These days social media is nothing new. Nearly everyone anyone knows is using one platform or another to talk about their day, spread news, or even advertise a new product or service. Social media has over 1 billion active users, and it continues to grow.

So how can nonprofits “cash” in on this trend?

Social media has now been around long enough that experts are beginning to decipher what works and what doesn’t. Recent surveys of more than 500 nonprofits from around the country have started to quantify the best practices for nonprofits on social media.

While social media can be an incredibly powerful tool, it is most potent when paired with the proven standards of web marketing: websites and email. 88% of nonprofits still say that their most important communications come through email and their websites, even though nearly all of them (97%) are also on Facebook.

This may be due to several factors, primarily that most nonprofits are looking for donations, and even though they appreciate “retweets” and “likes” those simply don’t translate to cash. Donations still come from websites.

The Social Media Benchmark Study concluded that most nonprofits allocate less than ¼ of one full-time employee. However, recent studies have discovered that many nonprofits have begun dedicating at least one employee to overseeing their social media. Those without a dedicated social media manager have begun to institute social media policies that govern their approach to different platforms. Sheer manpower is still most nonprofit’s primary hurdle and moving past cutesy photos towards delivering valuable and engaging content.

Most nonprofits still use social media as a platform for distributing information – primarily event announcements, activity schedules and organization focused information. Yet it has been demonstrated time and again that social media is most effective when your readers are engaging with your organization.

Try posting topics that center more around issues that are important to your organizations. Ask your audience how they would approach issues, and take this opportunity to demonstrate your expertise on the matter as well.

No matter how you use social media it’s important to manage what content is successful and what content is falling flat. Most nonprofits surveyed said that they prefer Facebook Insights for this. Facebook does provide a very clean and accessible way of monitoring your content, and it should be used. If you’re looking for a little more information, there are dozens of companies that provide detailed analytics for social media.

Adhering to these basic insights will help your nonprofit organization lay a solid foundation for their social media strategy for the foreseeable future. Social media is a powerful tool for outreach and communication, and with proper nurturing and attention it can be an excellent way to engage your member base.

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