Campaign strategy for nonprofits

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If you work in the social activism, you already know that the engagement in social media rarely reflects in behavior change or real-world actions. It is known that the effort in reaching successful social media moments does not guarantee the actual change they seek.

Social media is full of moments that gather the attention of the target audience and lead to Facebook likes and retweets. And that is great to raise awareness! But if you want to change a behavior or raise support and really engage with people, you need to convert awareness into action. In other words, you need to convert moments into movements.

From moment to movement

There is no exact science in how to build a successful campaign. But let me give you some insights on how to create a social media strategy, to ignite and fuel a movement with a good positive impact.

  1. Create an outcome-based strategy. First of all you need to develop a strategy that will lead to the ultimate goal. What are your desired outcomes? How can you measure these objectives? Who do you want to reach? What is likely to motivate them? Plan a strategy based in the answer of these questions.
  2. Set Up a Journey. You need to create a journey for each one of your target audiences. This will help you to maintain them engaged and involved, leading them to the final goal. What are the different stages of this journey (from the first message to the reach of the final goal)? What is the call to action for each stage? What is the best type of content for each stage?
  3. Make sure to connect the online world with the real world. In order to make your strategy effective, you need to focus in connecting the online efforts with the on-the-ground ones. What call-to-action will engage your target audience to act on-the-ground? In what stage of their journey, will it be most effective to make those call-to-action?
  4. Save space for community ownership of the movement. You need to create a balance between the creation of this strategy and adapting to the own flow of the movement – giving the community ownership of it. What and how could your target audience create something of their own, within the context of your campaign? How can they contribute? What tools or mechanisms do you need to offer to facilitate that process? How can you be not only a content-creator, but also a context-creator?

Having this mindset and a well researched strategy placed, will give you the necessary basis to go beyond moments to create movements that help to achieve the final real-world goal. But don’t forget that the movement should have a flow of its own.  And therefore the balance between a planed strategy and the community ownership of the movement implies a lot of iteration and adaptation. Just don’t lose focus on the final goal and analyze the entire process at all times. Analyze the accuracy and effectiveness of your past efforts and plan and adjust the next phases.

A more important challenge, for nonprofits trying to maximize their impact and create movements at scale, is not only to change the way they interact in social media, but how they stand on the big picture and interact in a constant basis with their stakeholders. This requires not just a set of new tools and tactics, but new mindsets and effective marketing and communication strategies.


So, after you have a well thought strategy for your campaign, you need to set up your coordinated multi-channel campaign. Here’s a check list of what you should have into account.

  • Define what is the objective of each one of your posts – remember that it should be related with the journey you defined to each one of your target audiences.
  • Craft a short and clear call to action – related to the objective of each post.
  • Use visual stories – use images and a lot of videos! If your are using Facebook, you should upload the videos directly into this platform, so they will play automatically.
  • Content Tip 1: make it more shareable – it has to be Useful, Emotional and it makes your audience Look Good by sharing.
  • Content Tip 2: Use the 70/20/10 rule – 70% Valuable Content, 20% Shared Content and 10% Promotional Content.
  • Content Tip 3: not too short, not too long – in Facebook this would mean between 80-100 characters.
  • Be social and interact with your audience.
  • Make referrals and tag people – by tagging people that are related to the content of the post, you can grab their and their friend’s attention.
  • Crosspost where and when your target audience is more active, but adapt the message to fit the different social media channels.
  • Plan the main posts previously and schedule them in advance – you can use tools like Hootsuite or SocialPilot.
  • Try ads and promoted posts – if done right, it can really help to leverage the post and reach more people.
  • And finally, don’t forget to analyse the impact.

Extra Tip: If you are using Facebook to share events, create an event instead of just posting the information! By default, the people that “Like” your page will receive a notification of your events, and not of your posts.

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