Nonprofits: Invest the right amount of time in social media

It's no secret that nonprofits need to be dedicating both time and resources to their social media outreach strategy. When leveraged properly, online networks can serve as one of the most cost-effective and powerful online fundraising tools out there. A common question amongst charity decision-makers, though, is is how strategize effectively while using various channels.

A multichannel approach to social outreach is becoming industry best practice, especially as marketers begin to understand how to properly engage with their digital donor audience. According to a recent study released by online marketing firm Constant Contact, 82 percent of nonprofits and small businesses have adopted an omnichannel advertising program leading to increased engagement, new benefactors and a growth in revenue as a result. However, 59 percent of respondents cited their top multichannel concern as how they were going to stretch their marketing spend to its full extent.

With more decision-makers leaning toward multiple online channels for outreach, nonprofits need to understand the appropriate amount of time and energy needed for each mode of communication. If organizations stretch their manpower instead of their dollars, a digital strategy won't prove its worth.

Social investment depends on charity size
While it's important that nonprofit organizations focus some of their resources online, there's not a uniform strategy that will yield success for every charity. The size of the nonprofit at hand will ultimately determine what's appropriate, and groups must first outline their goals for a digital outreach strategy before moving forward. For example, small nonprofits may not be in the position to hire a full-time social media manager, so dedicating an employee or volunteer to one or two successful conduits may be the best bet.

On the other hand, midsize and larger organizations may have the resources at hand to employ a full-time digital specialist that can interact with current and potential donors. Increasing Web traffic - especially to the online donation form - is paramount; securing new contributors and injecting a brand's voice on multiple channels are also important and achievable goals.

According to Heather Mansfield's "Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits," nonprofits should be dedicating a specific amount of time to every channel they interact with. For example, Facebook and Twitter, which are widely regarded as the most popular mode of interaction in the nonprofit sector, should be used at least four hours a week, Nonprofit Tech for Good said, citing Mansfield. The mass reach of both conduits should be utilized to post status updates at least four times a week, and employees should be responding to comments and mentions on a daily basis.

While Facebook and Twitter are the most common, organizations with the appropriate number of resources can experiment with various social channels. For instance, art and culture programs may way to tap into Instagram and YouTube, which require three hours and one hour each week, respectively, Mansfield suggests. On the other hand, groups highly active in networking and content production should utilize blogging and LinkedIn, both of which require at least four hours of upkeep each week as well. 

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