Non-profit organizations such as charities and community service organizations have a lot to gain from social media in the same way that for-profit business does. The format can increase the public’s awareness of an organization’s goals and activities very quickly, and it also has the potential for very inexpensive but wide-reaching marketing for financial support. That said, social media’s benefits for a non-profit organization still have to be measured the same way they are for a business; the energy and resource put into the effort should have a metric that shows a return on the investment. However, unlike a for-profit business, the metrics and results that benefit a non-profit can many times be returns other than just cash.
A Great Awareness Building Tool
There is no question that if used correctly social media tools can help an organization build a large amount of public awareness and following. Much depends on how well the content is developed via specific tools, but if the public connects the information can then be spread exponentially in a viral manner, building a greater following. As a result, there is no set standard for how each non-profit should use social media; the tool’s effectiveness depends on each user’s input and content. After all, social media is technically just an Internet platform for sharing information, images and reading.
Consistent Commitment is Needed for Good Results
Unlike normal marketing campaigns, however, social media tools require ongoing, permanent resource commitment to be effective. The non-profit needs to have an overall message to convey, and every post should be tied into that umbrella message. Further, a dedicated staff or resources needs to be assigned to the work of developing content, posting material, and responding to social media commentary from readers to keep the online community development going. Otherwise, the work will just fall flat. The most successful social media campaigns are regularly engaged with readers and regularly providing new material, drawing people to the given organization for more involvement.
Good Metrics are Needed to See Success
For profit businesses measure success by how much net profit is earned in a time period and how big a company grows with new markets. In the non-profit world, gains and success can be far more than just money, although charity and donations are always welcome. Non-profit event turnout, increases in supporter sign-ups, letter campaigns, and volunteer support are all real, countable responses to social media campaigns that non-profits can use as a success determination. Granted, cash support should be counted as well, but it is not the only practical measurement available for the impact of social media.
Depending on what a non-profit is hoping to get out of social media efforts, a feedback review should be regularly applied. After a major event, the organization should regularly compare the social media effort with the results per the metrics noted above. Based on the results, the organization can then usually see what needs to be changed to make social media a more effective tool for the non-profit’s purposes. This refinement is important so that resources are spent chasing down issues that don’t serve the organization well. In this regard then social media can be regularly improved as a supporting tool for the organization’s goals.