How to convert social media fans and followers into donors and long-term supporters?
That’s the big question, isn’t it?
If we are spending all this time on social media, what are WE getting out of it?
Or, even if we only throw up a post once per week with very little thought or effort – what’s that tiny effort worth?
While it certainly is possible to have a strategy to turn our social media communities into supporters, two caveats remain:
- The Internet is not an ATM, and social media is not a money faucet.
- You must use these channels to build up trust first.
Once trust is built and you have been showing up for your online community on the regular, giving them valuable information that they want, sharing powerful stories of your impact, and gathering feedback, you are ready to convert people into donors.
Even if you aren’t using social media for fundraising purposes, you will still want to get your fans and followers to take a bigger step with you – to sign up for an advocacy action, to download a research paper, or to join your membership.
Here are 3 ways to build deeper relationships with your social media fans and followers, and convert them into long-term supporters:
1) Consistently use social media to build your email list.
Email is the best way to build long-term, deeper relationships with your fans.
And despite the fact that we all say we hate email (or love/hate it), usage is not on the decline, even with younger generations.
Put your email sign-up link in all of your social media bios and About pages.
Anytime you release a video or do a livestream broadcast, encourage people to sign up to get notified the next time you post helpful content.
Put this email sign-up link in a YouTube card that you add to your nonprofit videos.
You can also simply add the URL to sign-up or to donate in the caption of your YouTube or Vimeo video.
I do this with my YouTube videos – see the example below:
You can also fundraise directly from your YouTube viewers and subscribers by using cards.
When asking for email sign-ups, blog subscriptions, and of course, donations, let people know that you will be sharing stories of impact and providing information on the cause they care about.
“Sign up today and we’ll send you 2 simple ways to fight hunger in your community!”
“Join us in the fight against deforestation.”
“Never miss an update in our mission to cure childhood cancer.”
You may be asking: “But Julia, people won’t sign up for our list!”
That may be true. Not everyone will end up signing-up – and that’s ok!
Have you given people a good reason to sign up? We have to stop using email as a purely promotional and transactional medium.
Instead, let’s flip the switch.
To get people to sign up for yet another email list, you have to create an irresistible incentive.
What can we provide to them that is uniquely OURS? That they can’t get anywhere else?
That they would miss if we were gone?
By focusing on your audience’s desires and needs, and what drives them and motivates them you can better craft a pitch to get them to sign-up.
One that HAS to be more compelling than simply “sign up for our newsletter”.
2) Leverage the power of targeted social ads.
Create a small budget for social ads that lead your social media followers to your email opt-in form, Donate button (for Facebook and Instagram), or outside fundraising site (donate page).
DO NOT simply send people to the homepage of your website and expect them to figure out what to do once they get there.
When they click on the add, be sure that the page is optimized for mobile.
When not actively fundraising, still give your fans an incentive to click and join you OFF of social media – a new research report, a special story, a free event or webinar.
These ads can be effective on any platform where you have an audience.
If you don’t have any LinkedIn connections, trying to build your email list from scratch and solicit donations there is going to be expensive and not work as well.
In Facebook and Instagram, create a Call to Action Ad: Using Facebook Ads Manager, you can create a separate ad that does not live on your Page but that shows up only in the News Feed to a targeted audience.
Note: Social ads are most effective for WARM audiences – people that already know a little bit about you.
Cold audiences who have never heard of you or what you do probably need to get to know you a bit first before they hand over their email.
3) Ask your fans and followers to start Facebook or Instagram fundraisers for you.
There are two main ways to raise money from your social media fans and followers on Facebook and Instagram:
1.You can launch a Fundraiser from your nonprofit Facebook Page and ask for donations.
2.You can encourage your supporters to start Fundraisers for you. (Most effective!)
So how do we get people to start Fundraisers for us?
We ASK our community.
We GIVE them the right tools to make their Fundraiser a success.
We CULTIVATE this special group of people and turn them into long-term, loyal supporters who rave about us at every turn!
I recommend that if you’ve never asked your Facebook and Instagram followers to do this for you, start an awareness campaign.
Create a simple Facebook Fundraising Toolkit for your website to let them know exactly what to expect.
- Homes For Our Troops: https://www.hfotusa.org/how-to-use-facebook-fundraisers-to-support-hfot/
- Kids In Need Foundation: https://www.kinf.org/facebookfundraisers/
- National Ataxia Foundation: https://ataxia.org/how-to-host-a-successful-facebook-fundraiser/
- The Inn: https://the-inn.org/facebook/
Write a blog post or news announcement.
Send out an email and mention this as a fundraising option in all emails.
Post on other social media sites.
Create a video announcing it and explaining how it works, the benefits, how to get started. Be intentional.
Capture birthdays. Celebrate milestones and anniversaries.
Incorporate it into your annual fundraising strategy.
Add it to your welcome email series.
Talk about it at events.
In Conclusion – Even Small Nonprofits Can Do This!
Give donors and supporters what they want – evidence of impact and stories.
Do not use social media as a megaphone to promote your agenda.
Cultivate relationships strategically – it takes time.
At the end of the day, we don’t control these channels. Social media platforms operate like businesses, with their shareholders’ interests in the forefront – not ours, and not even the users.
Because building a social media community means building a following on rented land, it’s vital to have a plan in place to convert your nonprofit social media fans and followers into donors and long-term supporters.
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