Three steps to a killer social media campaign

publication date: Mar 22, 2012
author/source: Sumac Research
Which social media channel is giving your charity the results you want? Take our poll at right.

Thanks to social media, nonprofits have many more options for running and promoting a campaign. With dozens of free websites at your disposal, the potential for reaching more supporters is enormous, even for small nonprofits with little or no budget.

Want to tap into the power of social media to raise money for your organization? Here are three steps to a killer social media campaign and some examples to inspire you.

1. Start with an idea worth sharing

Social media is all about creating buzz. It's a fast-moving environment with a lot of competition, so you've got to have a great idea worth sharing. What does that mean?

The most successful fundraising campaigns have a few things in common. They are creative, speak to people, and make it easy to participate and share. Here are a few examples of some really good ones:
  • To Mama with Love is a unique Mother's Day Campaign created by Epic Change. It raised close to $17,000 for Mama Lucy in her efforts to educate children in Tanzania. Supporters were encouraged to honour their own mothers by making a donation and then creating a virtual scrapbook or "heartspace" on the site. They could then share their "heartspace" with their mother, friends and family via Twitter and Facebook, or via a customized e-card.
  • Another clever idea was the Great Whale Trail campaign created by Greenpeace. Greenpeace partnered with scientists to track whales using GPS while they migrated south through dangerous waters where the whales are hunted. They encouraged supporters to become involved by making personal fundraising pages in support of the cause. Over 5,000 personal fundraising pages were created, raising over $120,000.
  • Finally, the It Gets Better campaign, launched as a YouTube video with a positive message to anyone who has been bullied, was successful because the message resonated well with a very large population and was easy to share. It quickly went viral with over 1,553,552 views!
2. Create a buzz

Now, once you've got a great idea worth sharing, you'll need to determine how best to share it. Dozens of social media websites offer dozens of options! But you'll need to strategize in order to make it a success. Here are three tips for choosing the right avenue:
  • Go where your supporters are. In order to determine how best to reach potential supporters, you'll need to find out where they are. Are they on Facebook, Twitter, Digg? Do they like to use personal fundraising pages?  If so, this is probably your best bet for getting your message out.
  • Choose the best medium for your message. Think about which medium makes the most sense for your message. The medium is not just a distribution tool, but part of the campaign idea itself. And in some cases, the medium is the message. Greenpeace's Unfriend Coal campaign, for instance, was successful because it was promoted on Facebook, the very network it was campaigning through.
  • The more, the merrier. Don't think you have to promote only through the top medium for your supporters or for your message. Instead, choose several that will allow you to reach the widest audience and feed into your primary channel. The "It Gets Better" campaign's primary channel, for instance, was YouTube, but the campaign was also shared using Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can never go wrong with more!
3. Follow up with supporters

After you've spread the word, created a buzz, and started raising money, don't stop there. As with any other campaign, you'll want to follow up with supporters with a "thank you" and some updates on the specific campaign they supported in order to ensure they become lasting supporters.

This article was contributed by Sumac Fundraising Software. Sumac is giving back to nonprofits by offering its software free to organizations with fewer than 500 contacts.

For more information, visit more examples of great social media campaigns run by nonprofits, check out 15 Extraordinary Social Media Campaigns.

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