It is not that I don’t “get” social media…

A few months ago I took a job that required a lot of skills I did not have, so, I improvised.

Now, this sounds kind of negative, but it’s true. Overseeing communications and social media is not something I had experience with in the past, but I figured I could teach myself through the piles of resources online and by trial and error. I can safely say, it has been much harder than I assumed it would be. I didn’t go into it thinking just anyone could become a marketer, but I did go into it a lot less prepared than I should have. I had good intentions of taking online courses and reading through a lot of “how-to” guides before my start date, but those kind of got pushed to the side when I started watching Scandal (for that I blame my friend Danielle).

It is not that I don’t “get” social media…

I know that people respond better to pictures over text, that it should be a conversation not a monologue, that it is important to take the time to make photos the right sizes for different social media platforms. I understand how to use Constant Contact and make newsletters, how to post a picture on Instagram, how to write press releases and create flyers. I get that it’s important to be quick to respond to any comments/retweets, and that I should be telling a story.

It’s the execution that’s hard. 

What do people want to hear? What is going to make people stop to Like/Share/Tweet my post instead of continuing to scroll? Why does my story matter? Well, I haven’t figure it out yet.

There is good and bad of working in marketing in the nonprofit sector. On the one hand, it is much easier to tell a story because you are cause-focused. There is a need you are trying to fill and people can relate to that. On the other hand, it is so hard to sell and recruit for a non-tangible product or something that doesn’t instantly gratify the customer.

It might seems common sense to some people, but here are 3 small tid bits of what I have learned so far in selling your nonprofit on social media. It’s not necessarily rocket science, they are just things you don’t think of until you have to do it, and it takes time to learn how to do it right.

  1. People like numbers (at least when it comes to nonprofits). When I post something that shows quantifiable measures of what we accomplished or a donation we received, it has much higher engagement. It’s about outcomes and specifics.
  2. People like compliments. Things that make people feel good about themselves, their profession, or something they did for you, goes a long way. I use #gratitudetuesday to highlight a volunteer, a donor or a company that is a close sponsor. I give shout outs to teachers (our main stakeholder) to let them know just how great we think they are.
  3. People like pictures. Don’t waste time with words because you already used 1,000 in 1 picture (hah!). Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what the picture is, it could be a picture that tugs on the heart strings or it could be a GIF of Will Ferrell doing something ridiculous, pictures work. It appeals to a different sense of emotion than words do.

I am still trying to figure it all out. Story telling isn’t easy, and it’s even harder when you only have a small amount of time to dedicate to it because it’s not your only job, as I know is a common struggle in the nonprofit sector. Marketing is something that takes practice and heavily relies on analytics to really see what your stakeholders want and are engaging in. If you don’t know anything about using Google Analytics and Facebook insights, you better get to it.

I have always been a very organized and well-planned out individual, but I have learned the importance of that even moreso over the last few months. You have to plan! Creating content day by day is not only a waste of time, it is also very ineffective. If you are really going to do it well, you need strategy.

Here are some resources I’ve found, hopefully they are helpful to you.

In addition to just reading toolkits, there are also plenty of free courses you can take online that will help too. Look into UdemyCoursera or NovoEd.

Social media and marketing, just like anything else, takes time to learn and get good at. My goal is to spend the next few months really focusing on how to improve engagement with our stakeholders, and really connect with the community. You should do the same.



Guest Blogger Post: “Every NPO should act like a tech startup”

Social media marketing is such a powerful tool right now that nonprofits can really learn a lot from, but I know nothing about it, so I called in someone who does! Daniel Sosa, is someone very close to me with a career focused around tech startups. He is a natural at marketing and creating a social presence for companies, and is determined to do so as efficiently as possible. His growth strategies have helped several companies (including his own) as they have moved forward in their industry. Daniel’s passion and drive for this type of work does not go unnoticed by anyone he works with. I have learn a lot from him in the time that I have known him, and continue to do so. Since I am a firm believe that nonprofits can learn a lot from the for-profit world, I asked Daniel to give a little insight into how nonprofits can act more like a tech startup to grow their organizations.

Daniel Sosa says:

Having followed Angela’s blog and career for some time, I’ve become a fan and supporter of her view’s on NPO’s and how they should invest in themselves and operate more like a business, to become sustainable, grow, and increase their impact.  With that said, the truth of the matter is that many nonprofits are lacking resources and struggle to operate efficiently.  I believe technology and the social web can help change this.

I come from the tech startup world, where the name of the game is figuring out how to make a huge impact with next to nothing in resources, hence concepts such as “Growth Hacking” and “Virality” which are synonymous with how tech startups grow, are gaining lots of traction and awareness.  So today I’d like to talk about how NPO’s can utilize technology to make a bigger impact with limited resources, and share my favorite tools to help you get started.

The fact is that information technology and social web has given us the ability to provide valuable information and position it in a “Pull” format. What does this mean? With so much information being consumed in the digital age, the best marketers and organizations are positioning their voice and content in a way where its no longer the unappealing advertising of the past, but ultra accessible information on demand.  Anyone who believes in your mission will not only have access to it, but easily be able to share it with the world.

There is no better example of a nonprofit leveraging this concept than the ALS Association’s success with the Ice Bucket Challenge.  This is modern day marketing at its finest, which I define a set of tactics and best practices for creating organic sharing, participation, and user growth.

So let’s break down what the ALS Association did:

  1. Acquisition: Created easy to execute (anyone can do it) social contest
  2. Activation: Launched contest with a “1-to-Many” viral hack.  Specifically it was a 1-to-3, this is important to note because a successful referral program only needs to be 1-to-1, hence if most failed, it would still succeed
  3. Retention: Social responsibility, a good cause, and transparency of the process created high participation which drove the referral program
  4. Revenue: ALS Association raised over $22 million dollars and much more in just awareness.


The ALS Association is a very successful example and there is no simple recipe that can berecreated since creativity is a big part of the process. The idea I’m promoting is that we no longer need a huge budget, we just need to appeal to our audience and get in front of them in a way that promotes engagement and sharing.  As an NPO our best marketing and sales teams are the people that believe in our cause, we must empower them with the tools to do so.

With a goal to not overwhelm you (and keep you engaged for my next post) here are some simple tools to help you get started.

  • Take away the heavy lifting: The best social organizations know that the trick to promote sharing is to make it as simple and fast as you can. These tools allow your followers to share anything you want them to share with one click, and allow you to control the message as well!
  • Track everything: We live in the information age. Your resources are too limited to waste time doing things that aren’t working, to track everything, focus on what works, remove what doesn’t. I suggest 10 minutes to talk data at every weekly staff meeting.
    • Yesware– (Aka the best thing ever):  Allows you to track who/when your sent emails where opened, create templates to reach out faster, track templates to see what works.  Best of all this integrates with your Gmail/Outlook.
    • Understand your social analytics: Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest all give you analytics on what is providing your best engagement, use this to share better not more.
  • Automate social media… but not too much: To be good a social media you have to be social! Which means don’t just post, get in the trenches and engage as much as possible.
    • Dedicate 1-hour per week to just searching relevant information and engaging with others
    • Buffer: This great tool is like Hootsuite but better and faster.  Automatically sets your updates for best times and publishes for you.
    • We can’t all hire professional designers, Canva allows you to make professional and beautiful designs and banners. Anyone can do it!

This is just the tip of the iceberg; Step away from your daily routines and take time to think about efficiency, growth, and today’s changing landscape.  We have a unique opportunity to be personal, connect with people, and communicate at scale in the ways we could never in the past. The trick is to use technology to be more human and more appealing instead of just leveraging tools to create more noise on the web.  The result will be a bigger impact in a world that desperately needs it.

My Suggested Books:

  1. The Lean Startup: Eric Ries
  2. The Thank you Economy: Gary Veynerhuck
  3. Growth Hacker Marketing: Ryan Holiday