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How to Use Social Media to Promote Non-Profit Events

question Pennies Last week HubSpot co-sponsored a webinar with BiddingForGood on how non-profit organizations can use social media to drive event registration. We outlined key trends and best practices, as well as several strategic recommendations about which social media efforts should be included in event promotion strategies. Over 700 fundraisers attended. In fact, there was so much Twitter chatter during the webinar that the broadcast team wasn't able to answer all questions live. Here are our answers to the top three questions we received:

1. What are the first steps to getting more of our members to Friend or Like us on Facebook?

Start by optimizing the marketing tactics you currently use most for better Facebook engagement . For example, if you use direct mail a lot, make sure the space near your logo in those mailings has a prominent "Follow Us on Facebook" message. Or, if email is key for you, make sure your organization's signature in those emails includes a call out for your Facebook page. Once those pieces are in place, try kicking off a Facebook contest or a giveaway with your list. Say that "liking" your organization's page will enter them into a drawing to win a prize such as a free ticket to an upcoming event. If that prize comes from a sponsor, have the sponsor share the link on their page, too. Encourage all the members of your team share the link on their personal pages as well.

Also, consider sharing photos or video from an event only on your Facebook page (using its photo album functionality), and invite your list to view them with an email, with the hope being that they'll enjoy the experience of being on your page and "like" you so they don't miss anything in the future.  

2. Do you create a strategic, long-term timeline for your social media event promotion? What would it look like?

Yes, to the extent that you can, absolutely plan out a strategic social media timeline for your event. The beginning of the timeline should be about creating awareness, and the latter half about driving registration. The first things you will need are a separate registration page (so you can track how effective your efforts are), a lot of content that tells the story of your event or cause, and a commitment from team members (or yourself!) to publish that content on an agreed-upon schedule. Your social media efforts will revolve around this content, so publishing these content pieces once or twice a week will be crucial. Starting as far in advance of the event as makes sense (you'll know the registration tendencies of your audience), post links to those blog articles or videos on your social media accounts, and begin creating awareness not only for the cause (stories or videos of past beneficiaries, etc.) but for the event as well (where, when, who is going, etc.). Include a link to the registration page within each post, since quality content will likely result in registration.

As your event gets closer, continue to post awareness content (both new content and links back to old content that performed well), but focus on mixing in more goal-update-type posts, so people know exactly where you currently stand in relation to your fundraising goal. At this point, your persistence will make people aware of your event's date and beneficiaries, so you'll want to concentrate on provoking them to donate or sign up.  

3. If an event's audience is not using social media (e.g. high priced auction items, event tickets), how can social media be useful?

It is completely possible that your audience for a particular event may not be social media power users, but because there will always be at least a small minority who are, make sure you still carve out some resources to promote the event with social media. Having an event or cause that these folks can link to or "like" will mean more exposure for your event, which could help drive registration and/or grow your list for future use.

Also, don't discount what "getting creative" with social media could mean for your event. Do you have a corporate sponsor? Write a blog post about how important that sponsor's role has been in the success of your cause, and ask them to post it on their page. They'll likely jump at the opportunity to showcase their philanthropic side, and that could mean a lot more exposure for you. Or, create profiles of people who have donated, and repeat that same promotion. Another idea, if your event is an auction, could be to create a write-up for an item that will be up for auction and think about ways to get it in front of people that would want it. For example, let's say you have an autographed Tom Brady jersey. How can you get Patriots fans who haven't heard of your organization to start bidding?

Is your business a non-profit? How do you use social media to help promote your cause?

Photo Credit: Ano Lobb


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