Social networking websites allow individuals and businesses to interact with one another and build relationships and communities online. When companies join these social channels, consumers can interact with them directly. That interaction can be more personal to users than traditional methods of outbound marketing and advertising. Social networking websites are based on building virtual communities, that allow people to express their needs, wants and values, online. Social media marketing then connects these audiences to businesses that share the same values.

There are two options for engaging the social media as marketing tools:

The passive approach

Social media can be a useful source of market information. Blogs, content communities, and forums are platforms where individuals share their reviews and recommendations of services.

The active approach

Social media can be used not only as public relations and direct marketing tools but also as communication channels (targeting specific audiences with social media influencers) and as user engagement tools. Facebook and LinkedIn are leading social media platforms where users can hyper-target their ads.

Here are some social media tips for your nonprofit:

Leverage Employees for Social Media Marketing

Not only is it difficult to generate social media followers, it's even harder to ensure they're the sort of people you actually want to reach. That is why it is so important to understand the effect that employees can have on content distribution through social media. Nonprofits can encourage their employees to share brand messages through their personal social media accounts. Your employees likely already connect to online networks of people who are empathetic to your cause.

An easy way to get your employees to market your nonprofit that doesn't involve any posting at all is to encourage your employees to identify your nonprofit in their social media profiles. Facebook "About" pages, Twitter bios, and LinkedIn profiles are excellent places to provide information about your nonprofit.

Paid Marketing

There are many paid marketing options on social media that are extremely useful to nonprofits. AS an example, you can target people who frequently buy online on Facebook before Christmas and ask for donations payable with their Amazon account. You could also use Facebook to show ads to people who are donors in specific categories.

Test Ad Types or Post Formats

Whether you are promoting your organization using a paid marketing campaign or are looking to simply post content for free, there are lots of different formats. Choosing the right format can ultimately determine how successful your campaign will be. Here are some content formats and campaigns you should consider:

  • Facebook lead ads
  • Facebook posts
  • Facebook click-to-site campaign
  • Video posts on Facebook
  • Video posts on Youtube
  • Facebook events and milestones
  • Facebook notes
  • Google Grant
  • Image galleries on Facebook and Twitter
  • Tweets
  • Status updates on Facebook
  • Google+ posts
  • Blog articles
  • Twitter cards
  • Instagram ads

If you aren't sure where to post your ads or content, consider where you have your largest social following and start there.

Choose the right networks

Study social media demographics to find out where your target audience are active online, and focus your efforts on those networks. If you have limited time to spend on social media marketing, don't worry about adopting every popular network.

Facebook remains the most popular network, with 96% of nonprofit communicators ranking it in their top three social media sites; Twitter and YouTube take spots two and three, respectively, according to the 2015 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report.

Create a Content Strategy

When creating a content strategy, put your attention on storytelling that gets your message across. Begin by examining past posts to see what types of content get your followers engaged. Don't be afraid to ask followers what type of stories they would like to see from your nonprofit. You can gather this information in person, via an email survey or by asking on social media.

Open the right kind of account on a social network

Wherever possible open a business-type account on the social network. For example, Facebook has Facebook pages, YouTube has a Nonprofits on YouTube program, and Pinterest has Pinterest Business accounts. These accounts have features nonprofits need, like analytics and apps.

Create a partnership campaign on Facebook

Create a partnership with some organization such that for every specific number of likes, they will donate a fixed amount of money to your cause.