A business woman who’s exploring our nonprofit sector asked me: “If a nonprofit has to choose between investing time in establishing and maintaining a Facebook presence versus crafting content for SEO, where should the nonprofit invest its time?”
My answer? It depends on the audience you want to reach.
Why Nonprofits Shouldn’t Worry about SEO
Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, was all the rage a few years ago. Businesses (and some nonprofits) were paying good money to SEO consultants who promised to get them on page 1 of Google searches.
But most nonprofits shouldn’t worry about SEO. Here are three reasons why.
- You might not need to be found. If you’re a nonprofit, these days you may already be serving more clients than you can handle! The Great Recession is officially over, but many people are still worse off and depending on nonprofits for help.
- It’s easy for them to find you. Surveys show that the single most common term people type into the search box when they’re looking for your nonprofit organization is…the name of your organization. They have already heard of you through word of mouth. It’s the word of mouth you need to boost–not the SEO.
- What do they find when they get there? Improving the content on your website may get you better results for less money than increasing the number of people who ever happen to take a look at it
You shouldn’t worry about SEO–but paying just a little bit of attention to it might be worth your while. Here’s a piece I wrote about “How To Get Found: SEO and the Small Nonprofit.” It includes ten tips on getting more eyeballs to your site. (But most of them are not SEO.)
Should Your Nonprofit Invest in Social Media?
So if SEO is less important, should nonprofits put more time and money into social media? You can’t answer a question like “Should we invest in Facebook” without answering these strategic questions first:
- Who are the audiences we’re trying to reach?
- Toward what end? (Once we have built up a nice, preferably two-way, relationship with the audience, what will they start to do that they weren’t doing before?)
- What do we already know about these audiences? What do we need to find out to give them what they’re looking for?
There is no point in using a communications channel if your audience isn’t using it. For most nonprofits, Facebook is the social media common denominator—but you don’t need to know about most nonprofits. You need to know what your specific audience uses and enjoys.
Putting First Things First
Let me be blunt: using social media at all could be a waste of time if you don’t answer these three strategic questions.
And even if you do have a fully-developed strategy, social media may not be the first way to put it into practice. You could invest in:
- writing better permanent content for your website
- creating a blog
- cleaning up your email list and sending out email your readers really want to read
These are the basic building blocks of communications.
Before thinking about social media, make sure you have those building blocks in place. (Think of SEO as how you build them, not as a separate set of blocks.)