connectedGeorgetown University Center for Social Impact Communication posted an article recently, which you can read here, about what people want on social media and how nonprofits can improve their efforts. I encourage you to take a read of the article.

Every day my companies are active across many social media platforms, and with our fundraising and marketing companies we have the opportunity to see a large cross-section of nonprofits and charities. We get to see who’s doing things right on social media and who needs a little more understanding of what their followers and the public want to see. I think many nonprofits and brands have to understand what people are looking for in social networking before they can begin to develop an effective strategy that works for them.

According to the article, there are three things that people want to see on their social media feeds.

Connectedness

Social networking is primarily used to stay in contact with people who are already seen frequently by the user (Lenhart and Madden, 2007).

Entertainment

The main motive for joining Facebook is peer pressure and the main gratifications people receive when using Facebook include entertainment and staying informed in social circles (Quan-Haase and Young, 2010). Among those over age 50, the two primary factors in Facebook usage are mood management including entertainment such as games and social action such as reposting political opinions (Ancu, 2012).

Self-affirmation

The “hipster” effect is the idea that the more connected someone appears to be in causes actually increases a person’s social capital (Ellison, et al., 2007).  This self-affirmation theory was used to determine that spending time on Facebook fulfilled an ego need and that exposure to one’s own Facebook profile increased self-worth and self-integrity (Toma and Hancock, 2013). 

If you keep the three ideas mentioned above in your mind, you’ll go a long way toward understanding what your nonprofit or social enterprise followers want to see. Just because you’re a charity doesn’t mean that people are not motivated by a need to see “entertainment,” for example.

In our daily work we’re heavily on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn. Although it’s taken time for us to grow our outreach effectively, what the Georgetown article is what we’ve seen as well.

  1. Connectedness: people are on social media because it helps them communicate in a way that’s on-demand at any time of the day or night. I think this is the driving force of social networking.
  2. Entertainment: I know it may seem shallow, but people have a lot of pressures in their day to day life and often the scroll through their timelines to distract themselves and see something fun or enjoyable. No one wants to see a timeline of anger, resentment, and constant complaints. Nonprofits that remember that no matter how serious the issue, there are sensitive and respectful ways to entertain have the upper-hand.
  3. Self-affirmation: When people give to charity or become a follower to an organization, it’s primarily driven by emotion. After that, everything they do in support of the organization is to self-affirm the decision they made to help a particular cause. It helps them increase their “social capital” in their social network, as well as within themselves.

The nonprofit organizations that have the greatest success on social media understand these concepts and take them to heart. Let’s look at some of the best examples of these ideas with charities that know how to relate to the public via social networking platforms.

  • Neverthirst: Is a nonprofit focused on bringing clean and potable water to the world’s impoverished people. The mission is tough, but if you take a look at their website and social media, you’ll see how they engage donors, supporters and the public with fresh, clean and engaging content. And, yes, you’ll see elements of fun and entertainment.
  • Best Friends: Is the largest no-kill sanctuary in the United States. Every day they’re working to save all of the dogs and cats that are in kill shelters, abusive mills, or in need of help. Their job includes finding homes for hard to place animals. One of the most innovative ways they’re trying to match canines with adopters is through their Paws Like Me
  • Human Rights Campaign: Has more than 1.5 million members across the country supporting LGBTQ issues. As of this writing, they have a campaign to help raise awareness about the gay men in Chechnya who are being murdered, beaten and tortured by the police for their sexuality. HRC has been using social media images to help raise awareness and support. If you look at their Facebook page, they currently have a call-to-action right on their cover photo. This organization is known for its excellent use of imagery, which helps engage supporters and the public.

I’ve been in your shoes. I was once the founder and executive director of a nonprofit. However, my thinking has always been, even when we were operating out of a single room, that we had to give the public what they wanted to see. We had to understand what motivated them and that’s how we would find support for our work.

Nothing’s changed. Despite the fact we have digital and social media now, people are motivated by the same things they’ve always been motivated by in the past: connectedness, entertainment and self-affirmation. Social networing is not rocket science. If you keep those three elements in mind when you’re developing your social media strategy, it’ll help you guarantee success.

 

Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Be Bold, Dominate and Succeed in Marketing For Today’s Digital World On A Limited Budget” (Free Digital Download)

© 2017 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.