How NGOs engage supporters successfully on social media

NGO social media
How to employ social media marketing to make a difference.


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Social media marketing is a crucial way for nonprofit organisations to increase their impact and spread awareness. With more than 4 billion people using the Internet, and 2.07 billion Facebook monthly active users, followed by 800 million of Instagram and 330 million of Twitter (Statista), the importance of social media for NGOs and charity events is real. According to Tech Report:

  • 93% of NGOs worldwide have a Facebook page
  • 77% of NGOs worldwide have a Twitter profile
  • 57% of NGOs worldwide Youtube

However, the same research points out that if 95% of NGOs agree that social media is powerful for online brand awareness, only 32% affirm to have a written social media strategy.

In this article, we’ll explain why although traditional marketing strategies, including flyers, PR and direct email campaigns, still play a key role, a firm social media strategy for nonprofit fosters online brand building and brand awareness. It also creates opportunity for more transparent and direct community engagement and education, while offering great tools to boost, promote and support online fundraising campaigns. Also, we’ll explore the latest trends in social media management for nonprofits, including video, real-time contents and chatbots.

Spreading awareness through social media is effective for fundraising

Every fundraising campaign needs a story. A message that engages potential donors and both empowers them and call them to action. Social media platforms are powerful storytelling tools, giving NGOs and charities the opportunity to create a more authentic and transparent communication with their supporters. When donors can clearly see where their money goes, they surely are more eager to donate. Therefore, a well-thought social media content strategy will not only increase the reach of potential advocates but also expand trust and drive loyalty.

Social media, differing from more traditional communications tools, are interactive. Through comments, shares and likes, people feel more engaged in the story, with the mission and the values of the cause they’re supporting. Most importantly, users can become active agents and by doing so they feel a higher responsibility towards the causes they care about. They feel they belong to a group, to a community with a unifying mission and shared values. Sustainability movements, social causes, charity events, humanitarian missions and habitat conservation plans are all example of causes that bring people together: they become an integral part of their identity. This is more powerful than any marketing campaign: a strong community that helps to spread awareness and expand the potential reach even more.

Folks at Facebook know about the power of community very well. Back in 2016, Facebook set up a new feature that allows users to raise money for 501c3 nonprofits. At the beginning of 2018, the tool evolved, giving the opportunity to create fundraisers for personal needs. Anyone can create its own campaign – similarly to platforms like GoFundme and Fundly. But there’s more. Last April, they introduced matching donations to nonprofit fundraisers.

“People often pledge to match donations to their Facebook Fundraisers, and we wanted to make that easier” stated the Facebook team. “David Smith lost his sister in a car accident in 2013, and this year for his birthday, he started a fundraiser for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). He told family and friends that if he could raise $100, he would match their contribution. People rallied around the cause and raised $2,360 — more than 10x his original goal.”

Thanks to this new tool, for now only available in the US, people who set up fundraisers can pledge to match donations from  $5 to $2,500, helping them to create a momentum for their campaign. This has brought collaboration between individuals and organisations to the next level, meaning that a social media marketing strategy for non-profit is now more important than ever.

Social media trends for nonprofits: video and real-time contents

Social media are key marketing tools for nonprofit. We got it. But, what matters, even more, is the type of content that NGOs and charities should share on their platforms. Nowadays, one-third of the online activity is spent watching videos, around 500 million people watch videos on Facebook and the video consumption on Instagram has grown 150% only in 2017. It’s clear then, that videos are a must component of an effective social media content strategy.

If videos are great tools for NGOs to increase engagement and spread awareness, live videos, the latest trend of 2018, are beyond useful. Livestream and New York Magazine conducted a research to see how consumers use live videos. Here are some interesting findings:

  • 80% would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog.
  • 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts.
  • 87% would prefer to watch online if it meant more behind-the-scenes content than a standard TV broadcast.

As for live video platforms, here are their favorites:

  • Livestream: 45%
  • Facebook Live: 66%
  • YouTube Live:70%

A missing platform in the list, which is getting more and more power in the social media marketing field is Instagram, acquired by Facebook back in 2012. Only 39% of non-profit organisations have an Instagram account. That number must increase. And soon. Instagram stories and Instagram TV (IGTV) are the latest trends that are taking the world of social media strategy by storm.

“Stories” could be one of the best social media tools for nonprofits. They allow a more authentic and ‘raw’ way of communicating, which appears more genuine and truthful to the users. Therefore, they’re a crucial tool to raise awareness and include supporters in the organisation’s story and mission. They let publish less polished and curated content, hence they’re more an on-the-go type of content compared to other Instagram photos. Also, they disappeared after 24h, but they can be kept into the “highlights section” on an Instagram profile. Great visual content and great videos, with the possibility to tag and include blog posts and links. Perfect for engagement and cross-promotion. Instagram also provides a “live” feature and “TV” feature, positioning itself in the vlogging market, directly next to Youtube.

So, it’s about time to get an Instagram account, practice on those “stories” and to get expert help on how to manage it.

Technology and IT for nonprofit: chatbots explained

Social messaging is going bananas. The numbers of active users of Whatsapp, WeChat and Messenger are growing exponentially and they’re the favourite way for the Generation X e Y to communicate, rather than email and calls.

Therefore, nonprofit organisations should be ready to switch from email and calls to messaging platforms and engage in “warmer” conversations with potential donors. That’s where chatbots come in. What is a bot? The term comes from “robot” and a bot is any software that performs a task automatically. A chatbot answers a message automatically. Yes, it mind sounds odd and completely “not-human,” but, if used strategically and mindfully a bot can help organisations like NGOs and charities to save money, time and resources.

They should never replace human-to-human communication, but they can be used for specific tasks. They interact 24/7, at no cost and they are able to answer FAQs – including donors enquiries – at any time.  This not only helps to create a better customer service but also and most of all a closer relationship with the community, spreading the message and the awareness further. They are a great storytelling tool, providing a mix of written and visual content that emotionally appeal to supporters.

Strategic use of chatbots for nonprofit could shift a social media marketing strategy for the win. It might seem a bit complicated at the beginning, but with the right expert help from a digital agency, it can drastically change the way NGOs raise and spread awareness.

To wrap it up

With more than 4 billion people using the Internet, it’s clear that social media are now a must-have marketing and communications channel. NGOs, nonprofit organisations and charities can benefit from a strong and well-thought social media strategy in many different ways. To increase their reach, to convey more authentic stories, mission and values attached to their cause and to achieve a more transparent and genuine way of communicating. Particularly useful for these purposes are the latest social media content trends and tools, including videos, live feeds and chatbots.

With an ever-changing social media and technology landscape, simply being online and have a profile is not enough. What nonprofits need is a well-rounded and well-thought social media management strategy, planned by digital and content marketing experts, constantly updated with the latest trends. It sounds like a lot of work, but when done by the right agency, it can truly make a huge impact on fundraising campaigns and charity events. An impact “for good,” therefore a well worth one, because aimed to bring positive changes.

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[…] is interesting as it’s a whole host of new channels and new ways of thinking about how nonprofits engage. “The worst thing an organisation can do is to think about it on the side of something you should […]

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