Social Media and Nonprofits

November 8, 2010

More and more companies are adding social media to their overall business strategy. According to the Social Media Examiner, small business owners using social media has increased, nearly 20 percent of marketing dollars will go to social media in five years and mastering social media has become a top goal for marketers. With these statistics and others, it shows social media is growing and does not plan to stop.

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Social media can play a significant role in any nonprofit. It is a way to create awareness for your brand by engaging your target audience in meaningful conversations. Social media also saves time and money when used correctly.

To be able to use social media effectively, it takes understanding and research.  I know hiring a social media expert to make sure social media is done correctly can be pricey and not in the budget, so I did some research and found a few ways to make sure your nonprofit organization is using social media effectively.


Before beginning any type of social media, make sure to create a communications plan. When doing this, answer these questions:

  • How does using social media add value to your organizations mission?
  • What goals does your organization want to achieve with social media?
  • How much time can your organization devote to social media?
  • What message does your organization want to convey through social media?

By creating a communications plan, it gives your organization direction. Without having a clear direction, an organization can start using social media without a clear understanding of what it wants to achieve and then not achieve anything.


When your organization begins to use social media, make sure to listen. There are a few things that your organization can do to begin listening:

  • Follow and/or friend companies and organizations that are similar to yours and see how they are using social media
  • Connect with influencers that can bring a voice to your organization
  • Follow your target audience. What are they looking for? What do they want?

By listening first, your organization will have a better idea of what kind of conversations they need to have with its audience.


After listening, it is time to begin the conversation. Social media is all about two-way communication. According to Beth’s Blog, one of the most popular blogs for nonprofits, it is important for nonprofits to move from spreading their message to creating conversations. Beth also recommends to use an excel spreadsheet to plan conversation starters.

Having a plan of what conversations your organization would like to create will help your organization produce content regularly when just beginning social media. This will help create a following.

These are only a few tips on how a nonprofit organization can successfully use social media when starting out.

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Are there any other ways your nonprofit has successfully engaged in its social media?