Social Media Buttons-Helpful or Hurting Nonprofits

Social Media Buttons-Why Nonprofits Should Take a Second Look

This is another case of “Best Practice” advice gone bad.  I know why it happens, nonprofits and ministries feel the tug to keep pace with the fast tech changes and social media is often at the top of that list.  So when someone touted the advice to simply add a little row of icons to show you are social engaged, some of us thought “That’s great- I can do that easy enough.”

But if you are placing these prominently on your website you may be doing more harm than good.  Here are a couple reasons you might want to reconsider.

Reasons to Reconsider Social Media Buttons

Wait?  Wait, Don’t Go Away! When you work tirelessly to funnel donors to your website so they can connect with your mission and those you serve, WHY would you want to redirect them?  This is huge.  When you set up your website you should be thoughtfully creating a path of experience to your DONATION page!  This goes for any link you are giving prominent placement too.  If it is taking your donors down a different path or redirecting them chances are you will end up losing them (and their gift) down a rabbit hole.  I know, I know you want them to find your social pages and give you a like.  There is a better place for that.  Don’t distract your visitors from where you really want them to go (donation, RSVP, etc)

Give Em’ Something to Talk About. When that little row of buttons is generically placed, that is exactly the response you will receive.  Social Media at its’ best is communicating things in the moment.  It is a mapping of what is relevant to an individual or “us” at large.  When you use your icons do so with a specific intent.

Here are a few ways to incorporate them usefully:

  • Share buttons on content like blog posts (where users can share content that they just consumed)
  • Follow/Share buttons on donation confirmation pages (share their donation or invite others to join them)
  • Follow/Share buttons on donation confirmation email receipts (smart way to sign up for following you for future updates)
  • Website footer (where they won’t distract, if you think your visitors are coming solely to find your social media channels)

Uh Where Am I? That is the last question you want your social engaged donors to be saying.  If you are not keeping your social media accounts current and relevant to donors (some ministries and nonprofits use them as a calendar), this might have a negative impact on your donor’s experience.  If they are going to take the time to click, make sure they are not landing on a page that hasn’t been updated for a couple of months.  If you set up a bunch of accounts (tumbler, reddit, google) that you are not using regularly then don’t provide those icon links.  Only send your donors to the channels that will be most useful and engaging to them.

So like anything, make sure if you set something up for your donors and supporters that it is purposeful, and when you implement a new trend that it is germane to your donor experience.