10 ways to build and maintain community online
Managing a social media account can be intimidating and overwhelming for nonprofits with small staffs and lots of people to serve. Many fall into a rut, posting out of obligation and receiving very little on-platform engagement. However, social media is the best opportunity for nonprofits to amplify their message and connect with people that share similar interests and values. If your nonprofit uses the 10 tips below as a guide, you can easily transform its social media into a place that nurtures and grows a dedicated community.
- Know your social media platforms
The type of community you’re seeking to build will determine which social media platforms your nonprofit should leverage. Generally speaking:
- LinkedIn is best to foster professional networks of board members and partner organizations.
- Facebook is best to reach millennials.
- Instagram captures the Gen Z audience.
- TikTok also taps into the Gen Z audience, but requires ample video footage.
- Be consistent
Post on a regular basis to stay on your followers’ minds, but do not overwhelm their feeds. (Posting 3-4 times a week is typically recommended.) Make sure that your followers also know what to expect from and have a clear reason to follow your nonprofit. For example, is there a series the nonprofit can post regularly? In addition to giving your audience something to look forward to, series are great turnkey ways to always have something to post about.
- Keep social media social
Social media is not just a place to share updates. It’s a place to be social. Encourage followers to ask questions, and then answer them directly on platform. Ask people to reshare posts if it resonates with them. And remember, it’s a two-way street. So, like, comment on, and reshare posts by like-minded people and organizations to keep the engagement going on your nonprofit’s profile.
- Be authentic
Many nonprofits think too hard about what they post on social media, to the degree that their content starts to feel impersonal. Don’t wait for the ‘perfect’ professional photo. Encourage your staff and volunteers to take photos and videos of daily happenings on their cellphones and share them in real-time to create connections with followers. Spontaneity and raw in-the-moment photos build a sense of trust and transparency.
- Be a resource
Nonprofits often have a hard time amassing social media followings because the services they provide aren’t available online. Turn that idea on its head and make your nonprofit valuable to followers by offering a sneak peak at the services it provides. Some ways to do this include sharing tips, downloadable resources, and news that’s relevant to the nonprofit’s issue area.
- Use analytics to be responsive
Give your followers what they want! If you set your social media account up as a “business”
profile, the platform will give you a wealth of data about how users are interacting with your
account. Use this information to see which posts are most popular, and use this information to adjust future posts accordingly. For the most in-depth data on user engagement, you can also pay for more detailed analytics from third-party services like SEMRush.
- Recognize your dedicated community
Social media is a great place to show appreciation for your dedicated volunteers, board members, staff, and clients. Celebrate them in feature posts, tag them, and encourage them to share. This will expand the visibility of your profile to their networks.
- Offer shared experiences.
Take advantage of social media’s synchronous features by hosting livestream events so your followers can engage with you in real-time. This can be as simple as hosting an Q&A session with a program manager or gathering experts in your issue area for a panel discussion. Instagram and Facebook both have free live streaming services, or you can link to a Zoom webinar. To ensure your followers can make it, provide ample lead time and promote on social media regularly leading up to the event. Then, during the event, have someone on your team to monitor the chat so you can respond to viewers instantly. Don’t forget to record the event so those who can’t make it can watch later.
- Promote in-person events
While so many of our day-to-day lives are increasingly happening online, the strongest
connections are still formed in person. Expand the invite list for in-person events beyond your email list by promoting in-person gatherings on your social channels.
- Build your follower-base during in-person events
Encourage people who attend these events to follow your social media. Some strategies include giving people swag in exchange for follows and putting QR codes to your profiles on table tents. Also, don’t forget to post photos and videos from your event on social media. Attendees will be likely to check out your profile if they know they might be featured in an event recap. Ultimately, the strongest supporter communities are formed in-person and maintained online.