Money & Business

Nonprofits Raise the Social Networking Bar

By / Feb 22, 2013

A recent survey shows social networking has become a key low-cost marketing tool for nonprofits, with many updating their feeds multiple times per day.

If you’re looking for your nonprofit competitors these days, you’ll probably find them on Twitter or Facebook.

According to a 2012 study by Vertical Response, most nonprofits spent around 60 percent more time devoted to social media than they did the previous year, and 10 percent of organizations reported increasing their social media budget in 2012. But, where’s the value in social media for nonprofit organizations?

The study found that social media is a big draw in for nonprofits with tight budgets. It offers publicity at a low cost. Nonprofits are putting more of their time, money, and effort into social networking because it’s an investment for their brand.

What social networks have been most popular among nonprofits?

Head honchos: Facebook and Twitter take the lead. Forty-one percent of survey respondents said they post on Facebook several times a week, while 13 percent said they post there several times a day. On Twitter, 19 percent reported posting several times a day. Nonprofits use Facebook even more than small businesses tend to: 96 percent of nonprofits said they were on Facebook, with 80 percent of those posting multiple times a week. Nine out of 10 small businesses said they’re on Facebook, but just 66 percent of those reported posting multiple times a week.

Professional connection: About two-thirds of respondents say they don’t use LinkedIn; 13 percent said they use it once a month. However, LinkedIn has been working to attract more nonprofits: Last September, it launched a new Board Connect service. According to Meg Garlinghouse, LinkedIn’s head of social impact, the program aims to serve “huge demand from nonprofits to find professionals to join their board.” In an interview with Forbes, she noted the service was natural for these kinds of organizational needs. “Leveraging their own networks as well as their board members’ networks, nonprofit leaders are able to search for and connect with professionals who meet the needs of their organization,” she said.

Not as popular: Pinterest and Google+ didn’t fare as well in the survey. Close to 83 percent said they don’t use Google+, while 78 percent don’t use the quickly growing Pinterest. Facebook-owned Instagram, meanwhile, wasn’t even included in the survey.

Part of the reason for the poor showing for these networks may be that they’re younger than the more established Twitter and Facebook. Audience should be kept in mind when considering whether or not your organization should have a presence in a specific social networking platform.

Anita Ferrer

Anita Ferrer is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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