Social media engagement comes down to quality, not quantity

I was going through my February metrics for CARE the other day and was surprised to find that this Facebook post was the highest performing social media post of the month in terms of revenue.

Party for a Purpose

This is particularly surprising for two reasons.

  1. Only 200 people saw the post – it was advertising a local even in Atlanta, so we only targeted people who live in the area. Our public posts tend to reach anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 people.
  2. The ask was not to donate – it was to RSVP to an event. According to Google Analytics, the donors who clicked through found donate buttons elsewhere on the page.

The takeaway is simple – it matters less how many people see your message, and more so who. Although CARE is a global nonprofit, our headquarters are in Atlanta, where the event was taking place. Naturally, there’s a greater awareness of CARE and stronger emotional connection among those who share our city. Plus – we were inviting them to an event, furthering the camaraderie between us and our audience.

Here’s another impressive example from Atlanta Pet Rescue, a local dog and cat rescue where my husband and I adopted our dog. I was amazed last week to see these Facebook posts go up just two hours apart.


Within just two hours of posting an ask for donated items, they received 100 of them. Their Facebook audience is not insignificant at nearly 11,000 “likes,” but the ROI is still off the charts, especially given the short time frame.

Again, this is a product not of quantity, but of a highly engaged social media audience. The rescue is local, so it’s fair to assume most of their audience resides in Atlanta, and that a good number of them have had the very positive and emotional experience of adopting a pet at the shelter.

Put it into practice

Though these are both unique examples, there are important takeaways that you can apply to your work, whether you’re a small business, a community NGO or a large organization.

Segment your key supporters

According to “Dunbar’s Number,” the human cognition doesn’t have room for more than 150 friends. Though mass communications on digital and social media are important for brands, the concept of “Dunbar’s Number” is applicable if you think about it in terms of social media engagement levels. Sure we want to engage all of our supporters, but some who are closer to us may have higher impact levels than others.

The key to the success of both of these posts was that the right people saw them. For CARE, that meant only targeting people who live in the same city as our headquarters with a special event offer, but for Atlanta Pet Rescue, it meant all of their Facebook “likes.” However, since Atlanta Pet Rescue is a local nonprofit, they essentially targeted their own community by default. So, both posts targeted supporters with a hometown connection.

That doesn’t mean going local will necessarily be your best bet to reach your most passionate supporters, or to get them to do what you want them to. Perhaps it’s a group of people who signed up for email at your last event, or a Twitter list of top engagers you’ve been keeping over time. Think creatively about where pockets of highly-engaged people may live online, and then what you can ask them to do that will both further your mission and make your key influencers feel closer to your brand.

Make your social media engagement ask tangible, then follow through

When it comes to asking for donations, the concept of “tangibility” is key across the NGO fundraising sector – and Atlanta Pet Rescue’s clip-on buckets is a prime example. The need and purpose of the buckets is crystal clear, and their ask presents a problem that’s entirely solvable. They’re not asking their supporters to solve pet homelessness in a Facebook post – which most people would recognize as nearly impossible – they’re asking for a few items to make their dogs’ stay at the shelter healthier and more comfortable.

But most importantly, they followed up. Their solvable problem was solved – in record time – by their Facebook community, and they wrote a post to celebrate. That’s going to make all of the donors feel fantastic – they were part of the solution! And the rest of their Facebook supporters will witness a sense of community. Will this make both donors and non-donors alike more likely to contribute in the future? You bet.

The CARE post was not tangible in the traditional sense – there was no problem/solution scenario. But it was tangible in that it offered Atlantans a physical way to get involved in the organization – by rubbing elbows with staff and fellow supporters at an event. The follow up here is implied – the Facebook post is the invitation, and the follow through is the actual event (which was a hit!). I can’t prove that this sense of physical closeness was what drove donations on this particular post, but I strongly believe (and my industry will back me up!) that there’s an inextricable link between social media engagement and revenue.

Don’t be afraid to reach out by the ones

If you’re still struggling with the part about segmenting your key supporters, that’s ok, you’re just one step away! Take some time to think of your supporters as individuals, rather than groups. Is there that one person who’s always commenting on your Facebook posts? Or maybe someone else attends all of your events? These people exist in your world – and once you find them, never let them go!

Though CARE is a global organization, over the past couple years, we’ve taken time to get to know supporters in our own community. Many of these communications took place as 1:1 conversations between constituents and staff at various events, over the phone and via email. And they told their friends, and so on.

Take some time to reach out to people one on one. Find out what makes them tick and why they feel that special connection to your mission. It may seem like a lot of effort for one person, but they have friends, and their friends have friends. If you can convince them to continue spreading your message, you have the beginning of a social media engagement strategy and key supporter pocket blossoming right there.

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