Be Nice & More Social Media Wisdom From Non-Profits

Social media wisdom for non-profits

Social media and non-profits go together perfectly ­– like milk and cookies. Since non-profits have great human-interest stories to tell, and are often operating within tighter budgets, social media makes a lot of marketing sense. That’s why this month’s Social Media Breakfast Maine on Social Media and Non-Profits was so popular. The event featured three resourceful non-profits that have social media success stories to tell and wisdom to share. Here are some of my personal favorites from United Way of Greater Portland, Maine Cancer Foundation and Raising Readers.

Be nice and find your personal voice.

social-media-tips-non-profitsOk, so this tip kind of applies to life in general, but that’s why it applies to social media so well. “Be nice,” is a piece of advice that Jessica Esch of United Way of Greater Portland lives and breathes. She manages the non-profit’s Twitter account as a community connector, of sorts. Jessica listens for and responds to local tweets with helpful information while mentioning and connecting other relevant local Twitter community members and businesses, like a partygoer introducing friends. These tweets are tagged with #LIVEUNITED and support the “we’re all in this together” message and mentality.

Social media is for people first, brands last. Brands that find and build their own personal character and voice – brands that almost seem like people themselves – do well on social media. People respond more to personalities, not brands.

Build trust with your followers.

You must build trust in order to grow and cultivate a social community. And you’ll know when you’ve hit the sweet spot, according to Cullen McGough of Maine Cancer Foundation. Cullen talked about a pivotal moment during the Tri for a Cure campaign when a participant shared a very important personal photo…of her fiancé proposing to her at the finish line! When you build trust with your followers, they’ll share more with you, maybe even some exclusive and unique content. That’s social media gold.

Nothing is more powerful than “Hey, I have a picture of you!”

Another great piece of advice from Cullen – if you’re hosting an event, follow up with photos afterwards and remind people you have them. Most social media users can’t resist this bait (I say that in the nicest way) and you’re almost guaranteed interest and engagement from fans. Even better if they tag themselves for their social circle to see.

Identify what works best and maximize it.

Tracking social media efforts is key. Thanks to Facebook’s insights and other social media analytics, you can get a good sense for what resonates with your community. Once you figure out what works, you’ll know where to put more of your resources. Anne Quirion of Raising Readers only pays to boost the types of Facebook posts that have worked in the past. The non-profit’s smaller budget is maximized with increased engagement.

Maine Cancer Foundation used Facebook’s analytics to test different combinations of photography and copy to see which image fans responded to more. They used the winning image across all other channels, including print advertising.

Focus more on quality, less on quantity.

Anne reminded us all of this very important point. A few really engaged community members is worth a lot more than hundreds of fans that don’t participate. The same goes for content. Fewer, quality posts that take more time to create, but generate more interest are worth so much more than many quick posts created just for the sake of saying something. This goes back to doing what works. If it’s working, but it takes a little more time, it’s still worth it.

Social Media Breakfast Maine is a fun and informative monthly event held in Portland, Maine where area businesses and marketing leaders get together to share ideas and stories in and around the constantly evolving social media space. You can learn more about future events at