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5 Reasons to Stop Stalling and Dive Into Social Marketing

Although studies show an increased number of nonprofits using social media for their marketing efforts, the stats often represent a few thousand of over 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. There are still groups that are not convinced social media is a good investment of their time and resources.

Many social media tools are free, but there are costs to consider for advertising on these platforms. Paid content has become an important marketing budget item. Time investment, staffing requirements and professional services (copy writing, graphic design, multimedia production and other expenses) can translate to thousands of dollars.

By not engaging, your group will likely miss important marketing opportunities. Social networking is a great way to tell your story. A lot can be learned about your nonprofit through online interactions with your staff, supporters, and stakeholders. However, you need a strategy. It’s easy to jump feet-first into the networking pool, but this medium can get out of control fast without careful planning and management. In this post, we’ll explore key social media benefits for your organization and how to include them in your marketing plan.

Do You Really Need a Twitter Account?

There are numerous social media tools available, making it hard to decide which platforms benefit nonprofits most. The standard social trinity—Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—is a good place to start. Many organizations also have a YouTube channel, Pinterest board, and photo galleries on Flickr or Instagram, along with presentations, annual reports, and white papers on Scribd. Google Plus’ longer, blog-like format and author-ranking algorithms is a popular tool for building authorship.

One way to determine which platform is best suited for your group is to look at what your members are using. You want to go where they hang out most if that platform fits your marketing goals. Test-drive other channels to see if they’re good paths for your company, but don’t select haphazardly. Look at who’s talking and if the conversation fits your community focus, then give it a whirl. If you’re new to social marketing and don’t have the resources to manage the extra work, start with one platform and master that.

A recent study on nonprofit content marketing in North America reported that 91% of nonprofit professionals use Facebook more than any other social media platform. Sixty-nine percent use Twitter, 65% YouTube and 53% LinkedIn.

MDG Advertising Agency created an infographic showing results for 2012. Facebook was “favored by 98 percent of nonprofits, followed by Twitter trusted by 74 percent, YouTube utilized by 66 percent, and LinkedIn used by nearly half of charities.”

It helps to see what’s trending in the nonprofit community. Again, if a platform won’t benefit your group, reconsider investing your time and resources. For social marketing to be successful, you have to work it. It’s time-consuming. That’s a given. However, if approached strategically, the benefits can be worth the effort.

5 Key Benefits of Social Marketing for Nonprofits

  1. Membership Growth—Share relevant information with your members/subscribers and alert them to special offers and resources, but don’t make it all about “you.” Highlight a member’s story and how your organization supported their achievement of a particular goal. Give your members useful information they can easily apply to their business and personal endeavors.
  2. Increased Website Traffic—Draw more traffic to your website by linking your site and blog to your social network sites. Place links in your posts that direct readers back to your website for further information.
  3. Improved Demographics—Learn more about the needs of your members, subscribers, and donors. Comments and questions from these audiences provide clues to the particular needs of their demographic segments.
  4. Viral Marketing—Provide relevant educational content and announce new products and resources. Friends and followers will share with their friends and followers, and they with theirs, and so on. Keep the momentum going by supporting your followers: comment on and re-tweet their accomplishments and thoughtful posts and if they’ve written a book, case study or developed a new product.
  5. Customer Loyalty—Start a discussion on issues that are important to your members. Answer questions, offer solutions and direct them to additional resources. Cultivate customer loyalty by becoming the go-to source for information on topics of concern to your members and subscribers.

Share Your Thoughts

What are some primary ways social media has benefited your nonprofit association? Which social networking tools are you leveraging for charitable giving and membership growth?

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