Current nonprofit sector research and recommendations for effective day-to-day practice from ASU faculty, staff, students, and the nonprofit and philanthropic community.
Director of Search Marketing
Marketing doesn't have to be painful for nonprofit organizations with limited resources. Here are four ways nonprofit organizations can improve their marketing efforts while also spending less money and less time on the issue:
Do Your Research
Know your audience. Who makes up your audience? Analyze your nonprofit organization using Facebook Insights data to understand your core audience and its wants and needs. Examine the data on individual posts to determine which status updates and which photos have been shared the most. Also take the time to understand your organization’s Google Analytics data to get a better idea about who is visiting your site. Make sure to use Google’s Social Value graph to learn more about the correlation between your nonprofit’s Facebook and Twitter traffic with your sales and donations.
Define your goals. Once you've figured out who your audience is, articulate what it is you want from your supporters. Do you want your supporters to buy your merchandise? Donate their time at volunteer events? Donate money to support your operations? Once you’ve figured out why you matter to your audience and what your goals are, use this information to develop your nonprofit organization’s marketing strategies.
Use Social Media Platforms the Right Way
Grow your audience organically. Ask volunteers to like your Facebook page and to follow you on Twitter as a way to stay in touch with the latest developments at your nonprofit organization. Also, use your website to promote your Facebook and Twitter pages. Do this by including Facebook and Twitter social media plugins in your blog posts and on all major landing pages.
Develop partnerships. Create a bigger audience for your nonprofit organization by forming partnerships with other organizations and by sharing each other’s messages on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Use social media to share rich content. The people behind all the great work at your nonprofit organization are your greatest asset. Show them off by regularly uploading photos to your social media accounts as they engage in work that your supporters really care about. Put a face to your cause. Get more fans on Facebook and more followers on Twitter by making YouTube videos, posting memes, creating infographics, and writing blog posts.
Use Facebook Efficiently. Install the Facebook Pages Manager app on your Android smartphone or iPhone and make real-time posts while your team is in action at volunteer or fundraising events. Assign multiple team members as Facebook page managers so that your Facebook feed always has fresh content.
Create a donate option on your Facebook page. Provide your supporters with an easy way to donate money to your nonprofit by creating and prominently displaying a donations app in the Tabs section of your Facebook page. To do this, install the Causes app or create a custom tab with iFrame Wrapper to link your followers to a donation page on your website.
Get your audience to personally engage with your nonprofit organization. Demonstrate interest in getting to know what your audience thinks about the topics you are posting about by asking them questions in your status updates. Respond to people who comment on your posts and encourage a community dialogue. Thank your supporters for contributing to the discussion. Host regular chat sessions with your supporters. Make a weekly Facebook post highlighting your volunteer of the week.
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Keep it simple. There are a ton of social media platforms on the Internet. Each one has its pros and cons and each one is designed for different audiences. To save money and resources, focus on delivering content to those social media platforms that are bringing you the most success. You can also save time by using a social media account manager such as HootSuite or TweetDeck to manage all of your social media accounts from one place. If you haven’t already done so, make sure to create a custom Facebook URL for your nonprofit organization.
Don’t forget about blogging. Allow members of your team to demonstrate their passion for the work they do by regularly blogging about their experiences and insights. Ensure that the stories are focused on people and how your nonprofit has changed their lives for the better. Make sure to also profile new staff members as they join your team. Always supplement your blog posts with pictures and video whenever possible. Ask your blog audience to support your nonprofit organization by donating money or by purchasing your merchandise.
You should also have a team member regularly blog about the latest news in your field of work. If your nonprofit organization can publish stories quickly, your audience will grow as it begins to rely on your blog for industry news. Drive traffic to your blog by sharing your blog posts on your Facebook page and on Twitter.
Advertise and Spread Your Message
Advertise on Facebook. Ads can be expensive on Facebook. However, your nonprofit might benefit from Page Like Ads, Page Post Ads, and Sponsored Stories. To maximize the efficiency of your Facebook ad campaigns, take advantage of the ability to target your ads to relevant age groups and specific geographic locations. Experiment with different ad types to see which ones bring you the most success. Sponsored Stories tend to be the most successful ads. Track your progress using your Facebook page’s Insights data.
Apply for a Google Ad Grant. Google Ad Grants is the nonprofit edition of AdWords, Google’s online advertising tool. Google provides $10,000 per month in in-kind AdWords advertising to qualified nonprofit organizations. Visit Google’s Ad Grants page to learn more about eligibility information and to apply for a Google Ad Grant. If your nonprofit qualifies for an ad grant, you will be given a daily budget of $329. Consider putting aside some money for Google AdWords even if your nonprofit organization doesn’t qualify for an ad grant.
Use video to spread awareness. Videos can provide your nonprofit organization with a low-cost way to engage your viewers and easily spread your message on the Internet. Hire amateur videographers and volunteer professionals to design and create inexpensive and quality video content. Join YouTube’s nonprofit program to gain access to exclusive features for free. Consider live streaming content from important events such as rallies and fundraising events to maximize engagement from supporters who can’t make it to your events.
Regularly update your contacts list. Make sure to update your contacts lists as you continue to develop messages for your nonprofit organization. As you create content on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, let your supporters know about your fresh content. If the messaging isn’t overbearing, your supporters will happily share your content themselves and help you increase your total viewership organically. This tactic will save you a lot of money that you might otherwise spend on marketing efforts.
Make Your Nonprofit Organization Cellphone Friendly
Invest in a mobile-friendly website. Find a web developer to create a mobile-friendly version of your website to encourage smartphone users to surf your website on their phone while they are on-the-go or at your events. Ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly means you will maximize your potential for donors.
Your supporters are increasingly accessing their emails from their smartphones and mobile devices. Ensuring that your email communications are mobile-friendly is a necessity. Use a service like Constant Contact to easily create engaging emails that draw the reader in and increase your readership by both smartphone and computer users.
Johann Beishline is the Director of Search Marketing at Foresold, a market leader in paid advertising management and search engine marketing based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Johann’s full-service Internet marketing firm, Lezal Marketing, was recently acquired by Foresold in a mix of cash and stock options. You can learn more about Johann by visiting his Google+ page.
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Read Colleen Dunbar's, "It’s 2013: Where’s your nonprofit’s social media policy?"