How to Mimic the Best Nonprofit Social Media Accounts, Even with a Tight Budget

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If you’re working for a nonprofit with a moderate (if not lack of a) social media budget, it sometimes feels wasteful to put any effort out there at all. When you can’t keep up with the likes of UNICEF, World Wildlife Fund, American Red Cross, and Susan G. Komen, are you ever going to have an avid enough following to generate interest in your nonprofit via social media?

Through this post I want to give a shout out to the successes of the four nonprofits below – well done! And I also want to take what is likely a somewhat discouraged response to these successes and help you see them as inspiration. There are a few ways you can look to these nonprofit social media giants and come away with resources to better your own accounts.

Facebook – UNICEF

Some say you should only post a few times a week on Facebook, but UNICEF doesn’t seem to follow that rule. And it works quite well for them! They post 2-3 times a day. With this they have over 6 million likes on their page, tons of traction on each post, and a great variety between each one.

But don’t be discouraged! Just because you don’t have a dedicated social media specialist doesn’t mean you can’t take on a thing or two from UNICEF’s social media strategy. Read more on how to use Facebook as a nonprofit in Facebook for Nonprofits – A Huge Helping Hand. Here are three tactics to try out yourself:

1. Quote the ones who use your services

With a tight budget, it’s unlikely you have high-quality photos of all your favorite people using your services. However, it’s pretty doable to at least grab a fun quote from a few of them. Keep a record of these quotes and pull them for a post once a week. People want to see tangible evidence your efforts affect others and you easily have just that! Facebook is an especially good space to inspire others with peoples’ stories, as users likely came there to hear about others.

If this is a success even with lower-quality photos, consider allocating some of your budget to a professional photographer at your next event. Once you have a handful of photos, you can cycle through them for a while.

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2. Respond to world events

It’s likely you’re already paying attention to what’s happening in your nonprofit’s realm, but are you helping others pay attention? Follow thought leaders and news sources on social media, pull excerpts on what they said, and share it on Facebook. It helps when DiCaprio’s got your back…

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3. Respond to responses

Take advantage of each comment made on your post. There are several ways to encourage commenters to read more about your organization, spin negative comments to positive ones, and establish stronger connections. Read more about managing comments in “How to Handle Negative Reviews Online.”

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Twitter: World Wildlife Fund

Just coming off of a hugely successful Twitter campaign with Apple, WWF can teach us a thing or two about this platform. Apple might be a bit of a doozy to get in touch with, but let’s consider some other ways you could create success on Twitter as a nonprofit.

1. Find Partnerships

Twitter is one of the best platforms for following influencers in your field and forming relationships with them. Follow other nonprofits, thought leaders, news channels and the like, and consider messaging them about coordinating a campaign together.

It’s also the place for forming a trending hashtag. Especially good for if you’ve formed some sort of partnership, tag each of your posts with related events or content with a consistent hashtag. When tweeters click on the hashtag, it’ll bring them to all the related content.

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2. Show positive stats

You don’t have to rely on guilt to inspire people to donate or volunteer. As seen with the example below, people thrive on success stories as well; you can show people the change that is happening with impressive stats and the like.

Read more about avoiding nonprofit “guilt marketing.”

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LinkedIn – American Red Cross

LinkedIn is an interesting space for nonprofits. It’s mostly a place for professionals to share information and to recruit talent, but it can serve as another platform to attract volunteers and donors, if your nonprofit uses it correctly. Read more in “Nonprofits Link Up on LinkedIn,” and follow suit of the American Red Cross.

1. Recognize special events, outside of your nonprofit’s

The Red Cross drew on a national event/holiday and made it their own by telling engaging stories. Try to recognize events and news and then even take them one step further by adding your two cents.

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2. Tell stories about other professionals doing work for your nonprofit.

If people are checking LinkedIn for jobs or professional updates, use this aspect as a way to tell your volunteers’ and donors’ stories. The day-in-the-life story works well to grab attention as we all love to be inspired by others.

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3. Use others’ input

Keeping in mind that this platform is a space for professionals, create an opportunity for people to use their career talents as a way to volunteer. With the example below, American Red Cross created a space for young professionals to gain experience, and for others to help without investing much time or money. Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.54.00 AM

Instagram – Susan G. Komen Foundation

This is the place to rely on your heartstring-pulling photos and inspiring quotes. People come to Instragram to see what catches their eye. For more on how Instragram now works for nonprofits, read this update.

1. Be sweet! Find ways to pull on users’ nostalgia

Capitalizing on another holiday, the Susan G. Komen Foundation posted this cute vintage photo below. They go beyond what you might think of when you hear breast cancer awareness by drawing on viewers’ tie to their own family. Try to find a way (without pushing this too far) to show the user what it might be like if they were affected by your cause.

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2. Make a statement

Here the nonprofit doesn’t just post a photo of what you might expect when you picture their cancer walk events. It takes the cause beyond the events and makes it something to think about every day.

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3. Keep it simple

As you can see, you can say a lot in only a few words. Find a short statement and try leaving out the photo for a change. Use a wonderful tool like Canva to make a simple graphic like below (without using a designer)
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For more on the best nonprofits on social media, take a look at this list from Top Nonprofits.

Spring Your Nonprofit Social Media Profiles Into Action

You may be busy with many other priorities at your nonprofit, but we think it’s time to get back into action on those dusty social media accounts. Although it’s okay to sometimes let some things take a backseat as you pursue other projects, let’s keep in mind that social media is an incredibly powerful way for your nonprofit to spread the word and engage your following. This only happens when used correctly.

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Here are 5 affordable and doable ways to improve nonprofit social media presence.

1. What’s your nonprofit’s social status?

If you haven’t updated your social media pages in awhile, go through them.Take a look at how to create a more optimized LinkedIn profile, and consider applying such changes across the board.

If you can’t manage to monitor them all, consider removing ones that aren’t as relevant to your audience. Here’s a post on finding which social media networks you should be on and just focusing on those. Don’t be afraid to cut out places that aren’t right for you for right now.

2. Run paid ads.

Paid ads are one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your pages, especially if you’ve been inactive for awhile. Yes, as a nonprofit “paid” anything sounds daunting. But fortunately not only does this have a huge pay off if done well, it can also be affordable due to how Facebook, Google & other tech giants offer discounts for nonprofits.

Moreover, social media has made changes to make news feeds more relevant to users. Consequently, your nonprofit might not just show up in front of users as it once did, unless you invest in promotion.

Review the resources below including offers and basic best practices for social media and paid ad campaigns.

3. Run a contest or giveaway.

Ask yourself, what’s something you can give away to your audience? Is a dinner at a fancy restaurant? A tech product given to you by a donor? Get creative!

Once you have promoted this offer, you can ask people to participate on your social media page or clicking through to a landing page on your site. If you choose the social media route, you can ask people to interact with you via a certain hashtag. If you link to your site, you could place a form on a landing page to collect information about users. By doing so, this is not only a fun way to engage your audience, but can help you gain contact and interest information to put into your donor and volunteer database.

4. Create a social media-specific campaign

Ice bucket challenge anyone? If you’re having trouble incorporating social media into a current campaign, create a social media-only campaign. Use social media with what it’s best at – getting people to interact and share with each other.

Review how the Ice Bucket Challenge worked and find more ideas here.

5. Interact with others

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  • Similarly, get involved in the conversation. Curate content, tweet or write to others in the field, and participate in Twitter chats.
  • Follow relevant influencers (people who have a large following in your field and who share content) and follow your followers. In the end you want to show people you’re present and excited to interact.

For more help with your social media strategy, contact the social media strategists at ArcStone!

Convincing Your Nonprofit Board Content Marketing Matters

Content marketing matters. And for reasons you or your nonprofit board of directors may not have guessed. In case you still need to convince those board members or your funders that content marketing is a worthy investment, this article can help.

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First, what exactly does content marketing mean? According to the Content Marketing Institute,

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

It’s not simply a blog or your website content, but rather is the combination of these plus your social media messaging, ebooks, reports, video, images and more.

Written by Jim Yu for Search Engine Watch, the article is entitled, “Content Marketing: Understanding Its Role, Value and ROI.” He walks us through studies that show content marketing’s increasing significance, but also the main limitations we all face with it. He also shows which job roles it can positively influence and how an organization can measure this.

Below are a few of the more thought-provoking pieces I came across for nonprofits specifically. Review the following and see if they help you move forward with your content marketing strategy

The main hindrances nonprofits run into:

As Yu points out for companies in general, “…there have been numerous limiting factors that have prevented companies from taking full advantage of its potential capabilities.” Why?

  • “A lack of a content strategy” – This is especially relevant for your nonprofit with its lack of time and resources.
  • “Interference from those in management” – Similarly, nonprofits are constantly needing approval from their board of directors as well as donors. This can interrupt their efficiency.
  • “Haphazard approaches in the development of content and a lack of dedicated teams.” – Again, nonprofits often lack the resources and team needed for this so their strategy becomes inconsistent and ineffective.

Jim Yu is encouraging on these pain points because he sees the ways content marketing is maturing – such as with Google’s updated algorithms.

“As brands learn to employ the full power of content marketing, they will be able to measure how it impacts the full range of roles within the brand, including the marketing, sales, PR, recruitment and customer service teams.”

If your nonprofit can show how much more important it is today than ever before, perhaps your donors and board members will be more willing to dedicate the hours and budget needed for developing this area.

Convincing your nonprofit board content marketing matters:

Yu points to several roles that can use content marketing. This is helpful for nonprofits since in some ways, it allows multi-tasking. The stronger your content marketing strategy, the more it can help several roles at your nonprofit; it’s not just helping your marketing team. Here are the basics of what he points to:

  1. Marketing – helps improve SEO rankings, social media and your overall website presence. This all goes into increasing your brand awareness.
  2. Development – Yu underlines that an “estimated 60% of the sales process” happens before a potential donor, volunteer or service user even talks to someone in the sales/development realm. The person is doing research online and deciding if they want to reach out to your nonprofit.
  3. Customer Service / Donor Relations – User-centric content and web design helps build loyalty from readers to your nonprofit. You can also more easily reach out to these folks if you’ve already established a relationship online.
  4. Recruitment – With a strong online presence and plenty of resources available for learning about how great your nonprofit is, potential employees will be pushed one step closer to joining your team.
  5. Public Relations – Having a blog and a strong online following will make promoting your events, success stories and fundraising campaigns all the more doable. You can just put these announcements right on your active site, blog and social pages.
  6. Measurement – Through proper data analysis of your website, social media pages, and CRM, you will have plenty to report in your annual reports and you will better understand your user base and what they want. Once you make improvements based on these measurements, you’ll make better decisions for your nonprofit.

As you can see, investing in content marketing is more and more important to your nonprofit every day. Hopefully you feel a bit more ready to convince your board and funders of its importance for roles outside of marketing. Get set up with your content marketing strategy today by contacting our digital strategists at ArcStone.

2016’s Minnesota Nonprofit Tech and Communications Conference – A Quick Recap

Lisa (ArcStone’s VP of Marketing), Jenna (our digital marketing strategist) and I (Chloe!) attended the MN Nonprofit Tech and Communications Conference this week and are feeling quite inspired.

The event covered several topics, with a main focus on guiding nonprofits to make the best technology, database management and online strategy decisions possible. This helped both nonprofits who were just starting to transition to more technology-based solutions as well as those who just wanted to gain more best practices and strategy.

There were numerous speakers and sessions, a great showing of vendors and sponsors, and countless meaningful conversations between the 700+ attendees. Here are some of our favorite moments from the conference and a quick note on what we plan to do next.

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Photo from MN Council of Nonprofits

Keynote inspiration: The keynote speaker, Perla Ni talked about storytelling and how essential it is to your nonprofit. However, she didn’t just talk about this in theory, she discussed concrete plans of action. She was also quoted saying, “Coming to Minnesota is like coming to the nonprofit holy land.” Pretty awesome to hear as a local nonprofit!

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A flowchart written by Cary Lenore Walski and shared after the event on Twitter. Thanks Cary!

Social Media advice: Some tidbits: “Take it offline.” “Never say ‘no comment.'”

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Data resource: A few people pointed to Minnesota Compass as a great way to gather more info on your donors, volunteers and community members.

Our Podcast: Throughout the whole event, we had several great visitors drop by our booth. Among those, we were able to interview 11 for our upcoming podcast. These lovely folks offered various perspectives; their roles cover communications and development, database management, and IT. The nonprofits they represented were both big and small and from all over Minnesota.

Stay tuned by subscribing to our newsletter – we’ll be sure to send the podcast your way plus our once-monthly summary of nonprofit news.

Thanks MN Council of Nonprofits for making this all possible!

The most effective Marketing Strategy for Nonprofits – Get to know your donors, volunteers & community [Infographic]

Your nonprofit has so much to think about already, it’s hard to find time to take a step back and think through your inbound marketing strategy. However, if you don’t thoughtfully target your audience, chances are they won’t see the content they want or even come across your content in the first place. We wanted to make the process of understanding your audiences more efficient – read through the infographic below, then use this as a focal point for all your nonprofit marketing content and promotional efforts.

Click to enlarge:

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Reach out to ArcStone for help on this process or download our ebook on nonprofit audience persona development for a more thorough overview.

Spring Marketing and Tech News for Nonprofits – Plus a Podcast is Brewing

Here’s our April newsletter: Pointing you to a tech conference, our upcoming podcast, technology and fundraising advice, and more.

Being closely tied to technology, marketing, and nonprofits, we decided to attend the Nonprofit MN Tech/Communications Conference next Tues. and are interviewing attendees for a podcast. If you have something to say about how tech works for your nonprofit, challenges you face, and what more you’d like to see happen in the future, please respond to us and we can set up a quick 10 min. interview for our podcast. Either way, if you’re attending the event, come say hi at booth 108!

– More on Spring Marketing and Tech News for Nonprofits – 

Marketing/Donation Case Study: Using Amazon Wish Lists for donations – Our client, YouthLink, Case Study

A Minnesota-based nonprofit uses Amazon to help in their fundraising efforts. Review 3 ways Amazon can help your nonprofit. Or even consider sharing an innovative idea with us – we’d love to share your story on our blog.

FundraisingFinding Inspiration for Your Next Fundraiser Event in an Unexpected Way, by Chloe

It’s a constant challenge nonprofits face, trying to get people to focus on YOUR nonprofit and YOUR fundraiser above all the other traffic out there. If this is a source of stress for your nonprofit, perhaps you need to think outside the box. Today our inspiration and advice lies in, wait for it… reality television. Consider downloadingMobileCause’s free ebook for more ideas.

Tech + Grants: Webinar by Foundation Center Market Place, 4/19 & 4/26

We all need technology, but it can be far too expensive for nonprofits. This webinar walks you through where to look for your technology needs, how to get funded, and how to budget. This could be really useful as you consider which tech to take on next.

Culture: Lessons from a 55 year old CEO In a Leading Millenial-Driven Nonprofit

Forbes recently published an article on a 55 year old CEO who now operates the millennial-driven nonprofit, Pencils of Promise. The changes to his workstyle are pretty interesting, especially if your nonprofit also serves or works with this age group.

“There’s inner and outer work necessary for leaders to adapt sufficiently to engaging different generational groups.”

Have an awesome April!

Jenna & Chloe

Instagram for Nonprofits: How the New Feed Works

An Instagram feed update in attempt to engage Instagram users will certainly affect Instagram for nonprofits as well.

The recent Instagram announcement showed they’re looking to keep up with the likes of Facebook, by showing the posts users want to see first. This replaces the former way of showing posts in chronological order. For each new post your nonprofit publishes, you’ll want to consider a few new aspects.

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Why this update?

The previous Instagram feed showed posts based on what time they were published. The downside to this was users were seeing a lot of posts they didn’t care to see. On top of that they were missing posts they cared about because they had been published earlier when the user wasn’t logged in. Instagram started losing users because of this (TechCrunch).

How the new Instagram algorithm will work:

Now the algorithm is being set up so that the social platform will pull in posts based on users’ previous likes and interactions. A post with more likes/comments/interest will be pulled to the top of users’ feeds more often.

What this means for your nonprofit using Instagram:

In order for your nonprofit’s posts to show up in front of users, according to Christopher’s Pen, you’ll need…

a) High quality images: You’ll want to focus your social media time and budget on producing only the best images. Rather than posting as often as possible to stay in users’ feeds, you can now spend your time finding and editing engaging photos. If you have great images, it’s more likely users will interact with your posts, and you’ll show up at the top of feeds.

b) Specific and relevant tags: Instagram also uses your hashtags in its new algorithm. Only choose ones that are fitting, rather than spamming your posts with as many hashtags as possible (or with ironic hashtags users often use to be funny).

c) An understanding of users: Now that users will have a more personalized feed based on what they like, you need each of your posts to be more targeted so you can fit your ideal audiences’ preferences. Use our audience persona guide to more fully understand your users.

More on this post from TechCrunch and Christopher’s Penn. To receive help with your social media efforts, contact our team at ArcStone!

A Nonprofit Donation Wish List – How Amazon Can Help Your Nonprofit

One of our web design clients found a creative way to pull in some donations, so we thought we’d share some inspiration. YouthLink, a Minnesota-based nonprofit helping homeless youth, has a nonprofit donation wish list on Amazon to help bring supplies in. Amazon is making donations easy as a click of a few buttons!

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How Amazon Wish List helps:

YouthLink takes in homeless youth and aids in finding temporary or permanent housing, furthering their schooling, and provides access to valuable resources. The way this works is they can live in a transitional apartment with the help of the organization’s facilities and then eventually into a place of their own. With this, YouthLink depends on generous donors who help with expenses and basic living supplies.

That’s why Amazon is a great fit for the nonprofit. Donors can help youth with just a few steps on this trusted shopping site. Amazon even sends the supplies right to YouthLink so donors don’t have to bring in or send the supplies themselves.

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How this works:

Functioning similarly to a wedding registry, YouthLink enters their Amazon Wish List items based on what their users need. They can add a quote to the item to emphasize how important the item is. They can even note how high of a priority the item is and how many they need so they can draw attention to the most necessary commodities.

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Amazon shoppers can quickly add to their cart and it’ll ship to the YouthLink center.

To learn more about getting this started visit the Amazon Help Center.

How else is Amazon Helping Nonprofits?

Amazon Smile

If you shop on smile.amazon.com rather than the normal site, your purchase automatically donates a portion of this money, with NO cost to you. Nothing about your shopping experience changes except before you purchase your items, you get to choose from nearly a million organizations to determine where your donation will go.

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There are a few products for which this doesn’t apply so check to see that a product is marked as “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation.” If you want your nonprofit to be on Amazon’s list of organizations you can go to org.amazon.com.

Sweepstake’s Program

If you’re looking to draw attention to your cause with prizes, you can use the latest – Amazon Giveaway.

You simply choose from one of the eligible items on the site, select and buy the giveaway item, share your link to your following, and in the end, the winner gets the gift shipped directly to them.

Learn more about ArcStone’s work with nonprofits.