• Nonprofit Learning Lab

What Social Media Channels Should Your Nonprofit Be Using?



a new black iphone with a wavy purple background shows the app icons for facebook, messenger, instagram, whatsapp, tiktok, and twitter.

With so many different channels of communication, it can be hard to choose the right one for your audience. Today we will be exploring some of the pros and cons of different social media outlets so you can pick the right one for your nonprofit.



Twitter

Founded in 2006, Twitter has become a tool for quickly sharing information, whether it be academic writing, social gatherings, or breaking news. With a 280 character limit, tweets allow you to say what you need to say - but generally nothing else. Using a graphic can help convey more information, and followers can retweet to get the message out. With a large user base, nonprofits can really benefit from using this platform, although users do expect content a few times a day, whether this is from retweets or original content.

  • Pros: Concise communication, hashtag integration, easily accessible content, easily shared amongst followers

  • Cons: Character limit can be just that: limiting.


Facebook

Nowadays, many members of your audience, whether it be potential clients, volunteers, donors, or board members, might just be interested in reviewing your Facebook page even before heading to your website. With the option to list critical information like organization email, working hours, and phone number, Having a Facebook page gives your nonprofit a fantastic opportunity to begin to grow your audience. You can also live stream using this platform, a potentially useful tool to gather constituents during the pandemic. Posts not reaching who you’d hope they would? Page managers can pay to boost posts, but this may not be an option for many nonprofits.

  • Pros: Widely used platform, business page ability, ability to sponsor posts

  • Cons: Audience may be inundated with content from other people/businesses on Facebook


Instagram

Recently acquired by Facebook, users are able to use Facebook publishing tools to publish or schedule a single post across both Instagram and Facebook, saving time for your media and communications team. Instagram is the app of choice for nonprofits looking to share images with impact. Followers can interact with posts via comments or likes, and can also save posts they have a particular interest in. Instagram has a generally younger audience, so if you are looking to connect more with your Millenial and Gen-Z audience, look no further than this photo-sharing app. Live Streaming is also possible, as well as adding polls or soliciting questions for a Q&A session about your nonprofit. A word of caution - any hyperlink posted within an Instagram caption will not be able to click on by your audience, be sure to update the link in your nonprofit account’s bio so that followers can find what they are looking for.

  • Pros: Reaches a younger audience, most content shared in stories

  • Cons: Photo and Video centered platform, not as accessible, harder algorithm to play into


Youtube

Youtube allows nonprofits to showcase videos in a longer format, whether it be recordings of a virtual gala, a highlight reel from a Day of Service, or testimonials from the community you serve. Potential donors may be more intrigued by materials on Youtube, as they provide more in-depth information about the work your nonprofit does. One perk - commenting can be deactivated on your videos so you won’t have to keep an eye out for any spam comments that come in. Although a less ‘social’ social media, audiences do not generally expect you to update this page as often, as they look for quality content over quantity. Need an idea to get you started? Try interviewing volunteers or staff members about why they joined your organization in the first place to create a series of small, getting-to-know-you videos.

  • Pros: One-way interface, opportunity for well-produced content, focus on the mission of your organization

  • Cons: less “social”, often used as a secondary way to communicate with the audience


TikTok

One of the newest social media platforms and almost overnight success, TikTok has become a mainstay on many peoples’ phone home screens. That being said, TikTok has been in the news recently for issues related to privacy, so make sure any information you connect to your account is vetted for this. Staff members can join in on the latest trend, and join conversations about causes related to your own in short video clips. Most popular with younger generations, TikTok’s audience is growing rapidly, and may be a great way to connect with new groups of people who are appreciative of your mission.

  • Pros: Quickly growing platform, younger audience, a more “personalized’ look at your organization

  • Cons: Privacy issues, the algorithm decides who sees your videos


Linkedin

The most professional of all social media platforms available today, Linkedin is a great place to network for your nonprofit, especially if you are looking for potential board members or are looking to hire new staff. Linkedin allows you to invite your own connections as well as find new ones. If your organization does any work in employment or professional development, Linkedin is a must-have. Unlike the other platforms, Linkedin does not have a scheduled post feature, unless you do it through a third-party application, making posting a bit more difficult, although your audience won’t expect you to post more than once a week.