LinkedIn for Nonprofits: 8 Strategies for Success

6 min
LinkedIn for Nonprofits
profile picture of Classy blog contributor Will Schmidt
Will Schmidt

LinkedIn, like its other social media counterparts, has hundreds of millions of registered users. However, a large user base doesn’t guarantee that you’ll drive engagement on your posts, which is what you really want. And a highly engaged audience, even if it’s smaller, is how you accomplish this.

In that light, what makes LinkedIn valuable for your nonprofit is the audience. It’s a group of business to business (B2B) professionals who who are looking for connections and relevant content: they don’t want personal life updates or overtly politicized news, unless it’s relevant to their line of work. In fact, LinkedIn is the top choice for marketers who want to promote their content, data, and relevant news.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram should be included in any successful social media strategy, but LinkedIn specifically offers tremendous opportunity for organic reach by connecting directly with people who want to engage with you. Below, we’ll give you 8 tips to maximize your presence on LinkedIn, increase engagement on your posts, and connect with your audience in a meaningful way.

How to Use LinkedIn for Nonprofits

1. Audit Other Nonprofit LinkedIn Pages

In order to maximize your LinkedIn presence, you need to have a point of comparison for your nonprofit’s page. Before you begin building or optimizing your own page, take time to research what other nonprofits, brands, and companies are doing on LinkedIn.

Gather some of the top organizations that are within your cause category and operate on a similar scale. You should also examine other nonprofits with an online presence you find admirable and inspiring. For both segments, ask the following questions:

  • What about their page grabs my interest?
  • Is there anything here I would do differently?
  • How easy is it to find relevant information about their mission, location, staff, etc?
  • What sort of content are they creating?
  • How many comments, likes, and shares are they getting on their content?

Evaluating these pages can provide insights that will shape your own page. For example, if you notice that other nonprofits within your cause category don’t prioritize video content, you can double down on your video strategy. On the other hand, if nonprofits you admire are writing scintillating opinion pieces that generate massive engagement, consider building similar content into your own strategy.

Pro Tip
After you identify these pages, follow them on LinkedIn to keep quick tabs on their total followers, growth, and engagement.

2. Optimize Your Nonprofit’s Page

The goal of auditing other pages is twofold. On one hand, it’s a benchmark that shows where you stand in relation to other nonprofits successfully using LinkedIn. On the other hand, it shows where the gaps are in your own page that you need to fill or update.

It’s very likely that donors, volunteers, peer-to-peer fundraisers, and the general public will visit your social media pages to further vet your organization after they land on your website. When they land on your LinkedIn page, everything needs to be clearly communicated to them, like:

  • Your location
  • Number of employees
  • Mission statement
  • Current job openings
  • Links to your website or fundraising campaigns

3. Optimize Your Page Photos

You have to make sure the photos on your page are high quality, sized properly, and professional. These are a direct extension of your brand to the general public, and if your photos are pixelated, blown out, and confusing people are likely to lose trust and abandon your page.

For your profile image, the recommended minimum size is 400 x 400 pixels. However, you can get away with uploading a photo that’s 4320 x 7680 pixels. As long as it’s eight megabytes or less, you’re good. The best photo choice for your profile image is probably going to be your nonprofit’s logo.

When it comes to the cover photo—the banner at the top of your page—the recommended size is 1548 x 396 pixels. Don’t slot just any image in this location, as it’s the first thing most people will notice about your page. Instead, take the time to find a photo that captures the essence of your impact. You might choose a photo of:

  • Your beneficiaries
  • Internal staff members
  • A custom designed illustration
  • Volunteers in the field
  • Event participants

4. Have Staff Update Their Profiles

As you update your nonprofit’s LinkedIn page, it’s a prime opportunity to help your staff update their pages as well. This is especially important given that their personal profiles are tied directly to your nonprofit’s page when they say they work at your organization. As people click through to network with your employees, you need to ensure your brand, voice, and tone carries from your page through to theirs.

First, audit all of their headshots to make sure they’re business-oriented and professional. If your staff’s photos aren’t up to par, consider investing in a company to take professional-grade headshots of everyone.

Second, provide boilerplate copy they can use to fill in the “About” section on their own profiles. In this blurb you can include your nonprofit’s mission, what you’re working on to accomplish it, and the impact you’ve made on your journey. This helps ensure brand and voice continuity between your organization’s page and their own. On that note, you should also give your staff the same cover photo used on your page to provide a consistent visual as well.

5. Activate Your Staff

The bad news: you can only join groups and participate in conversations as an individual, not as an organization. The good news: your staff’s personal pages are now optimized and up to date, and they can be activated to participate on your nonprofit’s behalf.

LinkedIn Groups are essentially discussion boards that provide a place to have conversations with other professionals. They range in member count from the hundreds all the way into the hundred thousands and span just about every topic you can think of. Have your staff join these groups and re-promote your nonprofit’s content in order to tap into huge audiences of potential new supporters.

The caveat here is that your staff can’t simply join a group and spam your content to everyone—there’s no faster way to destroy your credibility. Instead, they’ll have to participate in conversations with a vested, legitimate interest before sharing your content organically. There’s no downside here: your content gets massive promotional legs and your staff will learn countless new strategies to improve your organization.

Pro Tip
Once your staff are well established in certain groups, you can choose to feature those groups in a special section of your nonprofit’s LinkedIn Page. Simply “Edit” your page, click “Feature Groups,” and select which groups to feature.

6. Create Captivating Content

One of the best ways to make connections with different audiences on LinkedIn is by creating relevant, interesting, and informative content. This applies to your staff activation as they join groups and participate in conversations, but it’s also important for your nonprofit’s page in general. It’s not enough to have an optimized page. You have to fill it with content.

When you publish something on your page, it gets added to the “Content” section of your page and appears in all your followers’ feeds as well. If you want to drive high levels of engagement on these posts, your content needs to be interesting, relevant, and informative.

Content that fits well on LinkedIn could include:

  • Announcements about new hires
  • Board members when they join your organization
  • Blog posts
  • Community celebrations
  • Volunteers at an event
  • Staff working on-site with beneficiaries

Content that wouldn’t fit well on LinkedIn includes:

  • Links with no context
  • Pixelated images
  • News as it relates to your personal life
  • Content that publishes protected or sensitive information
Pro Tip
Keep your eyes out for ways to capture and re-promote user generated content from your supporters. Learn how All Hands and Hearts used that strategy to fuel a content marketing engine that drove massive fundraising results.

7. Use LinkedIn Ads

Organic posts should always be part of your LinkedIn marketing strategy. These organic updates will reach the newsfeeds of anyone who follows your page, but if you want to expose your nonprofit to new audiences you should budget for paid ad spend. LinkedIn offers multiple ways you can spend your budget across different types of paid ads, like:

  • Message Ads: Send direct messages to people that will appear in their inbox. This works well when looking to hire for open positions.
  • Sponsored Content: Run video, photo, and image carousel ads in the LinkedIn feed across desktop and mobile. These ads are strong options when it comes to promoting your content.
  • Text Ads: Drive traffic to your nonprofit on a pay per click (PPC) or cost per impression (CPM) basis. If you’re on a tight budget, or want to be highly targeted with your spend, this is the best route.
  • Dynamic Ads: Create ads that are automatically personalized for your audience. Dynamic ads work well if you want to build brand affinity, drive traffic to your page, or increase conversions.

8. Use LinkedIn Analytics

As you work to optimize your page, activate your staff, and promote your content, you need to know that your hard work is paying off. To accomplish this, make heavy use of the built-in analytics engine on LinkedIn. Once you’re in the engine, you can break down your data by:

  • Total page views
  • Number of followers
  • Unique visitors to your page
  • Custom button clicks
  • Mobile versus desktop traffic sources
  • Audience demographics

Additionally, LinkedIn will provide detailed breakdowns on each and every post you create. You can see the impressions, clicks, click through rate, reactions, comments, and shares.

These insights are more than just numbers on a page: this is how you inform a data-driven marketing strategy. For example, if you notice that 85% of your traffic is coming from mobile sources, you should make sure the majority of photos you post to your account are sized to fit a mobile screen.

Pro Tip
LinkedIn’s analytics only go back 30 days, so put a recurring calendar notification to check your progress every 30 days to avoid gaps in your data.

LinkedIn thrives on professional, timely, and relevant content that’s catered to your specific job role as an individual. As your nonprofit begins to optimize your organization’s presence on LinkedIn, you can build robust strategies to be the supplier of this content.

There’s also a special section of LinkedIn built for nonprofits. Make sure to explore the different ways you can leverage their network to find top talent, drive brand awareness, and inspire action on your programs and campaigns.


Resources


Where social entrepreneurs go to learn and grow

Join over 60,000 leaders just like you who get their weekly dose of technology, innovation, fundraising ideas, and the latest industry trends.