Every non-profit knows that social media is the key to engaging with existing donors and new doners. According to a study from Georgetown University, about 55% of people who engage with a non-profit’s social media take an action like volunteering or donating! That’s spectacular!
But, as most non-profits are somewhat small, a lot of social media accounts are under-supported. By approaching social media the right way, however, you can dramatically increase the awareness, engagement, and donation rate for your non-profit!
It’s a win-win!
So, before you hire out a social media agency, or before you set one of your existing volunteers or staff members to the task, make sure you’re not making these common non-profit social media mistakes.
7 Non-Profit Social Media Mistakes to Avoid
Keep reading to learn how to avoid making these social media mistakes in your non-profit.
1. Not “Getting” Your Audience
Most people are afraid to narrow down what they stand for, because a bigger net catches more fish, right?
But it turns out, narrowing your focus actually helps a lot on social media. Understanding your audience is extremely important to the success of your social media efforts, so take time to figure this piece out (or hire someone to do it)
First, you need to have a clear mission statement and make sure that your existing audience identifies with that. If they do, then you can look at these areas:
Demographics are things like gender, age, location, and income level. These basic demographic data points can influence how and where you put your social media efforts. For example, if your audience is mostly Gen X, then you may want to focus your social media efforts on Facebook.
If the audience is millennials, try Instagram. And if you have a lot of Gen Z support, try TicTok.
One of the biggest mistakes that non-profits make is trying to plan an entire quarter or year’s worth of social content at once without testing it.
If you post a lot of links, and no one is clicking, then you’ve wasted your time and efforts.
Look at your past social media engagement to identify what type of content resonates with your core audience the most.
However, you also need to make sure the content you are posting is aligned with your mission. Funny dog pictures get a lot of engagement, but if your non-profit is about helping children in school, that sort of content is attracting the wrong audience.
How to Find This Data
If you are already on social media, you can dive into the analytics of the platforms you are on. There are a lot of tools that you can use to unlock the data, but there are also people who can do a social media audit for a moderate fee that will likely provide more accurate insights without the hassle.
2. Being Boring
No one wants to follow a boring brand on social media.
Fast food restaurants should be boring to follow because it’s a burger, but because most fast food brands have taken a snarky, sort of competitive voice, they are thriving on social media.
Taco Bell even has it’s own hotel and a huge cult following thanks to social media efforts.
So, don’t be boring. Even when making basic statements about fundraisers, events, and informational posts, keep the tone light, happy, and conversation-like.
3. Posting Willy-Nilly
Did I include this just so I could put the phrase “willy-nilly” in bold?
But also, non-profits do need a social media strategy.
But not too much.
There is a delicate balance between strategy and creating a strict content calendar that allows no room for flexibility.
When I work with non-profit clients, I give them this insight:
Your social media profiles are like your store display windows. They are often the first encounter someone has with your non-profit. So, your strategy is to show the best of your brand while looking inviting and fun at the same time.
If you are a tractor store, you’re going to have tractors in the window. But if you also include something funny riding the tractor, then people will be more likely to remember your store.
The same things is true for non-profits. Your social strategy should guide people deeper into your messaging, services, and world.
But, the pitfall that a lot of non-profits fall into is trying to make every post a donation post. It’s not advisable to do that, because then people get tired of your non-profit always hitting them up for money, and they start to ignore you.
4. Not Cross-Promoting (or doing it too much)
Guess what, this is another balance section.
Unless you have a dedicated staff member managing social media full time, you won’t have time to be on every social site. Nor should you.
Refer to your demographics to determine where your efforts will be best put to use.
But, you can cross-promote certain things through social. A common cross-promotion that I encourage clients to do is promote their email list, messenger list, or text list via social media.
When you have an event or a new piece of content, promote it on all of your social media channels. And every now and then, remind your audience to follow you in other places.
But, you can also cross-promote too much. Never post the same exact thing on all social media channels. Respect the algorithms of each channel and use the best image sizes, use of hashtags (or not), and other nuances to work within that social network.
5. Forgetting to be Social
Social media is not a megaphone. It’s a conversation.
Too many non-profits forget the back-and-forth piece of social media. This can be detrimental to your social media efforts.
I’ve had clients question why I asked questions of the audience and answered comments even if they weren’t directly about fundraising or the brand itself.
And the reason for that is to build a relationship with the audience. Non-profits that establish relationships with followers are more likely to have an engaged audience that donates and supports the non-profit regularly.
You can create a sort of “brand-approved” response list to frequently asked questions, but it’s not a good idea to copy and paste the same responses over and over.
6. Ignoring User-Generated Content
When you have fans, they often make content for you. You can ask to use this content, and have an amazing source of free photos and videos that are directly about your non-profit.
Ask followers to use a specific hashtag or to tag the brand when taking photos at the event. Then you can use that content to promote your non-profit.
You can also create social media callouts for content asking people to share photos or videos related to your message. When I worked with the animal shelter, I regularly asked followers to share pictures of their pets in certain situations and used those photos to make memes and share back on the page (with permission, of course!).
7. Doing It All
There are too many social media sites to take on all at once. Even a full-time social media person can only handle 3-4 social media platforms at a time.
If you don’t have a full-time person running social, you can likely be in even fewer places.
Use your demographics to find out where you should be posting. Then, pick the top 2-3 platforms that that audience likes and you see the biggest benefit to your fundraising efforts, and post regularly there. As your non-profit grows, you can consider adding more platforms.
These are some insights into common social media mistakes for non-profits.
If you’d like a consultation or social media audit for your non-profit, give us a shout!