Social media for social good is a growing trend that is changing the way non-profits and charitable organizations go about their business. As the majority of their commercial counterparts have long recognized, the grounds of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and numerous other social platforms are fertile with the ripe fruits of conversation and connectivity—key components of every charity-based campaign. But is it that easy? Can an organization simply create a Facebook and Twitter account, start typing and expect their donations and volunteer numbers to instantly skyrocket?
Kirk Kristofferson, a PhD student at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business doesn’t think so. “Charities incorrectly assume that connecting with people through social media always leads to more meaningful support,” he commented. Considering how important the holiday season is for many non-profit organizations, this is the perfect time of year to share a few tips for effectively utilizing social media within the business of charity.
- Be on the Right Platforms. The first step to gaining meaningful support from social media users is being active on the platforms that potential donors and advocates are using. Are Facebook and Twitter the best places to begin interacting with your target demographic? Facebook recently announced the addition of a new donation feature that allows users to donate money to non-profits directly on the platform. Would a YouTube or Instagram campaign boost your effectiveness? The answers to these questions are different for every non-profit. For a deeper dive into the world of social media demographics, spend some time reading The Pew Research Center’s The Demographics of Social Media Users.
- Be Real. Conveying humanness in a digital world is an absolute necessity if your goal is genuine connection. When the aim is motivating others to donate their time or money, the importance is magnified even further. To achieve authentic and emotive content, consider adopting a friendly and familiar (without sacrificing professionalism) voice, sharing stories and constantly reinforcing your organization’s passion for what it does. One of the largest and most social media savvy non-profits, The Salvation Army, has this concept down pat. Facebook posts about volunteers who serve to honor late family members and hashtags like #RockTheRedKettle pull at the heart strings while communicating in a current, trendy way. Once an authentic, human connection begins to develop, followers will be much more likely to invest their most precious resources towards your cause.
- Be Specific. According to Robert Reich, Associate Professor of Political Science and Ethics in Society at Stanford University, the number one reason people support any charity or cause is because someone they know asked them to do so. Asking for meaningful, realistic and measurable contributions is key. Doing so allows individuals to understand exactly what you’re asking of them and how it will make a real impact. It also prepares you to provide meaningful follow-up when milestones are reached. These are perfect opportunities to publicly recognize participants and thank them for their part in “the win.”
As revolutionary as the world of social media has been (and will continue to be) within the non-profit space, its power will always be dependent upon the real life, face-to-face outcomes that campaigns create. Think of social media as an amplifier for your organization’s voice and a stage for educating and engaging advocates for your cause. Donations and volunteer hours are sure to follow! Comment below or send a tweet to @StrataBlue and share your experiences using social media to further a charitable cause.