How to Optimize Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Strategy (With a Small Budget)

Carol Luong is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub. She is the Founder of GreatPositive, a fundraising platform that focuses on making it easier and more affordable for small nonprofits to raise more donations online. GreatPositive takes a stance against taking a cut from donations and offers a peer-to-peer fundraising platform that empowers nonprofit staff and supporters with the tools to create unique and personal campaigns.


2.72 billion people will be on a social network by 2016. 78 percent of the United States population has a social networking profile. Globally, Internet users spend an average of 101.4 minutes per day surfing social networks.

There are endless opportunities to gain exposure for your nonprofit through social media, but we all know it’s easier said than done. In my nine years of marketing experience, I’ve never had the luxury of having a large marketing budget or team, which is something most nonprofits can relate to. Below are tips and tools I’ve gathered to get started, make the process less overwhelming and to help you enhance your current social media strategy.

Prioritize Active Social Networks

The keyword here is “active.” Unless you have a dedicated marketing team, you’re going to need to prioritize which social networks to have a presence in. Here’s how:

  • Narrow down the choices to what you’re most comfortable using.
  • Go where your supporters are.
  • Twitter and Facebook are common choices to start. However, if you have manily visual content to share, consider Instagram and Snapchat first.

Utilize Scheduling Tools

Spend one hour at the beginning of the week to schedule all posts for the week, then mix it up with real-time posting throughout the week. Below are two popular options:

  1. Hootsuite
    The free plan allows you to manage up to 3 social profiles, where you can schedule posts in advance, get basic reporting and monitor conversations around keywords and hashtags.
  2. Buffer
    The free plan allows you to manage Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. They also take the cake on scheduling posts, including images and video, but they lack social listening.

Check out this blog post that compares the cost and effectiveness of Hootsuite and Buffer.

Twitter Tips to Gain & Engage Followers

New to Twitter? Check out these Twitter basics and FAQs.

  • Invite your supporters, family, friends and colleagues to follow you on Twitter. Then, follow back supporters and influencers in your space.
  • Create Twitter lists based on hashtags relevant to your industry.
    • Hashtags help you discover people.
    • People are likely to follow you if they are added to your list.
    • Be creative with your list names and make people feel special if the list is public.
    • Use an IFTTT recipe to automatically add up to 5000 people to each of your lists. IFTTT stands for “if this then that” and it’s a service that helps you automate actions for the everyday apps and products that you use.
  • Simply be engaging.
    • Reply to those who engage with you (mentions you, retweets one of your tweets or favorites one of your tweets).
    • Mention others in your tweets.
    • Retweet relevant tweets.
    • Reply to relevant tweets.

Facebook Tips to Gain & Engage Followers

New to Facebook Pages? View Facebook’s tutorial and learn how to set up a Page.

  • Invite your supporters, family, friends and colleagues to “Like” your page.
  • Try to post trending content because Facebook’s News Feed algorithm is based highly on timely trending content. This usually includes holidays, special events and breaking news.
  • You can always see what is trending on the right sidebar of your news feed.

Instagram Tips to Gain & Engage Followers

New to Instagram? View Instagram’s page on getting started.

  • Use relevant and popular hashtags in your photo description to gain more exposure for your photo.
  • Be creative with your images and test out what works with your audience. Images could be of events, people, quotes, objects, food — you name it.
  • Videos and flipagrams are also highly engaging.

LinkedIn Tips for Your Personal Account

I’m a big fan of personal branding and leveraging yourself as a marketing vehicle for your nonprofit. New to LinkedIn? Learn the basics of using LinkedIn.

  • Complete your profile as much as you can, with at least a welcoming profile picture, a summary section, a list of your experience and education and recommendations from people you’ve worked with. This is your personal brand and can help bring credibility to your nonprofit. View my LinkedIn profile as an example.
  • Your summary section should highlight your expertise, your intentions and a clear ask. People are more willing to engage if you clearly list contact information and why he/she should reach out to you.
  • Post status updates daily and share relevant articles, industry updates and information on your nonprofit.

Snapchat Tips to Engage Your Supporters & Audience

Snapchat is still the most foreign territory for nonprofits, but with 100 million active daily users and a platform loved by tweens and teens, you at least want to start familiarizing yourself with the platform. New to Snapchat? Learn the basics of using Snapchat.

  • Download the app and claim your nonprofit’s username.
  • Gain new followers by promoting your nonprofit’s custom snapcode across other social networks, email and on your website. You may have seen people post a snapcode as their Twitter or Facebook profile pictures (it’s the white ghost in a yellow box customized with a logo or photo within the white ghost).
  • Post snaps (pictures and videos) that can only be viewed for 10 seconds. Snaps are meant to be spontaneous and fun. For instance, send spontaneous snaps to your volunteers with a thank-you note.
  • Post stories that comprise of snaps within a 24 hour time period. This could be a compilation of events or people you encounter throughout the day.
  • Not ready to dive in? At least claim your nonprofit’s username and start observing how other nonprofits are taking advantage of Snapchat.

Posting Frequency

There are varying viewpoints on how often you should post, which means you should do your own testing. Generally, the following posting schedule can be effective:

  • Facebook: 1-2x per day
  • Twitter: 5x per day, but not more than 1 per hour
  • LinkedIn: 1x per day, ideally in the AM
  • Instagram: 1-2x per day
  • Snapchat: Post only when you have engaging content. It’s okay to miss a few days.

What posting strategies have worked for your organization?

social media strategy

Carol Luong

June 2, 2016

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