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Social Media platforms should come with a warning “Caution your results may vary.” What works for one non-profit organization may not work that well for another, because with social media it is all in how you use it.

The Case Foundation in collaboration with Social Media for Nonprofits released a survey detailing the social media habits of non-profit organizations. The big three platforms remain Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Additionally, those surveyed reported using Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and Google +.

Of those surveyed, 97% of them are on Facebook. Yet, many of them complain that they feel they aren’t getting the desired result from Facebook. Why is that? Perhaps, because 74% report only using the social media platform as a one way communication choosing to post and run, instead of using it as a way interact with their followers.

While posting an appeal and getting a donation from it does seem like the purpose of Facebook, or any other social media platform, organizations should take a longer view and think of social media as a way to engage their constituents and build up a trusting relationship, which will in turn, bring in donations in the future.

So how do you get your social media platform to give you the desired results?

Realize results require time
Using social media effectively takes time, most organizations spend 6 hours or more a week, depending on what platform they use or if they post to multiple platforms.

Be Consistent
Don’t just post when you have an upcoming event. Of course, you should use social media to spread the word about your upcoming event, but your overall goal is to increase your reach and awareness all year. More people will come out to support your event that you just posted Facebook, if they understand the importance of your mission and where their donation dollars go.

Be Social
One thing people often forget is social media is just that, social. You have to interact with your followers. If you post an item, you have to go back and respond to comments made on your posts.

Create your content wisely
Put away your notion that social media is a collection of random thoughts, if you want your organization’s use of social media to be successful you need to have a plan.

It turns out a picture is not worth a thousand words, but it is worth an increase in ’likes’ According to information collected by KISSmetrics photos on Facebook get 53% more likes and 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs. However, that isn’t to say you should post a random picture of your cat.

The sad truth is, in this digital age, people are easily bored. Your organization needs to constantly post a diverse mix of content. Your content needs to be thought provoking, informative and inspirational.

Recognize the difference in the platforms
For example, Twitter is considered the timeliest of the social media platforms. Think about using it for short and punchy live tweets from an event or breaking news. It also really lets you engage your followers on a one-on-one basis. Keep in mind on Twitter if you don’t post you don’t exist.

Compare that with YouTube, Vine, Instagam and Pinterest, which harness the power of images, both static and moving to tell a story. Remember how a picture on Facebook almost guarantees and increase in likes. Well, how about directing people to your YouTube channel where they can watch your organization in action rebuilding a storm ravaged area or teaching a child to read.

Remember social media is not a “one size fits all”. Not every platform will give benefits to every organization. Your goal is to use the platform that best suits your needs and load that with the best content your organization has to offer in order to engage your supporters and forward your mission.

Last modified on Friday, 20 June 2014
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