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I had three, yes three nonprofits ask me how to do this in my consulting sessions today...how do you manage a Facebook page with multiple audiences? If you have donors and the people you serve all following the same page, do you need to divide them? Or can you talk to them all on the same page? Can you ask everyone for donations? Well, here's what I think about that.

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Hosted By
Monica Maye Pitts
Monica Maye Pitts Chief Creative Officer

Handling Social Media for Multiple Audiences

I had three, yes three nonprofits ask me how to do this in my consulting sessions today…how do you manage a Facebook page with multiple audiences? If you have donors and the people you serve all following the same page, do you need to divide them? Or can you talk to them all on the same page? Can you ask everyone for donations? Well, here’s what I think about that.

When I was doing a day (well really it was a marathon day) of consulting sessions, I had three people ask me the same question. They said, “We have donors and we also have the people that we serve, both following us on Facebook. How do we handle that?”

The first time that I was asked the question I thought, yeah how do we handle this? We talked through it and came up with a good solution.

The second time, I was like, wow, people are facing this. This is a real challenge that they have.

And the third time I thought, holy cow, I think I need to talk about this because now I’ve had the same conversation on repeat three times. 

So my friends, let’s talk about handling social media for multiple audiences. If you do have multiple audiences that you are speaking to on a regular basis (and all nonprofits do), you have to talk to each one of them about what they care most about. 

Identify Personas

The perfect activity for you – before you do any more marketing – is identifying your audience personas. I have that activity outlined in my Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template. The first step to managing multiple audiences effectively is to understand who your audiences are, and identifying audience personas helps you accomplish that. 

For some organizations it’s going to be far easier than others to identify your audiences. This is because if you really examine your audiences, they all might have the same values. That makes it very easy to talk to them (almost with the same message). 

For example, I spoke with UCP Heartland the other day in a consulting session. They are a childcare center that offers a unique environment where young children of all abilities learn together. Half of their children have a diagnosed disability and the rest of the students are developing typically. So the program helps each child maximize their gifts and unique abilities to prepare them for kindergarten.

So who are their audiences? There are:

  • People with children who are enrolled in the program
  • People who just believe in the program (those are their donors)
  • People with kids who are alumni of the program

Those are three big audiences. I’m sure they have more, but those are three big ones. 

All three of those audiences have the same values. They all believe that this system is amazing. They all value inclusion. They all value education. They all value their families and their kids, and giving their children the best lives possible. So it’s pretty easy to talk to these people with mostly the same message. 

Obviously, the people with children in the program are going to be very interested in what’s going on in the day-to-day of the program. But the people who believe in the program, or the people who are alumni of the program, are definitely excited to see the strides that the children are making as well. 

In this case, you might have some posts that go just to parents, but most of the content can be distributed to everyone without too much worry. 

On the other hand, another group that I recently did a consulting session with was the Stop Human Trafficking Coalition. The coalition works with human trafficking victims, supporting them with resources and ongoing encouragement as needed to pursue their life goals. They also provide free educational programs in the community to teach the signs of trafficking and to keep people safe from danger. 

Their audience is a lot more segmented than UCP Heartland. They have:

  • Past victims they serve
  • Victims who currently need help
  • Students who have gone to their educational programs
  • Donors and people in the community who believe in their cause

As they’re trying to build awareness for their cause, things look a little bit different because they have students who are a lot younger and aren’t always at the same level of understanding or interaction with the nonprofit. 

They have victims who are going to be sometimes easily triggered by information they share about stories of things that happened to some of the victims they work with. Making it a lot more challenging for them to be able to have a conversation with all of these individuals at once. 

It’s super important before you start figuring out what you’re going to put out on your social media, or anywhere in your marketing, that you really, really understand your audience and the people you’re talking to. That’s why this is the first step. And that’s why I’m sharing two stories. 

For some of you, it’s going to look like UCP Heartland. People are going to be really intermixed, and they’re going to overlap a ton. 

For others of you, it’ll be more like the Stop Human Trafficking Coalition where their audience is more segmented. 

Both are real examples. One of them has a more challenging situation, to communicate with all their audiences on the same page. 

Analyze Your Social Media Audience

Once you finish defining those initial audiences, the second step is to go out and check out your social media accounts – Who is following and interacting with you. You know who the people you serve are. You know who your donors are. Now we need to figure out who’s actually following you on these accounts and who’s actually interacting with you. 

What’s interesting is, it may not be who you think.

For example, the MayeCreate Facebook page is followed by a lot of our clients, while our Twitter page is followed by a lot of other people who do things that are similar to what we do (agencies, etc). So we could have a completely different message on each of those platforms. 

That would solve the problem naturally, right? You don’t even have to worry about it, because all your audiences are not actually sharing the same space. 

Now, I want you to dig in and understand whether more of the people interacting with your content and following your page are donors, or if they’re the people you serve. 

Sometimes a private, or public group could be a solution.

If there are more donors, and less of the people you serve interacting with your content, then you could consider starting up a group for a more private way to engage with the people you serve. Those are the people that you need to share different types of information with than with your donors. Sometimes. Just depends on your audience. For the example of UCP Heartland, they might start a group to share announcements and photos with just parents of children enrolled in their childcare service.  That would keep those announcements private and allow parents to get the information they need without cluttering up your content for the rest of your audience.

But let’s say that it’s just 50/50 and you’ve got all of your audiences, and they’re all engaging, and they’re all doing the stuff but you’d prefer to speak to your audiences separately. I wish there was one magical answer on how to separate your two audiences and speak to them separately. 

You could try starting a group in this instance as well and inviting one segment of people into the group to see if they’ll interact there vs on your page.  This might work well for the Stop Human Trafficking Coalition, they could start a group for their survivors and allow them to interact privately in the group.  That would shield them from any triggering content and also foster a way for their survivors to connect and support each other.   There’s always a chance though that the group just fizzles and people don’t behave as you expected.  So this option, while certainly viable, is still just a trial by fire. You can give it a whirl.  If it doesn’t work, then close the group.

What if everyone is interacting equally with everything?

Post your message more than once from the perspective of each audience.

Now if all your social media audiences are interacting together equally, then look at the content you’re posting and talk to each one of your audiences about what they find important on the topic. You don’t have to just post once. You can post about the same topic multiple times and you’re going to spin it to the audience the way they care about it. 

For example, if you are UCP Heartland and you’re trying to spread a message of inclusion to people, you might write an article for your blog about ways to spread inclusivity. So think about that article in your blog. If someone reads it, who has kids in your program what’s the thing they are going to latch on to the most about that article? It might be all the things you do in your facility that promote inclusion. 

Then think to yourself, how about the people who just believe in the program (donors)? What would resonate most with them about your article? And then think to yourself, what about kids or parents of children who are alumni of the program? What would resonate with them? 

You could use different pictures – the people with kids who are alumni might latch on to the pictures of children who are older. The people with kids in the program might latch on to the pictures of kids who are younger. Maybe in the article, you offered advice on teaching children about inclusion on multiple age ranges, so you could talk about it for elementary school-aged kids and for pre-K kids. 

You get the picture. You can take the same piece of content, and you just repurpose it and you talk about it through the eyes of the person who would be reading it. 

But what about asking for donations?

One of the questions people asked right after they asked me how they manage their social media with multiple audiences was, “is it okay to ask for donations when your social media serves multiple audiences?” And the answer is absotutely, posilutely yes. You need to be asking for donations. And you can do it on a page with multiple audiences. 

It’s about more than just social media

I want to caution you though. A lot of people feel like social media is the end all be all. My friends, if you are not out there, just know that social media is not the answer to everything. It is a great way to share your message and meet new people passively. But for most organizations it’s not going to be the way you bring in all of your donations, or even a large chunk of them. It’s not often the highest converting form of traffic to a website for donations. People who come to your site directly by typing in your domain name, or visiting from clicking on a link in your email are actually far more likely to make a donation then social media visitors to your site.

The surest way to get donations is to pick up the phone and call people or send them a letter – Personalize it, make it authentic, make it real, ask them. That’s the way so many of your really big donations are going to come in. It’s not through social media. 

So yes, absolutely ask for donations on social media. Just know that this will not likely to be the cornerstone of your campaign, unless you’re really, really working it really, really hard. And if you have an amazing audience. 

It’s ok to ask!

And the reason it’s okay to ask for donations is because the people you serve know you do amazing things. I mean, where do they think the money you do amazing things with comes from? You have to get it from somewhere, right? You’re raising money to continue providing the service to take care of your community. And when you ask for donations you’re showing the people you serve that you care about them. 

The people you serve are proud of you. They know you do an amazing service. Not everybody can give you money, but everyone can give in some way. So you can ask them to help you, in more ways than by just donating. Some people (like those you serve) might only be able to help you by sharing information.  Ask them to comment, like, or share your social posts because that exposure will go a long way to help you meet more people, which will in turn, allow you to serve them even better. 

Be considerate with your donation asks

As you are asking for donations and posting anything with this mixed audience, be considerate. As you’re sharing stories about the community you serve, know they are reading too. You need to show the people you serve in their best light. Show how they struggle, show how they succeed. Champion the people you serve, don’t push them down and make them into victims. 

Now on the flip side, think about the Stop Human Trafficking Coalition example. They serve people who are victims of human trafficking. One of the challenges they face in the area we live in is people don’t realize human trafficking happens right here. So sometimes the coalition has to tell really gritty stories that…hurt. They hurt when you read these stories, because you can’t even believe human beings would act this way. But they have to tell those stories because people have to see it as real. People need to understand human trafficking happens in their communities so they will aspire to help the people who it happens to. 

Our citizens don’t know. They think, “oh well, that person is homeless because they didn’t work hard” or “Oh, that person’s just addicted to drugs because they made bad choices”. They don’t know the story of why. And to explain that why, the coalition tells the stories of those they serve. 

But when stop Human Trafficking Coalition tells these stories, imagine how that feels from a victim’s perspective. They see it and it hurts. It’s a trigger. So how do you handle that situation? 

Story time…

While I was talking to the coalition in their consulting meeting, I remembered back to my experience as a Rotarian. When I first learned about their coalition, I was eight months pregnant.  I was sitting in a Rotary meeting and watched a video telling the story of one of their survivors. I got in my my car afterwards and I called my husband and told him, “That’s it. I am going to go pick up our daughter from her preschool. And lock us into the upstairs room of our house, we will come out once both of our lovely children are out of high school, because then I will know that they’re safe.”

I was so taken aback as a mother that this could happen to people. I was extremely triggered by it. 

Then we had another police officer come in and talk about a similar topic the next week. Again I left emotion and devastated. So I emailed our president, “Whoa guys, I can’t keep doing this. I am torn right now, I am so upset for these people. And it is hurting my heart so much. And I know it’s real. But do I have to come at lunch and hear about it every single day? I’m eight months pregnant for heaven’s sakes!”

Then the Rotary Club put in place an email that they would send out anytime they were going to have an emotionally triggering presentation. That way, people who would respond the way I was responding to those conversations would be able to excuse themselves from our meeting. 

Why do I share this story or crazy pregnant Monica? 

Because we can do the same thing on social media. 

We can give people a heads up about what we’re going to post. If you’re going to post something that’s sensitive, let them know. Not everything shows up on your newsfeed. There’s a read more button. Think about the things that make you click on something. 

You can post something with an emotionally charged picture, and say “to the victims of human trafficking, it hurts our hearts to even tell this story. Because we know that you’ve been through this, and we love you, and we support you. And we are going to tell this story so that other people understand what this is. There is an intense story in this post. And if you’re not okay, reading it, don’t read it.” 

You may think, “well then people won’t read the post! So what’s the point?” 

Let’s think a little about human psychology here. If  you’re a little kid and your friends playing with your toy, you can’t play with that toy.  So you want it.  REALLY bad.  That’s the most fun toy ever because you can’t play with it. So when you tell people don’t read something, the rest of the audience is gonna say, “I better read this, this is gonna be intense”. 

So even though you don’t start the post with the story, you can start it with a warning. And I believe people will read it just as well. 

Pay attention

If you are going to post those types of warnings on your social media, pay close attention to the people who are interacting with it.  The Stop Human Trafficking Coalition explained to me that a lot of their really supportive donors interact with sensitive content. So the stories are doing their job and spreading the need for people to support the organization.  The stories are not offending donors.

If they didn’t have their donors interacting with the content, and it was just a bunch of people that they don’t know, then they might have a choice to make – are the survivor stories even something that should be posted if or supporters aren’t moved to interact with them? 

So look at the posts that do well, diagnose who is interacting with them and if the content is sensitive and could potential be inconsiderate in any way to those you serve ask yourself, “is it worth it?” And if it is but will potentially trigger or upset another audience member then do what Rotary did, and let them know, “Hey, this is going to be a sensitive topic.” 

I really don’t think it’s going to deter people from reading it at all. I think it’s going to just let them know you are compassionate human beings and there are other people out there reading this post that have been through this, which really just humanizes your content even more.

Wrapping up

I am very, very passionate about us being respectful and considerate of all of our audiences. In order to do that, you have to start at the top – You have to know who you’re talking to.

For some of you, it’s going to be easy: You’re going to fill out your buyer personas, and you’re gonna realize they all overlap. Sweet. You don’t even have to worry about it, just go on with life. 

Then there’s others of you who are going to do the activity, and you’ll realize things are not overlapping the same way. That means you need to keep moving on to see who’s following and interacting with you.

Really, even if they do overlap, I would still go and look at seeing who’s following and interacting with you. Make sure it’s who you think it is. 

Remember, you can always separate out the people who you serve into a group, so you can have a more private forum with them. Test it and see if it works. If it does, awesome. 

If you’re going to keep all your audiences together, know that you can post more than once about a topic and talk about it to each audience and explain what they would find important about the topic you’re posting about. Also know it is really okay to ask for donations, because your money comes from those donations, and the people you serve understand that. You also don’t have to just ask them to donate, you can ask them to share, and you can be considerate in that ask as well.


Check out the video we made about this very topic!

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