Social media has become a vital tool for fundraising. According to one study, the number of nonprofits using social media to raise money increased by 40 percent in 2014, and the amount of money raised via social channels is increasing as well.
Still, despite the increase in the number of organizations using social media as part of their fundraising campaigns, very few are reporting significant results. Much of the growth in social fundraising in terms of actual dollars raised has come from peer-to-peer efforts, such as when an individual raises money from their contacts for a specific cause or event.
Given the number of social media users, and the potential for nonprofits to increase their donor base and the amount of money raised, it begs the question of why social media isn’t a more effective fundraising tool? If you are frustrated by your organization’s lack of progress when it comes to social fundraising, it could be that you’re making a few common mistakes.
Mistake #1: Not Targeting Your Influencers
Social media is, well, social. Not only do you want to engage your audience, you want to engage the people who will spread your message and encourage others to support your cause as well — the influencers.
Influencers drive conversations and spur others to action, and if you aren’t identifying and engaging them, you could be losing important relationships. There are different types of influencers — some people are more social, known for making connections, while others are thought leaders who help others form opinions.
You need to connect with all types of influencers to reach your audience so look for people who are already talking about your cause outside of your existing circle to identify those who can help spread your message.
Mistake #2: Not Engaging
Once you’ve identified influencers what do you do with them? Many nonprofits don’t engage their followers. They use social media to ask for donations, maybe share a few updates, but don’t really give followers a reason to look for their updates, never mind like, comment or share them.
Fresh content and imagery engages followers, so your blog should be the centerpiece of your social media strategy. Blogging gives your audience a chance to become invested in your organization. Your content shouldn’t always be about your need for money, either. If someone decides to donate an old boat, write a post explaining what happened to that boat and how it is benefiting your community, which not only gives donors an inside look at what happens when they make a donation, but shows them why they should donate.
Use your social media platforms to acknowledge donors as well; thanking people publicly can go a long way toward increasing their support and encouraging others to give as well.
Mistake #3: Relying on Automation
Automation is great. If someone is on vacation, or you’re in the midst of a big campaign and want to post reminders, automated posts ensure regular updates. If you rely too much on automation, though, you could lose engagement.
If you have all of your posts scheduled a month in advance, how likely are you to check back and respond to comments? Automation can also backfire if you don’t pay attention to what you’ve scheduled and you wind up posting something that appears poorly timed or insensitive. Bottom line? Use automation sparingly, and only when there’s no other option.
Mistake #4: Posting Too Often
Posting too often is almost as bad as not posting enough, for several reasons. For starters, posting several times a day with essentially the same message is just asking your followers to hide or unfollow your account. More importantly, even though no one knows the exact algorithms for sure, we do know that your followers’ level of engagement (i.e., how often they like, share or comment on your posts) does influence how many of your followers will actually see your posts on Facebook.
Therefore, sharing the same or similar posts repeatedly will only reduce engagement — and eventually, how many people actually see your posts. Limit your Facebook posts to one per day, and make them interesting. Twitter can be a bit more often (best practice is 3 tweets per day), but don’t over do it on there either.
Mistake #5: Making it Too Difficult to Donate
When you post on social media looking for donations, how easy is it for your followers to give? If they have to jump through too many hoops, they probably won’t donate again — or even complete the transaction. Test the process before you post and make sure it’s easy to give.
Social media can take your fundraising to the next level — but only if you don’t make the common mistakes that keep donors from engaging and giving. Treat your social media outreach with the same level of strategy as your other fundraising efforts and you’ll see the numbers rise.
To audit your social media usage to ensure that it is in fact helping your fundraising efforts, check out this blog.