Nonprofits With the Greatest Social Media Reach

A few weeks ago, Craigslist founder and CEO, Craig Newmark, published a unique study on the top 50 most financially successful nonprofits and the effectiveness of their online social media marketing efforts. Now, the company’s online publication craigconnects has released additional insights from their study. This time, they took a look at the actual impact of (or participation with) these nonprofits on various social media platforms.

The Results

This time they delved deeper into the actual social media relationships. By taking a look at the number of actual Facebook and Twitter posts and replies, they were able to see where the largest conversations were happening online and which causes had the most impact and support. As with the previous study, they released the data in a creative infographic you can see here.

The results were organized into the follow eight categories:

  • Animal
  • Children
  • Cultural
  • Disaster Relief
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Military/Veterans
  • Women

By looking deeper into the actual social media strategies, they were able to extract a few interesting relationships. They found that the most talkative categories on both Facebook and Twitter were animal and environmental organizations, with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) as the most successful. The least talkative included veterans and military organizations. And while PETA may incite conversation, the most engaged communities on Facebook are children’s organizations.

They also took some time to talk to many of the organizations about their social media staff to see if there was any correlation between the number and types of employees dedicated to the online marketing conversations and the results seen. With the 21 organizations they were able to contact, they found that only one does not have a dedicated social media employee. Overall, there are 14 full-time and 40 part-time social media staff members—with animals, environment, and women’s organizations as the most staffed. In fact, since hiring a full-time social media person, ASPCA has seen tremendous growth over the past year. They have 75,000 Twitter followers (their following has doubled) and have surpassed 1 million Facebook fans by thousands.

The Takeaway

So where does your nonprofit fit in to all of this?  Could you learn some valuable lessons from the trends revealed here?  It’s clear that social media is effective and it’s not going away. It will always be beneficial for an organization to have an effective social media strategy. But what is the key to making it all work?  There is a clear correlation between the level of engagement in a certain industry and the number of dedicated social media employees.

Newmark summarizes the results of their study in this way:

While it is remarkable to see the variations in social media use by area of focus among nonprofits, the bottom line is that your main concern should be to cultivate conversations, relationships, and interactions within your own specific community, whether it’s 2,000 or 200,000 people. Work to move “your people” up the ladder of engagement, based on their needs. But know it will take an investment of staff time and resources to achieve this. These are the keys to keeping up in the fast-paced arena of social networks.

It is clear that social media success will take a dedicated effort and cannot reach its full potential as something done only when there is nothing better to do. Your followers need to be engaged in conversation in order to move them from casual supporters in word only to active promoters and regular donors. Make them your priority and keep them engaged in your cause through social media as often as possible. It will take an investment of time or money to keep an effective social media campaign, but it will be worth it in the end.

For more information on the impact social media has with nonprofits, take a look at the infographics for this study and the previous one if you missed it.

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