Non-Profit Social Media: How do Twitter and Facebook differ?

Today I came across this article 5 Important Differences Between Twitter and Facebook, and wondered “how can these differences affect the social media presence of non-profits?” Yes, I know, seems like I might have some invested interest in this topic. While I’m interested in social media strategy in general, I volunteer for a non-profit and am always looking for ways to get our message out. So here is what I gathered from this article.

While Twitter takes only about 13% of the US market, it’s often a more niche group of followers (minus all the spam of course!). And while “a Tweet has by far a much shorter lifespan than a Facebook update” there’s a better chance to reach someone who really cares about your cause. For example, the American Red Cross has been able to successfully translate Twitter support into donations for disaster relief. While this is an outlying case, without Twitter those funds would have been lost.

Sometimes I personally feel that Facebook “likes” are a way to make your followers think you identify with a brand’s message, even if you don’t. For example, someone might follow the American Cancer Society, because they generally care about their cause, but they won’t really engage with the brand by donating, reposting, or attending an event.

However, Facebook can be used for “timeless news and updates.” I see this as a big win for wanting to convey a steady message, or have a good timeline for events, relevant news and friend interaction. Used often, this could also be a great way to interact with friends by responding with rich feedback to posts. According to an article, Facebook: Is it Worth your Nonprofit’s Time? “80% of nonprofit staff said that Facebook helped them build better relationships with their existing constituents by helping nonprofits stay in touch and build community around their issue.”

So if I’m a non-profit, do I use Twitter, Facebook or both? I feel if you have a consistence flow of content and time, use both. There will be overlap somewhere, but with Twitter you can post quick and often, ideally more updates and interaction with  specific “interest.” And then with Facebook, a slower cadence of news and updates with people who “like” your actual organization. But remember that social media needs interaction from both sides! If someone DM (direct messages) you on Twitter, or posts a question on Facebook answer them back, and always thank people for “liking” or “following” you.

Want to read more about non-profit social media tips?