Which Social Media Outlet is Right for Your Nonprofit?

Photo credit: Expanded Ramblings

Photo credit: Expanded Ramblings

The short answer is, of course, it depends.

If I had to guess, I’d say your nonprofit has a presence on social media, whether that’s a Facebook page, LinkedIn account, Pinterest board, or Twitter handle (handle = username).  There’s also Instagram, FourSquare, YouTube….

The list goes on, but the important thing here is that your organization is utilizing SOME form of social media. It’s free marketing, no matter which way you look at it, and an awesome way to share your mission and the good work you do. In fact, according to Nonprofit Tech for Good, 56% of people who support nonprofits on social media outlets said compelling storytelling is a motivation factor to take action on behalf of nonprofits (i.e. donate, or share the mission, or volunteer, etc.)

Let’s go through the benefits of various networks:

First and foremost, there are  1.3 billion active users on Facebook. Yes, you read that correctly. I’ll give you a minute to pick your jaw up off the ground.

Facebook is far and away the most popular and comprehensive social media network, making “Should I join?” a no-brainer question. It is a great network with which to post photos and stories, and the layout makes it easy to navigate on both the nonprofit and user ends.

Facebook offers a variety of business layouts, making it possible to for organizations of all kinds to really customize their pages. You can list items for sale, programs you offer, and as of recently, you can even include a “Donate Now” button on your posts! (There are pros and cons to this, as well, including that your donors have to input credit card information via Facebook.)

In short, if your organization chooses to join just one social media outlet, I think Facebook is number one.

Twitter is a wonderful network to use when timeliness is a factor, usually for breaking news. Funny story – I found out about the death of Osama bin Laden through Twitter, despite watching the news at that very moment. This is the outlet people generally use to spread need-to-know-right-now information, so it would be great for nonprofits that have lots of useful tidbits to share with their constituents.

It is also a great network to share news about breaking research in its area of focus, or to Tweet out articles that pertain to the organization or its mission. You can’t customize your page the way you can with other networks, but you can add photos and links with ease.

Photo credit: M+R & NTEN

Photo credit: M+R & NTEN

The best part about Twitter is how easy it is to use and to follow other people and organizations. It’s very, VERY easy and quick for people to “Retweet” your photos, links, and posts, and this allows things to go viral (spread across the internet like wildfire, basically) with little to no effort on your part. You just have to ensure the content you’re posting is worthy of sharing.

Twitter has 255 million active user accounts.

The best way I can describe LinkedIn is a professional Facebook. Both individuals and organizations have pages that include all relevant information pertaining to professional successes, and there is also a newsfeed that allows posting of statuses to be shared with your connections.

LinkedIn has 300 million active users.

Instagram is the best social media network related to photo sharing, so this is an awesome one to use if your organization has tons of photos to share (one at a time) with great captions. You can put a link in your Instagram bio, but there are no links allowed in the caption. Therefore, this wouldn’t be the best network to use if your main goal is trying to get traffic back to your website.

There are 200 million Instagram accounts.

Foursquare began as a social check-in app (i.e. “I just checked in at Starbucks in the JFK Airport.”), but has since morphed into a discovery app, allowing users to find the most checked-in places and organizations in any given area. This is a great app for an organization that has a physical location for constituents to visit, but might not make sense for an organization with an employee-only office.

Foursquare has 50 million user accounts and 1.3 million business accounts.

Pinterest is an electronic pinboard, allowing users to post photos and links to a variety of themed boards. This is a wonderful social app to share blogs, products, and yes, definitely photos. As this seems to be a hard concept for many to grasp until you’ve actually got an account, check out this quick Pinterest demo to fully understand its capabilities.

There are 70 million active Pinterest users.

YouTube is a video sharing social app, allowing individuals and businesses alike to post videos of any quality, length, or content. YouTube is perfect for organizations that are in or looking to enter the digital space. Hundreds of thousands of organizations post videos about the work they do, the people they help, and the events they host. It’s a great place to try and make viral your video PSA’s and reactions!

YouTube has 1 billion users, and 4 billion views PER DAY!

Whatever social media outlet you choose to embrace, whether it’s just one or all, make sure you play around and really get to know the network and what works best for you. Good luck!

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