Social Media for Non-Profits: How to Engage Supporters

by Nannette Stangle-Castor

Every single day, more than half a billion Tweets are posted. Nearly 250 million people are on LinkedIn. And behemoths like Facebook and YouTube exploded beyond the one billion mark quite some time ago. 

These social media channels are no longer occasional, ‘nice to have’ outlets for non-profits. They are a must. Millions of people are using these platforms every day to network with colleagues, build a loyal following, and deepen their engagement with supporters. 

The question is: how can you position yourself to make an impact in an already crowded field?

We are all busy people, but if done correctly, social media engagement can provide a very tangible return on investment.

The key is to develop a clear strategy before diving in. Ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish? Which social media channels are most likely to achieve your end result? 

In my social media training, I advise my clients to be WISE:

W: Who do you want to learn from and influence?

I: What kind of insights are you looking for?

S: How can you be selective so you are not overwhelmed?

E: How can you best engage your target audience?

In addition to strategy, non-profit leaders in particular need to develop an authentic voice in their online interactions with supporters and stakeholders. No one wants to engage with a sales-y pitch or a blatant fundraising plea on social media. Users of social media want to engage with thought leaders who can educate and inspire by sharing meaningful ideas and insights. 

To do this well, take a look at how some of the most successful non-profits have engaged with their audience. Visceral Business' Charity Social 100 Index ranks non-profits to show which organizations are having the most impact online.

With a rock solid social media strategy and authentic voice, you can attract new supporters, earn media attention, differentiate yourself from competitors, stay informed of key trends, and become a thought leader. Once you establish a level of trust, you will find that your supporters are using the power of social media to help spread the word about your cause.

Bottom Line: Wise use of social media can promote your mission and engage your followers.

Nannette Stangle-Castoris President of InnoVector Tech, a management consulting and strategic communications firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can follow her on Twitter as @NannetteSC.

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