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  • Writer's pictureLive Oak Management

How to do Social Media Marketing on a Budget

By: Tyler Oldham, Creative Content Producer

Since the creation of MySpace in 2004, social media has brought humanity into a new era of media. In 2021, over half of all human beings on earth actively use social media. This unprecedented amount of exposure opens an enormous door in mass-media history. The best part? It’s entirely free! The promise of thousands of potential audience members being exposed to your brand at little to no cost is hard to resist, especially for nonprofit organizations.

The number of nonprofits in America has increased almost 10% since the social media age. As users and organizations saturate social media, how do you make yours stand out from the crowd?

The secret: analytics!

I know that’s a scary word, but thanks to the development of tools, it’s become something that everyone can use and understand. Moreover, many of these tools, especially the ones created for first-party use, are entirely free to use. For example, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn all contain in-house analytics insights.

These free insights are beneficial for nonprofit organizations, as they generally do not allocate much funding to marketing.

As the social media manager of a university service organization, my experience in this role affords me to elaborate on ways to improve your audience metrics, all without spending a cent.

Finding Your Audience

You may have an idea of the audience that you’re trying to reach. But to grow the reach of your page, you need engagement from the audience you already have. The caveat is that each social media platform often has its inherent user-base demographics. For example, according to Pew Research, Facebook usage generally stays the same between ages, but Instagram users drop significantly after 30 years old.

Knowing that, let’s look at the audience demographics of my organization:

Facebook data on left, Instagram on right.

As you can see, our audience skews younger on Instagram, and our Facebook followers skew older. From there, you should think about what that means in context. As a university organization, the younger audience is likely students, and the older audience is alumni. This difference is made more evident from the distribution of where our audience lives.

Facebook data on left, Instagram on right.

For our Facebook followers, our most popular area is New York City. For our Instagram followers, they’re most in Elon. So, back to the age-old question, what do I do with this?

Executing Your Campaigns

Knowing the audiences of your platforms is just half of the work. The second part is marketing to those audiences.

In our case, the most valuable differences between students and alumni are their priorities and their time spent on social media. According to Instagram insights, the most frequent time for our followers to use Instagram is during the early afternoon.

Facebook, on the other hand, doesn’t outright provide the use-times of your audience. Unfortunately, you need to figure that out through external research. In our case, we determined that most young alumni use Facebook in the late afternoon after they get off work.

From there, simply think strategically about your captions and images. Consider: would an alumnus care about this on-campus event? The answer is probably no, so we won’t saturate the Facebook page with non-useful content. On the flip side, a student wouldn’t give much thought to a post for a homecoming event.

This is a specific example, but the skills and principles will increase engagement and thus expand reach on your social media pages, and we did it without spending a penny!

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