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R.I.P. Nonprofit Marketing Myths

Posted: October 1, 2018 at 10:06 am


It’s about that time of year where you may begin looking back at your 2018 marketing plan and wondering if your efforts made a difference. If you don’t see all of the results you were hoping for, you might even begin to question if you should put your efforts and resources elsewhere for 2019.

And while you should absolutely reflect on your goals and adjust as necessary each year, there are certain marketing myths that nonprofits are prone to believe, even when they shouldn’t. Say “R.I.P.” to the following marketing myths:

MYTH: “If you create the website, the supporters and donors will follow.”

While a clean, up-to-date and responsive website is highly recommended for any organization, no marketing plan is complete with just a website. SEO is essential to boost your rankings with Google, which can be strengthened through website directory submissions, relevant keywords on your pages and blogs, and fresh content added to your blogs regularly. But you also have to bring people to your website. Through e-newsletters, social media, digital advertising and more, you can meet your audience where they are and direct them to your website. So yes, start with a great website, but don’t stop there.

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MYTH: “I have a small nonprofit. It doesn’t matter if I keep my social media channels as my personal channels promoting my nonprofit instead of creating all new business accounts.”

The fact of the matter is that your nonprofit deserves to have its own branded social media accounts. Not only will doing so offer your organization credibility with a professional look, but business accounts also have some perks on social media, such as allowing you to boost posts to gain reach, engagement and followers, allowing you to create strong call-to-action buttons such as “Call,” “Donate” and “Send Message,” allowing others to review your organization and so many more.

One best practice, especially for business accounts starting with no followers, is to create posts on your business pages and share them to your personal accounts. This will allow your posts and your business accounts to gain more visibility, as your personal followers will discover your business pages and follow them and engage with them.

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MYTH: “If I’m going to be on social media, I might as well be on every social media platform.”

On the opposite side of the spectrum, once you realize the benefit of using social media for your organization, it’s important to make sure you focus your efforts in the right areas. You don’t necessarily need to be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat AND Tumblr. Instead of being a jack of all trades, become a master on the platforms that matter most to your target audiences. This way, you’re able to spend the time and effort you do have on the right platforms and avoid wasting time posting on the platforms that don’t.

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MYTH: “It doesn’t matter what I write about, as long as I keep posting.”

It’s great that you recognize the need to post and keep your channels and blog active, BUT you need to keep your content relevant. Don’t fall into the trap of posting “just because.” Instead, find ways to maximize your time and efforts – make multiple social media posts linking to one blog, retweet and share other organizations’ relevant industry news instead of re-writing them, etc. And while it’s helpful for SEO and Google ranking purposes to offer longer, meatier content that includes a handful of keywords, it’s okay to also throw in some short, punchy posts to stay relevant, active and top of mind when you don’t have much time.

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MYTH: “No one reads/wants emails anymore.”

The truth – as long as you’re giving them relevant information that your audience wants to hear, they will. And email is still a very effective marketing tool when used strategically. Yes, social media has gained a lot of traction in the last few years, but the two efforts don’t have to conflict. In fact, one of the easiest ways to combine efforts and utilize your time well is to write a few social media posts from a blog, and then write a snippet of content from your blog for a section in your e-newsletters. You don’t have to have new content for each platform/marketing tactic.

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MYTH: “If I don’t see results by now, I should stop using email/social media.”

You have to keep in mind the bigger picture. While it would be amazing to receive donations from emails and gain hundreds of new donors from social media, that’s not what these tactics are necessarily used for. Social media is about building relationships with your audiences, showing them your organization has a personality and real people behind it. Email allows you to keep your audiences up to date with your company happenings and keeping your organization top of mind. While you might receive an occasional donation from these efforts, it shouldn’t be your primary method of fundraising.

In the end, we see social media and e-newsletters as ANDs, not ORs. Add them to your overall marketing plan, and you’re well on your way to positioning your nonprofit in the right light, for the right audiences, on the right platforms. For more information on strategic marketing plans, or for assistance in implementing a communications strategy, contact us.