Navigating the Labyrinth: Making Social Media Manageable for Nonprofits

For nonprofits and many small businesses, social media can seem like a vast maze. If you take one wrong turn, you could be lost forever. It’s overwhelming, unknown territory that seems nearly impossible to navigate some days — complete with trolls just waiting for you to step out of line. But much like the maze in the 1986 classic movie “Labyrinth,” “things are not always what they seem.” If you know what you’re looking for, you can reach your goal quickly. 

Navigating the various social media platforms can be a daunting task. It seems every year, a new platform pops up and is the “next big thing” everyone should try. Deciding whether to be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, or one of the myriad other social media channels can cause even the most seasoned communications professional to despair.  

Luckily, there are a few simple steps that can make social media manageable. The first and most important is to find your target audience. Each platform has a different audience, and once you know who your target audience is, you can decide which platform best fits who you’re trying to reach. From there, you can decide how much time your team has available to dedicate to social media and pick the platforms you can effectively manage. 

Beyond just choosing the best platforms, you must create consistent content and engage with your supporters. These are vital steps to a successful social media campaign. “Social” is the keyword for this marketing platform. You can’t just put information out and walk away. Social media is about interacting with people and creating a feedback loop. The give and take of social media is how you grow your audience, build trust, and turn one-time donors into lifelong supporters. 

But social media should not be a standalone platform. This tool works best when used in tandem with other marketing platforms. Using social media to send people to your email list, website, other social media platforms, and to promote events creates a robust marketing system. Each tool has a set purpose but can play off each other to create a complete picture for your supporters. 

For example, Instagram allows for short three-to-60-second clips of videos. You would post a short highlight video and say at the end, “Visit YouTube for the full video!”, so the supporter navigates to the video. At the end of the video, say something like, “Get weekly updates by joining our email list! Follow the link in the description below,” and then your supporter signs up for your email list. In your weekly email, you have a link to your website, where you post, “To help us do more of this, donate here,” and they follow that link to donate. Create a chain of information that will eventually lead to a donation. 

Although the information in each step of the above example is similar in nature, it’s not identical. With slight variations in information, you can peak the individual’s interest, and they will continue down the chain, learning more about your cause. You are telling a story in different parts and developing your platforms at the same time.  

Progressing from simple information output to an engaging, interactive, robust social media plan takes a little time and some planning, but the return is well worth the effort. Using social media as part of your overall marketing plan can transform how you interact with your supporters and help your nonprofit grow. But remember: Social media is an ever-changing, flexible tool. What worked for you one year might not work the same the next. It is adaptive, and you must be willing to change and grow along with it. It is one small piece to an overall puzzle for your business. But with just a little effort, it can become a cornerstone to your donor development and fundraising plan. 

Want to get a more in-depth look at navigating social media, which platforms fit your nonprofit’s needs, and how to create consistent content across platforms? Join us for a free social media webinar, catered specifically for nonprofits. This 30-minute webinar will help you learn the basics about social media and how you can optimize it to help your nonprofit grow. We hope you learned something new!