Impact Of Social Media On Nonprofits
Posted by Mical on July 01, 2018

Social media—through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content—is a powerful and accessible tool.

When used effectively, social media, through which users create online communities to share information, can have the same pull as traditional forms of media. In fact, traditional forms of web-based engagement have been proven in numerous studies to lack interactive stakeholder engagement. With the introduction of social networking services like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, companies are being propelled into a new age of communication and engagement with their audience.

This is especially key because “microblogging” is now accessible within these easy-to-use platforms. Not to mention the fact that target audiences have shifted towards a consumption habit of more concise and digestible bits of content at a more frequent pace. Having a platform that allows for constant access to a large pool of potential donors allows for organizations to minimize the turn-around for a long drawn out media campaign that is typical of any long-form media outlet. Because the work of non-profits can exist with time-constraints, it is important to have constant access to a community base and offer an avenue for their engagement.

Another benefit worth mentioning is the fact that a lot of microblogging websites are mediums for dialogue between a nonprofit and all those involved. As a result, productivity in other aspects of nonprofit management, such as giving forms, pledge management, mobile donations, fundraising payment processing, volunteer management, membership management, fundraising and campaign management have increased. This means two things, an increase in public accountability as well as overall public trust. Questions can be answered immediately and concisely which alleviates any other confusing and time-consuming long-form response that is solicited from nonprofits. Further, humanizing a company that may otherwise seem purely institutional is very important because it is more compelling for donors to give to a nonprofit they connect with. On the other hand, for those who have already donated and participated, social media is a tool that can be used to thank donators for their support. Thus, supporters are encouraged to keep making donations and are compelled to be more generous. With that in mind, the idea of response solicitation is important to consider in gauging one’s member satisfaction. Social media is the perfect medium because it allows non-profits to solicit information through a series of mini-polls, surveys, contests, direct questions to followers and engagement analytics.

But beware, there are some common pitfalls with promoting your organization via social media.

  1. Over-saturating the platform with content is one of the most common ways brands mismanage their social media presence. More often than not, thriving on social media platforms means providing users with more concise, bite-sized pieces of information and avoiding over-abundance.
    1. At the end of the day, if a user wants to do more research about your nonprofit, they should be forwarded to more in-depth content on your website.
    2. On the other-hand, over-saturation doesn’t just come from providing too much information. Repetitive content is also an annoyance to membership who follow you on different platforms or see the same post multiple times. To avoid this, cater content to the social media platform it is being posted on and maintain a posting schedule that agrees with the demand for their content.
  2. Brands must always tread lightly when engaging with social media users and dispersing content. Having some sort of checks and balance measures lessens the likelihood that your organization avoids controversy.
  3. Because social media is so accessible, brands should always be aware of their exposure to public criticism. Simply put, on a platform where many are judged it is imperative that nonprofits consider the ways their organizations might be attacked.
  4. In running a successful social media account there is frequent monitoring (almost daily) that needs to occur which may require increased resources. If the budget is tight, there are an array of low-cost options for nonprofits to utilize. Anything from unpaid marketing intern to delegating different tasks to members of an existing team.

That being said, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc have helped many nonprofits in three main ways; by spreading information, fostering dialogue and building community as well as mobilizing supporters. The very social and intimate nature of social media allows for nonprofits to have ample access to their core audience along with many of the other moving parts of their company. Building a rapport with one’s audience is very important in the nonprofit line of work because evoking emotion and empathy for a particular cause can be challenging coming from a seemingly emotionless institution. Fostering and maintaining donor and stakeholder support is ultimately the glue that keeps nonprofits functioning. Therefore, being completely engaged and consistent with communication is crucial to their success.