Why Nonprofits Need TikTok
8 Steps to Gain TikTok Followers and Earn Influence
Any marketing manager will tell you that, when it comes to social, focus on the channels where your intended audience lives. Traditionally, that meant building a Facebook page and an Instagram profile, because they boast 3 billion and 2 billion users, respectively. And, the more followers and friends you can collect, the larger your voice becomes.
So why is it that TikTok, a platform with at least 1 billion fewer users than Facebook or Instagram, has become the platform that we all "need to have"?
Unlike Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for that matter, TikTok serves users the type of content that they use the most. This means that it's not the size of your following that matters. Rather, TikTok rewards content that resonates with other users. This is how a user with only 200 followers can get 500,000+ views on a TikTok post.
People love TikTok because anyone can create simple videos relatively easily. And, when you add some creativity, perhaps a few filters, and choose some music, you can quickly add to a meme or a movement.
One more important thing before we get to the tips – just because TikTok is a social media platform and seems to generate new slang faster than ChatGPT hits capacity every day, it does not mean it's made for just GenZ and young people. Almost 40% of TikTok users are 30+. This means there is an enormous opportunity for organizations to reach audiences of all kinds (A.K.A. supporters and donors) on TikTok.
So, as a nonprofit leader, how can you use TikTok to grow your brand, attract supporters, and please donors?
1. Build a Content Strategy
Reaching a wide audience on TikTok is a matter of what, when, and how often you post. We'll cover the 'what' later in the blog. TikTok recommends that you post 1-4 times per day. Start by building an editorial calendar with one post per day. At the beginning stage, the volume of posts isn't as important as the consistency of posting. Once you have a feel for what posts work, the time of day that you see the most traction, and who engages with your posts, you can always consider adding to your calendar. See this guide from Hootsuite for the best times to post on TikTok (all times are Pacific Standard Time).
2. Use TikTok Hashtag Challenges To Create Momentum
Younger generations challenge traditional Marketing practices by demanding brands state what they stand for, not just state their mission. TikTok is a chance for you to show people what your organization stands for through video..
We all know what a hashtag is. TikTok hashtag challenges (HTCs) take hashtags to a new level by prompting users to create their own videos that show them performing specific actions. Check out this example from The American Heart Association's HTC #keepthebeatchallenge.
3. Collab With Influencers
As any fundraiser with experience event-planning experience knows, celebrity status is always a great pull to bring supporters and donors to an event. A special type of "celebrity" called an influencer lives on TikTok and other social media platforms. You can think of influencers as digital creators, socialites, or 'taste-makers' who others follow because they respect their opinions. Influencers might be known for staying on-trend in fashion, giving business advice, or even inspiring home renovation trends that everyone wants to copy.
If you think an influencer can help your organization be relevant to an audience, you can reach out to them with a clear goal in mind and brainstorm with them on ways that your two brands fit together. Here's a great guide on working with influencers from Emplifi.
4. Donation Stickers
One of the coolest things about TikTok for nonprofits is that the platform actively helps anyone with a cause grow via its TikTokforGood profile. What this means is that there is a culture of people looking to support one another and good causes on TikTok.
In order to find giving opportunities in this culture, many organizations are adding donation stickers to their profiles and their posts. In order to do this, you must first register and gain approval, a relatively short and simple process.
5. Behind-the-Scenes (BTS)
There is something about giving outsiders and insider's look that is always appealing. That's why BTS posts typically generate some of the most significant views on TikTok. Some creative nonprofits have used BTS poss to show how donor dollars are put towards impact and draw their audience even closer to the organization. Many colleges and universities have students take over different institutional accounts to show what a day in the life of a freshman, a football equipment manager, or a graduation ceremony looks like from the inside out.
See how the ASPCA goes BTS in the most adorable ways possible.
6. User-Generated-Content (UGC)
Once you start to get traction, and users are tagging your organization in their posts, you can re-post the user-generated content (UGC). This helps to build the peer-to-peer model that most non-profits strive for. When other users see others talking about a cause they supported, celebrating the impact they made, others can’t help but feel inspired to act. One caveat: always ask for permission to re-post UGC. As you can see from this post about the PanMass Challenge, it doesn't take much to convey an idea via UGC.
7. Go Live
Don’t forget to go “live” every once in a while! This is a great way to highlight and humanize employees and leaders at your organization, as well as interview donors and volunteers, or even announce some exciting news. Note that you must have a minimum of 1,000 followers before this feature is enabled on your organization’s account.
8. Call To Action (CTA)
Always, always, always have a reason behind your post and give your audience some sort of task to complete. Perhaps your CTA will be the very thing that derails a user's endless scrolling and puts them back on the path towards productivity. If you have that donation sticker, use it. If you are promoting an upcoming fundraising event, tell them where they can get tickets. If you are $5,000 short of reaching a goal on a giving day, state your case. If a hard ask isn't appropriate, encourage users to follow you. Use your content to your advantage.
Finally, be sure to follow other nonprofits to see what others are doing. Follow trends to get inspired. Experiment and adapt. TikTok is an amazing platform to be candid, fun, and impactful.