Tag Archives: social media

Powerful and Practical Social Media: Facebook for Nonprofits

Nonprofits are always struggling with getting noticed. One of the best ways to get noticed is through social media, but it’s also one of the hardest. So how do you get through the noise? Our Powerful and Practical Social Media series helps you break through to get your message heard!

What’s your purpose (on social)?

Social media gets a lot of attention from marketers, but it should only be one channel within your larger communication strategy. Consider the Hub and Spoke model where your website is the hub with all your content, and your spokes share out the information and draw people in to your website, where they can take further action. Social media is just one of your spokes, and each channel is slightly different.

Given that, consider how your “social media spoke” best supports the whole wheel. What audience is best for you to target on social media? What content do you have that’s the best fit for social? What tone fits that audience, your content, and your brand? Once you define those three things, your social media has a strategy. Next, it’s about how each channel can be optimized for that particular audience.

What do you post?

Your content is the next piece of the puzzle. Once you have your social media goals laid out, it’s about determining what content will inspire your audience to help you achieve that goal.

In terms of what types of content to post for the best engagement, think about (and write down) your typical follower. What are they interested in? What do they want to learn about or improve upon? Use that as a guide for your content.

In general, Facebook is all about visuals. Links are great, but make sure that they have a great image (or a video) attached to them. The best content on Facebook will be useful, relevant, and visually appealing. Much of this content can start on your blog, where most of your content should live.

One of my most successful Facebook posts was for one of my clients, Art with Heart. Art with Heart creates therapeutic workbooks for children and teens to help them work through trauma and grief. Given that, much of their Facebook presence was about creativity and healing. At the beginning of the year, I wrote a blog post about self-care projects to kick off 2016, and our Facebook audience loved it.

It easily became one of our most popular posts, getting shared widely and getting lots of good engagement. It also drew many new followers to us, growing our audience and potential donor base. And that was because it was useful, relevant, and it had a great image up top.

The most important aspect of your post is obviously the content. And a recent Hubspot study found that for pages with a smaller following, “with less than 10,000 followers that post more than 60 times a month receive 60% fewer clicks per post than those companies that post 5 or fewer times a month.”

When should you post? 

The most important thing to know about Facebook is that the odds are definitely NOT in your favor in terms of getting noticed. Facebook makes more money the more time people spend on Facebook, and people generally log into Facebook to see posts from their friends and family, not the pages they follow. Given that, Facebook wants to limit page content as much as possible. So, as a page, you are automatically at a disadvantage.

Every social media blog will tell you there are certain times of day that will beat the Facebook algorithm that knocks down your content. You’ll see suggestions for 4-6AM or 2-3PM or weekends, and the hard truth is that no one really knows. The best time for your content is dictated by your followers, not the algorithm. So you want to know the best time for them, which you won’t be able to know without – you guessed it – A/B testing!

The good news is that it’s free. The bad news is that it’s time consuming.

The best way to do it is to spend one month posting at one time of day on the weekdays, and another on the weekends. Once you’ve set that standard, change the times.

The important thing is to only test one variable at a time. It’s best to use time that’s far away from a major event or giving day, if possible. If it’s not possible, do your best to correct for that traffic that could skew your numbers.

Other quick tips for boosting engagement:

Pin to top

Have a post with high engagement? Pin it to the top of your page so people see an engaging post as soon as they visit your page.

Invite people who like your posts to like your Facebook page

When you have a post with high engagement, you can see who liked it, and invite them to like your page as well, so they see your future posts. It is probably one of the most effective, yet underused, features on Facebook.

Get verified

Getting your Facebook page verified is an easy and useful step to help your engagement. It’s easy to do with a phone number or letter, though some nonprofits are required to send in their articles of incorporation.

Schedule natively

The Facebook algorithm will give preferential treatment to posts that were scheduled natively on Facebook, as opposed to a third-party client, such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. So if you are scheduling posts for later, make sure you do it on Facebook itself, as opposed to using a third-party client.

When it comes to social media, it can seem daunting for some organizations. But with these smart tips, you’ll start to see Facebook help build successes for your nonprofit.

This is a post I wrote for Williams Whittle.


Should your Nonprofit Be on Instagram?

Nonprofit-instagramInstagram has become an effective outlet for many nonprofits, including UN Foundation, To Write Love on Her Arms, and the ASPCA. But many nonprofits have struggled with the platform, finding little success in their hard work.

As a nonprofit, you have limited time and resources. So, I encourage you to ask yourself: is Instagram a good fit for my organization’s needs? Ask yourself these three questions to determine whether or not it’s the right decision for your organization.

Is your audience on Instagram?

Before you decide to spend time on a communications channel, you should always first consider which audience you are trying to reach. So, first do some research on who is on the platform, and if your target markets are there.

Here is some information to get you started. In 2015, Pew Research Center did a report on Instagram demographics, and found some useful information for nonprofit marketers:

  • 31 percent of women and 24 percent of men regularly use Instagram to like, share, and post.
  • Among teenagers ages 13 to 17 years-old, 23 percent of girls and 17 percent of boys use Instagram.
  • 55 percent of all online 18- to 29-year olds in the U.S. are using Instagram, as opposed to only four percent of adults over 65 years of age.
  • 32 percent of online adults who live in urban areas are using Instagram. A little further out in the suburbs, you can find 28 percent of users, and way out in the country, a mere 18 percent of Instagram users.
  • Instagram has 500 million users, 300 million of whom use the social channel every day, but only 20% of Instagram users are located in the United States, constituting about 89.4 million users.

To sum up all that information, Instagram tends to be young and urban. And while many donors are older, what is your organization doing to cultivate the next generation of donors? Instagram may be a good way to start engaging them now to develop that pipeline.

Does your organization have great visual content?


from CDN-Webimages

We all know cats rule the internet. There are lots of reasons for this, not the least of which is that people love seeing pictures of them. And if all nonprofits were cat-focused, the sector would be dominating the Insta-sphere.

But as we know, lots of nonprofits don’t naturally create awesome visual content. When I worked for a capacity building organization, I quickly found out that I could only post so many pictures of meetings and trainings before my content got stale. And the same will go for many association, advocacy, grantmaking, training, and health-focused nonprofits.

If you’re in this category, right off the bat you know that you’re going to spend extra time coming up with visual content. You’re going to need to be creating images with statistics, quotes, or even putting together a photo shoot to get high-quality pictures to save for later. It’s not going to be easy, but you will get the hang of it. Don’t forget that content can definitely be useful down the road and you can also use it on your other platforms.

Now, if your nonprofit is a zoo, museum, or animal shelter, then you will probably not need to worry about content. As long as you have access to take the photos, you will have lots of content at your finger tips, ready to post.

Do you have the time for Instagram?

Even if your nonprofit has high-quality, daily content that you can share, you’re still going to need to dedicate some significant time to your Instagram channel.

Depending on how easy it is for you to generate good content, I would budget 3-5 hours per week. Once you get the hang of it, you could whittle that number down, but start with that as an estimate.

To make it as effective as possible, you’re going to need to do the following:

  • Create and edit images
  • Post at least once per day
  • Use 5-10 hashtags per post
  • Test the best time to post
  • Engage on other pages every day

Each of these steps is essential to an effective Instagram presence. Do you have the time for all of it? If not, maybe doubling down on an existing channel is a better use of your time.

I hope this has helped you determine whether or not your organization should start an Instagram account! Have other ideas? Share them on Twitter @williamswhittle or @ahcarney.

This blog post originally appeared on Williams Whittle’s website.

Is a Facebook Group Right for Your Association?

Is a facebook group right for your association

The following is a guest blog I wrote for Williams Whittle. I hope you enjoy it!

There’s one piece of feedback that every association hears: their members want to connect with their peers. They want more networking, and they want more opportunities for discussion. So associations are looking for ways to help their members connect, and online communities are becoming more and more popular.

Facebook is a free, easy way to promote networking among your members. But how do you know if a Facebook group is the right for your association?

Are your members on Facebook?

Pew recently released the Demographics of Key Social Networking Platforms. As 71% of the American population is on Facebook, chances are good that your target audience is on the platform. And while younger demographics are on Facebook, they may not use it as often as a different platform. Do some research to see if Facebook is the primary (or secondary) social network your members use.

And remember: if your association’s page isn’t active, it doesn’t mean your Facebook group won’t be!

Do your members want it?

Chances are good that your members are clamoring for more ways to connect with each other. However, some individuals only want to connect in person. Some, on the other hand, prefer connecting over the internet. But how do you know which bucket your membership falls into?

Think about what topics they want to discuss. If your association discusses delicate topics, your members may have privacy concerns about posting their opinions or thoughts on Facebook.

Also think about the geographic area of your association. Would this be a useful way for members geographically far away from one another to meet? Or, if it is a local group, does this provide an added benefit that in-person networking cannot provide?

Could you get 20-30 members to be your community champions?

Every new community relies on a core group of people to keep it running. The old math used to be 90%/9%/1%: 90% are lurkers, 9% are contributors, and 1% are content creators. And even though a recent study showed it was closer to 70%/20%/10%, the truth remains that the vast majority of your community will be lurkers.

Participation in internet communities

This means it’s imperative to get that 10% active and on board (and on the hook) early to post and react to fresh content. That will seed your community with activity, boosting its results in the beginning, until participation becomes habit. By doing this, your 10% is already active and providing enough fuel for the lurkers to have valuable content to read and, hopefully, react to.

Do you have a month (or three) to dedicate 5 hours a week?

Any new project takes time, but getting an online community started can be more than what you think. Having an engaged membership certainly makes it easier, but you will need to do some legwork.

Even with your 20-30 community champions, you’ll need to kick start conversations, make sure everyone’s post gets at least one response, and monitor the activity for anything that is outside of your basic guidelines.

While a fair amount of work, a Facebook group can be wildly successful, and even a core membership benefit. So if you answered, “Yes!” to all of these questions, then a Facebook group may be the right decision for your association.

5 Hashtag #Mistakes Your Nonprofit May Be Making

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 3.17.01 PM.pngThe following is a guest blog I wrote for Williams Whittle. I hope you enjoy it!

Hashtags are so commonplace now, they’ve become a part of daily life (at least on the internet). They are a quick, easy way to join an existing conversation and amplify your message to even more people.

However, if you don’t use them strategically, they could be hurting you, rather than helping you. Here are some things your nonprofit could be doing wrong.

1- Not using hashtags

This is an easy one. Hashtags are a proven way to get more engagement on your posts—if you do them well. Tweets with hashtags get twice the engagement as tweets without hashtags. Tweets with hashtags are 55% more likely to get retweeted. And for Instagram, the numbers are even more striking: posts with 11+ hashtags get the most engagement. However, make sure you don’t overdo it, because you could be…

2- Using too may hashtags

A recent study found that using too may hashtags actually lowered engagement. On Facebook, by increasing the number of hashtags from 2 to 3, engagement dropped almost 25%. The general rule is the 2 is right number of hashtags for Facebook and Twitter, but you can use more on other networks such as Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest. And even if you’re using the right number of hashtags, you could be…

3- Not doing your research

Hashtags can feel like a shot in the dark. You’re picking from a wide field, and sometimes your choices can feel arbitrary. But by using tools such as Hastagify.me to find what hashtags are being used in your cause, and who the main influencers are, you can see who and where the existing conversations about your cause are happening. Because when your nonprofit is silent during big conversations, you’re the one that’s missing out. And one big missed opportunity is if you are…

4- Not jumping on conference hashtags

Conversations at conferences are not just happening in person. Many conferences take advantage of the rapt audience to increase their online engagement by using custom hashtags. By joining that conversation, you can build your audience with other like-minded professionals. The best network for this is Twitter, but when you arrive at the conference (or even just following the conversation from across the country), check what social networks and custom hashtags the host organization will be using. By owning this conversation, host organizations can amplify their following, but that’s because they are putting significant time, energy, and money into the conference. Your nonprofit, if not putting in that time, energy, and money could be making a mistake by…

5- Creating custom hashtags

Big brands line Coke and Nike have been creating custom hashtags to support their campaigns since the beginning of hashtags. They have been able to do that because their following is significant enough, and they are putting enough money behind the hashtag, to have it gain traction. However, if you have a limited budget and limited time, creating your own hashtags may be more effort than its worth. If you do want to create a custom hashtag, make sure it’s one that you are consistent with. Don’t throw too many out there and expect them all to go viral.

What else should nonprofits NOT be doing with hashtags? Tweet us at @ahcarney and  @williamswhittle to let us know what you think!