Social media has become an integral part of everyday life — but for charities, it could be a really valuable marketing tool to help increase awareness and support for your organisation.
We’ve put together a guide for everything you need to know about social media for charities. Read on to find out more about how your charity can leverage this powerful marketing tool:
What is social media marketing?
Social media platforms are websites and applications that are effectively online communities people use to share ideas, information, interests, images and videos. There’s a huge number of different platforms but some of the most popular are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Most people are familiar with using social media in a personal capacity — sharing updates and pictures about their lives with friends and family.
However, it’s also used by a lot of organisations as part of their marketing strategy to reach new audiences, increase awareness, and connect with their customers.
Why your charity should use social media
Social media is a really cost-effective communication and marketing tool for charities and non-profit organisations. With a successful social media strategy, charities can reach thousands, even millions of people with their posts — advertising for free, sharing details about the work that they’re doing, and the support or donations that they need to carry on.
The charity can talk directly with their audience, and they can choose the message and build their own relationships.
And the best news? Social media doesn’t have to cost you anything. All the platforms are free to sign up and, with a well-planned strategy, you can grow your reach without spending anything.
Creating an effective charity social media strategy
It all sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But how do you create an effective charity social media strategy that will really pay off? Here are some of our top tips for implementing a strategy in your charity’s social media:
Outline a plan and goals
To get the most out of your charity social media accounts, you need to have a plan for posting content, engaging with others on the platform, and supporting your organisation’s goals. Having a presence on social media is a starting point, but ad hoc posts that aren’t aligned with any goals will be ineffective and you won’t see much interaction or growth in your audience.
Consider your charity’s mission, values, and goals and come up with some objectives for your social media strategy. This could be increasing donations, raising awareness of the charity, finding volunteers, or reaching the people that your charity is trying to help.
Once you’ve outlined your goals, you need to decide how you’re going to track your social media strategy and measure its success. Some key things to track will be the number of engagements (likes, comments, shares), post reach, a number of followers, click-through, and traffic to your website that comes from social media.
Decide which channels to use
As a charity you’re probably short on time and resources, so instead of trying to keep on top of multiple social media accounts, you need to focus on two or three that are going to provide the best results.
To help you decide which is best for you, you’ll need to know who your target audience is — which is likely to depend on the goals you’re aiming to achieve, and which channels they are most likely to use. The type of charity you are, and the purpose of your charity will also impact which social channels are suitable for your organisation.
Some of the most popular channels include:
- Instagram: Instagram is very image-driven — you will need to be able to create engaging images as well as written copy for your posts on Instagram. High-quality photographs are best for Instagram, but you could also create your own graphics to share if you don’t have the resources or can’t share photos of your work.
- Facebook: Facebook is a good platform for sharing longer stories and details of the work you’re doing. You can share images as well, but the copy will also be important, and it’s easy to include links and encourage people to click through to your website.
- Twitter: Twitter has a character limit of 280 characters for each post, but it’s still a great way to share quick updates, insights, and content with a huge audience by utilising the right hashtags and increasing your reach.
- LinkedIn: This is a good place for more corporate communications, where you can showcase your work to other businesses and professionals. You might use it to find long term donors, business partners, or advertise any job opportunities.
Writing copy for social media
It’s essential that your charity social media posts reflect your organisation’s branding as a whole. While social media is a more informal way of communicating, you still need to be using the same language and tone of voice that you use across your website, emails, and any marketing or promotional materials.
When you’re writing copy for social media you need to refer to your brand guidelines to ensure that you are sharing a message that’s coherent with all your other channels. Set up a social media calendar in a spreadsheet where you can write out all your posts ahead of time so that you can read through them to check they meet brand guidelines before publishing.
It’s also important to put together some guidelines for how to interact and engage on social media platforms. Set out some common responses to frequently asked questions or any issues that are brought up on social media. Highlight the keywords and phrases your posts should be using and any that need to be avoided.
Finally, make sure you’re using hashtags appropriately in your posts to improve reach and engagement. This will differ depending on which platform you are using. For example, on Twitter, you should include one or two highly relevant hashtags in each post that will connect with your target audience. On Instagram, you can add in more hashtags if you want to, and you can follow hashtags to find other posts and accounts to engage with.
It could even be worth coming up with your own hashtag for your charity — especially if you’re asking followers and supporters to post about your organisation.
Type of content
You can use your social media accounts to share a wide range of content — but always ensure that it’s focused on one of the goals you are working towards.
Your social media posts could include a range of the following:
- Promoting upcoming events and fundraisers
- Sharing achievements, milestones, and success stories
- Updates on the work the charity has done or volunteer stories
- Behind the scenes videos of day to day operations
- Sharing useful information surrounding the charity’s cause
- Outlining what help and support the charity needs
Try to create a range of different posts that include images and videos where possible — these are generally more emotive and hard-hitting, and will often connect more with your audience, increasing engagement. Even if you can’t afford to pay for professional videos, you can still create good quality video content with a smartphone or basic video recording equipment and editing software.
What social media tools should you use?
Social media for charities can be enhanced hugely by the type of social media tools you use. There are lots of different options which can help you in all sorts of ways — from scheduling tweets to planning your Insta grid out, to social listening and more — but here are some of our favourites:
This is a great, free tool for creating your own graphics and images to share on social media. Canva offers a huge range of templates and makes it really easy to create infographics or text-based images. You can also upload your brand fonts and colours to ensure that everything aligns with your charity’s branding.
Unsplash has over a million images that are free to download and can be used across your social media channels. While original images are ideal, sometimes it’s just not possible — so using high-quality stock images will help to make your posts more engaging.
Adobe Lightroom CC
This is one of the best tools for editing and improving your images before sharing them on social media. You can edit the images from scratch or you can use a wide range of presents to quickly alter them. The desktop version of Adobe Lightroom has an annual fee, but you can use the app on iOS or Android completely free.
Buffer is a social media scheduling tool that allows you to set up your posts ahead of time and schedule them on different platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. It’s not the most advanced scheduling tool, but if you’re starting off small, then Buffer’s free plan allows you to connect three social accounts, and schedule up to 10 posts.
Hootsuite is another social media scheduling tool that allows you to schedule posts, monitor engagement and mentions, and measure your results across each platform. It integrates with all the key social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Hootsuite doesn’t have a free plan but it does offer a discount of up to 50% for non-profit organisations, so if you’re focusing on your social media strategy it could be worth investing in.
Social media for charities is enormously important — social media is one of the best, cost-effective marketing channels that charities can use.
You just need to spend some time coming up with goals that align with the organisation’s aims and values, plan out a successful strategy, and be prepared to post and engage consistently. Once you’ve got into the swing of things, you can start experimenting more, and putting more time and effort into your charity social media as you go on. Sorted.