How Nonprofits Can Get More Social Media Engagement in 2018

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Nonprofits small and large dived into social media last year, and some found huge success – but many did not get the results that they expected.

I hear these social media laments all the time from nonprofits:

“Social media algorithms have killed our engagement this year.”

“It’s so hard to cut through the noise and clutter on Facebook.”

“Do you really have to spend a ton of money on ads to reach people?”

Before I provide some tactical advice on how to get more social media engagement, we need some real talk on algorithms.

Specifically – what are they, what do they do, and why do they exist in the first place? 

What the heck are social media algorithms?

Social media algorithms are a way of sorting posts in a users’ feed based on relevancy instead of published time.

All of the largest social media platforms use algorithms to prioritize which content a user sees in their feed first, based on the likelihood that they’ll actually want to see it.

Posts are not chronological anymore (and haven’t been for a long time).

This is the main reason why you’ll likely never annoy your fans and followers – most of them won’t see the majority of your posts.

Why do algorithms like this exist?

It’s pretty simple really. Social networks are business, and as such, they’re focused on the user experience and keeping people on their site.

If you log in to Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter, etc. and don’t see posts that you find interesting or relevant, you won’t spend time on the site.

What can we do?

There are four strategies which I recommend for nonprofits who want to win the social media algorithm battle.  

1. Get outside of your content comfort zone

The only way to succeed in digital marketing and social media is to have a strategy in place to consistently post interesting, relevant, valuable content that’s focused on the needs and interests of your audience.

You simply can’t just post whatever you want to post. You also can’t continue to use social media like a billboard or a one-way advertising platform.

Yes, ads have a place on these platforms, but your regular, daily content must be audience-focused.

2. Post more video

The proof is in the pudding – video is by far the most popular form of content shared on social media, on all platforms.

Check out these statistics:

Livestream surveyed customers and discovered that:

  • 80% of respondents said they would rather tune into a live video than read a blog post
  • 82% of respondents were more interested in watching live video from a brand than reading social media posts

Thankfully there are many free and low-cost tools that nonprofits can use to create, edit, and share more video on social media channels.

3. Experiment with paid social media ads

While there’s still a lot that you can do with free content on social media, nonprofits need to begin experimenting with paid ads to get even more reach and exposure for certain posts.

With over a billion daily active users sharing 4.75 billion pieces of content every day on Facebook, launching a Facebook Ad campaign can set you apart and help you reach a targeted audience.

You can boost posts or tweets that have already been posted to give them added exposure, or you can execute stand-alone advertising campaigns around a specific call-to-action.

4. Stop automating your posts

Each platform is completely unique, and automating all of your content across platforms doesn’t work anymore (not that it worked well even just a few years ago).

Beyond character counts, each social media platform has its own culture, etiquette, language, and structure.

Sure, you can schedule a few tweets here and there, but continuing to automatically populate your social media feeds will likely cut your reach, and decimate potential engagement.

Social platforms are always changing, and its important to keep up to date with the latest shifts to ensure your strategy is in line with best practices. These tips should help improve your social media marketing strategy in 2018.

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