I am, at least a little bit, addicted to social media. (But I can stop any time I want, I promise!).
Luckily, my minor addiction has led to job opportunities with several nonprofits as a social media intern and subsequently, a social media manager.
I like the constant game of trying to figure out what each social media platform is looking for next. The algorithms are always changing and the hamster wheel of achieving social media perfection continues spinning, so I never get bored.
The truth is, I decided to help nonprofits with my social media skills because it was the best way I felt like I could affect change on the communities that mattered most to me. That’s why I’ve put together these social media tips for nonprofits. These tips include useful social media tools and best practices to boost your posts, gather more followers, and build up your influence on social media.
1. Visuals are king
No one likes to read a wall of text on their social media feed. If you don’t want your nonprofit to get lost in the sea of text, it’s time to up your visuals game.
In fact, according to Hubspot:
- Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without
- Images on Facebook posts receive 2.3 times more engagement than those without
- Instagram photos that show faces get 30% more likes than those without faces
It isn’t just images either—video is quickly becoming the go-to way to reach new followers on social media. On Facebook alone, native videos get more reach than any other type of content, according to Socialbakers.
Average organic reach of social media content via Socialbakers
Luckily, you don’t have to be an expert at graphic design or video production to put together simple, yet effective visual content. There are tools out there that simplify the creation process, and offer tutorials on optimizing this content.
Canva can be used to create profile pictures, banner graphics, announcement images, and flyers.
Creating visuals via Canva
Piktochart, on the other hand, is best for creating infographics—it has plenty of pre-made layouts and instructional material to help you out.
Creating an infographic via Piktochart
Finally, you don’t need expensive cameras and software to create captivating videos. Tools such as whiteboard animation software come in handy for animating content.
In the video below, the Influence Network creates content about the Science of Persuasion and judging by the video, the only equipment used was a whiteboard animation program, a microphone for recording voice, and most likely an audio editing program such as Audacity.
Example of a whiteboard animation video
As for audio editing, here is a quick tutorial on how to clean up audio in Audacity:
Editing audio via Audacity
Using these visuals, you can step up your nonprofit social media campaigns so you gain more likes, shares, retweets, followers, and in the end, more donors.
2. Stick to optimal post boundaries
No two social media platforms are the same, which means that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t do when scheduling your posts and tweets. Some platforms reward lots of posts with plenty of exposure, some don’t. Some reward lots of hashtags, while others not so much.
Each platform has its own algorithms that determine who sees what content and when, so I’ve compiled a list of the optimal number of posts and hashtags for each social media site.
Facebook: How many posts?
According to AgoraPulse, the optimal post frequency is determined by a number of factors, including the type of posts (video, text, image, link, etc.), your page demographics, and how many followers you already have.
They recommend starting with one to two posts per day as a baseline and experiment with your frequency until you find your sweet spot.
CoSchedule corroborates this in their October 2017 report—they conclude that you should stick to one post per day, two at most, posted between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Facebook: How many hashtags?
Buzzsumo has found that, on average, posts without hashtags get more interaction than those with hashtags. So, err on the side of caution and leave the hashtags off of your Facebook posts.
Twitter: How many tweets?
Twitter is a fast-paced social media outlet, which means that you have to work that much harder to churn out regular content. Older research showed that tweet engagement would drop after the third tweet of the day. However, newer research from the previously cited CoSchedule report found that the optimal number of tweets is actually fifteen per day, seven of which should be retweets.
The tweeting schedule is a little more complex than Facebook’s posting window:
Optimal tweet schedule via CoSchedule
Twitter: How many hashtags?
The rule of thumb for the optimal number of hashtags on Twitter in the past was two. However, new research from TrackMaven found that engagement for tweets dropped after using more than one hashtag.
Twitter hashtags vs. engagement via TrackMaven
With only one shot at drawing eyes to your tweet, it’s important to choose your hashtag wisely. Use hashtag tracking tools such as Hashtagify.me to determine which tags will work best for your tweets.
Instagram: How many posts?
Experts are not in agreement about the optimal number of Instagram posts per day:
Brian Hughes says post once per day. ‘Aim to post once per day, every day. Don’t spam your followers with more than two daily posts!’ Another writer warns, ‘Try not to post more than 7 posts per week on Instagram. There is an unspoken rule that you should not post multiple times per day on Instagram.’ Adobe Spark’s infographic about posting frequency claims you could publish at least one, and even as many as ten, posts per day. ‘1+ photos per day,’ the infographic recommends, mentioning that frequency will depend on goals.
However, the one thing they all agree on is that you should strive to post at least once per day on Instagram.
CoSchedule found that the best times to post on Instagram (oddly enough) are between 8- 9 a.m. and at 2 a.m.
Instagram: How many hashtags?
Instagram operates under the logc of “the more the merrier” when it comes to hashtags.
TrackMaven found that posts containing eleven or more hashtags had engagement well above Instagram posts without any.
Instagram hashtags vs. interactions via TrackMaven
Google+: How many posts?
CoSchedule’s report found that two posts per day is the recommended number for Google+, with a minimum of three times per week and a maximum of ten.
Optimal post times are between 9 – 11 a.m., and 12-1 p.m.
Google+: How many hashtags?
There isn’t any recent research on the optimal number of hashtags for Google+. The last time this number was studied was back in 2014, when LoginRadius recommended two hashtags as the optimal number.
LinkedIn: How many posts?
CoSchedule found that LinkedIn does not reward posting tons of content. Their report finds that that only one post per day is recommended, so make it count.
As for the best time to share, the optimal post time is between 10-11 a.m.
LinkedIn: How many hashtags?
Hashtags haven’t always worked on LinkedIn, but they are now a supported feature of LinkedIn’s newsfeed.
According to The Conversion Company, they recommend a maximum of three to five hashtags per post.
3. Curate and share other content
Chances are you got into the nonprofit world to help others and make a difference. So, why shouldn’t your social media reflect this mindset as well?
Social media is a game of give and take. The more you help other like-minded content producers, the more likely they are to help you as well.
Sharing posts, tweets, and other forms of content from other organizations not only fills your feed with new and interesting information, but it also puts your organization on the radar of other organizations.
These organizations are more likely to share your blogs, videos, and images if you’ve done the same for them in the past.
Sharing other people’s content will also help you supplement your own content creation and save you time. It’s hard to fill every post schedule gap with your own original content, so by sharing proven quality content you are leaving more time to create quality original content to attract your target audience.
Curated content list via Feedly
Of course, it isn’t easy to keep track of all the relevant content on the web manually. Instead you can set up a content curator program, such as Feedly or Curata, that will aggregate and share with you the content you want to see and share. All you do is add the links of the websites you wish to gather content from and these curator programs will update your private content feed with new articles from any publication you choose.
Once your curator is set up, go through and select the content you want to include in your weekly content schedule.
Other nonprofit tips and best practices
Social media is neither an art, nor a science, but a healthy mixture of both. By always researching and staying up to date with the latest algorithm changes, your nonprofit can get a leg up on the competition that abides by old practices.
Each week I write new guides, software lists, and best practice posts for the Capterra nonprofit technology blog and if you found these tips useful, you may find these other blog posts helpful as well:
- 7 Social Media Management Software Tools for Outspoken Nonprofits
- How to Boost Followers on Twitter for Nonprofits
- 9 Nonprofit Website Design Essentials to Supercharge Your Donations
- 5 Nonprofits With Successful Content Marketing Campaigns
Looking for Nonprofit software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Nonprofit software solutions.