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5 Things Non-Profits Need to Know About Digital Marketing

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The world of digital marketing is constantly in motion and new platforms seem to pop up everywhere. Sometimes they’re a “one hit wonder,” fading as quickly as they started; sometimes they’re the new Snapchat. And we all know Facebook is forever updating how stories are shared within their newsfeed.

This could sometimes make it hard to prioritize resources, especially for smaller organizations like non-profits. Yet, there are some key focus areas that will help prevent you from being pulled in all directions. If you follow these five non-profit tips, you can strengthen your digital marketing without straining resources.

  1. Narrow Your Social Audience

    This may seem counterintuitive at first. You need corporate partners, donors, maybe federal support, and you also need to convince consumers to take action on behalf of your cause, perhaps even asking them to change their behavior. It’s simply not possible to select one audience because they are all important and you need to reach them.

    To be clear: You can still reach all of your key audiences, just not in a single channel. If you try to share messaging towards all of these audiences on one channel, it will seem fragmented and may confuse your community. Rather than sharing the same post across all of your channels, fitting it to 140 characters for Twitter, adding a cool image for Instagram and so forth, it’s important to remember that each channel is unique and people use them differently. In other words, don’t repurpose content, share different content on different channels.

    Begin by conducting research into where your audiences go for information. It could be that consumers and donors are best targeted on Facebook, while corporate partners are better to reach on Twitter and LinkedIn. Do the research and work with this information. Decide how you want to talk to each of these audiences on designated channels. Don’t blast the same information everywhere.

  1. Track, Optimize, and Report

    Regular reporting doesn’t only illustrate growth over time, it can help you see how your content is resonating with your community. A couple of hours each month can help create stronger messages and drive greater engagement towards advocacy.

    Throughout the month, share content at different times of day, and alter the way you talk about a particular topic; track how people respond and engage with each post, and over time, trends should develop that will inform a stronger content strategy.

    Not every platform has their own available analytics, but both Facebook and Twitter certainly do and they have some great information. Did I mention it’s FREE? If you’re just getting started, or want to see how you can take a deeper dive, here are two resources to get you started: Hootsuite: Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Analytics and Twitter Analytics Overview.

  1. Drive Donations & Fundraising on Facebook

    Facebook allows 501(c)(3) organizations to include a special “Donate” button on their Facebook brand page that will allow readers to donate directly to your organization. Facebook also recently announced expanded capabilities that will allow donate buttons on Live videos and posts. While you should continue to direct people straight to your website’s donation page, this button provides easy access for your social community to turn awareness into action.

    Individuals can also add a donation button on their own posts to raise funds for your organization. They can also take that one step further by creating a fundraising page. This is a cool feature that allows others to fundraise on behalf of your organization by setting up a page to tell their story and rally others around your mission.

  1. Explore and Understand Paid Media

    Social media is quickly becoming a pay-to-play platform, and this couldn’t be any truer for Facebook. Even when marketing resources are scarce, paid can be an opportunity to share a key message or call to action during a critical time, whether it’s for a day of awareness, a timely event, or an upcoming fundraiser.

    You can get more out of your ad budget through precise targeting. Rather than sharing your message with as many people as possible, hoping that it will stick with a few, instead try narrowing your targeting to drive a stronger return. When you can deliver your ad to people who are more likely to engage, whether it’s because their interests align, they’re familiar with your organization, or have historically worked with organizations like yours, there is a higher chance for conversion.

    For example, Facebook and Twitter offer very targeted ads that can mark individuals who have recently visited your website, or can capture a “look-a-like” audience of people who have similar interests to those who are on your current donor list (or another list of your choosing). It’s amazing how much further your budget can go when you have strong targeting. Your ads may not reach as many people, but you’re likely to drive a higher conversion and/or engagement rate.

  2. Know your Resources

    There are a lot of useful resources for non-profits out there. Google for Non-Profits allows you to find all of Google’s resources available to non-profits who want to work with their platform. Among their resources, Google offers in-kind advertising grants for 501(c)(3) organizations, providing up to $10K USD each month to run text ads on Google Search.

    In addition to Facebook’s donation and fundraising capabilities, they also have developed the Facebook for Non-Profits site to help you get the most out of their platform. Resources range from content tips to how you can activate supporters.

In all, digital marketing has infinite new opportunities to share your message and engage your audience. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on a new experience, but remember that an investment in strategically targeted efforts can drive greater results without wiping out your resources.

Laura Armstrong is an account supervisor, Business + Social Purpose, Edelman San Francisco.

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