Not collaborating on content with colleagues or documenting metrics? These are common mistakes to avoid when managing social media for your nonprofit. Image: Jopwell Collection.

Five social media mistakes to avoid in 2019

A strong social media presence is important for nonprofits. From brand awareness to improved engagement with supporters and donors, there are many reasons to improve your social media strategy. However, it’s not always easy when social media is only part of your role.

When you don’t have the time to apply new ideas, you tend to stick to what’s familiar. This is fine if you want to maintain your current social media presence, but it’s not the best approach to stay creative and engaged in today’s fast-paced social media landscape.

To improve your social media strategy in 2019, here are five mistakes to avoid.

Using too many platforms without a clear strategy

It’s common to jump into social media platforms because they’re new or “everyone is there” without a clear strategy.

There’s no need to join all popular social media platforms if your community and supporters are not using them. Moreover, the more platforms you join, the harder it is to keep them active. It’s better to manage two or three platforms rather than setting up a profile on all social media channels, some of which might not be ideal for your organization.

Think of your strategy and what you want to achieve from every social media channel and then decide which ones will most likely work better for your cause. For example, instead of just saying “we need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn,” start by being more specific.

Each of these social networks provides a clear objective:

  • Facebook: to engage with your supporters of all ages
  • Twitter: to share live updates from your events and benefit from trending awareness
    days to expand your reach
  • Instagram: to tell your story in a more visual way while building a more engaged community of broader supporters
  • YouTube: to showcase your videos and use the channel as an online video library to raise awareness about our your work
  • LinkedIn: to recruit your staff and volunteers

Posting without a plan

You may feel your organization doesn’t have much time to create a content calendar for your social media presence, so you decide to share content when you have the time to do it.

This may seem easy and efficient, but it’s not the most effective strategy.

Posting without a plan can typically save you time from organizing your content in advance, but it also reduces the effectiveness of your social media presence.

If you post to a channel on an ad-hoc basis, it’s harder to remember your initial objectives and to bring your team together to help source the content.

When you spend the time to plan your content, either with spreadsheets or social media management tools like Lightful, you can create more effective posts that align with your main objectives.

Treating social media as a silo

When you create a social media strategy and its objectives, don’t ignore other channels that might complement your organization’s work.

For example, you can send an email newsletter that promotes your latest fundraising campaign. You can also encourage people to spread the word about the campaign on their social media channels by including the links to your social profiles. When supporters promote your campaign through their own networks, you can include these metrics in your social media strategy.

Thus, working with numerous teams can ensure that communications, marketing, fundraising, content, and even SEO can come together to yield the best results for your nonprofit.

Not measuring your performance

A lack of time or skills shouldn’t be an excuse to not measure your social media performance. This is a common mistake, and you end up posting on social channels without really knowing what works and what needs improvement.

Some fundamental steps are to review every channel’s main stats (reach, engagement, clicks, and demographics) while discovering the best performing posts. Sometimes you can be surprised by the findings even when you’re sure of what works and what doesn’t.

Allocate at least 30 minutes each week to review your stats and document the most important KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your nonprofit. This is also useful when communicating the success of your work to other team members.

Ignoring the latest trends and how they apply to your strategy

You don’t need to be an expert to keep up with the most important social media trends. Sometimes you can even review your own social media presence and what other nonprofits are posting on each channel to help you create successful content for every channel.

Here are some top social media trends to consider for your organization:

  • Visual content to improve awareness and engagement: Images, videos, GIFs, infographics are here to stay. They can help you tell your story in a more engaging way. Moreover, there are many online tools to help you create them without spending too much time or money.
  • Messaging and groups to encourage interactions: WhatsApp and Facebook Groups are good examples of how private messaging and communities are going beyond public Pages. You can use them to work with your ambassadors or your volunteers or even between your team members to enhance collaboration.
  • Improved focus on engagement on every channel: Followers are not as important as engagement. All big social platforms are downgrading the importance of growing your followers if you don’t have strong engagement. This is an attempt to stop the number of fake followers without paying attention to the actual interactions you’re having with your supporters. Try to be more engaging by asking questions, posting interactive content such as polls, and promote dialogue through your content.
  • Stories as a new form of content: Instagram Stories are one of the most engaging content types on social media in 2019. Facebook Stories are now the next thing to try out and LinkedIn is also following with their own version of Stories. This new type of vertical content is appealing because it feels more casual and authentic. It’s also a great way to post interactive content (polls, questions, etc)

Keep all these in mind when you’re reviewing your current social media strategy. One small change at a time can lead to great success, provided that you’re strategic and consistent with your creative ideas.

The key takeaway: Don’t be afraid to try out new things, but always document what works and what can be improved. Start thinking of social media as part of a bigger digital journey and work together with other teams to produce the best results.

Tereza Litsa