4 Things You Can Learn From Non-Profit Social Media Success

Social Media Marketing


Many brand marketers at for-profit companies are accustomed to working with a large marketing budgets that fund their vast array of marketing activities from events, to syndicated content to paid social media advertising. But not everyone has that luxury, and I’m inspired by how non-profits, often with limited budgets, use social media to drive successful campaigns. Not only do they share their story with a considerably smaller budget than a typical corporate budget, but they also do a great job engaging their audience. What can brand marketers learn from non-profits about effectively using social media? Let’s take a look.

1) Create Customizable Content

Marketers watched this summer as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge became a social media blockbuster. We saw that social media was a perfect vehicle for non-profits to get their message out to millions of people at little to no cost. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, was on every social network, was short in length, and personal, which was a recipe for success. The Ice Bucket challenge was unique in many ways, but one of the most important lessons we learned from it was to create customizable social campaigns. The campaign adapted to each participant, allowing them to impart their experience and thoughts, and it drove virality by encouraging participants to challenge their friends. When you align people’s passion with a piece of content that is snackable, shareable, and customizable, fans share it.

2) Empower Your Fan Base

The United Nations’ World Humanitarian Day social media campaign garnered over 1 million impressions by leveraging the power of their fan base and community. They amplified their message by asking their fans to sign up to share a pre-populated post (giving permission for the auto-post), scheduled for a specific day and time. The post released for all their fans at the same time, giving their hashtag much more lift and muscle than the average post would get. Plus, this demonstrated the power of their fan base. To accomplish this, they used a tool called Thunderclap.

3) Amplify Your Reach

Who would you be more likely to believe: a company talking about its product or a trusted friend? With the evolution of social recommendation platforms such as Yelp!, we have grown even more reliant on the recommendations of others (even those we don’t know). For example, if I receive a letter asking for donations, I will probably read it but may not donate. But, if I’m browsing on Facebook and see that a friend is asking for help to raise money for a cause or participating in an activity that benefits a non-profit, I am much more invested and likely to donate. This free social validation is worth way more than the letter when it comes to reaching a new audience and triggering a donation.

4) Find Partners

At Marketo, we’re partnering with our local food bank this holiday season, delivering turkeys for each “early-bird” registration we receive for our Summit. As a team, we delivered 175 fresh turkeys to our local food bank.Marketo Gives Back to Second Harvest Food Bank

Savvy marketers, both corporate and non-profit, look to leverage the network of their partners for mutual benefit. The Second Harvest Food Bank teams up with local companies, and sports teams (including the San Francisco 49ers- check out safety Antoine Bethea in the center picture) to reach its food bank goals, source it’s volunteers and amplify their message.

Social Marketing with Non-Profit Partners

What lessons have you learned from non-profits and their social success? How do you partner with charities in your local community?