Using Social Like the Pro’s



There have been many, many articles discussing the explosive growth in the number of people using social media. The question is who is using which platforms? Are they interested in your mission? And most importantly, how do you engage them without spending resources you don’t have?

Let’s start with the growth. The number of users is staggering. Every day there are 500 million tweets, Facebook users upload 350 million photos, and Instagram users upload 55 million photos.

But what may be more surprising is the growth in the number of people over 65 using social media. According to the same blog, over half of people over 65 are on the internet. Even more interesting is their consistency: of those that are on the internet, 77% use it daily.

The online growth of baby boomers, ages 47 to 65, is even more enormous. In the last twelve years online users in this age group increased to 77%, leading to the average baby boomer spending 27 hours a week online. For most nonprofits, there is not a more important age group since members accounts for 43% of philanthropic activity.

In total 27.4 million seniors (people over 55) use social media. This represents a huge jump from just three years ago. At that time just 13% of this age group were using social media; now it is one in three. Although seniors may continue to reply to the snail mail appeal, this growth signals the end to this expensive method of reaching donors.

All of this growth leads many nonprofits to ask, how do you connect and build new donors and leaders online? More and more the answer is “user generated content.” User generated content is just nonprofits posting the messages of leaders and donors. What could be easier or more efficient?

Not only is it is easy but it is also effective. People are always interested in their friends’ recommendations. And at its core, social media is all about what someone is doing and saying.

Nonprofits can harness this power to raise donations by following a page from the corporate world. Offer space on your webpage and social media for volunteers to post their experiences and feedback; donors to post why they give; and clients to post their success story. Remember to offer an opportunity to remain anonymous and ask permission to post. This material can not only be displayed on your social media and website but also in the organization’s more traditional communication including grant writing and newsletters.

Nonprofits can also use event participants’ pictures and tweets to encourage others to come to future events. During the event, ask participants to take pictures using their phones, label the people in the photo, and then tweet them using a special event hashtag. During the event post the pictures on a large screen and add them to your website and social media platforms afterwards.

Social media is not the only tool nonprofits are using to increase resources. Many are exploring earned income opportunities as well. We will begin investigating this revenue source in our next post.


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