As well as being a free platform on which you can base an entire marketing structure, social media is essentially unavoidable for any modern organisation. Pick any company you can think of and I guarantee they have some kind of social media presence. Some organisations, famously, have had huge success with using social media. You can see some of the brands using social media site Twitter to their advantage here.
But what makes a successful social media campaign? And what does that mean for non-profit companies?
Regular Updates - There are few things more disheartening than a disused Twitter page, or an out of date LinkedIn. Social media is a long term commitment. You should post regular updates that remain fairly consistent throughout the week. 1 or 2 posts a day should be enough to keep you social media pages topped up and your audience interested. Do be cautious of too many posts as this can be counter productive.
Interactions - One of the reasons for the success of social media is because it provides a two-way channel between client and business. Whereas traditional marketing (newspapers, TV etc) focused on businesses speaking and audiences listening, now audiences can talk back. A key element to successful social media is listening to what your audience is saying, keeping an eye on "trends", responding when people address you and also starting some conversations of your own.
Variation of Relevant Content - Create a mix of shared and original content. Follow other companies that have similar goals to you and "retweet" or "share" interesting items they've posted, which you feel that your audience will benefit from. With traditional profit-driven companies a danger can be posting too many overly promotional posts and very little else. This translates to non-profit companies as posts just focussing on donations and fundraising. Do include posts about donations, this is hugely important, but dilute them with other content. Remember to keep posts relevant and before you post think whether or not your audience will benefit in some way from what you're about to share.
Humour - Using humour is a surprisingly powerful tool. A lot of the examples of successful social media campaigns have created a style of speaking which is light-hearted and sometimes a bit silly. This may not be suitable for your organisation at all. If it's not the right path for your brand then try and think of your own way of speaking and brand personality that reflects what you need from social media. For example, if your charity focuses on something very serious you may want to adopt an honest and professional tone rather than a silly, humorous one.
Providing Something Original - Use social media to convey what your brand has that no one else can provide. Social media can be a great place to launch a new campaign, after all the Ice Bucket Challenge started on social media.
Another good idea is to create posts that update your followers about what's happening within your organisation. For example a post about what you have on the agenda for a day could help your audience feel included and also helps personify your brand. Personifying your organisation will make you easier to identify with and will help you become more successful.
Bigg.com - How Not To Use Facebook For Your Business
Nonprofittechforgood.com - Facebook for Non-Profits