Online advertising for nonprofits beyond Google Ads

Digital Advertising

Don’t get us wrong, we love Google Ads and everything it has to offer the social impact world (so if you don’t have the Google Ad Grant for Nonprofits, get it now, and remember to stay current on updates and policy changes). However, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision when it comes to AdWords and the all-powerful Google machine and forget the many other ways your organization can supplement this awesome philanthropic tool.
When it comes to online marketing, it pays to take advantage of every outlet — if your nonprofit is trying to get serious about digital advertising, there are a number of other great online and social media tools that you should try incorporating into your everyday strategy. So take a quick break from AdWords, and check out our tips on online advertising for nonprofits below:

1. Don’t forget Facebook (who can, really)

Facebook remains a force in both the social media world and the larger world of online advertising. You’re likely familiar with Facebook ads and their presence in your news feed, so you have some sense of their marketing impact. And now that you and your followers can fundraise for your organization directly through the site, you should absolutely be thinking about how to make Facebook work in your favor.
Facebook advertising is so effective not only because of the popularity of the platform, but also because of how its ads are run. Facebook allows you to target ads toward an intended audience (human or canine) using specific location, demographics, interests, and other data that the site gathers from its users. Since you pay for your advertising engagements on Facebook, you don’t want to waste time and money on users who are uninterested in your cause. In addition to its targeting capabilities, Facebook advertising also gives you higher-than-average flexibility in your campaign objectives — you can check out their list of ad formats or our guide to an effective Facebook ad campaign to start exploring all of the options that this social media giant offers its nonprofit advertisers.

2. Take advantage of Twitter

The benefits of Twitter for your organization’s online advertising efforts are partially due to the fact that it does exactly what other social platforms do, and partially due to the fact that it doesn’t. If you have a business account, you can launch campaigns and tailor ads to up the visibility and reach of your brand on Twitter. This setup may not sound that different from Facebook advertising, but it does target slightly different people. Twitter reaches a distinct audience —past data from Pew Research Center indicates that Twitter is used more often for posting breaking news updates, and that Twitter users tend to see business, international, and government/political news at higher rates than they do on Facebook. Such data bodes well for nonprofit organizations, which often work within the intersections of these topics. At the very least, you should keep in mind that every social media site fills a slightly different role, and so will multi-pronged advertisements in these adjacent social spaces.

3. How do I use the Google Display Network??

We know, we said that this resource goes beyond AdWords, and we promise that it does – we just can’t escape Google. While the Google Search Network targets audiences who are typing directly into Google, the Google Display Network allows you to effectively advertise on across other relevant websites. You can’t use your nonprofit AdWords grant for the Google Display Network, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the investment — the Google Display Network reaches 90% of internet users worldwide. Not only is there a vast ocean of users to reach through this tool, but you also have the ability to select which websites serve your ads, so that you can speak directly to the demographics that can best support your mission. So if you think you’ve hit a dead-end in online advertising, and you’re not checking out the Display Network, think again. Our resource on the Google Display Network breaks down the capabilities, requirements, and best practices for this amazing tool, so that you can start marketing with ease.

4. You need YouTube

Did you know that you can even use YouTube for advertising? YouTube ads are the promotions that appear before or beside the videos that you watch on the site (remember those clips that you try to skip whenever the 5-second countdown is up?). You can use any video uploaded to the platform for an ad —  check out our resource on setting up YouTube ads for the basics. Using YouTube as an intentional mode of online advertising is smart because you can quickly accumulate (fairly cheap) video views. These views are extremely visible to the public on a platform like YouTube, and a higher number of views works well as a vanity metric for your organization and your followers.

5. Online advertising with Snapchat

Snapchat is often overlooked within social media marketing strategies, probably because it took longer to be taken seriously beyond younger audiences and prove its value to businesses and organizations. But make no mistake, Snapchat has one of the most engaged user bases out there, and it can serve as a significant source of online advertising potential. During the holiday season we wrote a guide to Snapchat holiday marketing campaigns — while these tips are dressed up for the season, they still offer sound advice for year-round Snapchat advertising efforts. You can use Snapchat to create custom geofilters for your office or your events, and you can run Snapchat Ads with a model similar to those on other social media sites.

6. Instagram: An emerging heavyweight

Instagram should definitely have a say in any discussion about online advertising. Digital marketers continue to point to Instagram as the social site to watch in the coming years — according to Pew Research Center, nearly 60% of Instagram users check the site at least once a day.
Among social media platforms, Instagram is especially good for creating compelling visual content. Because of its integration into the Facebook Ad manager, Instagram Ads can only be run by organizations with a Facebook Ad account and an Instagram business profile. Our comprehensive guides to Instagram advertising and doing it for the ‘gram will prepare you for this next online marketing adventure by outlining the types of ads Instagram offers, discussing how it incorporates objectives and targeting, and conveying best practices. If you’re interested in using a platform like Instagram to really amp up your online advertising by trying out influencer marketing, you should also check out our tips on how to identify and engage with the right social media influencer for your brand.
Digital advertising isn’t just for big, for-profit corporations — it’s for nonprofits, too, and the social impact sector can continue to promote great causes by making waves on any of the online advertising platforms listed above. Have your own thoughts and tips about online advertising for nonprofits? Tweet them to us @WholeWhale!

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