Social media is generally underutilised in fundraising, but there can be great value in using it to support your campaign. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned expert, the following 10 tips will help you keep up with the rapidly changing world of social media.
1. Have a policy
It may be tempting to jump head first into tweeting and posting, but it is wise to have a clear social media policy in place first. It’s important that social media posts are in keeping with the image of the organisation and don’t damage its reputation.
Ideally you’ll have a communications officer manage your social media, but in many cases volunteers will probably also post on your behalf. The policy will help define when this is allowed, what they are allowed to say, and even how they say it – to maintain the voice of an organisation, rather than a group of individuals, a uniform tone is vital.
The Institute of Community Directors Australia's Social Media Policy will help you get started.
2. Schedule, schedule, schedule
While social media runs 24 hours a day, it doesn’t have to consume all your time and distract from your other fundraising work. Scheduling tweets to post automatically using a facility like Tweetdeck or scheduling posts on your Facebook page will save time.
There’s much debate about the best time of day to post in order to attract the most views but ultimately it depends on your organisation and your audience or supporters. Define your audience and try to work out when they are online the most, and schedule your posts around that time.
3. Don’t get distracted
Aim to focus on using social media as an extension of your fundraising strategy, rather than forming its core. Don’t forget the importance of attracting traditional media coverage, fundraising events and even the old-fashioned collection tins. Also, don’t just post about your fundraising activities. Talk about other news and developments in your organisation too.
4. Get the word out
Invite all your staff, volunteers and supporters to like and interact with your profiles. Likes, comments, shares and retweets will be seen by their friends as they appear on timelines and in news feeds – effectively advertising your cause.
Include links to your social media accounts in email signatures, on your website and in any marketing or promotional materials. Similarly, link back to your website or fundraising home page when posting on social media.
5. Mix it up
Posting photos and videos can help you reach a wider audience – they’re more visually appealing and more likely to be shared. Experiment with different types of content and see what resonates with your audience. Then adjust your posts accordingly.
Facebook pages now tell you the total reach of each post so you can see what is most popular. Facebook also allows you to pay to promote your page or posts, however this may not be practical or necessary for not-for-profit organisations.
6. Don’t forget to say thank you
Social media offers a quick way to publicly recognise those helping to promote your fundraising efforts. You might even consider creating a thank you video (remember to keep it short). Videos can also show the impact of donations and create an emotional connection to your cause. If you’re not overly tech-savvy, find someone who is (generally anyone under 30!). It’s also a good idea to post your final fundraising total after your event has finished, plus information about how it compared to last year’s result and what you plan to do with the funds.
7. Follow the trends
Start following common Twitter hashtags and consider creating a hashtag for your fundraising campaign based on your name or theme. Using a consistent hashtag for the duration of the campaign will help brand your campaign and track interaction. Also try including generic hashtags such as #fundraising and watch which hashtags are trending. Getting yourself involved in a trending conversation may help your campaign be seen by a greater audience.
8. Stay top of mind
Social media is immediate so provide real-time updates on the progress of your campaign and how close you are to achieving your goals. Aim to post at least once a day during a major fundraising campaign and every couple of days in the lead up. Share photos of event preparation, news, milestones and statistics. There’s no need to post on the hour but posting regularly will keep your effort top of mind.
9. Share to be shared
If you want your posts to be shared, get involved in your community by sharing messages about others more than messages about yourself. Retweet other organisations' posts whenever possible and share interesting web content relevant to your campaign. It will tire your supporters out if you're always asking for support, so remember to be conversational and not come on too strong. And remember every interaction you receive should get a response, even if it’s just to say thanks.
10. Don’t just cut and paste
Each post should be customised to the specific platform. Twitter has upped its limit of 140 characters to 280, but you’ll still need to keep it concise. Don’t waste characters by repeating previous tweets, but update regularly with short pieces of news. You can afford to include more information in your Facebook posts and also embed photos, videos or links. You can also experiment with other sites such as Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube and Pinterest.