Perhaps more than any other type of organization, a nonprofit needs to make sure it’s connecting with the right audience. Successful engagement for nonprofits results in more than just a boost in vanity metrics—it can make a direct difference in communities.

So nonprofits in the age of social media must adapt to the same fast-paced marketing behaviors as any for-profit brand in order to drive awareness and resonance for their messages.

Here are a few ways that nonprofits are taking advantage of social to boost their causes:

1. Encourage Open & Direct Communication

For a nonprofit, encouraging direct messages on social is like extending an olive branch to your audience, inviting them into your world and opening a path for comfortable communication.

Operation Smile, one of the oldest and largest volunteer-based organizations dedicated to improving the health and lives of children worldwide, encourages direct messages on Facebook. Once the page loads, users are automatically prompted with Messenger’s chat window, letting you know that Operation Smile is currently active and eager for your questions and feedback.

Operation Smile Facebook graphic

2. Take Liberties With Social Campaigns

Showcasing creativity and engaging with your audience using fresh, current methods is an effective way to highlight the passion and hard work that your organization accomplishes.

Charity: Water, a nonprofit whose aim is to bring clean and safe drinking water to people around the world, has found success in launching larger, thoughtful campaigns that resonate with their followers. One form of content has proven especially effective in creating connections with an engaged, active audience: video.

For Valentine’s Day, Charity: Water celebrated by extending its gratitude in the form of its staff honoring loved ones with donations in their name. This series of thoughtfully-produced, charming videos also takes the opportunity to encourage viewers to do the same and further emphasized the need for, and the power of, community involvement.

3. Highlight Team Members, Contributors & Supporters

Your organization itself is a wealth of stories, take advantage of that by highlighting the various team members—from founders to volunteers—that make your nonprofit what it is. Give your audience a glimpse of the faces behind the hard work, giving them identities and deepening the connection between you and the people who follow your cause.

Similarly, a good way to bump up engagement on visual platforms like Instagram is by showing off collaborations or contributions from public figures. Whether it’s a celebrity or prominent visionary, these are names and faces that can make your followers stop while scrolling their feeds.

Nonprofit Instagram graphic

4. Humanize Your Social Content

It’s easy to get caught up in the automated and repetitive nature of social, but nonprofits are human causes. It makes sense to share and promote human-centric content and the emotionally touching narratives you deal with everyday.

Charity: Water strikes a compelling balance of beautiful photography of the real people who are positively affected by their cause and letting them tell the story of the organization’s impact.

5. Create Conversation

Sometimes the simplest tactics are the most compelling. Promote engagement and participation by asking your audience simple questions that create an emotional connection between their lives and the lives of the people, things and communities that your nonprofit supports.

Whether you’re asking their thoughts on developments in your organization’s field or seeking opinions on your organization itself, posts that end in a question mark vs. a period tend to perform better. Not to mention the qualitative information you can gather by engaging in social conversations.

Wildlife Conservation Facebook graphic

Social isn’t just an avenue to promote, it’s an opportunity to tell the story of your cause. Take advantage of the various and powerful capabilities that each social platform offers to weave in the story, create emotion resonance and focus your audience’s attention on what’s really important in what you do.