Grow Your Nonprofit Social Media Followers

A hand with skin of white complexion holds a smart phone with social media icons visible on the screen.
Photo by Tracy Le Blanc from Pexels

Running a nonprofit organization brings about it’s own unique set of challenges. There can be a high demand for an organization’s services, but finding that demand can be difficult with a minimal budget. 

Social media is a powerful way to achieve fundraising and marketing goals. Every year, more and more people are active on social media platforms. Over time, our opinions about causes are more deeply influenced by what we see on social media. 

Nonprofits can benefit massively from a strong social media presence. Seeing growth in your social media followers is a good metric for measuring whether or not your social media endeavors are working. Real followers mean more reach, more impressions, and more interactions. All of that can lead to more traffic, more volunteers, and more donations.

Some people resort to purchasing followers; while this can make your profile look more impressive, the return on that investment is typically pretty nominal. Earning true and loyal followers can take time and effort, but it is extremely worth it.

If you’ve been struggling to grow your follower count, or are just starting your nonprofit on social media and want to start strong, read on! 

Before you start posting

Prior to even creating your first social media account or posting your first update, you’ll need to do a few things. Primarily: research. 

There are a few vital questions you’ll need to think about, research, and answer confidently before you get started. Knowing this information ahead of time will make it easier to earn true followers down the line.

Understand your audience

Who are you actually going to be talking to when you post on social media? Does that match up with the kinds of people you know need your organization and will want to connect with you?

Think about your ideal volunteer, supporter, or donor. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What do they want to hear about?
  • What topics do they want to talk about?
  • What kind of updates do they find compelling?
  • What kinds of conversations are they already having?

Understanding who these people are and what they want can start you off on the right foot. It will mean that you are creating content that meets their needs right off the bat. 

Figure out what social media platform to use

You want to already be there when your audience is looking for you. But that does not mean you need to be on every single platform out there! Focus your efforts on a few platforms – the platforms your audience likes most. This means you can curate that content well and really earn those followers. If your efforts are stretched over platforms where you can’t find an audience anyway, you’re wasting time and resources. 

But that poses the question: How do you know which platforms you should be using?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Poll existing volunteers, staff, supporters and donors to ask them which social media platforms they like best.
  • Explore where your competitors/similar orgs are most active. 
  • Look at the purpose that that platform services – does it match your goals? For example, Facebook is great for building relationships and brand loyalty, but reach can be limited. Twitter is great for spreading news and for public relations, but you are limited in how much information you can share at one time. 

Remember that sites like Instagram and Pinterest are almost entirely visual platforms. If you have a lot of visual information to share, those are great options! 

If you intend on sharing more links and having more thread-like conversations, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are good bets. 

When setting up your account

You’ll need to think carefully about how you set up your account once you’ve determined why and where you want to set it up. Each social media platform allows you to build a central hub, page, or profile with important information. This area should be as optimized as possible. 

Set up your profile to match branding

One of the keys to successful branding is consistency. Make sure that if you can upload a header or profile picture, it’s not only optimized for size but is consistent across all platforms. If someone goes to your Twitter and then your Facebook, it should be obvious that both platforms are for the same organization. Use the same colors, hashtags, links, etc. wherever the profile requires them. 

Add social media links to your website

Make sure to link your social media accounts to your main website. Add links or icons in your header, footer, contact page, and on your blog posts. This way if someone finds you through organic traffic, they can also find your social media accounts and easily follow you. 

Follow other accounts first

One of the easiest ways to gain followers is to follow someone else first! When setting up your account, follow other organizations that you partner with, your staff and volunteers, and any large corporate donors. These are people who already love and support you; by following them first, you’re inviting them to follow you back! 

Optimize your description

Most social media platforms will give you a space to add some information about your organization. This could be a mid-sized “about me” area or a very brief description box. Use consistent language across the board – a mission statement would go well here. But also include any relevant hashtags that people might be searching. This will make it easier for potential followers to find you more quickly.

Once you start posting

Now that your profile is all set up, you are ready to begin posting. What you post, when, and why can have a huge effect on how many followers you earn. 

Let’s go over some strategies you can utilize in order to encourage more followers more quickly. 

Shout out donations/let donors post about donating

If people donate to your nonprofit, chances are they aren’t expecting anything in return. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t nice to reward them or thank them for that donation! Set up a system – either manual or automatic – to thank donors when they submit a donation. Maybe you do this for all donors, maybe just for donations over a certain amount, maybe just for recurring donors. Either way, when people see that your organization is getting consistent support, they are more likely to believe that you are doing something right. People want to follow brands that are successful and doing what they do well.

You may even allow people to post about their donation on their own. For example, GiveWP has a free add-on that allows donors to share their donation on social media after donating. This is incredibly powerful, since that post brings new eyes to your account and website every time.

Profile staff and volunteers

We follow brands when we feel some kind of attachment or connection to them. Showing the human side of your organization can accomplish just that. 

Show potential followers that there are real human people behind your organization. 

Show off how hard your staff works, or the fun things your volunteers get to do. Individual profiles, group photos, video interviews…. No matter how you show it, make sure you’re displaying that human connection!

Prioritize video

Video has taken over as one of the most powerful social media tools there are.  Why? Videos are easier to ingest than plain text. They are more interesting than just images. Using music or voice-overs can create a stronger emotional connection. And with burned-in captions, videos can be enjoyed even if someone doesn’t want to listen. 

Now I’m not saying to go out and hire a video production company! But at your next fundraiser or event – even just around your offices – grab a phone and record what’s going on! Providing a behind the scenes look at how you operate can earn you more views, more interactions, and more followers. Best of all, that content can be reused and repurposed in the future!

Use hashtags and tags 

You can add a whole additional layer of understanding and value to your posts with hashtags and tags. Take some time to research what hashtags are popular within your nonprofit’s area of expertise. For example, an animal sanctuary would have very different popular hashtags than a homeless shelter. 

Hashtags make it easier for people to find your posts. When they search for different topics, your posts are more likely to float to the top. 

Tagging other companies or locations means bigger reach, more eyes, and more followers. For example, if you’re hosting an event at a specific hotel, or partnering with a local business for a matching fundraiser, you’ll want to tag those brands whenever you post about those endeavors! 

Post consistently

Want to earn followers? Be consistent! People cannot follow you if they don’t know that you are there! This doesn’t mean you need to post every hour, on the hour. But make an effort to post at least once a day (or more for platforms like Twitter.) 

Remember that not every post you put out there will be seen by everyone. Posting frequently means a higher likelihood that your posts get seen, that people share them, that you strike up conversations, and that more people can be aware of your profile.

There are a ton of free scheduling tools for social media; some platforms like Twitter and Facebook even have built-in scheduling features. This means you can sit down one to two times per month and schedule out some basic content to keep your profiles active. (Remember to repurpose content, too!)

Create exclusivity

People typically follow a social media account because there is something they can get through that profile that they can’t get elsewhere. Provide that feeling of extra value and exclusivity and watch your follower count rise!  Here are a few ways you can do that:

Go live! 

Most accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have live video features. Simply select the feature to start streaming video content live to your followers. This content can be a tips or advice series, a look behind the scenes at your organization, interviews with volunteers… anything that shows off your work and provides some additional value to followers.

Host a giveaway

Who doesn’t love some free stuff? If your organization has swag (t-shirts, mugs, stickers, hats, etc.) give some away for free through social media! Maybe this means a weekly contest where you ask people to repost or share one of your posts – then you pick a random winner to get some swag. Maybe it’s a trivia contest. Maybe it’s a caption-this-image contest. No matter what, if you hold it on a regular basis just on that profile, you are creating exclusivity and inviting new followers to join in all the time.

Early access 

Are you launching a new swag item in your store? Maybe you’re selling tickets to a raffle or fundraising event. If you have anything that people want, make a habit of providing a portion of it to your social media followers first. This immediately turns your followers in VIPs! If it’s advertised that early access goes to your Twitter followers, that’s an easy reason for people to head over and follow you there.

Level up! Some more advanced ways to grow your follower count

All the tips mentioned above are perfect ways to get started. An organization with any level of experience or budget should be able to utilize these tips. 

But if you’re looking to build on the above – or if you have a larger budget or team dedicated to social media – these more advanced tips are perfect for you!

Virtual Events on Social Media

Build on the idea of hosting contests and integrate full events into social media! These kinds of events could be Twitter Chats, Instagram Live parties, mastermind meetups in the comments of a Facebook post… the possibilities are endless!

If you are hosting an event in person or on a 3rd party site, remember to use social media for that event, too. Someone on your team should be active purely on social media to post recaps and highlights and answer questions. Event-specific swag giveaways and contests are great ideas, too.

Fundraising Through Social Media

Hosting a fundraising or raising money through social media can be a bit tricky. But it is possible and worth exploring! The most popular way to fundraise directly on social media these days is through Facebook. They have extensive documentation about how to do it.

When you fundraise directly on Facebook, you meet people where they are. Donors won’t have to go to a 3rd party website to donate, which makes the whole process faster. Facebook fundraisers send 100% of the money to your organization, which is a plus over other fundraising platforms that take fees. Fundraising on Facebook allows you a larger reach, as people may share that they donated on their own pages. This brings more eyes and more followers to your fundraiser.

If you’re thinking about hosting a Giving Tuesday or Red Nose Day fundraiser, Facebook is a perfect place to do that since the platform will be buzzing with those kinds of conversations anyway.

Social Media Ads

Advertising on social media has gotten easier and easier over the years. It’s no longer just for expert marketers; anyone with the time to read a bit of documentation can get started advertising. 

An ad can reach someone who may never have learned about you through word or mouth or other traditional method. While this does require an additional budget, if done right, a social media ad campaign can pay for itself. When you can micro-target your ads to specific kinds of people, you get personal with messaging and have a better chance of making that pivotal emotional connection. 

Remember: you’ll need to be careful if your organization is political in nature as some platforms ban those types of ads outright.

Social Media Reporting and Analysis

No matter what kind of work you’re doing for your nonprofit on social media, you should have a system for reporting on and analyzing your results. A basic way to do that is to look every quarter at things like your follower count, the traffic from social media back to your website, and how many comments you’re getting. At the very least, it will display upward momentum that your team can celebrate!

If you are really serious about growing your social media following, reporting and analytics are key. They allow you to really dig in to what is working and what isn’t. If you look at your analytics on a regular basis – like every 2 to 4 weeks – you can start to identify patterns.  

Maybe your video posts are really successful overall, but your volunteer interviews aren’t doing great. Cut that kind of content and focus on what works. This is a sure fire way to make sure that your effort is paying off and you are only putting out things that people want to see.

Have you tried any of these methods? Which ones are your favorite? How have they worked for you? Let us know in the comments or tweet at us: @cloud22com

Remember that your website is the main hub of all your social media work. Once you’ve earned followers, it’s important to send them back to your site so they can learn more, sign up for events, and donate! The hosting you choose can ensure that when your followers get to your site, it’s fast and optimized. 

Cloud22 managed WordPress hosting checks every box. We manage your updates – making sure that when your theme developer releases an update or patch, you get it right away. We back up your site, just in case you make a wrong move in your theme settings.  Our servers are integrated with LiteSpeed cache and Cloudflare CDN, so the beautiful design you used your theme to build is served to visitors quickly.

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