Small businesses can use a bevy of marketing tools that can help bring personality and engagement to an online conversation with customers. However, non-profits organizations have always had to be cost conscious because of the lack of budget many of them have when it comes to marketing, so they have always had to be creative in this arena. It so happens that social media is a cost effective way for them to extend the messaging of their email campaigns. Plus, no one can tug at my heartstrings or wallet like a good non-profit.

Here are a few things that I think non-profits can benefit from when using the free social media tools that are available to them.

Blogging Non-Profit Style

If you are a non-profit and you haven’t started a blog this should be your first step. A blog is a great way to tell your story and it will help you reach more people and show people the meaning behind your work. Typepad and WordPress both have great free tools that make it very easy and very cost effective to set up a blog.

If you’re stuck for ideas Small Business Trends just posted a fabulous article, 100+ SMB Blogging Ideas to Kick Start 2010.

If you need a little convincing our CEO wrote a blog post last week that is a must read, Start Blogging! 10 Reasons Why You Think Time Wasted Might Be Time Well Spent.  

Adding Photos and Video to the Mix 

Photos and videos can increase the emotional investment of volunteers, supporters and donors. If you ever host events make sure to have someone walking around with a camera. If your non-profit is benefiting someone or something that can be photographed, make sure you show the world by easily hosting it on YouTube and directing people to it from your email marketing campaigns and your social media outlets.

YouTube has a non-profit program that is pretty cool for vidoes. Within the program they do everything from show you how to run a video campaign to how to add a donate button.

One of our non-profit customers sent us a great video of the people they help. It took them no time at all to do and we blogged about it here.

Flickr is a great place to share your photos, not only can you link to your Flickr page and share it with anyone but anyone can stumble upon your photos which will continually increase your reach. If you use Flickr to share your photos make sure to link back to your website so if people want more information about your non-profit they can find it easily.

Social Networking

Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all free, easy to use tools that allow you to listen to your audience and connect with them. This can be a really fun way for non-profits to market themselves because people are more likely to comment on what you’re posting. Set up company profiles on each of these platforms but keep in mind that they are not a ‘set it and forget it’ tool; you will need to nurture these profiles with updates and comments. If you don’t have time to do this as a business, encourage your employees to pass on your messages on their personal profiles.

Many times non-profits start with Facebook and Twitter first, which is great but don’t forget about LinkedIn. LinkedIn can be an ideal place to connect with employed professionals, which could turn into donations, as well as connect with other organizations with similar goals and missions which could turn into potential partnerships.

This isn’t a list of everything non-profits can do on social networks but hopefully a place to help get you started. Add comments below with other tips and tricks you have learned that can help non-profits in the social media world.

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