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  • Guni Bal

How Nonprofits Can Leverage Social Media for Brand Awareness! Instagram and Facebook - Part 1.

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

Author and influencer Gary Vee said, "if the content is king, then context is God." We could not agree more. A nonprofit can have all the context and content in place for social media, yet if social channels are not adequately set up to reach its audiences, and that would be like shooting arrows in the dark. Then we would be hoping that someone would read the blogs or those social posts your team has worked so hard on. The idea that more content equals more audience reach is a myth.

It is understandable for leaders to be in these wavery waters of not knowing what social channels are needed to help with brand awareness and perception. There is hidden work required to move forward. The good news is that if a nonprofit has someone that would like to grow their social media or get trained, there are tons of online resources that can help train on which social channels align with the organization’s goals (social media strategy); who the target audiences are; the setup of channels (hidden work includes consistency in aesthetics and brand messaging throughout all the social channels); and publishing (what tools to choose & an editorial calendar).To set the groundwork to connect the dots between your website and social media copy, and having the correct setup for each channel you intend to use is a good starting point. Implementing these steps will set a foundation for your social media journey to increase brand awareness.

So, why social media for branding? Well, there are 3.6 billion users on social media, and the amount keeps growing in real-time (Sprout Social). A well-defined social media program is the most effective way of increasing brand awareness organically. Especially for teams when there is no budget for paid ads or the intent to hire an influencer. Also, according to Benchmark, nonprofits receive the highest engagement on social media compared to any other industry, and it keeps growing.

The main benefit of social media is that it is free! This is a cost-effective solution. So, developing a framework to leverage it organically creates great brand awareness. However, we are aware that leaders struggle in a few decision-making processes because there is no clarity on which social media channel is right for their organization. Here are some 2021 trends to help recognize which social media channels would be best for your nonprofit organization:

The Instagram channel, also nicknamed 'insta' has mostly been known to be used for brand awareness. Organizations have used Instagram with the approach of adding two major editorial themes like employee advocacy programs, and client success stories using images and short videos. Instagram is known for its editorial feel, so one good practice to stand out from other nonprofits is using a grid to showcase the imagery differently.

Another way to kick-start your Instagram page is to announce a brand hashtag that goes well with the vision and mission statement. A unique hashtag connects you with other like-minded

communities with a similar mission or service. Instagram has the most refined algorithm that will share all queries for other nonprofits to your feed. This is how you can start to 'follow,' engage and create relationships with other nonprofits - a simple yet powerful practice to increase community engagement.

Instagram is a platform for creators, mostly consisting of a younger demographic also called Gen Z. Speaking of creators, they are purpose-driven! They are not shy to speak up on social change, and that makes them a perfect audience for nonprofits. They will donate or help raise funds plus have the willingness to serve and volunteer! Instagram's philanthropic nature is to benefit communities. Last year within 30 days of the Covid crisis, Instagram launched a ‘Live Donations feature plus a Donation Stickers’ that raised over 100 million dollars globally. Many organizations stood afloat using just this tool.

To recap, Instagram is the state-of-the-art platform known for its clean editorial interface, easy-to-use features for announcements, donations, employee recognition, client spotlights; and the ability to connect with similar communities online.

The next stop is Facebook - which is well integrated with Instagram as they are all in one the same company. With the correct setup, the information you share on Instagram automatically goes to Facebook without the need for extra content or publishing hassles (or vice-versa). This is a cross-promotional opportunity! It is not necessary to use Facebook, yet in the beginning, it is okay to test how Instagram and Facebook integration is helping your nonprofit. There is a debate going on that Facebook is dying. That's another myth! Facebook has turned into an enterprise solution in gaming, live tv, e-commerce, and electronics. Facebook has 2.7 billion monthly users, and Instagram has 1 billion and rising to its competition Tik Tok (Sprout Social). We are sure nonprofits can find space to 'stand strong' amongst the 3.7 billion users.

Now that we understand that the starting point to leveraging any social media efforts is to have clarity on what channels are best for your nonprofit - this is the key to successful brand awareness. CLASS has consultants that are willing to reflect and develop your social media marketing plan with clear goals on what social channels are best for your organization.

Stay tuned for Part 2 on how Linkedin and Twitter can further your brand perception.


The CLASS Consulting Group is a trusted advisor to the board of directors and senior leadership of the bay area nonprofit organizations. It is a boutique management consulting firm headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area that provides consulting services to senior management and board of directors of nonprofit organizations and offers community leadership opportunities to professionals.

Since 2002 CLASS’ volunteers have been assisting nonprofit organizations in the SF Bay Area and supporting the communities in which, we all live and work. Learn more about our mission and story.


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