Growing Your Audience on Social Media in 4 Steps

Guest post by Maria Clark of Good United

With social media use increasing every day and donors flocking to these online platforms, it’s become more important than ever to have a diverse, rich marketing strategy across multiple channels. Social media can open up fun and engaging avenues to expose your brand to new audiences, meaningfully connect with supporters, and even optimize your virtual fundraising.

With these simple steps, you can more confidently leap into the social media sphere to expand your base of supporters:

  1. Target the right platforms.

  2. Create and engage online communities.

  3. Use one-on-one communication to foster relationships.

  4. Optimize your social media strategy with donor data.

While email or other more traditional communication channels may be the backbone of your outreach strategies, ignoring the potential of social media will only hurt you in the long run as these platforms continue to grow. Read on to keep ahead of the curve, revamp your outreach methods, and leverage the power of social media.

1. Target the right platforms.

We have come a long way from MySpace and AOL chats. The past ten years have been a golden age not only for the rise of fun, new social media platforms like Snapchat or TikTok but for longtime platforms to grow and reach their full potential to engage audiences.

In particular, Facebook has become an incredibly versatile and effective platform to fundraise and create a groundswell of support. Thanks to the group and sharing features of the platform, Facebook fundraising has become a host to lucrative peer-to-peer Challenges, which allow online supporters to generate revenue for your cause and promote your brand through simple mini-campaigns.

Considering these capabilities, it’s no wonder that donors react so positively to Facebook fundraising initiatives. According to 360MatchPro’s fundraising statistics study, over 56% of donors consider Facebook to have had the most impact of any other social media platform to influence their giving.

Clearly, it’s important to consider the features and best practices of each platform, and tailor your content accordingly. For example, a platform like Instagram does not have the same community tools as Facebook. Instead, its ability to support a wide variety of images and video content makes it better suited for marketing animations, graphics, and commercials.

The bottom line is that each social media platform supports different types of content in its own unique ways. To make the most of every platform, you must understand and respect its limitations, features, and best practices.

The only hard and fast rule across all of your online profiles is to link your different social media accounts with one another and with your main nonprofit website. This will not only maximize multichannel engagement, but it will ensure that your supporters can always find a path back to your main platform.

2. Create and engage online communities.

It’s one thing to gain many casual followers and one-time givers through social media, but it’s another thing entirely to build a community of loyal supporters. While a like here or a small payment there is appreciated, it is far more valuable in the long run to create deeper relationships between your online supporters, as well as between supporters and your organization.

To turn followers into recurring supporters, seek out social media platforms that have complex community-building and networking features such as, you guessed it, Facebook.

While many social media platforms promote one-on-one likes and small messaging groups, Facebook is one of the most popular services that can host larger, more sophisticated communities. For example, Facebook allows you to easily create and organize multiple groups for different supporters, such as a group for managing your volunteers or groups for supporters in each state.

On top of that, these Facebook groups can serve various other purposes for your organization, such as:

  • Sharing fundraising tips and encouragement

  • Sharing educational resources and nonprofit updates

  • Surveying supporters and collecting information for your CRM

  • Hosting Facebook Challenges

You may not always be able to host in-person events for your vast group of supporters, but these online communities allow you to replicate in-person engagement with chats, Challenges, and other fun initiatives.

If you want to reap the rewards of having a strong, loyal base of supporters, your first step is to provide them with a place to form a sense of community. Through community-hosting platforms like Facebook groups, you can begin organizing, managing, and engaging your supporters with a few simple clicks.

3. Use one-on-one communication to foster relationships.

If you stare at data and fundraising metrics for too long, you may begin to forget that your donors and followers aren’t just ATMs or numbers to boost exposure for your posts. Your supporters are real people, and to make donors happy and build long-term support on social media, you must engage them on a more personal level.

Conversational messaging is a particularly effective strategy to foster meaningful one-on-one donor relationships. Conversational messaging occurs when a nonprofit reaches out to a supporter on a social media platform’s individual chat feature.

These supporters are usually brand new to the organization, such as someone who just started their own fundraiser or joined a Challenge on a whim, and the nonprofit can kick off their conversations by offering information, opportunities, and resources that might interest them.

It’s a great way to get to know online supporters on an individual level and provide a more personalized experience. On top of that, these messages can be automated to make things easier for your team.

Here are just a few of the ways in which you can use these conversations to connect with donors:

  • Share different opportunities to get involved. Take these conversations as a chance to engage supporters even further with volunteer programs, events, and fundraising campaign opportunities that they may be interested in.

  • Offer additional resources. It pays to invest in your supporters’ professional and personal development. Aside from sharing additional information on your nonprofit’s programs, consider sending education, learning, and development opportunities.

  • Thank your supporters. GoodUnited’s guide on how to thank donors on Facebook outlines the importance of showing appreciation for your supporters, such as strengthening your reputation, connecting with donors, collecting data, and creating more stewardship opportunities. Personalized thank-yous and shout-outs are just a few ways that you can leverage social media to show your gratitude.

If you’re searching for ways to begin rolling out these conversational messaging strategies, apps like Facebook Messenger provide an ideal space to begin one-on-one conversations with your supporters. This conversation app, among others, maintains the sharing, tagging, and file support features of a large-scale platform while allowing you to connect with donors on a more personal level.

4. Optimize your social media strategy with donor data.

This final step in our four-pronged social media strategy will bring you right back to step one, allowing you to target new supporters, enrich your communities, and meaningfully communicate with your donors and other supporters. Donor data is the roadmap to improving every one of your social media operations.

Pay attention to your supporter’s engagement histories, such as fundraising participation, past giving, and personal information. With this data, you can launch intentional campaigns to strengthen your online presence, like:

  • Personalizing your content and conversations

  • Refining your fundraising appeals

  • Organizing fundraising campaigns your supporters would enjoy

  • Discovering and targeting potential donors

  • Better marketing your content to new audiences

  • Partnering with causes your donors care about

There’s no need to blindly walk into your social media campaigns. Donor data can lead the way with empirical, tangible evidence of how you can improve, what campaigns are working, and how to foster a greater online following. These data-driven strategies can help you to not only expand your base of supporters, but more thoroughly engage and retain them in the long term.

Social media is a critical tool for attracting new generations of supporters and keeping ahead of the curve for modern engagement.

Investing in these platforms is an important next step for your organization’s future, and you might even consider seeking out a dedicated social media fundraising and marketing service.

With these tips and perhaps even some professional guidance, you will be able to leverage social media to its fullest potential. You can not only create long-term, powerful connections with current donors, but discover and connect with brand new followers along the way.

About the Author

Maria Clark is a nonprofit executive and technology evangelist with 30+ years of industry experience. Today she serves as Executive Vice President of Partnerships and Chief Evangelist for GoodUnited, the social fundraising solution. Maria is a champion of the new and has fearlessly led change management efforts throughout her career.

Previously, Maria spent 33 years at the American Cancer Society, a top #20 US nonprofit and the leading cancer research nonprofit with an annual $800+M budget, in roles spanning all aspects of nonprofit communication, operations and fundraising. Most recently, as Senior Vice President for Peer to Peer Development, Maria led strategy development, planning and implementation for name brand ACS events like Relay for Life, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, a robust gala and golf portfolio and the Raise Your Way DIY platform, as well as championing new digital strategies that support community fundraising.

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