A vast majority of nonprofits and small businesses engage their advocates and customers on social networking sites, but the trend toward sponsored posts and tweets (see stories by Adweek and CNET) will make it more difficult.

Organizations with small marketing budgets that have relied on free Facebook and Twitter accounts to penetrate the social media space may be crowded out by larger companies with deep pockets.

Three marketing experts share their thoughts on how nonprofits and small businesses with varying budget sizes can remain effective in this new pay-to-play era:

Kelley Bozeman

Marketing Director, University of Kentucky

 “UK has been very aggressive in “retargeting” our consumers (prospective students) — we retarget from UKY.edu, ukathletics.com, applyuk.com. We have found that, compared to other media, interactive is relatively cheap, we’re reaching people who already have shown interest in the University, and we’re reaching them where they are: Pandora, Facebook, Twitter, etc. We have been able to hone in to our demographic, our specific markets and are able to even go deeper by using zip codes.  

“Our messaging is very lighthearted and leads them to a fun, interactive microsite (seeblue.com). We retarget from there after they visit and are even able to capture their IP addresses and watch as they proceed through the application process. 

“We have had so much success over the past few years … it keeps our name/brand in front of the prospects even after they leave our site.”


David Caldwell

Principal, Advertising + Marketing Services at Balance Creative, LLC

Caldwell currently serves on the board of the District Five American Advertising Federation, the National AAF AADY Committee, and is the current Governor for District 5 representing Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.

 “According to Twitter, 70 percent of your current followers will share (with their network) any positive interactions they have with your business or brand. 70 percent — those are pretty good numbers. Continue to focus on content that is genuine and approachable, always incorporating your unique personality. That is a sure-fire way to not only build followers, but create trust and engagement. And, that is what it’s all about, right?”


Julie Balog

Vice President Marketing and Communications at YMCA of Central Kentucky and former Director of Communications at Keeneland

“Technology and social media companies, like Google and Twitter, should be applauded for donating their services so that nonprofits can compete more effectively in the digital world. At the Y, we take advantage of those programs, and it has been very effective for us. However, for many small, understaffed nonprofits, it can also be difficult to execute well when you feel like you already are a jack of all trades and a master of none.

“It is critical, however, to assign someone or make it a priority to manage your google adwords or sponsored tweets so that it ties with your overall marketing plan. It takes work to manage it, but it is worth it.

“Be sure to take advantage of the targeted options available. You can target by location, gender or interests and that has been enormously effective for us.”

Lastly, keep it conversational but concise. Make it easy for people to respond and retweet.”