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The do’s and don’ts of advertising on social media

March 24, 2022
This nonprofit supporter is scrolling through social media on her cell phone.

Today, most people around the world are on the internet, and many of them are regularly checking their social media. Expanding your nonprofit organization’s advertising on social media can increase your reach, build awareness for your cause, and bring in new donors. Of course, you’ll need a plan before launching your new social media strategy. 

To make the most of your social media advertising strategy, make sure you have a clear goal. Do you want more followers? Do you want more engagement on your posts? Do you want to increase clicks to your website? 

Once you’ve determined your goal, you can build out your strategy. As part of that strategy, make sure to consider the top do’s and don’ts of social media advertising. 

DO use a clear call-to-action

Your call-to-action is a request your nonprofit makes to supporters, asking them to take some specified action. Make sure your call-to-action is clear and well-defined to let supporters know what acting on it will accomplish. Will they learn more? Will they be redirected to your fundraising page? Will they sign up for your newsletter? Informing your audience what to expect when they click on your call-to-action button will lead to more clicks from qualified users. 

To encourage supporters to act in the moment, your call-to-action should be as easy to act on as possible. For instance, if you’re asking supporters to make a donation, your call-to-action should take them straight to your donation page rather than making supporters navigate your website. 

DO use video

Most social media users tend to prefer video. In fact, surveys show that video is 60% more effective in generating clicks for advertisements. Why? Because video shares your nonprofit’s story in an easily consumable way that grabs attention almost immediately. 

You can get more supporters to watch your videos all the way through by opening with an eye-catching opener that will hook supporters scrolling through their feeds. 

You can make videos on a variety of topics related to your nonprofit. Share behind-the-scenes footage of your typical day, informational videos, tailored thank-you messages, or regular video blogs giving updates on your programs and how they’re fulfilling your purpose. Your videos can be highly complex or short and simple, meaning nonprofits of all sizes can benefit from video. Just ensure you use high-quality equipment and get permission to film your video subjects.

DO keep messages consistent

Establish a consistent brand identity for your social media advertising. Create a brand guide for your nonprofit and stick to it as you develop your marketing strategy across all of your channels. This should include your logo, brand colors, slogan, and other brand elements. Your brand elements should work together to create a cohesive experience for supporters and build up brand recognition. For example, if you use bright colors and friendly language on your website, make sure your social media posts are also positive and casual. 

Another way to maintain consistency is making sure your profile picture and account name are the same across all of your social media channels. This reduces confusion for donors about whether they are on the right page. 

DON’T add too much text

In an ideal world, we would add as many words as we need to best explain a graphic or image posted online. But on social media, it’s often better to let the picture or the creative graphic you post do most of the talking. 

Limit how much text you use online, so supporters scrolling through social media can quickly check out your posts, get the main idea, then explore further by clicking through to your website if they want more information. You can also use white space strategically to highlight important parts of your image or break up existing text so you don’t overwhelm your reader with information.

DON’T copy and paste messages from platform to platform

What succeeds on Facebook will need some adjustments before you can post it on Instagram. Whenever you prepare a post for social media, spend time fine-tuning it for each platform you intend to post it on. 

For example, for a Facebook post, you might take a picture of your volunteers at work and share a short testimonial about the experience. Then, on Instagram, you might add even more photos supporters can click through and pull out just a few key quotes from the testimonial. Finally, for a video-based platform like TikTok, you might ask the volunteer you got the testimonial from to make a recording of their story and film your volunteers in action to show examples of the important work they do.  

The bottom line: DON’T be afraid to have fun

The opportunity to have fun and engage with your supporters is one of the best things about social media. Speaking with your donors and audience in a casual way online can humanize your nonprofit, helping you build more connections. If users believe they are engaging with an actual person on the other side of the screen, they will be more inclined to engage with your organization. 

Post fun images, use exclamation points, and try out emoticons to bring a bit of fun to your supporters’ feeds. Of course, keep your brand identity in mind to make sure you’re presenting a consistent front even when being more casual. 

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    Supporter Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing