Year-end fundraising used to be all about events, direct mail and soliciting major donors. But year-end fundraising is moving into the digital age. And social media’s importance is growing every year. According to the 2017 M+R Benchmarks study, nonprofits are seeing incredible growth in their social media audiences. Nonprofits saw 23% audience growth on Facebook. Growth was 50% on Twitter. If we follow the old adage to “go where your people are,” your nonprofit should be working to seamlessly incorporate social media strategy into your fundraising. Well, you know where your people are right now? Probably scrolling Twitter on their phone.
In the first part of our year-end fundraising guide, we’ll discuss social media strategy and best practices that will ensure that will help you ensure your posts get seen by the right people.
No, you’re not imagining it. Being seen on Facebook has gotten harder. It’s intentional. In June 2016, they started prioritizing friends and family in users’ newsfeeds. Which is great for the average user, but a huge bummer if you were counting on organic reach for your nonprofit’s page. And now they’re testing out a pay-to-play model for Pages. And making it even harder is that Facebook is now competing in the online fundraising arena. As we’ve written about before, it can be confusing for nonprofits and followers alike.
But the news isn’t all bad! Facebook can still be used for nonprofit fundraising. And it can also be a powerful tool to reach new people. 45% of people who see a nonprofit’s post aren’t fans of their Page. So, the landscape is changing, but adapting is easier than you think!
Budget for advertising
We’re not going to mince words here. To be seen on Facebook, you’re going to need to pay. We miss the halcyon days of free advertising on Facebook, too. They were great! But they’re over.
The good news is that Facebook advertising is cheap. You can reach thousands more people with a post for just a $10 boost. You can place an ad through that reaches tens of thousands for just $100. And what’s really awesome is that Facebook’s targeting tools are extensive. Facebook knows pretty much everything about its users, and they let you use their data to target your ads. Want to place an ad that reaches male Democrats ages 25-35 in Sheboygan, Wisc., who are married with children, like “Game of Thrones” and have made donations in the past to political causes? You can do that. Easily. (Also if that is your audience, contact us, we’d love to know more about your fascinating nonprofit.)
Develop algorithm-friendly content
So, no one really knows how Facebook’s famous and complex algorithm works. Well, outside of Facebook anyway. But social media managers have been posting and paying attention to the results. And while we don’t know the specifics, we do know that some kinds of content works better than others.
- Videos (but not YouTube). Facebook’s algorithm loves videos. You’ll see a much higher reach with videos than you will images or text-only posts. But the trick is to upload them directly to Facebook. YouTube is a competitor, so you will see less reach if you share a video hosted on YouTube. So, do your editing, then save the file as an MP4 and upload it directly to your Facebook page. And don’t be afraid to go long. Earlier this year, Facebook announced that they would prioritize longer videos with higher completion rates in users’ feeds. (Note that they’re ranking by completion rate as well as length. Keep it engaging!)
- Facebook live. Facebook has been pushing Facebook Live hard since they released it to the general public in 2016. How much do they want you to use it? They will notify people who like your Page that you’re live. That’s how much! Think of creative ways to incorporate a live-stream into your year-end campaign. It could be a sit-down with your executive director, a walk through your facilities, or a fun game or event. (An animal shelter could film dogs tearing into gift-wrapped in-kind donations, for instance.) The stream itself should be creative, fun and the sort of thing you yourself would want to watch. Even if it’s a little outside the box, you’ll have a bigger audience and a chance to ask your supporters for donations.
- Pay attention to trends. Facebook began prioritizing timely content in users’ feeds in early 2017. So pay attention to what topics are trending on Facebook! You can see trends on the top-right corner of your personal Facebook feed. Obviously use your best judgment and don’t try to seize on trends that have nothing to do with your nonprofit, but keep your eye out! If there’s a big winter storm coming, and you frame your post around the storm, you could pick up lots of extra reach.
- Sharable images. That images get more reach than text-only posts is a tale as old as time. But ramp up your reach by focusing on graphics made for sharing. What do people share? They share things that say something about themselves. For instance, supporters of a local food bank likely want their friends to know that they care about hunger relief. So an image with a message about supporting hunger relief in their community would be something the food bank’s followers are likely to share. Think about what is relevant to your supporters when creating images for social media. What would they want to share? What would they want their friends and family to know about them? It’s all about the user on Facebook. So keep them front and center!
Optimize your content and ads
If you’ve been following the news, you know that Facebook got itself into a pickle with their ads (among other, more serious issues). As a result, they’re cracking down on clickbait and misleading ads. You’re no longer able to do things like edit the headline of a link preview, or change the image. Transparency is the word of the day at Facebook HQ. Here’s what you need to do to make sure you don’t get tripped up by new regulations at Facebook.
- Pay attention to your metatitle and metadescription. Before Facebook was hit with its own scandal, you could change the title and description of a link preview by just clicking into them. But, that’s not allowed anymore. So you’ll need to make sure the metatitle and metadescription you want to display are on the page you’re sharing. On Mightycause, you can now customize these in your Social Settings.
- Choose a relevant, Facebook-friendly image. Facebook is also limiting your ability to edit your link preview image. So, again, edit this on the page you’re sharing before posting a link. Facebook link preview images should be 1200×627. If you’re planning on boosting, you’ll need to make sure less than 30% of the image is text. So be careful with your text overlay! This tool will let you check whether your image is too text-heavy.
- Make sure your post is relevant to your link. Obviously, you should do this anyway, but Facebook is cracking down.
Careful with the donate button!
Make sure you understand how Facebook fundraising works!
If you place an ad, use the “Learn More” button. When you’re asking people to start fundraisers, make sure they know you want them to use Mightycause. Specify that you’d like to collect donations on Mightycause. Facebook is soliciting people who “like” your page, link to your Mightycause page and use Facebook to promote charitable endeavors. So, fend off confusion by being as clear as possible with your audience.
Connect a Facebook album to your org page
Mightycause added the ability to connect a Facebook album to your organization’s page earlier this year. So, create an album on Facebook for images related to your year-end campaign and connect it! It’s a great way to integrate your social media presence into your Mightycause page.
Twitter’s clout has grown in 2017. It’s gone from being just another social media platform to being a source of headlines. No longer the domain of hip techies and teens, public officials and news outlets use Twitter to connect quickly with their audience about important events. You nonprofit can harness the power of Twitter to raise money and engage with supporters. Here’s how you can use it for year-end fundraising.
Goodbye, 140-character limit!
Awesome news: Twitter doubled their character limit. You can now tweet in 280 characters. Never again will you need to use an emoji instead of a word because it’s fewer characters. Or be forced to send out 3-part tweets to say what you want to say. 280 characters gives you a lot more space to make your appeal, talk about your year-end campaign and engage your supporters.
But the great thing about the character limit was that it forced your tweets to be focused and succinct. Don’t let those lessons fall by the wayside now that you’ve got twice the space to write. Stay focused, keep your messaging clear and remember that attention spans are short. (And don’t forget to include links to your Mightycause page!)
Twitter advertising is pretty cheap and can be surprisingly effective. While the data shows that Facebook is by far the most popular and effective social media platform for nonprofits, Twitter can be a cost-effective way to advertise as well. Promoting a tweet and targeting the right people can help you build your Twitter audience while sending traffic to your Mightycause page. Learn more about getting started with Twitter ads.
Twitter is all about communication. So if you want to be successful on Twitter, you need to talk to people rather than at them.
- Respond to people. Did someone tweet a link to your fundraiser? Is someone asking a question about your nonprofit’s address or website? Respond to them! Be prompt, be friendly and be engaged.
- Monitor conversations. Tweetdeck is free to use, and a great tool to see what conversations are happening. You can monitor hashtags, see a running list of anyone who tags your account and seize opportunities to engage and interact.
- Use Mightycause’s Social Sharing settings. You can make all of the above a lot easier by utilizing your Social Sharing settings. Customize your settings so that when people share a link to your page on Mightycause, a hashtag is added to their tweet and your account is tagged.
Be creative and personable
Content that performs well on Twitter is authentic, distinctive and human. No one wants to follow a bot who tweets things at them. So, make sure your tweets are real, have a distinct voice and stand out from the crowd. This #GivingTuesday tweet from Performing Animal Welfare Society is a great example of a creative campaign tweet:
They naturally worked in hashtags, tagged other accounts (including Mightycause’s — we retweeted them!), included a direct call-to-action and shared interesting, eye-catching images. Now, we know not every nonprofit has content to share like pictures of tigers, but you can use this as inspiration when you’re tweeting about your campaign. And please do tag us! We’re happy to offer a retweet of cool campaign-related tweets!
Instagram is growing in popularity each year, but it can be a little tricky to use for fundraising. One of the reasons is that you can’t post links in Instagram posts. But they have a billion daily active users. (Yes, that’s billion, with a “b.”) So you definitely don’t want to ignore this mega-popular platform! Here’s how you can use Instagram to bolster your year-end campaign.
Two advertising birds, one stone
Instagram is owned by Facebook. The cool thing about that is that you can creative ads for Instagram from Facebook. So, when you’re creating your ads on Facebook, make sure you connect your Instagram account and have your ads placed there simultaneously. This is one of the ways you can get around the fact that you can’t post hyperlinks — ads do have links added.
Hashtags matter a lot on Instagram. As with Twitter, they make it easier for users to find your posts. So we recommend doing a little research into popular hashtags your nonprofit could use to boost your visibility. If you run a cat rescue, adding #catsofinstagram to your post can make a huge difference in how many people see your post. There are lots of hashtags you can use, and sites like Tag Blender are a great way to find the best ones to use.
Link in bio
Okay, so you can’t put a link in a post on Instagram. But you can stick it in your bio! So make sure your edit your bio to include a link to your year-end fundraiser. Then just direct them to your bio to find the link when you post about your campaign.
Think beyond images
Obviously Instagram is a platform focused on photos, so you’ll want to post striking images. But you can also post videos up to 60 seconds long on Instagram. You can post visual stories, too. (And you can add links to stories!) You can do very cool, eye-catching things with apps like Boomerang and Layout. So don’t limit yourself to still images in Instagram! You can do so much more.
Connect your ‘Gram to your Mightycause page
You can add a feed of your Instagram to both your organization page and any fundraisers. It’s a great way to enhance your visual storytelling and make your Mightycause page pop.
As always, we recommend going where your people are. You don’t need to plug your campaign on every conceivable social media platform. Spending time updating Pinterest is not a great use of your time if you don’t see a lot of traction there. (You can certainly cultivate your audiences on new platforms in the coming year! But year-end is not the time to start this process.) But there are other platforms you can use to give your campaign a boost. Here’s how to think beyond the “big three” platforms to get some extra traffic to your page.
Most of us use LinkedIn most often when we’re looking to make a change in our careers. But with 500 million users, it’s a powerful platform to use year-round. LinkedIn exists for professional networking and has become a favorite place for nonprofit professionals to connect. So you may use it differently than you use, say, Facebook or Twitter, but you should definitely be using it!
Update your company page
Your nonprofit’s Facebook page and Twitter profile are probably up-to-date. But how about your company’s LinkedIn page? We’re guessing it’s a little out of date. So hop-to! Here’s the lowdown on company pages in LinkedIn.
Get help from your high-level staff & volunteers
Odds are, your executive director and board members are active on LinkedIn. Ask them to post about your year-end campaign to their network on LinkedIn!
Don’t write off Snapchat! It’s come a long way and Snapchat users are no longer just teens. This guide to Snapchat on Nonprofit Tech for Good is a great place to start if you’re not sure how to utilize snapchat for your nonprofit. But stories on Instagram are inspired by Snapchat, so if you create a story there to promote your year-end fundraiser, you can also do it on Snapchat! Don’t have your own Snapchat account? Consider asking a corporate partner or major donor to allow your organization to do a Snapchat takeover for 24-hours to get access to a new audience instead of building your own.
Another option is to create a Snapchat filter (a.k.a, adding your logo or a fun graphic for users to use on their Snapchat photos when they’re in or close to your organization’s location). Geofilters range in price, based on the size of the location you’d like to tag and how popular that location is. But, nearly every Snapchatter uses filters in their photos, so it may be a fun, new way to get the word out!
Medium is a blogging platform that’s growing in popularity. Artists, activists and companies alike use Medium to express themselves and connect with other like-minded users. They have 60 million monthly visitors, which is nothing to sniff at! Issue-focused content can do extremely well on Medium, so if your nonprofit’s work tackles Big Issues, try signing up for a Medium account and writing about the work you do. This guide to writing successful content on Medium is a great place to start if you’re not sure what works. (If you already have a blog for your nonprofit, you can post any content your write for your blog on Medium as well.)
We hope this first part of our year-end fundraising guide helps you get your social media game plan together!