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6 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

Nonprofit Social Media Marketing

Getting started on social media for your nonprofit, or even simply opening a new social channel, can be overwhelming. Setting up profiles, writing an engaging introduction, and keeping up with regular posts, stories, and tweets is nothing short of a full-time focus; however, the opportunity for growth and engagement online cannot be ignored.  

55% of people who engage with nonprofit organizations on social media are shown to take some form of action, which is just one statistic that proves that investing in online channels can lead to additional areas of donor engagement opportunity 

With that said, the risk of making mistakes on social media are clear. We have all seen situations of a social media crisis unfold, making it necessary to have an audit and action plan complete before engaging on any channel (we’ll get to that). Before embarking on a new channel strategy, ensure that your nonprofit organization is aware of the most common mistakes that brands make online.  


Here are 6 nonprofit social media mistakes to avoid: 


Mistake #1: Opening or launching a channel without a social media playbook  

We referenced the risk of not having a plan before opening or engaging on social media. Without a social media playbook, nonprofit organizations run the risk of engaging and interacting blindly, without a clear strategy or escalation procedure.  

social media playbook is a living and breathing document that defines the roles and responsibilities of your employee(s) or volunteer(s) who have access to engage on your social channels. It should also include the voice and tone of content created and shared for your organization, escalation procedures (should questions from your audience arise or concerning content be seen), and other areas of protection for your team. Update this document regularly, at least once per quarter, as the nature of channels, access, and the evolution of your organization progresses.  



Mistake #2: Not understanding who you are targeting — and why  

Any business strategy requires just that — a strategy. When engaging on social media, it is important to understand who you are targeting (your potential donors) and why. If your nonprofit is a national organization, but you are consistently referencing localized content, a revision of the strategy may need to be considered. Alternatively, if you have a large demographic of localized followers, but your organization is trying to grow its reach, you may want to incorporate some social media trends into your strategy.  

The same can be said for building and delivering an audience that is focused and has a clear interest in your nonprofit niche. A common mistake on social media is not identifying and engaging with a target niche. By trying to include everything under the sun on your social channels, not only can you disengage your audience, you could also lose followers. Targeting an audience within your niche is essential to building and fostering an engaging community.  



Mistake #3: Posting and sharing content without collecting trackable and measured data  

In any social media strategy, collecting, tracking and reporting on data is essential to clearly measure and optimize your efforts. Over time, trends may be realized where certain types of content illicit higher engagement rates, whereas others provoke an increase in direct messages. Tracking meaningful metrics such as views to comment ratio, change in website referrals, and shares on the platform, will help to inform future strategy.  

An essential piece of data to track is post engagement as it relates to the creation of future content. Best practice is to create similar posts so that your audience knows what to expect. A tip is to segment your content into six to eight categories, only creating content that falls into one of these categories. This encourages consistency, while also giving you a starting point when content planning. Consider creating behind the scenes (of your organization) content, sharing inspirational quotes and stories, posting organization updates and events, and sharing donor testimonials to support consistency and familiarity on your channels.  

Be sure to start tracking data now, so you do not miss opportunities to pivot in the future.  



Mistake #4: Not integrating the organization’s voice within social media  

We’ve seen this across industries, brands or businesses that have one unique voice on traditional media channels, yet do not integrate within their social media channels. Conveying your nonprofit’s personality will not only help to humanize your organization, but it will also develop brand consistency.  

Consider developing the organization’s voice in this way: where do your target donors “live” online? What types of content are they interested in? What sort of characteristics define your organization and culture? Defining who you are is an important first step in ensuring voice and brand consistency.   



Mistake #5: ….Bueller? Bueller?…. 

64% of consumers want brands to connect with them, and the same goes for nonprofit organizations.  

If you open a channel, such as Instagram, but it lies dormant for two months, your followers will be less likely to engage consistently over time (not to mention, it will negatively impact the algorithm).  

Consider this, if a potential donor calls your organization, but you do not respond or return their call, they will likely find another organization to support. The same goes for social media. The truth hurts, we know! Ensuring you are consistent in overall engagement will foster brand trust and development over time.  



Mistake #6: Not optimizing your social media profiles  

Developing a brand bio is prime real estate to create positive first impressions for your nonprofit organization. You can also use this space to update and promote your campaigns, events, and more.  

Below are recommendations for social media profile optimization, by network: 

  • Twitter: Update your bio quarterly, adding relevant hashtags as needed. Consider using your website as your URL, unless you have a specific seasonal campaign to support.  
  • Instagram: Similar to Twitter, frequent bio updates are recommended. With this platform, you can use link-sharing sites like Linktree to share and reference more URLs through your post and Story strategy.  
  • Facebook: Your header on Facebook is prime real estate — it’s time to treat it as such! Update your header monthly to support evergreen or seasonal campaigns that promote your core social objectives.  



Social media is a tremendous tool for organic engagement with potential and current donors. When used properly, it can unlock 1:1 opportunity with supporters, something that cannot be done as easily with other engagement tactics. If you are considering opening a new channel, or perhaps you are undergoing an audit of your current strategy, consider these 6 nonprofit social media mistakes.