In Part 1 of our social media series we spoke of the marketing tool in a corporation and/or a non-profit. We asked questions including, what is it? How does it relate to your organization? What is the value? What function does it serve?

In Part 2, as we moved past fundamentals, we unpacked the magic of social media. We considered what makes it so special, why it’s so vital, how it will help the organization, and on which areas of engagement it focuses.

In our third and final part of the social media for non-profits series, we will look at conditions and characteristics that are necessary for success in social media marketing. We will also look into consumer trends of social media and how that affects your marketing scheme.

Without further adieu, here are a few of the conditions that are necessary for success when engaging in social media marketing:

1. Ensure your marketing approach is integrated and holistic.

2. Focus on the donor. Make your work, yourself and your marketing donor-centric. Users, followers, and friends are people, not numbers.

3. Be organized. Make a business plan, set goals, and align your marketing scheme with it. Make a schedule and stick to it.

4. Recognize the strengths and weaknesses of social media and use it for it’s strengths (connection, personality, transparency). Realize it’s not optimal to advertise while you try to engage, or sell while you try to connect.

5. Do your research to understand how to best pair social media networks with marketing campaigns for optimal results.

6. Talk to your donors. Use the language they speak to create and foster a healthy dialogue.

7. Use your listening skills to improve your overall organizational strategy. Remember, we have two ears and one mouth! 

8. Adapt by listening, monitoring, evaluating and then acting. Track your progress (followers, fans, likes, shares), respect the importance of that data, and change accordingly to better your organization. If one post gets a lot of likes and shares, there’s a chance you’re on to something. Feel it out and perhaps expand on that topic and leave the ones that barely get read behind.

9. Balance the perspectives of relationships, communications and value with ROI and profits. It takes skill to recognize how far down the rabbit hole you should go with communicating before you are spending all of your time talking and no time doing. However, you can’t forget that social media is entirely about peer-to-peer conversation. Find the balance. It’s difficult, but worthwhile.

These nine conditions will help your social media strategy thrive, but no organization can effectively measure its success if it does not track consumer behaviour and how it evolves.

Here are two recent changes in consumer trends and how they may impact you:

1. The abundance of media and multi-channel behavior.

Let’s face it; the days of a simple press release to only traditional media outlets are over. Ten years ago it was sufficient for an organization to produce a couple of ads and send out customer emails to reach the majority of potential consumers. Today, that’s inadequate. It seems a brand today has to be omnipresent, reaching across multiple channels, to reach potential consumers through every media channel.

Furthermore, not only does an organization have to engage in social media to reach all prospective customers, but it must also engage differently in each form of social media. Today, people have more channels than ever before to inform themselves, share, buy and seek support. Consumers operate in a multi-channel behavior,  jumping from one outlet to another during their time on the web. This impacts how organizations reach people and how they need to build/maintain consumers relationships.

Specifically, consumers use the various social channels for varying needs. Twitter is short and to the point. This is where they may want to see news or a bit more of a push from organizations because they don’t expect long, quality conversations. Switch to Facebook; however, and they are going to want a conversation and something they can comment on and engage with. Head to Instagram and it’s likely they want beautiful images that catch their eye – mainly those that inspire them. But once you get on Linkedin, it’s strictly business. Give them an article to read about their jobs, dreams and goals. Understand?  

2. From passive receiving to active seeking.

In today’s fast-paced society, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to engage consumers/donors based on a schedule you’ve set. Donors do not want to be interrupted unless you have either a good reason or a strong relationship. Unlike before, they no longer like to be sold or marketed too; rather, they want to do their own research and make their own discoveries. Due to the high autonomy of social media usage, consumers now control their buying journey and other decision processes.

As an organization, the challenge is to capture the donor’s attention during their research/time exploring the web. This is the moment when it’s optimal to engage donors in conversation. Your organization needs to be at the top of the donors mind when they seek information and/or decide to donate. Don’t forget; communication plays an important role here, as a more personal approach fosters better, longer lasting relationships.