Since the rise of both social media and content strategy over the last few years, there have been many myths that have grown along with them that continue to circulate today. Some of these myths come from misguided beliefs, others from simple misunderstandings. In this post, I share what I've learned during my internship at Elevation about three of the most common misconceptions as well as tips for improving your online presence.
Myth #1. All That Matters Is That the Website Works
First off, when it comes to the way your nonprofit presents itself online, having an attractive website is a must. Some organizations are afraid to make their web pages look ‘too fancy’ for fear of making it seem like they don’t need financial help. Just because an organization is in need, doesn’t mean that they have to make it seem like they are the ‘neediest’. Having a website, and a good one at that, is the initial presence of your nonprofit organization online. You want to make sure it leaves an impact. You want to appeal to your donors so they do just that—donate.
Having a strong website, with good graphic design, allows your donors to be a part of the experience. It shows them that they can actually make a difference. It gives them reasons to donate. It needs to appeal to the audience that you are aiming for. If it doesn’t appeal, then, of course, they are less likely to donate. You want to make sure that you have a strong mission statement with clear intentions so donors can have a stronger understanding of what your purpose is and what goals you are focused on reaching. A good design is essential for both the largest and smallest of non-profits, because a website opens the door to donors becoming, and staying, involved.
Myth #2. Having a Social Media Presence Will Happen on Its Own
It's nice to dream, isn't it? Unfortunately, just establishing social media profiles and posting occasionally won't cut it. As with mediocre web design, a social media presence that lacks intention will fail to engage your audience and will be a waste of time and effort.
When creating a social media presence, you want to make sure it reflects your nonprofit brand and that you post regularly. But you also want to make sure that you don’t over extend yourself. It’s not necessary to have a presence on every social media platform that exists. Think about who your audience is. What social media platforms are the most frequented by your audience? Focus on those being your main platforms and from there, build strategies that will lead to the most beneficial optimization of said platforms. Shape and mold your strategies to the wants and needs of your audience, just like you should be doing with your web design.
Myth #3. Social Media and Content Are Distinct Strategies
This one stood out to me the most. How is it that some organizations are treating social media as a strategy separate from their other content? Without content to communicate, there is nothing to share on social media. Social media platforms serve as a tool to distribute content in a meaningful way. You can tailor content to fit the context of each social media platform, and this is known as content strategy. Then once your content is published across your platforms, it can be shared with others that are in the same interest group or related ones, therefore yielding a larger audience. Yes, content strategy and social media are separate entities, but they almost always go hand in hand.
Your nonprofit organization’s online presence is vital for its success. With strong mission statements that present a clear purpose, updated web designs that appeal to donors, and social media content that is updated and relevant to each platform, you can guarantee that your efforts will be rewarded with positive results.