Summer 2021 Sale

Cool off with 25% off all pricing plans!


The 2019 State of Social Media for Nonprofits

This is how you can excel with your organization's social media strategy this year.
2019 Social Media for Nonprofits - Color Run Image

This is how you can excel with your organization’s social media strategy this year.

Social media is an important piece of communicating with an audience, especially for nonprofit organizations. Whether that audience is customers, donors, or volunteers, social media platforms are some of the best places to reach them.

In their 2019 report on the state of social media, Buffer shows how important social media is for marketers. They surveyed over 1,800 people to gain insight on how marketing professionals are using social media this year. Here, we’ll take a look at their data and apply it to the nonprofit space. Our goal is to help your organization enhance your 2019 social media strategy.

Table of Contents

  1. Social Media is Effective 
  2. Plan and Track Your Strategy
  3. Engage Audiences with Video 
  4. Tell Your Story with Stories
  5. Add Swag to Your Story
  6. Use a Messaging App 
  7. Invest in an Influencer
  8. Use Ads to Reach New Donors and Volunteers

Social Media is Effective

Despite the everlasting debate on whether or not social media works as a marketing tool, it is still effective. In fact, most marketers consider it to be “very important” to their overall strategy. For nonprofits, we think it’s crucial.

"Buffer asked marketers: How important is social media to your overall marketing strategy? 58.8% said Very Important; 30.5% said Somewhat Important; 7.8% said Uncertain; 2.4% said Unimportant; 0.5% said Very Unimportant."

In spite of its importance, an alarming number of marketers aren’t sure how effective their social media marketing was for them last year. This is where some of the debate on its worth comes from.

"Buffer asked marketers: How effective is social media marketing been for your business? 43.4% said Somewhat Important. 29.6% said Very effective. 19,1% said Uncertain. 5.6% said Somewhat ineffective. 2.3% said Very Ineffective."

Measuring the effectiveness of social media is a constant challenge in the marketing community. 43% of those surveyed, said their social media marketing was only somewhat effective. Yet 51% said it was extremely important in their strategy. This alignment might have something to do with lack of planning.

Without a documented strategy, it’s hard to properly execute something like social media marketing. If you are planning to leverage social media for an online donation campaign, make sure you know how to view and collect your analytics for each platform. This way you can adequately measure your effectiveness. Adding conversion pixels for Facebook and/or Twitter can be very helpful for this purpose. They’ll help you track the conversions that come from ads on each of those platforms.

Back to Table of Contents

Document and Track Your Social Media Strategy

Lack of a strategy makes it hard to not only measure your effectiveness, it also makes it hard to be effective in the first place. When you have a strategy that you can lean on, you will post more consistently. Consistency helps drive engagement on any social media platform.

As we suspected, most of those surveyed did not have a documented social media strategy.

"Buffer asked: Does your company have a documented social media strategy? 50.9% said No. 49.1% said Yes."

In order to properly measure your effectiveness, you need to start with a plan that includes SMART goals. Know what you’re looking to produce. On social media, you can track your engagement in a number of ways.

"Buffer asked: What does meaningful engagement on social media mean to you? 66.4% said likes/shares/comments. 59.5% said interaction with brand. 50.8% said discussion. 29.6% said Sentiment/feeling. 4.2% said other.

Marketers use each of these metrics for different purposes. What you use to measure engagement on social media depends entirely on your goals for using it.

Are you there to reach more new people? Do you want to interact with your existing donor or volunteer base? Are you trying to improve the public appearance of your nonprofit? For fundraising campaigns, you want to not only drive traffic to your donation landing page but also convert your audience when they get there. Your donation landing pages should be planned in such a way that will convert visitors coming from your social media channels. Here’s a quick two-minute tip on elements of an excellent donation landing page.

How you craft your content should also be dictated by your overall goal. But no matter what, you should include video.

Back to Table of Contents

Engage Your Audience with Videos

If you haven’t yet, it’s time to start creating videos. Video content on social media is always expanding. Facebook added a completely new video suite to their platform over the past year and continues to make improvements. That’s probably why it’s outpacing YouTube as the most used Video Content platform for marketers.

"Buffer asked: Which platforms does your business post video content on? 81.2% said Facebook. 62.9% said YouTube. 57.8% said Instagram. 45.6% said Twitter. 32.6% said LinkedIn. 4.1% said Snapchat. 3.1% said Twitch. 4.9% said Other."

Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are great places to post video content. Even LinkedIn has added video post types. No matter what, you should include video of some kind into your plan. If you need ideas for the kinds of videos you could post, check out this year’s DoGooder Awards.

Back to Table of Contents

Use Stories to Engage Your Followers

One sure way to engage more people on platforms like Facebook and Instagram is to use stories. The story features have become extremely popular with users. Businesses were slow to catch on at first and Buffer’s report shows that they’re still not sure how effective they are.

"Buffer asked: How effective have stories been as part of your social media strategy? 35% said Somewhat effective. 34.6% said uncertain. 22.6% said very effective. 5.8% said somewhat ineffective. 1.9% said very ineffective."

Even if businesses struggle with stories, for nonprofit organizations, they are perfect. They allow you to engage with your donor base and volunteers. They also help you show the impact you’re making. Stories let you tell your story. Take advantage of this and make the use of stories part of your regular social media strategy.

Back to Table of Contents

Add Your Swag to Your Story

If your organization has swag, like t-shirts or cute little stuffed red pandas, you can use that on social media as well. There are a few ways you can post “shoppable” content, but recently Instagram Story Product Stickers caught our eye.

Facebook has not yet rolled this feature out to all accounts. You will have to meet their guidelines and apply for Instagram Shopping. However, it appears that as long as you sell physical products, you should be able to set up product stickers for your Instagram stories. Read more about it here.

Last year, we launched a new shopping experience that allowed businesses in the US to tag products in their organic posts. From major brands to small businesses, more and more are using the shopping on Instagram feature to connect with customers in a fresh, immersive way—allowing people to seamlessly go from inspiration to information and purchase in just a few taps, and do so in a way that feels natural to the Instagram experience.To learn more about the shopping on Instagram tool, check out our recent blog post at the link below:

Posted by Instagram for Business on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

You can also connect your Facebook products to your WooCommerce store rather than using their native catalog. This enables you to ask for a donation when your shoppers reach the cart or checkout using Donation Upsells for WooCommerce.

Many business marketers are planning on using features like this, so why not nonprofits?

"Buffer asked: Are you planning on increasing your use of dedicated social features (shopping on Instagram, product stickers on stories) to drive purchases in 2019? 51.9% said No. 48.1% said Yes."

Back to Table of Contents

Use Messaging Apps to Connect and Collect

Messaging apps have two major uses for nonprofits. First, you can more easily communicate with your team, your volunteers, and give donors direct access to you. It helps facilitate transparency and encourages trust in your organization.

Secondly, Facebook Messenger, in particular, has a lot of integrations and capabilities. You can actually create different kinds of messenger bots and use it as a chat plugin on your website.

Bots for business can be used for nonprofits, too.

Through the Messenger bots, your users can instantly get connected to your swag store and support your cause with a purchase. It also allows you to keep your blog content in front of your donors and subscribers. HubSpot has a great example of using Facebook Messenger for blog content subscriptions.

Setting up a bot isn’t easy, but it’s worth it for your long-term goals: donor retention, increasing donations, and making a bigger impact. Hiring a developer is the best approach because it requires a lot of technical setup. But you can also try to build one yourself using a variety of tools. For those who want to build their own Facebook Bot, Clearvoice has a pretty decent tutorial to guide you.

Install the Facebook Messenger WordPress plugin.

Messenger Customer Chat is a plugin developed by Facebook so you can connect visitors on your website directly to your Facebook Page Inbox. Learn more about it in this article on Facebook engagement strategies.

Messenger also has CRM features that allow you to keep track of communications with your donors or volunteers. It allows you to add labels or notes and view profile details. You can even assign responsibility to team members. So those who run volunteer programs can communicate with volunteers while fundraiser organizers talk to donors, etc.

Its robust capability and the number of users on the platform make Messenger the number one chat platform. That’s why it’s the first choice for most who are thinking of including messaging apps into their marketing in 2019.

"Buffer asked: Which messaging apps are you planning on incorporating into your marketing in 2019? 50.6% said None. 37.1% said Messenger. 21.8% said WhatsApp. 7.2% said Slack. 3.7% said Telegram. 3.5% said Wechat. 2.1% said viber. 2.4% said Other."

Back to Table of Contents

Invest in an Influencer

Another popular investment for social media marketers is influencer marketing. However, this kind of social media marketing is fairly difficult to measure.

"Buffer asked: How effective would you say influencer marketing has been for your business? 45.2% said somewhat ineffective. 23% said uncertain. 23% said very effective. 7.3% said somewhat ineffective. 1.6% said very ineffective.'

Despite how hard it is to measure the effect of influencer marketing, one platform is clearly more effective than others. Most marketers agree that it’s best executed on Instagram.

"Buffer asked: Which platforms have been the most effective for influencer campaigns? 70% said Instagram. 35.1% said Facebook. 29.5% said YouTube. 3.4% said Snapchat. 2.3% said Twitch. 8.1% said other."

We suggest finding a social champion with content relevant to your cause. Someone who has a fairly large following on Instagram ideal. If you have a cause for anything related to the environment, your pool of choices is huge. Other niches might have a hard time, but there are influencers for nearly everything.

Influencers are able to reach a bigger, younger audience. Studies are showing that Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly philanthropic. So it’s a great way to include them in your donor base.

Recently, there has been an increase in peer fundraising among this segment with 84% of Millennial donors having given to a cause based on a friend’s ask, and more than half of Millennials and Gen Z donors having fundraised on behalf of a charity.

What does this mean for you? Micro-influencers can provide a more peer-to-peer feel for your fundraising asks than you can. Even without using something like Tributes to set up a “Challenge your friends” campaign, you can create that same effect. Rather than reach one person at a time, your influencer is encouraging many of their “friends” to support your cause as a group.

Back to Table of Contents

Use Ads to Reach New Donors and Volunteers

Last, but not least, let’s talk about ads. Ads are kind of an elephant in the room for a lot of nonprofits. The expense is sometimes not justified or the budget just isn’t there. Plus there’s always the stigma of overhead expenses. But, they have value.

Ads can help you increase your donation revenue so that the overhead expense of them is covered and you generate more in the process. Again, without proper planning, marketers weren’t able to be effective or measure the ROI.

"Buffer asked: How effective has social media marketing been for your business? 38% somewhat ineffective. 25.2% uncertain. 24.4% very effective. 7.4% somewhat ineffective. 4.9% very ineffective."

The effectiveness of your ads depends entirely on your goal, the content, and your targeted audience. Done right, ads can help your nonprofit increase your social media following, find volunteers, get donations, and more.

Don’t invest heavily in the beginning if you do choose to try out ads. Get the hang of it and experiment with different formats and audiences. When you think you’ve found the right combination, then you should boost your ad spend a little at a time.

Back to Table of Contents

The State of Social Media For Nonprofits

Social media is a vast interconnected network of people that will ultimately help your nonprofit succeed. The shifts in technology and social media marketing trends will affect your nonprofit as time goes on.

This year as long as you focus on video content, remain transparent and reachable, and post consistently, social media can make a huge impact on your organization. Adding the extra tools like shoppable content and messenger bots will only further your success.

About the Author

Liked what you read?

We have a lot more where that came from! Join 15,197 subscribers who stay ahead of the pack.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

You might also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Like what you're reading?

Subscribe and stay ahead of the curve.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Choose Your Plan

Get the “” add-on with Recurring Donations, Fee Recovery, Annual Receipts and more for one low price.

Pro Plan

normally $499



Most Popular

Plus Plan

normally $360




Basic Plan

normally $249