7 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions on Social Media for Nonprofits

As a planned giving marketing company, we field a lot of questions about how nonprofits can utilize social and how planned giving can fit into that social strategy—especially these days. Knowing that there are a lot of questions circling around the use of social in today’s environment, Stelter’s Marketing Communications Specialist, Aimee Menhusen, invited me and Stelter’s Creative Director and Marketing Director, Zach Christensen, to a little Zoom Q&A on social media best practices.

We put our heads together to come up with this list of FAQs to share. Enjoy!

Q1. How can my organization stand out on social media?

Z: First and foremost you need to be an authentic contributor.

Like, share, respond and provide honest interactions with your followers. Everyone seems to be trying to figure out what’s going to make them the next big ‘disrupter’ on social. Oftentimes it’s not the organization, but one of their supporters. (Think Ice Bucket Challenge.) So be sure to support your community’s growth by using and encouraging user-generated content when possible.

I also like to remind people that a social post for marketing purposes is a driver, not a destination. The tricky part is driving your audience to your destination, convincing them to leave the social platform they’re on to take action. Your offer is of utmost importance in this situation; it must resonate and be something your followers see as a valuable resource.

N: Definitely keep the tone conversational. Be authentic, not corporate. Forget the industry lingo, like “check out our planned giving site,” because the only people clicking on that link will be fellow planned giving officers and fundraising consultants.

Video and photos are typically going to resonate most. (There’s a reason Youtube and Instagram are two of the most popular social platforms). Social is the ideal storytelling medium. Have a consistent drip of donor and impact stories and don’t miss out on the opportunity to integrate social into broader multichannel campaigns.

Finally, I’d be mindful of timeliness. What events, milestones or even seasonal happenings can you tie a message to? Show what you’re celebrating or what special events are going on, but be sure to make it about the donors or the impact—not your organization. (Always remember the WIIFM, “What’s in it for me?”) Relate everyday posts back to the good work you’re doing.

Z: I would echo that, being there at relevant times, like Giving Tuesday, National Nonprofit Day (coming up on August 17), International Volunteer Day, Estate Planning Awareness Month, etc., is key. We’ve seen a lot of success when our nonprofit partners promote free resources during times like these.

Lastly, pay attention to the algorithms. According to Hootsuite, Facebook mentions three major categories for ranking content:

  1. Who a user typically interacts with
  2. The type of media in the post (e.g., video, link, photo, etc.)
  3. The popularity of the post

But these algorithms are ever-changing, so be sure to stay on top of it and always use best practices when posting.

Q2. Should planned giving have a separate page?

N: We get asked this question a lot, and 99% of the time the answer is no. Unless you have a large legacy society that warrants stewardship through this medium and dedicated staff to manage the page (no one visits accounts that aren’t updated regularly), I would advise against the separation.

Remember: The best thing about social is the access to community. Case in point, The Humane Society of the United States has 2.6M Facebook followers. (You can bet that they’re paying close attention to this channel.) The downside of creating additional legacy society pages is that you lose access to the crowd. Your social media followers have already self-selected as someone who cares by “liking” your page. Why wouldn’t you want to stay in front of them by sharing stories of impact, plans for the future and messages of legacy?

Q3. How often should we be posting?

N: There’s no perfect formula for posting and, many times, social media accounts are dictated by a marketing communications team. First things first, you need to become friends with your marketing team, gain an understanding of their social strategy and identify opportunities to piggyback on their plan.

Z: Consider questions like: What has worked in the past? How many people are following you? How large is that number in comparison to your cohorts in the industry? The bigger your following, the more time you should be dedicating to social. If you don’t have a substantial following, focus on creating relevant content that resonates and don’t be afraid to repurpose compelling messages over time.

Q4. How do I know if something is post-worthy?

N: First, consider which social media channel you’ll be using and—more importantly—whom your audience is for that channel. For example, if you’re looking to post on LinkedIn, that audience may be more heavily weighted towards professional advisors, wherein your Facebook page may be more visited by donors or prospects.

No matter which channel, ask yourself if the post will bring value to its specific viewers. Is it informative, entertaining, moving, inspiring or relevant? Is there a call-to-action or is it simply meant to educate?

Z: Exactly! Is it content that’s going to elicit an emotion or action from your crowd? Is it on brand and on mission? Is it something that’s going to be worth that person’s time? Be honest with yourself, because that’s when the best marketing happens.

Q5. How can we more frequently integrate planned giving messaging on social?

Z: Trying to break down the silos within your organization is hugely important. Annual, major and planned giving have to understand that donors don’t see themselves as a supporter of one department—but of the nonprofit as a whole.

Furthermore, Dr. Russell James’ recent research proves that annual giving actually increases after a donor creates a planned estate gift. This is all the more reason for development to work as one team to relay a holistic view of all the ways donors and prospects can support your mission.

N: As I mentioned earlier, you must team up with your other internal teams and make a plan. Identify organizational campaigns and occasions, or even draw from current or seasonal events, that could lend themselves to drawing a connection to the future of your organization, the impact of your mission or the critical nature of a legacy for the work you do. As an example, are you university? Perhaps you could promote a legacy match campaign and call out your Student Relief Fund as one of the areas to support.

Q6. Which social media channels should we be on?

Z: Users 65 years and older are the fastest-growing group on Facebook. This is definitely a place you need to be.

N: Agreed. It’s where all the boomers are. Universities may find success across multiple channels because of the type of institution they are. Their followers consist of sports fans, alumni, faculty and students, but the same won’t necessarily apply for a community foundation, for example.

It’s crucial to remember that not all channels are one-size-fits all. You don’t need to be, and most likely shouldn’t be, on every platform (Snapchat, TikTok, etc.) If you’re not finding the success you’re looking for right now, utilizing more traditional channels may be what’s best for your nonprofit.

Q7. What about Facebook ads?

Z: First and foremost, allocate a budget. Facebook ads don’t have to be expensive, but you do need to plan for the time, money and resources it takes to place an ad—and to follow-up with any responses you may get. Other factors to success are starting with the end in mind (what you’re hoping to accomplish) and having access to a subject matter-expert that can help you with the process and the messaging.

One thing I often see nonprofits take advantage of is Facebook’s Custom Audience feature. You can plug your planned giving list into Facebook, then they use this information to match your list members to their Facebook profiles and subsequently serve them ads. This helps guarantee that your message is being received by people you’ve identified as potential planned givers. Once you establish this Custom Audience, you can also experiment with the Lookalike Audience feature.

Planned giving marketing is all about connecting people to their passion, social is just one of the many channels you can do that with.

Searching for more social do’s and don’ts? We’ve got you covered. Check out our simple guide to improve your social media here or read How Often Should Your Nonprofit Post on Social Media? for the three questions you need to ask to determine your organization’s optimal posting schedule.

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