Social media is a critical tool for building and maintaining relationships with your alumni and network. You can use social media to engage your audience and build trust, making them more likely to want to support your educational foundation through financial contributions.
Below are five tips on how you can make that happen:
1. Select the social media network that works and stick with it
There’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but what about LinkedIn, Snapchat and Pinterest? Don’t feel like you need to be actively posting on every single platform. Doing so takes time and effort, in addition to your email and web marketing. Posting everywhere is not worthwhile if your audience doesn’t see your content.
If your resources are thin and you are receiving more engagement on Facebook than Twitter, focus your energy where your audience is. This could mean selecting only one or two platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. Create posts designed for your chosen platform rather than posting the same content to all.
2. Create content that tells a story
Your alumni and network have opted to follow you on social media because they want to stay informed about what’s going on at your school or district. Unlike other brands they might be following, they have a special connection to your organization.
Your audience is eager to hear what students and other alumni are doing, but a simple update is less compelling than a story. Instead of announcing the class of 1999 had its reunion, take the extra step to tell a story from the event. To encourage fundraising, tell a story illustrating how donations are benefiting students. It will make your audience feel more connected to you—and more compelled to donate.
3. Mobilize your fundraising campaign
If you are fundraising around a particular cause or campaign, create a social media strategy supporting your efforts. Create a hashtag specific to your fundraising campaign so that readers are aware any posts they see with that hashtag are related to your fundraising efforts.
Create a landing page on your website designed to share on social posts that will take readers to a simple page where they can donate. Have clear calls to action on your social, e.g. “Donate here,” “Tag a fellow Wildcat,” or “Share using #CHSsciencefund.” Track hashtags and landing page stats to help measure the campaign’s impact.
4. Build and leverage relationships
The greatest value in participating in social media is reconnecting with and maintaining relationships with your alumni and extended network. Again, this is a unique relationship your audience doesn’t have with other organizations. Share content that makes alumni feel part of your organization with compelling stories about current students and staff and throwbacks to when alumni were in school. Encourage discussion in the comments that allow alumni to reminisce and reconnect.
When you’ve built these relationships, leverage your network to expand your reach. Is there a social media influencer in your network—or a popular local business? Activate them when you need to expand your audience, such as during a fundraising campaign.
5. Provide your audience with value, not spam
The purpose of practicing storytelling and sharing engaging content is to show your audience your foundation’s value, and that includes your value as a social media profile. Your alumni didn’t click the “follow” button because they want to see requests for donations filling their timeline. Posts should generally provide value to readers, making them happier or more informed for having read it.
Still, your purpose is fundraising. So when do you ask for donations? Try sticking to the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of your content is engaging or educational, while 20 percent is a direct appeal for donations.
For social media to be an effective fundraising tool, an organization must use platforms to build engagement and trust. If social channels provide value, alumni will remain engaged in many forms, including as donors.