Use Social Media to Maximize Your Opportunities

This post is part of our #Share4Schools social sweepstakes series, designed to help schools engage supporters in social circles to promote fundraising—and possibly win cash prizes. While some of these articles reference #Share4Schools, the concepts are universal.

Almost everyone uses some form of social media. If they’re not on Facebook, they’re on Instagram or Twitter. People use social media for entertainment, to relax, and to catch up with their friends.


Most of the people who will engage with your school, and help share your #Share4Schools campaign, will do so via social media. Here are a few other reasons people use social media—a list worth considering when designing your social media strategy.

Even if you don’t win the #Share4Schools contest—and the cash that goes with it—you’re still developing something invaluable: a social network. And an active social network is a key tool to spreading the word about events, finding volunteers, and engaging new donors down the line.

Isn’t social media a ton of work?

Well, it doesn’t have to be.

Getting involved in social media can seem intimidating at first. Every platform is different—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. What do they all do? How can I possibly manage all of them at once? Won’t that be a waste of my time?

Lots of platforms exist to engage lots of different kinds of people. Not every platform will suit your cause or your style. Try them out and see what clicks and what doesn’t—then focus your energy just on what works best for you.

If you’re concerned about investing too much of your limited time, walk into your social media work with intention and purpose. The #Share4Schools contest is a great place to start because it has a very narrow focus: reach as many people as possible, and get each of those people to share it with their own networks.

TIP: Can you get a student to intern for you and handle some of the work engaging creatively with the community?

If you’re looking for ideas on how to get a lot out of your social media campaigns without spending a ton of time or money, read this list of “50 Grassroots Marketing Campaigns”.

Success in social media is in engagement.

Always remember that social media contains the word “social.” It’s not about shouting into the void—it’s about creating an avenue of communication between you and your audience. You’ll have things to say, and so will they.

The best kind of social media presence is one that actually steps in and engages with the audience. Even if it’s just thanking someone for a comment, that person walks away feeling heard and seen. Someone who hears back from you is more likely to engage with you again in the future, share your posts to their networks, and perhaps even donate down the line. It’s all in building rapport.

People who feel like they are a part of the community, and who feel appreciated for their contributions, are more likely to continue engaging and sharing.

TIP: Don’t just focus on engaging people outside your school. Remember there are lots of people within the school who are primed already to help promote your cause. Can you do a campaign that involves just people directly connected to your school? You could organize an event where an announcement is done over the PA, and everyone whips out their phones to share the contest hashtag at the same time!

Here are some great tips about incentivizing your audience to share your initiatives and help you grow your network.

Learn from steps and missteps.

The best part about establishing a two-way channel with you and your supporters? They have a lot to teach you about the quality and style of your social media communications. And the #Share4Schools campaign is a great avenue for you to try out some new ideas.

Once you do start getting those likes and interactions, take feedback you receive seriously. Evaluate what types of social media posts do well, and which don’t, and use the reactions you get to guide your future posts. Do you find that your audience responds better to funny videos? Emotional stories? Try out different incentives for sharing (such as a prize) and see what people go for.

And remember: there are a lot of platforms out there. Dabble here and there and find out what works best for you and your school’s community. Don’t keep spending energy on something that doesn’t return engagement dividends.

Facebook is the largest social network, and a good place to reach the greatest number of people. Check out these tips on how to get more Facebook shares.

Cross-promotion shows responsibility and awareness.

Earlier I talked about the danger of just shouting into the void—if you only say “gimme gimme” all the time, people will tune you out.

Instead, look at your social media platforms like megaphones. They are a way to amplify not only your own cause, but messages that are relevant to your cause and your community. For example, you could use your social media platforms to share school-related news, sports, or community events.

Give people reasons to follow you on social media and engage with your posts.

And remember…

– Stay on message with your posts.

– Convey clearly what action you want your audience to take.

– Make your need urgent and obvious. (e.g. “We’re only 10 shares away from our goal! Help us get there!” or “The contest ends in a couple hours!”)

– And have fun! The most successful social media campaigns are one that are lively and engage the audience on multiple levels. Get your students involved brainstorming ideas, and keep your eyes on the prize!

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