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Mobilizing A Social Army: How Nonprofits Build Influence

I work with several nonprofits that have a large number of volunteers. I’m talking hundreds of people who have a deep connection to the organization’s work and believe in its mission.

Can you imagine the impact those volunteers have when they actively share and talk about the organization on social media? It’s like word of mouth on steroids.

When volunteers, board members, employees and clients participate in your social media strategy, they give your reach and engagement a major boost.

One of my clients recently shared the story of a well-known local doctor on Facebook. The post had nearly quadruple the organic reach of most posts because hundreds of patients, clients, volunteers and employees shared it or commented.

Why is social sharing so powerful? Study after study tells us that people trust messages shared by their friends and family more than messages shared directly from a brand or organization. Think about your own behavior on social media. Aren’t you more likely to share or comment on a post from a trusted friend or family member? I know I am.

So how do you mobilize this built in social army? First, you have to ask for their help. That might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth stating. People who care about your mission want to get involved, but often aren’t sure where or how to start. Give them a roadmap.

1. Make Sharing Easy

Provide clear directions and tools for sharing your messages. Start by distributing a document that lists all of your social media handles and gives simple instructions on how to like and follow your organization on social media.

List hashtags that you use regularly and list any important dates and events that you will highlight on social media.

Also, include sample messages that your followers can use to craft their own social media posts.

The goal is to make sharing as easy as possible.

2. Choose ‘See First’ On Facebook

Here’s a great little tip for your followers on Facebook. Before someone can share your message, they have to see it in their newsfeed, right?

We know that Facebook gives preference to personal pages, which means people who follow your organization’s page using the default setting often won’t see your posts.

After your stakeholders have liked your Facebook page, ask them to click on “Follow” and then choose “See First” from the dropdown menu.

When followers choose “See First,” your posts will always show up in their newsfeed, which, again, makes sharing easy!

3. Make It Personal

Ask your stakeholders to include a personal message when they share your social posts.

Most social media channels allow users to share a post without saying anything about it, but adding an authentic message creates impact and increases the likelihood that others will see the post.

These messages should include:

  • The connection to your organization. Is the stakeholder a volunteer, board member, client, etc.? How did they become involved?

  • Why they care about your mission. Have they or a family member benefited from your services? If the stakeholder is a volunteer, how do they serve and what motivates their work?

  • A call to action that provides a link. Use social media as a jumping off point for further engagement. The call might be something as simple as “Read more” or “Learn more.” Other examples include: “Join me for this important event,” “Please raise awareness of this issue by sharing this post,” “If you’d like to become a volunteer, fill out this form” or “Tell us how can we help you or your family.”

4. Put Paid Dollars Behind It

Everything I’ve talked about so far is, for the most part, free. You’re simply asking people who believe in what you do to share your message. But I also recommend advertising on social media.

Every dollar counts, especially for nonprofits, but with a well-defined strategy, you can reach and engage large numbers of people at relative little cost. And, you can target your message. Choose your audience by geography, age, interests or some combination of targets.

These are just a few of the ways you can mobilize your stakeholders on social media. There are so many other possibilities. I recently created a Facebook contest, for example, that promoted an upcoming fundraiser and generated about 100 email addresses from people who opted in to the client’s mailing list.

Are you ready to mobilize your social army? Let me know how I can help.

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