There are countless social media websites out there—and you don’t need to be on all of them.
Choosing the right “channels” for your nonprofit is an essential part of an effective social media strategy. By showing up where your supporters are, you can minimize time spent on social media, while maximizing results.
Which channels are best for nonprofits in general?
While innovators are planning alternatives, the most popular social media websites for nonprofits continue to be the same ones used by everyone else. Those websites, in order of how many people are estimated to be actively using them, include:
- Facebook (2.3 billion users)
- YouTube (1.9 billion users)
- Instagram (1 billion users)
- LinkedIn (500 million users)
- Twitter (400 million users)
Let’s consider the pros and cons of each.
Despite predictions of failure and (deservedly) negative press, Facebook remains king. No other social media channel provides an opportunity to reach as great a number of people.
In addition to being the option most likely to be used by every generation of your family, Facebook also offers the most comprehensive tools for businesses and nonprofits, including advertising, data analytics, customer service, and fundraising.
YouTube is one of the largest search engines in the world, second only to its parent company, Google. This feature, which allows supporters to more easily find your profile when searching for related terms, is found across all channels, but YouTube does it best.
Of course, in order to reap YouTube’s search benefits, your account must be regularly active. This is where the channel’s major drawback comes into play: All posts must include video, which requires more time, energy, and budget than with other options. If you have the resources, give it a go, but don’t worry if not; alternatives will suffice.
The fastest growing of all the social media websites, Instagram is especially popular with millenials and teens. The website is also owned by Facebook, which means accounts on both can be synced, doubling your nonprofit’s potential reach. In fact, Instagram averages 10 times as many “likes” and comments on posts as its parent company.
The main challenge of Instagram is similar to that of YouTube: All posts require an image or video. That said, smartphone cameras and free Photoshop alternatives like Canva should make using Instagram easy and effective.
Used primarily by and for professionals, LinkedIn is an excellent option for making connections. Is your nonprofit hiring? Looking for “insider tips” on some facet of your work? LinkedIn is an invaluable resource, if not as useful a tool for finding supporters.
For breaking news and corporate customer service, Twitter is excellent. Yet, for everyday people and small-to-medium organizations, it can be difficult standing out in its cluttered feed. Compared to Instagram, for example, Twitter averages about 80 times less engagement. Unless you have a piece of content you believe is ready to “go viral,” your energy is probably better spent elsewhere.
Which channels are best for my nonprofit?
If your nonprofit is launching a social media presence for the very first time, spend some time comparing channels before you get started. Consider which will reach the greatest number of supporters with the least amount of resources. Re-read the above descriptions of each option and decide which are best suited to your unique circumstances. It may make sense to just start with one or two and grow from there.
If you already have social media accounts out there, now is a good time for a basic self-audit. Visiting the “analytics” section of each channel, compare the following data over a set period of time (the past year, for example):
- Where was the most conversation sparked through comments and private messages?
- Where were the greatest number of followers accrued?
- How much money (if any) was needed to help posts on each to gain traction?
If any of your accounts produced significantly less results than the others, they may be candidates for removal or at least reconsideration. Whatever you decide, it’s important to not leave any “dormant” profiles up. Not only is it a bad look, but there’s also a chance you’ll miss messages from supporters if you don’t log in regularly.
I chose my channels, so what’s next?
After selecting the social media channels that make the most sense for your nonprofit, it’s time to harness their potential in service of what matters most—your mission.
In future posts, I will offer tips and tricks about how to use your social media profiles skillfully, with topics including:
Who can set up social media pages for my nonprofit?
Hoan Marketing can help! Since 2016, I have supported nonprofits with launching new social media profiles and populating them with engaging content.
To schedule your free 30-minute consultation, fill out the contact form or call me at (414) 909-0626.