Six steps for recruiting event participants through social media

Team DonorDrive

Team DonorDrive

Think of how many times you find yourself on social media every day. How often do you scroll through your newsfeeds while you’re standing in line for coffee, riding the elevator, or watching TV? All of these little interactions add up—a recent study revealed that on average, individuals spend over 5 years on social media over the course of their life. If that number seems hard to believe, take a look at these stats: 

  • Facebook has over 1.4 billion daily active users 
  • Instagram has over 800 million active users 
  • There are 350,000 tweets sent every minute 

With that kind of global reach, social media serves as a rich recruitment ground for nonprofits. However, figuring out how to take full advantage of this tool can be difficult for many. Often, a social media “strategy” translates to posting a few random pictures on Facebook and sending out an occasional tweet or two. In order to get the best results, you need to invest the time, and even some money, into building a solid strategy. 

Here are our top six steps for implementing a successful social media recruitment campaign for your peer-to-peer fundraising events: 

1. Pick your primary social media channels 

It’s easy to glance at those earlier numbers and decide to focus all of your energy on Facebook. It is the undisputed king of social media - for the moment. However in today’s climate, it’s incredibly important not to put all of your eggs in one social basket. Changes in laws, policies, or public perception can have a sudden and substantial impact on your social media strategy. Platforms will experience dips and spikes in their popularity. In fact, Instagram was actually the fastest-growing social media platform in 2017, with a 44% increase in followers, compared to Facebook's second place 13% increase.  

You need to recruit across platforms so that you can talk to different audiences. At a minimum every nonprofit must have a strong presence and recruitment strategy for Facebook and Instagram. Then, as bandwidth allows, branch out into Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat. 

2. Reach out to your past fundraisers 

We all know the importance of fundraiser retention. Returning fundraisers typically have higher fundraising totals than their novice counterparts and often act as your team captains. Since they’re more likely to be following you on social media, you can use organic posts as an inexpensive way to reach out and re-recruit them.  

Past participants who aren’t following your organization can be targeted through paid social ad campaigns. The Custom Audience tool allows you to upload a list of email addresses and shows your ads only to the people on that list. Create separate custom audiences for your past fundraisers, past team captains, past donors, and even your past volunteers.

3. Find new fundraisers 

You will reach a point where you have to look outside your pool of existing supporters and recruit some brand new participants. Luckily most social media platforms offer a way for you to target specific groups of users using audience filters. These filters are virtually endless and include demographic information (age, education, work industries), locations, interests (hobbies, entertainment), behaviors (purchases, charitable donations), and engagement (if they're friends of someone who likes your page).  You should have years of data that can help you define the attributes of your most successful fundraisers. Put this data to work when setting up your target audiences.

You can also utilize more advanced tools such as Lookalike Audiences, which identify users who match key attributes of your existing audience members, and Retargeting Pixels, which track visitors on your site and show them ads based on behaviors they do or do not complete, such as registering or donating. 

4. Post great content 

Once you’ve decided who you're talking to and where you’re talking to them, you have to figure out what to say. This is often the most time-consuming step, but it’s also one of the most important. Your posts and ads should pair motivational and informative text with inspiring imagery or high-quality videos. It’s also a good idea to identify several different themes that you can rotate to keep things interesting, such as featured fundraiser stories, impact stories or stats, and event details (such as incentives, challenges, event day activities). Make sure you include clear calls-to-action, such as Register Now or Sign Up, so it’s obvious you need them to take that next step.  

When you see that a specific piece of content is really connecting with your followers, boost it! This action, which can cost as little as $5, will put your ad in front of a much larger audience and increase engagement.  

Learn how we helped the Philadelphia Tri-State Chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America develop a new content strategy for their annual Lupus Loop 5K Run & 2 Mile Walk to End Lupus Now. 

5. Set your budget - but be willing to break it 

You’ll set a daily budget for your Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns, but you still need to monitor their performance and make adjustments as needed. If you notice an ad has low engagement (likes, shares & comments), change it up with a new image or verbiage. A low relevancy score might be telling you that your audience targeting is off and you need to adjust your filters. If this is the first time you’re dipping your toes into social media ads, you’ll be making a lot of tweaks as you figure out what resonates best with your ideal audience - so it’s best to leave a little extra padding in your budget. This padding also allows you to capitalize on unplanned opportunities, such as a global movements like #TimesUp or the #IceBucketChallenge. 

6. Stay engaged 

Appoint someone on your team to be your social media ambassador. They should constantly be on the lookout for possible points of interaction with your followers, including Facebook & Instagram comments, Facebook messenger, and Twitter direct messages. Someone comments on a post that they wish they could attend your event but they've moved out of town? Let them know they can join as a virtual participant! Someone has a question about event day? Get them an answer ASAP so that it doesn’t prevent them from registering. Letting questions or concerns fester on your posts without a response makes your team look disconnected and can lose you fundraisers and donors.  

There’s no question that for nonprofits to not only thrive, but simply survive in today’s world, they must leverage the power of social media. By implementing these six steps, nonprofits can engage their supporters, recruit new fundraisers, and raise awareness for their mission with the billions of social media users around the globe. 

Ready to explore how DonorDrive can help you?