It’s no longer a matter of discussion whether a nonprofit organization should be active on social media networks – because they should. That is, if they want to keep up.
Social media platforms have now been adopted on a large enough scale and for a long enough time. And nonprofits are really starting to understand how social media can support their strategies.
Here are the current user bases of the six major social media platforms:
Facebook: 2.07 billion monthly active users
Instagram: 800 million monthly active users
Twitter: 330 million monthly active users
LinkedIn: 500 million members
Pinterest: 200 million monthly active users
Snapchat: 178 million daily active users
(Statista and LinkedIn)
Before we take a look at the trends taking over 2018, let’s recap some of the most basic nonprofit social media tactics:
– Consistency is key.
Post-high-quality content several times a day, stay in contact one-on-one with loyal supporters and be active in your campaigns.
– Be mindful of your tone.
Decide on your tone and stick to it whenever communicating with your audience.
– Showcase impact.
Be clear about where the money goes. What does a dollar achieve? If it’s a notebook and a pen for a child in need, show that.
– Connect with your audience.
Build authentic and genuine relationships with your online audience and make your content as personal as possible
– Don’t forget about CTA.
Always include a clear CTA when posting (e.g. donate, like, visit our website etc.)
While it’s impossible to predict how the social media marketing landscape will change over the course of a year, here are a couple of trends to watch out for:
Social Media Trend #1: Instagram Stories
The “ephemeral” video content (content that lasts a short period of time before disappearing) is continuing to grow for social platforms.
Although Instagram rolled out the Stories feature years after Snapchat has been using and developing the feature, Instagram Stories has already accrued more than 250 million daily users compared to the 173 million daily active Snapchat users.
- Instagram Stories can be seen for just 24 hours before they disappear.
- Photos and videos shared to your ‘Story’ don’t appear on your profile’s ‘grid’ or on your follower’s feed – the content exists only in the ‘Stories’ bar at the top of the app.
- Stories are a series of videos or photos, all capped at 15 seconds, but you can add as many as you want.
- Stories are generally less polished and posed than photos on the Instagram feed.
So, why and how should your nonprofit use Instagram Stories?
- Instagram allows you to build an audience due to features such as hashtags, recommended accounts, location tagging options, and ‘Search’ and ‘Explore’ sections.
- Since Stories are less polished than Instagram posts, use them to build authentic and personable voice and to interact with your followers.
- Showcase people. People prefer to connect with people on social media, much more than brands and logos.
- Sign up for the Instagram Business account. It’s free, and it provides you with several useful tools that you do not get with the personal account, including analytics and a Contact button.
- Create a strategy around your story and invest time and thought. Use this guide on how to craft an engaging Instagram story to help.
Here’s how CARE used Instagram stories to tell compelling stories of seven women. Their campaign was titled “Stories from the Other Side of the World,” and it follows seven women over seven days, their streams littered with the tropes of Stories narrative—”end of the day #exhausted,” #nevergiveup, “family breakfast,” “back to school.”
Don’t miss out on utilizing Instagram Stories to grow your nonprofit. Instagram Stories are an opportunity for you to post several times throughout a day without spamming your followers’ timelines, and Instagram users are avid users.
Social Media Trend #2: Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has been big for the past couple of years. Many declare it dead’ since the market got oversaturated at one point, reducing the effectiveness of influencer marketing.
This is because the overwhelming amount of sponsored content started having an opposite effect on users. Millennials are less trusting of influencer these days, since the line between what’s genuine and what’s not became more blurry.
This is not to say that influencer marketing is dead. It still produces results and is evolving.
So, what are influencers?
Influencer marketing grew out of celebrity endorsement. Businesses and organizations have found for many years that their sales/engagement/donations usually rise when a celebrity promotes or endorses them. There are still many cases of businesses, particularly high-end brands, using celebrities as influencers.
However, during the past couple of years especially, influencer marketing has been about partnering with people with a substantial following online (e.g. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram etc.) who have built a reputation in a particular niche (e.g. fashion, beauty, finance, health etc).
By paying for a sponsored post, your organization can gain access to their following (although some influencers will do it for free for charities).
Influencer marketing in 2018 is all about micro-influencers. Micro-influencers have between 1k–100k followers on social media. People with 500k–1 million followers and 100k–500k followers fall into the macro influencer and middle influencer categories, respectively.
The engagement rate is usually better with micro-influencers, probably since others can relate to them more easily than say Beyonce.
Make sure to choose influencers who speak out or are active in areas related to your nonprofit’s mission. For example, let’s say you run an animal shelter. Preventing animal cruelty is part of your brand’s mission statement.
You shouldn’t work with a micro-influencer who bought a puppy from a puppy mill or promotes buying leather jackets. That just doesn’t fit with your mission and brand. You can even work with multiple influencers for each campaign. After that, you should take a look at the analytics for each influencer for valuable information such as:
- conversion rates to donation
For those influencers whose posts end up working well for your nonprofit, invest in building meaningful relationships with them.
Social Media Trend #3: Live Streaming
The power of social video is undeniable. Facebook has around 500 million people watching Facebook videos every day. 82% of Twitter users consistently watch video content on the platform. Snapchat generates 10 billion video views every day. Video consumption on Instagram increased by 150% last year. Even LinkedIn is rolling out a native video to all of their users.
One-third of online activity is spent watching video. Over half a billion people are watching video on Facebook every day.
Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users.
Video is becoming that social media trend you can’t afford to ignore anymore. That’ll only grow more apparent in 2018.
Live video, the younger brother of video, is especially prominent as a trend in 2018.
Live video is more appealing to brand audiences: 80% would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts. (Livestream and New York Magazine Survey)
Furthermore, 95% of brand execs say live video is key to their 2018 strategies. (Brandlive and IBM Cloud Video).
Viewers respond positively to live video streaming because of the immediacy and engagement it creates, especially since so much of the online content is becoming more curated. Live streaming also allows you to respond to your viewers real time.
If you’d love to give live streaming a go, here are a couple of popular live streaming video “types”:
- live events
- streaming your programs
- Q&A sessions
There are multiple platforms for ‘going live’. Most social media platforms have added on that feature. Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Periscope, Twitter, Snapchat, Twitch, and Instagram Live are all great platforms. Choose one to start with – ideally focusing on one where you have the largest audience on or where your target audience spends most of their time.
Notify your audience in advance that you will be going live (at least one day before, but ideally a week). This ensures more people show up to your live.
If you want to make live streaming an integral part of your marketing strategy, consider setting a schedule and staying consistent.
This will help you maximize your reach and generate new leads for your company. This trend is set to leap in the next few years as 5G becomes standard.
Social Media Trend #4: Chatbots and Social Messaging
Social messaging is taking over! Facebook Messenger, Instagram direct messaging, Whatsapp, and WeChat…
According to Business Insider, there are more people using the top four social messaging apps (WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, and Viber) than the top four social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn)
People love chatting on messaging apps.
Globally, 18.7 billion texts are sent worldwide every day and 60 billion messages are sent every day through apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Facebook Messenger itself has over 1 billion monthly active users. It is predicted that by 2018 messaging apps will increase the number of social media users worldwide by 1.1 billion users.
How does this impact your nonprofit?
To start off, you will need to make sure you’re reachable via social messaging platforms and that you respond promptly.
Your potential donors, especially if they’re Gen Y or Gen Z, prefer communicating with organizations via messaging rather than via e-mails or calls.
By enabling your audience to reach you in these ways, you increase the chances of building relationships with them. And relationship building is the basis for turning that audience into volunteers or donors.
Furthermore, chatbots are increasingly growing in popularity. Generally speaking, a ‘bot’ is any software that performs an automated task. A chatbot, simply put, is software that can have a conversation with a human. For example, a user could ask the bot a question or give it an instruction and the bot could respond or perform an action as appropriate.
A chatbot could be massively helpful for your nonprofit, especially if your nonprofit is large and receives hundreds or thousands of similar questions. For example, if you receive a lot of questions about your donation system.
Sprout found that On Facebook Messenger alone, there are more than 100,000 chatbots in use to gather information, give product guidance and take actual orders. In fact, chatbots on Facebook Messenger have been shown to increase organizational productivity by up to 3.5 times.
Nothing can replace the personal touch of a human response. Well, at least not yet. But these chatbots can definitely save valuable resources like time and money, especially for nonprofits.
Nonprofit Social Media Trend #5: Brand Fatigue
Social media is changing.
When social media platforms were first created, they were used to help people connect and share one with another, mostly with friends and acquaintances. Then, businesses and organizations started publishing links, photos, and videos – driving traffic to their websites. It worked for a long time. However, social media space has become overcrowded. With hundreds of thousands of organizations competing for attention with their content, it’s become overwhelming for many.
People have just started scrolling away from sponsored and branded content that purely ‘promotes’ a product or a program.
This is a sign of brand fatigue – audience being less likely to engage with sponsored or branded content than content from independent sources.
To combat brand fatigue, social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have been changing their algorithms to prioritize posts from friends and family.
This is significantly impacting organic reach and referral traffic. Referral traffic from Facebook — the top social referral source for many sites — has been almost halved in the past year. (Parse.ly)
To handle these emerging changes, look at social media platforms as engagement tools. Focus on relationship building and one-on-one conversations. Share entertaining, useful, or unique content. Encourage your audience to respond – don’t just drive clicks back to your website.
Generally, engagement ensures loyalty, increase in donations or sign-ups for volunteering programs.
Social Media Trend #6: User-Generated Content
The easiest way to think about user-generated content is this: organizations taking the best-of-the-best user content from around the web and featuring it on their own social media or other platforms while giving credit to the original creator (user).
According to research from marketing startup Crowdtap and the global research company Ipsos, Millennials and other generations trust user-generated content 50% more than other types of media.
People are also much more likely to trust recommendations from their friends and family. Furthermore, user-generated content allows you to connect authentically with audience members one-on-one. It is an opportunity to tell real stories – something that may be inherently missing from your own content – unless you’re excellent at storytelling.
That’s why leveraging user-generated content is a top marketing strategy and one of the most important social media trends for 2018.
Have your volunteers, employees and even beneficiaries share about your organization on social media and tag you in their photos. This will help increase your reach and help build social proof.
Very few nonprofits have the means of producing high-quality content frequently enough, so user-generated content is the way to go.
Instead of producing your own content all the time, tap into the power of your users’ networks and repost user-generated content, which generates more engagement and trust. By reposting a follower’s social media post, you are also encouraging more of your audience to post about your nonprofit on social media, thereby increasing your reach.
There are even accounts out there featuring 100% user-generated content.
While that might not be the way to go for most nonprofits, here are some things you can do:
- Find the best content out there by hosting giveaways or by exploring users within hashtags.
- Create your own hashtag and encourage users to ‘submit’ their content using the hashtag.
- Search for the user-generated content yourself with e.g. Instagram Search and Explore functions.
- Ask the users to feature their content and credit them.
Social Media Trend #7: Social Listening
Just’ having accounts on social media and being active on them is no longer enough. Social listening is key.
You need to listen to what people are saying about your nonprofit, your brand, and your programs, and respond accordingly.
In fact, 60% of consumers that post a complaint on social media expect a response in less than 60 minutes. (Go Globe)
Individuals nowadays use socials to solve issues. If your supporters are having an issue with payments (donating) or have questions, you need to respond quickly otherwise they won’t speak highly of you to their networks – which can be detrimental to your image and growth.
However, social listening goes beyond that. It is the process of tracking conversations around specific topics, keywords, phrases, brands or industries. To do this, you can set up Google Alerts.
After that, social listening is all about leveraging your insights to discover opportunities, create content, or adapt your strategy.
Therefore, social media listening is not only about monitoring. If done well, it allows you to see things at a bird’s eye view. It’s easy to confuse social listening with responding to incoming messages or comments one by one. While that is important, you also need to use social listening to see the bigger picture of what’s going on with your organization.
As a nonprofit, you can use social listening to:
- improve your donor care;
- find top talent and volunteers;
- build relationships with donors;
- learn about why people donate;
- find user-generated content;
- listen to key stakeholders;
Social media platforms tend to roll out updates on a nearly constant basis, changing slightly but frequently. We don’t always recognize how the social media landscape around us evolves – which is why it’s important to step back every now and then and notice the trends.
In addition to the trends we highlighted above, there are many others to consider: e..g augmented reality, gamification, the rise in local and personal experiences, digital hangouts, Facebook Spaces, preferences of Gen Z and more.
Use social media and be personal and creative with it. No one likes generic content. If you want to get people to donate to your cause, think of great ways you can engage with them personally. It could be a quick video, or it could be a feature on your Instagram account. Show your supporters that you appreciate them and the impact they had on your beneficiaries.
Technology is evolving at an astounding rate, and savvy nonprofit professionals understand that in the digital age, their supporters and followers are immersed in social media – and that’s where you have to meet them.
We hope you enjoyed familiarizing yourself with the upcoming trends, so you can stay ahead and grow your nonprofit.
For more nonprofit tips, visit out nonprofit blog.