Beth Kanter’s Top 2 Recommendations for Boosting Your Nonprofit Website’s Social Media Traction

I do nonprofit websites. Just websites. I’m not a social media expert and don’t claim to be. But because people tend to think of websites and social media as almost the same thing, I get a lot of questions and requests for advice about social media.

![Beth Kanter](
Beth Kanter
Of course, they are related, and it’s important for your nonprofit website to play well with your organization’s social media strategy. So, this week I reached out to the Beth Kanter. If you don’t know who Beth is, she’s THE expert on what nonprofits need to do to get the most out of social media.

I asked Beth: “As you look at nonprofit websites, what are the top couple things that if done differently would give the biggest boost to their traction across social media?”

And here’s what Beth said:

#1. “Use social widgets so people can easily share your content and customize sharing messages.”

Ok. So what’s a “social widget”? I’m sure you’ve seen them all over the place, even if you didn’t know what they were called. They’re a group of links to various social media websites that allow users to share something they like with people they’re connected with. On this site, they look like this:

Social Widget on

and this:

Social Widget Sharing buttons on

Social widgets vary, but generally when a visitor clicks on one of those buttons a dialog box opens to allow them to customize a short comment on what and why they’re sharing. When your message gets shared, the widget generates a link back to your site from their Facebook, Twitter or what-have-you, and that link gets sent out to their friends and followers. Depending on how many friends and followers your visitor has, hundreds of people could see that link — your link — and what your visitor thought about you.

All those buttons, dialog boxes and links are generated by a single block of code — a widget — that can be dropped into a page in pretty much whatever location makes the most sense for users to find, click and share.

As someone who builds websites, I’ve got to say this is one of the easiest things to do. Nearly every website platform has some kind of social sharing widget either built in or as a quick add-on. If your site doesn’t have one, ask your designer or developer to add it. Like I said, it’s not rocket science. It shouldn’t cost much, if anything.

Think about it. This simple addition to your site’s sidebar or below each of your site’s articles empowers your visitors to share your message with hundreds of their friends and followers in a single click. That’s hundreds of people who are getting a first-hand recommendation of your organization every time someone shares an item on your website!

Now, back to Beth:

#2. “Have the ability to create and a/b test landing pages from anything posted on social so you know your conversion rate.”

Here’s where measuring and improving your impact comes in!

If you’ve ever been to the eye doctor, you know what an “a/b test” is. Whenever I go to my optometrist, she puts this big alien mask full of lenses in front of my face and asks me to look through the eye holes at the vision chart. Then she flips the lenses around and asks, “Which is clearer: A… (then she flips the lens) or B?” And I tell her which is better. Then she starts with whichever lens I selected and repeats. “Which is better now: A or B?” She keeps repeating this until she’s narrowed down the best possible lense for my vision.

With social media and websites, it’s the same idea. You post something on Facebook, say a blurb about your upcoming golf tournament, and include a link back to a page on your website where people can sign up to play.

Creating and a/b testing landing pages, means having two alternate sign-up pages where people “land” when clicking the link in the Facebook blurb. Then you can see how many people sign up (“convert” from visitors to tournament participants) from each page.

Which page got you the most sign-ups? A or B? In the next round, keep whichever did better, and change out the opposite page. Again which gets more sign-ups? A or B? And by doing this you discover which messages resonate most effectively with your supporters, donors, volunteers or others you are hoping to reach.

There’s more where this came from.

I asked Beth for her top two ways nonprofits can boost their social media traction on their website. If you implement just these two things: (1) get social widgets up and running and (2) start a/b testing your landing pages, you’ll be way ahead of the pack.

For more ways to use your website to supercharge your social media effectiveness, check out Beth’s books and subscribe to her blog.

Beth has two books, both available from Amazon:

  1. The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change, co-written with Allison Fine, is about nonprofits using social media to drive change.
  2. Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World, co-written with Katie Paine, is the follow-up that will show you how to use data you get from things like a/b testing to take your online presence to the next level.

Even if you don’t read the books (which you should) you definitely need to subscribe to Beth’s blog.

And, if you found these tips helpful, share this page and sign up for the newsletter!

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