One of the most common things I hear from clients and readers is that they struggle to get consistent engagement with their followers on social media. Many of them even have substantial numbers of followers, but for whatever reason, those followers aren’t liking, sharing, or commenting on any of the organization’s posts.
It’s a pickle and many nonprofits don’t know where to start to understand the issue or fix it. There are actually lots of reasons that this could be happening, but in this article, I’m going to highlight 5 of the most common ones I see again and again, plus some advice on turning things around.
Problem # 1: Your org isn’t exactly relatable
There’s often a disconnect between what nonprofits think they should be posting on social media and what people actually want from nonprofits on social media. Which begs the question: how much have you thought about what you post and whether or not people actually want to look at it?
How relatable is your organization? How does it come across on social overall? How relatable and entertaining is each individual piece of content?
These are basic questions to ask when formulating a social media strategy. And the answers might surprise you. Digital guru, Neil Patel, used his company Sprout Social to analyze data behind what consumers want to see from brands and organizations on social media. Here’s what he found:
Did you notice that the list doesn’t include things like “sales pitches”, “calls to donate”, “constant event updates”, and things like that? People hop on social media to relax, to unwind, and to connect with other people and things they care about.
Now, I’m not saying that you should never use your social platforms to tell people what’s going on with your org or to get them involved. But what I AM saying is that you should only be doing that about 15-20% of the time. The rest of the time you should be focusing on giving them what THEY want. Not what you want them to have.
The Fix: Provide content that’s authentic, witty, thought-provoking, sometimes even sarcastic when it makes sense, and doesn’t always revolve around your nonprofit and its needs. This seems a little counter-intuitive, but it really works.
And by the way, if you are interested in revamping your social media strategy so that you can give your followers what they actually want, you may want to check out my Nonprofit Digital Marketing & Mastery Workshop over at the CNPS Nonprofit Academy. Lesson 3 is all about responsive marketing on social and it’ll tell you exactly what to do.
Problem #2: You aren’t tailoring your content across social platforms.
Giving people what they want also means understanding who wants what from you and where they hang out. Which leads me to problem #2: you are posting the same thing across all of your platforms.
Does that sound familiar? If you post the same exact photo and text to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, then I’m talking to you.
Here’s what’s wrong with that approach:
- It doesn’t take into account that different groups tend to hang out on different platforms
- Different groups of people don’t all want the same things, so you lose the opportunity to connect with a group by posting content they may not care about
The Fix: Start thinking through who uses which platforms and what types of content tend to do well with those groups on that platform. This will help you tailor content to each platform, ensuring that you’re giving people exactly what they want and not flooding them with things they aren’t interested in or to which they don’t relate.
I’ve included a handy dandy infographic at the end of this post to help you with this!
Problem #3: People aren’t even seeing your content.
If people don’t see your content then they aren’t going to engage. If you’re thinking “I post to social media so why on earth would they not see it?”, let me explain. The content that pops up in a social media feed is controlled by algorithms. Algorithms, in a nutshell, are pieces of code that tell the platform which content is good and what it should show to each individual person.
Things that influence algorithms include how many likes or shares a piece of content has (more is better), what type of content it is (video, photo, text), whether or not the content is high-quality, how many views it’s gotten, content genre, and how often you post.
That last point is actually what I want to talk about.
If you don’t post often enough, you get penalized in social algorithms. And when you get penalized, that makes your content show up less often in your followers’ news feeds. This means that people won’t even get a chance to engage with your content because they may never see it at all.
The Fix: For each social platform your nonprofit uses, you should be posting multiple times a week. Every single day is even better. And in the case of LinkedIn in particular, you really need to post multiple times a day.
Increasing your post frequency (coupled with high-quality content) will help ensure that your posts get seen and give you the best chance for higher engagement levels.
If posting that often sounds daunting, check out my article on marketing automation where I cover how to pre-schedule social media posts. I’ll also be posting a new article in 2 weeks about how you can use “batching” to get more done in less time, including with your social media strategy.
Problem #4: You aren’t posting types of content that get people engaged.
I touched on this a little bit in problem #2, but I want to go a bit deeper. When it comes to social media, not all types of content are created equal. Now, you should definitely be posting stuff that makes sense for the platform. For example, you need to post videos on YouTube and text/conversations are definitely the best suited for Twitter.
But within that framework, it’s helpful to know which kinds of content tend to get the most engagement. Armed with this information, you can create an informed, thoughtful social strategy. Without it, you’re poking around in the dark.
The Fix: Stay up to date on averages for engagement rates for different types of social content. Here’s a graphic I whipped up that can give you a quick overview of engagement levels by content type (keep in mind that things are constantly changing, so this may be out of date by as soon as next year, plus there are nuances to posts that could influence these results).
Problem #5: You aren’t asking for engagement and you aren’t actually engaging, either.
No matter what you post, the most important thing to understand is that social media platforms are truly about connections and relationships. I mean, it’s the name, right? Social media?
The point is, you can’t show up on social media and talk at people and expect them to respond. And yet, that’s exactly what the majority of posts from nonprofits are all about – telling people they should donate, telling people they should come to an event, telling people what great stuff your org is accomplishing, telling people why they should care or how they should get in on it.
Stop telling people things.
The Fix: Have an actual, honest-to-goodness conversation instead. This means that when you post something, you need to ask people to engage with it. Ask them a question, ask them to respond to a poll, ask them to share it, ask them to leave a comment, ask them what they think.
And then of course, when someone does respond, like, share, or otherwise engage, you need to make the effort to respond. This could mean a simple ‘thank you’ comment, a response to the comment they left, comment back with a gif, or something along those lines. How you respond is less important than that you do it, you do it in a timely manner, and you make sure people know they’ve been heard and listened to.
Again, there are tons of things that can contribute to low engagement and tons more things that can help fix that low engagement. But the 5 issues I listed above are by far the most common problems I see with how arts and culture nonprofits approach social media. I hope these insights and fixes help YOUR nonprofit do its best work on social this year.
And as promised, before we part ways I want to leave you with this useful infographic showing you who’s most active on some of the most popular social media platforms and what types of content you could use to engage them. Feel free to right-click on these images and save them if you find them helpful.