions in modern culture, non-profit organizations must be available to evolve, leveraging the latest advances to their benefit.
Most have made major technological transitions—from paper brochures to websites, P.O. boxes to email addresses, bulky desktops to sleek tablets—but many have yet to embrace one of the most powerful digital tools and their disposal: social media. Billions of people use social media platforms to connect with each other, plan events, and learn about the news every day, making their potential for non-profit promotions virtually limitless.
At Concentric Management, we offer state-of-the-art social media management and we are committed to helping non-profit organizations achieve their laudable goals. We’ve made it our mission to bring these outstanding groups into the twenty-first century, assisting them in their expansion in this digital age. In the following blog, we explain why every non-profit organization must use social media.
Social Media 101
Before we begin describing exactly why all non-profits need to use it, we should first clearly define what social media is. According to Merriam-Webster, social media are “forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, personal messages, and other content (such as videos).” The field of social media has undergone many transformations since the pioneering days of Friendster and MySpace. Nowadays, the most popular platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest. Many of these are also interlinked—users often post Instagram pictures to Facebook, tweet out LinkedIn articles, or share their favorite Pinterest pins on Facebook, to name a few examples. Each social media platform works slightly differently, with its own unique structure, interface, and purpose, but they are all united by the fact that they bring people together online.
In order to demonstrate the grand power of these platforms, we present to you a few key social media statistics:
- Facebook boasts “94 billion monthly users as of the end of the March quarter….up from 1.86 billion in the previous quarter and 1.65 billion in the same quarter a year earlier,” as per a recent CNN piece. This behemoth site’s staggering statistics show the undeniable magnitude of social media.
- According to Statista, Instagram had “700 million monthly active users…as of April 2017,” compared with “600 million in December 2016,” showing similarly impressive growth to that of Facebook.
- Based on the Pew Research Center’s findings, “today 69 percent of the [American] public uses some type of social media, up from “just 5 percent of American adults” in 2005 and “half of all Americans” in 2011. These numbers have continued to rise in all age categories, but particularly among the 18-29 year-old demographic, who will no doubt impact the next generation and who are a key target for non-profit organizations.
- “Roughly three-quarters of Facebook users – and around half of Instagram users – visit these sites at least once a day,” according to the Pew Research Center. Social media is an engrained component of contemporary culture, shaping the lifestyles of most Americans.
- Non-Profit Hub reports: “55 percent of people who engage with causes via social media are inspire to get more involved.” This statistic demonstrates that social media is a successful instrument for engagement within the non-profit niche. In fact, for reasons we’ll explain below, social media is particularly well suited to non-profit organizations’ activities.
- According to the 2017 Global NGO (non-governmental organization, another term for non-profit organization) Report, “92 percent of global NGOs have a Facebook page,” while 72 percent have a twitter profile an 39 percent have an Instagram profile. Social media is no longer a cutting-edge luxury for non-profit organizations—it’s a necessity. If you’re not using it, you’re likely to fall behind.
- Dunham + Company recently conducted a study and found: “donors 40-59 years old are now the most likely to give online,” rising from 47 percent in 2010 to 67 percent in 2015. Social media marketing for non-profits is no longer merely the domain of millenials—it’s a valuable way to reach many of your most important potential contributors.
- Despite all of the above compelling data, the 2017 Global NGO Report indicates that just 32 percent “of global NGOs have a written social media strategy,” and only 34 percent “of global NGOs have paid for advertising on social media.”
These numbers speak for themselves: in order to survive and thrive in our digital world, non-profit organizations need social media.
Constructing Computerized Communities
Social media and non-profit organizations are a match made in heaven when it comes to creating constructive communities. One of the primary aims of a non-profit organization is to connect with people, encouraging them to volunteer, donate, and spread the word. Social media is ideally positioned to achieve these goals, since it allows users to interact with each other, form online groups, and share content. As Dave Kerpen noted in his Huffington Post piece on this topic, “nonprofits have traditionally worked very hard at building community – through events and get-togethers. But now you can build a 24-7-365 community using a Facebook Group, or a LInkedIn group, or your social network of choice. Instead of just you talking to your supporters, you can truly cultivate peer-to-peer communication, an listen to what your supporters have to say!”
By becoming social media savvy, your non-profit organization can reach even more people in less time. You can also encourage your existing contributors and volunteers to become more engaged by facilitating social media communications within these groups. Furthermore, if your supporters are having fun, they’ll likely invite their friends to join in, expanding your base exponentially. This could save your organization valuable time and earn you more donations all while improving all participants’ experiences!
Printing letters, painting billboards, and even purchasing television airtime are expensive! With a proper social media strategy, you could target thousands of current and potential participants for a fraction of the cost, or even for free.
Concentric Management can help you create, design, and publish content your followers will want to share. When people pass around your promotional materials online, they’re likely to be even more successful. As Kerpen explains, “92 percent of people trust their friends’ recommendations, and less than 40 percent of people trust ads. So even if you can get free PSAs from your local radio station or newspaper, they’re not nearly as powerful as getting your supporters to spread the word to their friends via social networks.”
Our team can also assist you with paid advertising on social media. This strategy is particularly successful, since you can target users based on the exact demographics you need and want in your supporters.
Forging Digital Partnerships
Non-profit organizations are all, to some degree, built on networking. If you can gain the support of celebrities, other community groups, politicians, or any other influential entities, you’re much more likely to succeed. Social media is an excellent resource for forming these types of relationships. For example, you can use LinkedIn, a professionally focused social media platform, to find non-profit organizations with similar goals to your own, reach out to local business leaders, or garner the attention of VIPs in your field.
In the age of social media, you can also reach out to a new brand of celebrity: “influencers.” These are digital stars with massive social media followings, who can be persuaded to send a message to their thousands or even millions of followers. Kerpen argues that non-profit organizations “can use social media to find and engage with influencers not only in their town, but around the globe, who may be passionate about their cause and also have a large following. A retweet to 50,000 people might be more helpful than a $50 donation.” The first step to snagging influencer support, of course, is having a well-crafted social media profile with a steady stream of quality content. Concentric Management can help you design your social media strategy.
Most non-profit organization executives, board members, employees, and volunteers recognize that fundraising is often no easy task. However, it can be made easier with an effective social media campaign. Non-profit organizations and their followers frequently share links to online donation portals or even crowd-funding platforms on social media. This allows supporters (and their friends, through sharing!) to help fund important projects with just the click of a few buttons. Making contributing convenient does a great deal to drive your campaigns forward. As Kerpen describes it, “a growing number of people, myself included, would rather click on a Twitter link to Crowdrise and send $100 through PayPal to a cause of choice than attend a rubber chicken dinner.” Bringing your fundraising efforts to the web can save your organization in overhead costs (rubber chickens don’t pay for themselves, after all) and more effectively energize your network.
Taking the Reins for Your Reputation
Many non-profit organizations stem from deeply personal stories, support highly specific, underfunded causes, and spread heartwarming messages about the good humanity can do. Since your organization’s unique narrative is the core of your organization, it is empowering to be able to shape and share it yourself. With traditional media, you might have to rely on a journalist to get your story straight, deal with the intense restrictions of press releases, or hope that corporate sponsors don’t shift your message too much toward their own agendas. On social media, you are truly in charge of how you present your mission, objectives, successes, participants, and every other aspect of your non-profit organization.
How you conduct yourself and communicate about your work on these platforms can allow you to build a solid reputation. As Kerpen explains, “social media and blogging allow you to…showcase [your] understanding and expertise,” demonstrating that you know your field and deserve to be supported. In addition, social media gives you more space to discuss your goals—“now you can tell your story with every Facebook post, LinkedIn article, and tweet.” Social media puts you in the driver’s seat for your non-profit organization’s PR efforts and gives you much more room to steer your story.
Are You Ready to Make the Most of Social Media for Your Non-Profit Organization?
These are just a few of the many reasons every non-profit must be on social media but, of course, joining these platforms is just the beginning. Concentric Management is here to help you design and implement growth-based strategies so you can do even more good. To learn more about our services and schedule a consultation, contact Concentric Management today!