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10 Strategies to Run a Successful Social Media Campaign

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Published November 24, 2016 Reading Time: 4 minutes

By now, most nonprofits know that social media is an important part of marketing, fundraising, and donor engagement. But many still lack the specific skills and strategies that help a social media campaign succeed.

Here are 10 strategies you can use to drum up attention and engagement for your next social media campaign. Use these ideas to encourage your community to like, share, respond, and take action.

1. Create a Killer Hashtag

Hashtags help people find posts related to a particular topic (and make it easier to see all the posts relating to your campaign). A catchy or clever hashtag can also get the attention of people outside your network and make them want to learn more.

For their tenth annual Kiteboard for Cancer event, Athletes For Cancer (A4C) used the hashtag #nowaitlist on Facebook and Instagram. #Nowaitlist refers to the wait list of young people fighting cancer waiting for their chance to go to one of A4C’s outdoor camps.

Hashtag Tips

  • Use a phrase related to your cause or campaign, preferably one that is clever or leads people to ask, “What’s that about?”
  • If you’re using Twitter, make sure your hashtag doesn’t take up too many of your 140 characters. You want people to be able to add their own message.

2. Get Partners and Influencers Onboard

Just like a fundraising campaign, getting your first few participants in a social media campaign can be one of the toughest steps. Reach out to your partners and members of your network with large followings and ask them to post about your campaign. You can even offer sample text that they can just copy and paste.

Don’t be afraid to ask people you have only interacted with online. Send them a message saying “I think this content/campaign would interest your network. We’d love it if you checked it out or shared it on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram.” The worst they can do is say “no.”

3. Run a Sweepstakes

Sometimes, offering a little reward can help your social media campaign gain some traction. Run a sweepstakes on Twitter or another channel by asking people to share and like a post. Then choose a random winner from the entrants. You can even use an online tool to make sure your winner is completely random.

4. Create Sensational, Sharable Images

Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than plain-text posts. Image posts also receive more engagement on Facebook, so pictures can be a powerful way to spread your message or campaign. You can share images on just about any platform, but make sure the images are sized correctly so that they aren’t distorted or cut off when people see them.

Heartwarming or cute images are also extremely popular. If you can work baby animals into your campaign in any way, it’s worth a shot.

5. Let Supporters Have Their Say

Some of the best social media campaigns thrive because they invite participation and input from the community. Part of what makes social media so fun is that anyone can add to the conversation. To encourage responses and engagement, try asking your followers a question or tell them to fill in the blank. This not only drives participation, but can also lead to some great stories and insights about your audience.

6. Create Social Assets or Filters

Another smart way to encourage people to dive into and drive your social media campaign is to create a social asset or background image for supporters to use. Some of the most successful examples have been profile image filters on Facebook. Human Rights Campaign, for example, created a simple filter that let people overlay the equality symbol on their profile picture to support the LGBTQ community.

This simple action became hugely popular and many people kept the filter on their profile for weeks. Creating an easy way for people to express their support can help spread your cause and keep it top of mind among your community.

7. Daily Countdown

Anticipation can be a great marketing tool. Just think of big Blockbuster movies or when your favorite artist releases new music. Counting down the final days can build excitement and curiosity. You can do the same with a fundraising challenge or event.

For example, in the week leading up to #GivingTuesday you could do a countdown on social media with different reasons to give. You could even use a countdown to release details of a stories or clues to a surprise. Once people get a taste of what you’re up to, they’ll be tempted to keep checking to see what’s new.

8. Choose a Target for Your Message

For nonprofits affected by legislation, the attention and commitment of a government representative can be extremely helpful. You can use social media to ask your supporters to call these representatives’ attention to your cause or concern.

For a local issue, you might target a single lawmaker or the mayor, but you can also create a social media campaign to address nationwide issues. If there is a bill being discussed in congress that will have an impact on your mission, call on your supporters to tag their representatives.

9. Repurpose Old Content

One of the challenges of a social media campaign is coming up with lots of different angles and ideas for content. Repurposing older posts or pictures is an easy and fun way to keep the conversation going.

For instance, if you are creating a social media campaign for an event your nonprofit hosts every year, post old pictures or memories from past years. You could even repurpose content every #ThrowbackThursday (#TBT) or #FlashBackFriday.

These blasts from the past can remind people of how much fun they’ve had at the event. In fact, you can invite supporters to post their own memories and images relating to the campaign.

10. Pass On a Challenge

What most people remember about the Ice Bucket Challenge is the crazy and funny videos that people shared on social media. But one of the most important parts of this campaign was that participants named others and challenged them to the event. This ensured that after one supporter made their donation or dumped ice water on themselves, one, two, or even more people would do the same.

If you want your social media campaign to have an element of responsibility that helps it go viral, ask participants to challenge someone else. If someone tweets that they want everyone they know to make a donation, it’s easy for everyone to ignore the message or think “somebody else will do it.” But if a friend names you specifically to donate or complete a challenge, you will feel more responsible to follow through.

Use these tips to nurture a healthy conversation in your community and mobilize people to take action. One of the best things about social media is that it is adaptable and always changing, so experiment with new strategies or even come up with your own. You might be surprised by which social media campaigns take off.

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The BIG Guide to Social Media for Nonprofits

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