4 Benefits of Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations
Social Media Evolution
Social Media Evolution
There was a time in history when social media was considered as only useful to a certain demographic. Remember Myspace or Friendster?
Over the years, accessibility and the desire to feel connected with people with similar backgrounds and interests give rise to the growth of tech giants like Facebook, enabling social media to evolve into a platform that appeals to the masses.
According to statistics portal Statista, Facebook – the social media platform founded in 2004 – currently sits as the number one social network with 2.05 billion monthly active users as of August 2017. The statistics portal, meanwhile, reported that the number of Facebook users in Canada reached 18.2 million in 2016. This number is projected to grow to 19.6 million in 2020.
YouTube, the video-sharing platform owned by Google, is the second most popular social networking site with 1.5 billion monthly active users worldwide as of August 2017 according to Statista. Photo-sharing platform Instagram sits at 7th place with 700 million monthly active users as of August 2017; blogging service Tumblr sits at 9th place with 357 million active monthly users and microblogging service Twitter sits at 10th place with 328 million active monthly users.
Nonprofits and charities are the early adopters of social media. The 2010 study conducted by Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Eric Mattson of Financial Insite Inc. revealed that charitable organizations in the US outpaced the business world and academia in their social media use. The study showed that 93% of the top US charities have a Facebook profile, 87% have a Twitter presence and 65% have a blog.
The study called “2016 Global NGO Online Technology Report” (PDF) by Public Interest Registry and Nonprofit Tech for Good showed that nonprofits and charities in North America have been the early adopters of social media. As of 2016, according to the study, 97% of nonprofit organizations have a Facebook page; 85% have a Twitter profile; 71% have a LinkedIn profile; 63% have a YouTube account and 46% have an Instagram profile.
The Public Interest Registry and Nonprofit Tech for Good study also found that 34% of nonprofit organizations in North America assign the social media management responsibility to development, program, administrative, and/or executive staff; 33% assign the responsibility to a communications staff person; 27% depend on a full-time or part-time social media manager and 6% depend upon volunteers.
March of Dimes is an example of a nonprofit organization that leverages the use of social media. It has a presence on several social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
Here are 4 benefits of using social media for the nonprofit organization that you run:
1. Venue to Engage Your Organization’s Current Supporters
Social media platforms are good venues to have meaningful conversation with your existing donors, volunteers and members. Start the conversion with them by sharing real stories about successful projects or the people that your organization helped.
The 2013 Millennial Impact Report (PDF) by the Case Foundation found that more than 60% of the millennials (born between the years 1979-1994) like it most when nonprofits share stories about successful projects or the people they help. The study also found that 75% of millennials like, retweet or share content on social media.
Another way to strike a conversation with your current supporters is by posting content that educates the public about the issues your organization addresses. For instance, your organization can share links to studies or news stories that support your organization’s mission. Real and educational stories that your organization posts allow your donors, volunteers and members to converse with your organization as well as converse with each other.
2. Venue to Increase Supporters
Social media is a good venue to grow your organization’s supporters, also known as “friend-raising”.
A study conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide (PDF) found that “slacktivists”, popularly referred to as individuals who passively “Like” causes on Facebook but are not truly engaged, “may be more active – and valuable – than previously thought.”
The Georgetown University and Ogilvy study found that individuals who “Like” causes on Facebook are more likely than non-social media promoters to participate in the following key activities:
“The presumption was that these individuals [slacktivists] were replacing more ‘meaningful’ actions with simple clicks and shares,” said Denise Keyes, Senior Associate Dean and Executive Director of the Center for Social Impact Communication. “But what we found is that they’re actually supplementing – not replacing – actions like donating, volunteering and planning events.”
“The key takeaway is that many of the activities that slacktivists are more likely to undertake have this element of influence,” said Jennifer Wayman, Executive Vice President and Director of Social Marketing at Ogilvy Washington. “They are more likely to share what they’re doing with their networks, and there’s real value inherent in these relatively small actions that should not be underestimated.”
3. Venue for Fundraising
It’s inappropriate to bombard your social media supporters with constant postings about your organization’s fundraising campaigns. Occasionally though, it’s proper to do so some fundraising activities via your organization’s social media platforms. It’s important to supplement these online fundraising campaigns with non-online fundraising activities.
4. Venue for Call to Action/Community Organizing
Social media is an effective tool to mobilize individuals to volunteer or take part in an event. On February 12, 2009, the Twestival (Twitter + festival) – serving both as a fundraising activity and call to action – brought together Twitter users to raise money for the global water crisis. The activity was able to raise over $250,000 and brought worldwide public awareness about the global water crisis issue.
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