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Back to Basics: Build a Social Media Habit, Not a Program

For so many fundraisers—especially generalists and fundraisers in small- and mid-sized shops—social media is a tedious, side of the desk task. 

But what does that mean, really? We say something is on the side of the desk when it’s temporary, inconsequential, or generally just not of much importance to your core mission or workload. Is that actually the case for your charity’s social media presence though?

It might be time that you accept the truth: anything that’s been on the side of your desk for a decade or more isn’t going away. It’s on your desk whether you want it there or not. It’s time you give it a home and move on from any hopes that it takes up residence on someone else’s desk. It’s here to stay.  

Here are five interconnected reasons why social media is worth your time, attention and effort:

  1. To offset attrition. Like any marketing list, attrition is ever-present. People are regularly unfollowing, unsubscribing, or unplugging from social media entirely. Your social media communities and followings are a leaky bucket that needs regular topping up. 

  2. To increase engagement. Consistently posting and following new accounts does more than incrementally increase your following, since a portion of these new accounts will follow you back. So long as you continue to post, you’ll see an increase in engagement with your content. 

  3. To improve targeting. As people engage with your content they become a targetable audience for your next paid social campaign—so long as you’re maximizing the use of your Meta Pixel, Linkedin Insight Tag, and GA4 Audiences.

  4. To collect emails. Email is how most online donor conversion happens. Social media is great for engaging and providing strong offers of one sort or another, but as a standalone fundraising channel it rarely drives the majority of digital fundraising revenue. As new subscribers come on board, capitalize on the moment by triggering a welcome series that deepens understanding of and engagement with your work. 

  5. To Ask, Thank, Repeat: As you design and deploy your integrated campaigns you open up a world of possibilities for segmentation, personalization, and (our personal favourite part of the donor journey), stewardship. Nail the stewardship, and you’ll be amazed at how efficiently your renewal and reactivation campaigns perform in the months and years ahead. 

If those five outcomes are what you want to see in your program, then maintaining a consistent presence on social media channels is worth moving from the corner to the centre of your desk! 

So, let’s zoom in and get uber-practical about what that can look like:

STEP 1: Schedule three recurring 15-minute blocks into your calendar each week.

STEP 2: When the reminder notification pings, do at least two of the following:

  1. Post on one of your social media channels. Don’t overthink it. 

  2. Follow 10-20 active people (not companies or other nonprofits)

  3. Follow 10 of your followers’ active followers.

  4. Reshare or repost one piece of content by someone else. 

A little effort applied consistently can go a long way. When you’re not in campaign mode, this can be a manageable approach to social media upkeep year-round. The intention behind this activity is to build a habit, not a program. But, it’s a habit that can pay dividends as other parts of your fundraising program mature. 

What do you think? Let us know on your favourite social media channel, obviously.

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Holly H. Paulin, CFRE and Brock Warner CFRE are the co-founders of Broccoli, and have over 30 years combined experience helping nonprofit fundraisers and charities do more. 

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