Social Media and Nonprofit Advocacy

In the first part of this series, we spent some time discussing the intricacies of social media by definition, as well as its importance as the largest and fastest growing trend in nonprofit communication. Understanding exactly how powerful this outlet can be is the first step in creating an effective social media campaign.

The second step is knowing how to gain a connected, knowledgeable and consistent group of advocates for your organization. Whether attempting to influence powerful decision makers, inform citizens of important causes or spread awareness throughout a community or nationwide, nonprofit organizations can utilize social media as an effective and inexpensive tool to move these tasks forward. And because of its low cost, social media can be added to a communications strategy without having to eliminate anything due to budget constraints.

Here we will take a look at the ways in which social media can be used specifically for advocacy.

Educational/Informational Content

Supporters can quickly and easily gather the most up-to-date information on an organization’s mission and campaigns through social media updates. Many supporters research and find a nonprofit to support through social media, and even more use social media to find additional information about an organization that has peaked their interest.

To further engage current supporters, both Twitter and Facebook can be used to distribute updates on programming, new or shifted initiatives, and upcoming campaigns or events.

Keeping both current and potential supporters updated on the organization, with the ultimate goal of further spreading the word, is one of the most important tasks in nonprofit communications and advocacy. And social media provides the quickest, easiest, cheapest and most effective outlet to do so.

Actionable Support

Although spreading the word is atop the priority list for most nonprofit organizations, creating a way for supporters to act on that information is just as important. Social media sites are perfect for the fast distribution of actionable items, including petition signing, joining a rally, peer fundraising and much more.

For instance, if there is a pressing issue within the organization’s wheelhouse, reaching out to followers via social media and specifically asking for a share or re-tweet of information can create a whirlwind of activity surrounding that cause. Ultimately, more “voices” are heard in a shorter amount of time, and a greater potential for effecting change is created.

Gratitude and Celebration

No, the days of hand written thank you’s sent through the mail are not long gone – in fact, in today’s tech-heavy society, those mindful notes are more powerful than ever.

However, after a big event or a successful fundraising campaign, social media is a fantastic channel for a blanket thank you or public recognition for volunteers, staff, community leaders and other supporters. You can even extend the celebration by putting together a short video from the event, and post it just hours after. This keeps the event in the minds of supporters and can maintains the momentum for as long as possible.

Volunteer Recruitment, Recognition and Retention

Nonprofits are well aware that the majority of work would not be doable without faithful helping hands. Social media channels are a quick, easy and inexpensive way to reach hundreds to thousands of potential volunteers that are passionate about the organization’s mission and willing to give their time and talent. Although directly asking for volunteers is an effective strategy, there are many other ways to recruit new volunteers through social media.

We discussed previously the importance of remembering that social media is about connection and dialogue. In other words, creating an environment where like-minded, mission-driven people can work together for the greater good.

In attracting volunteers, this is paramount to keep in mind. Instead of simply making a request for new volunteers, sharing stories from your current volunteers can be a less direct approach that works very well. If current volunteers are personally connected to the organization’s social media pages, they can help recruit volunteers by sharing this information with friends and networks.

These areas in which social media can be beneficial to a nonprofit’s advocacy efforts are just the tip of the organizational iceberg, but can be a fruitful beginning to a truly effective social media campaign.

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