Finding Your Nonprofit Niche on Social Media

Social Media, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Pinterest
Image by Kevin Phillips from Pixaby

Nonprofits are in the business of vision. We inspire, uplift and support people and communities. We desire to make a difference in our neighbourhoods.

There is an ancient proverb that says “Without a vision, the people will perish.

However, with limited resources- both human and financial- the desire and energy to engage with social media can easily dwindle and be placed on the back burner to more pressing concerns. We tackle the immediate needs that come our way first. Before you know it, another year passes with very little engagement on your social platforms. The amazing and successful year you had- for example, the lives touched, the miracles witnessed, and the success of your programs- is celebrated by your few intimate collaborators and benefactors, but it mostly goes unnoticed and unappreciated by anyone not paying close attention.

If this is the case, are we really being good stewards of our vision? Are we adapting to or ignoring the potential of social media to be a new medium of “vision creation”?

The experience of many successful nonprofits reveals that it is a win-win when they adapt to social media. By taking the time to curate their story and share their vision on social media, they reach and inspire a broader audience who then promotes and supports their mission. L’Arche Canada is a great example of this as they challenge people’s perceptions of disability through their Face Off with Exclusion story-telling campaign. These experience might be best expressed in an updated proverb: “Without a vision, the people will perish…and without social media, a non-profit will perish.”

What are some of the most common reasons that non-profits give for not fully engaging with social media?

The first is not knowing how to use social media to the advantage of your nonprofit. Mimicking the social media strategies of Kim Kardashian or Doritos or Bud Light will simply not work for you. An excellent resource that can help you identify your unique place on social media is the 2021 edition of the Social Media Industry Benchmark Report by IQ. By comparing and contrasting to social media benchmarks of over 14 top industries (Alcohol, Fashion, Financial Services, Food & Beverage, Health & Beauty, Higher Education, Home Decor, Hotels & Resorts, Influencers, Media, Nonprofits, Retail, Sports Teams, and Tech & Software) this report empowers nonprofits to discover the social media strategy that most successful for them. In fact, nonprofits might have a leg up when it comes to social media trends, as they are natural story tellers.

Chart of Instagram posts per day, all industries
Comparing Nonprofits engagement with Instagram with 13 other industries.

The second reason for not engaging in social media is fear. We fear what we do not know. We imagine that there must be expenses related to new forms of marketing, so we do not even go there. We also fear getting tangled into something that we simply cannot handle. There is simply not enough staff people to manage social media engagement. We would not want to begin something only to see it get out of hand.

What can help you to face these fears? If you are new to social media like me, there are many excellent online resources to help you get started and to face these concerns. You are not alone!

In Social Media for Nonprofits: How to Make an Impact, Leo Pedraza makes 4 suggestions for non-profits who are getting started on social media:

  1. Establish clear goals
  2. Create cohesive and clear content
  3. Interact with followers and other similar organizations
  4. Track and evaluate your progress

With these four simple and realistic steps, Pedraza offers hope and encouragement to those new to social media. The key take-away from this blog? Small steps will have a big impact. As a mentor used to say to me: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Has your nonprofit built a social media strategy that fits your particular needs? Would you add anything to these four points? We would love to hear from you!

Social media is not a one size fits all world.

Nonprofits have a unique mission to inspiring the people with a vision.

Let’s carve out our unique niche, and have some fun while we’re at it!

Facebook: Finding your nonprofit niche on social media:

Twitter: What’s your story? Social media success for nonprofits:

2 thoughts on “Finding Your Nonprofit Niche on Social Media

  1. Hello,
    I really like your blog. We need to know how to use social media. It is very important these days and I think we should teach to our kids how to use social media wisely. I would like to talk about the point you raised about not using social media because of fear. This is true. Many people do not use social media because they are fearful of frauds and scams. I am one of those people too. Although I am young but I am fearful. I never upload anything on my social media and not go deep in it. Although, I do not use social media much still got trapped into a scam while helping a friend. It was my first time and I am still in a big trouble. The money spent was huge. Whenever I think of this scam I get anxiety. Instead of helping, my friend lost his money and I do not know how to help him. I started a go fund me for that:
    Again, I do not know how to spread this on social media as I do not have much friends and approach. Long story short, my fear turned into reality and the lesson I learned, I will teach to my kids for sure. We really need to teach them how to use social media wisely. Not everything advertised on social media is right. Especially, for a new users like me it is very hard to deal with social media stuff. This is also one of the reason I took this course.
    I found this blog very helpful and on point. The point you raised in this blog are reader’s oriented and very therapeutic. When I read the content, it felt like writer is stealing words from my brain. And it made me think what happened to me that is why I discussed that above. You will be an amazing blog writer:)
    P.S: If my classmates in Social media course help me with this campaign, I will be very grateful. Also, I am not sure if I am allowed to share Go fund me link in this comment. If not i apologize for that in advance.

  2. Great Blog!
    I found this very informative, thank you for including so many useful links as well. I enjoyed your point from your mentor that you shared, it gave me a giggle. I think that will stay in the back of my mind on the days I am particular overwhelmed!
    I agree with your closing point, social media really is not one size fits all.

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