How Nonprofits Should Use Social Media Analytics and Paid Advertising

Content calendars and posting on social media are just a sliver of your social media marketing strategy. To have a comprehensive plan you need to be looking at your analytics and investing in paid advertising. After all, what’s the point of posting if you aren’t tracking success or if no one is seeing your content? Working in the nonprofit industry, I understand you are busy and even finding the time to post on social media can seem like a small victory, however, below are some simple tips to get you started when it comes to analytics and paid advertising.

Why You Should be Looking at Social Media Analytics

In my last blog post, I talked about how you can increase your social media presence by picking channels and generating authentic original content. Once you get going with your social media plan, you will want to know how you are doing, what posts are successful and which pieces of content are just plain duds when it comes to increasing engagement and driving your audience to your website. While you can get a feel from a surface level by looking at how many likes, comments and shares you get on each post, you need to take a more comprehensive approach to really know how you’re doing on social media. As you plan your content calendar, your analytics from the previous period should drive what you post for the next week, month or quarter. It will also allow you to identify your audience when creating targeted ads.

In short, by looking at analytics, you can identify who your audience is (including age, location, profession), what interests them, and what content is successfully driving users to your website. This will all help you develop successful content and better identify your audience for paid advertising.

Where to View Social Analytics

Every channel has their own analytics and there are plenty of third-party companies who will report analytics for you as well. For the sake of this being an introductory article, I’m not going to get too in the weeds here and will focus on the heavy hitters: Google Analytics and Facebook. These two tools provide the deepest dive into your audience. Before I go further, I will say you should be checking out the analytics or insights tab on all your channels every so often – these two just do a great job at identifying your audience and figuring out what they’re doing the best.

Here are some great articles and tutorials to get you started with Google Analytics and Facebook:

A Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Analytics from Hootsuite

The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics from Moz

Do I Need to be Looking at Everything? What’s Most Important?

That depends on what you want to know. Two main goals you should have with analytics are to understand your audience and measure engagement. Understanding who your audience is will allow you to create content relevant to them and will enable you to concentrate your advertising efforts.

You also need to be looking at clicks, reach, impressions and web visits. Engagement data gives you a general sense of how engaging your posts are. Focusing on likes and comments are good, but you need to be sure people are clicking and taking action upon seeing your posts.

Why You Should be Doing Paid Social Media Ads

We now live in a pay to play world with social media. Think about how you use social media. What do you want to see most on your feed? Do you want to be inundated with requests to buy a product or donate to a cause? If these posts are well targeted to your interests then maybe, but let’s be honest, we’re on social media for memes, cute animal videos, and checking in on family and friends.

When to Use Paid Ads

When a post is good

The saying ‘garbage in, garbage out’ applies here. Maybe the term garbage is a bit harsh, but if your post is weak and not doing well, using it as an ad or giving it a boost is not going bring it to life. It will still not do well. If you want your content to hit it out of the park, it needs to be top notch. What makes a post good? Check out my tips here.

When it can be revenue generating

I recommend using your budget to promote things like your upcoming fundraiser or annual appeal. Promoting revenue-generating content increases your ROI which makes the most sense when budgets are tight.

In almost all cases, the content you are promoting should directly lead your audience to a call to action for your agency (heads up, in the next section I go over when content doesn’t have to). Just because a post is good doesn’t mean you should spend money on it. Examples include sharing an article from another source, a fun picture at the office, or an uplifting quote you saw on someone else’s page. That content is appropriate for your overall content calendar and is recommended, but it’s usually not worth the spend to promote it.

Defining Your Social Media Goals

Your goals may change depending on the content and your intent, but below are some general guidelines for what you should strive for with paid ads on social media.

Increase Engagement with Likes, Follows and Comments

Previously, I said your posts should drive your audience to your website or produce some sort of action. However, sometimes that isn’t necessary. In that event, general engagement such as likes and comments are a good goal for a post. Content that I recommend using for this goal includes general awareness campaigns that include content such as photos of your program, statistics and anything else that engages and informs your audience and can lead to audience growth and increased followers.

Increase Clicks to Your Website

This is a good goal when you are sharing content that includes a URL to your site. Content could consist of something like signing up to volunteer, donating or reading content that you created. Receiving likes and comments on a post about asking your audience to give can be heartwarming, but if folks aren’t actually clicking through to your donate page then the post wasn’t successful in the long run.

You will also need to decide if you want to target your current audience, friends of your current audience or an entirely new audience. If your page is established and you have a strong following, staying within your current audience can work well when asking for money or volunteers. If your page is new and you are looking to grow your audience, then you should reach outside of your current followers.

How Much Should You Spend on Social Media Advertising

Not much! Your budget can fluctuate depending on the jurisdiction of your organization. Let’s say you are a local nonprofit operating within your county as opposed to running a statewide or national organization. I suggest $5-$20 for a 3-5 day campaign. $75 for longer posts you may want to promote for a month or so. Let the ROI drive how much you want to spend. Trying to get people to go to your fundraiser, sign up for an upcoming program, or donate on your webpage? Crank that budget up. General brand awareness and agency promotion can work as well; however, I always recommend whatever you are promoting on social media to have a strong call-to-action. You always want to drive your audience to your website or react in some way.

As always, if you have any questions or need further guidance, I am happy to help!

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