Nonprofit organizations are driven to provide meaningful support to those they serve. Many nonprofits have unique and compelling stories that illustrate the impact of what they do.

Savvy nonprofits embrace social media to highlight stories, punctuated with engaging images along with video and audio clips to evoke emotional responses from supporters. Adding a distinct call to action puts nonprofits in the driver's seat to increase revenue opportunities.

Social media offers multiple ways to make an impact. How do you unlock the mystery of social media to reach your audience, drive actions and increase donations? Careful, thoughtful research and planning are essential to help you stand out.

Planning posts

Establish clear objectives. Who are you trying to reach? Why do you want to reach them? What clear-cut action you are seeking to achieve?

These answers will help determine whether Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest or a combination would be the best platform for your purpose. It's possible you will use multiple social media outlets yet tweak your approach with timing and content to best suit each audience.

The timing of posts across social media should be taken into consideration. Support date-centric activities. Work backward and determine how far in advance you need to begin. Focus on your targeted social media audience and determine how often you'll want to post — daily, weekly, bi-weekly and so on.

Develop a task list that includes a variety of posts, identifying when to repeat themes. Layer ideas and actions leading up to your activity whether it's an appeal, open house, volunteer drive or special event.

Link your social media campaigns to actionable goals. For example, to support a major capital campaign, create messages that tell the story about what you do and how additional support will increase the positive impact on those you serve. Include images or brief video clips to highlight your content.

Choosing a platform

Keep your donors in mind, and tweak messaging across social media. Matching your desired donor with the right message and platform helps drive up the revenue stream.

If you are seeking major donors, LinkedIn's network for professionals may be the best format. LinkedIn offers a variety of ways to capture the interest of current and potential major donors, such as creating a group and contributing to the discussions.

Use LinkedIn to post relevant information, yet be mindful to follow group rules in regards to promotion. Sharpen your donor intel by checking out supporters' LinkedIn profiles to learn what groups to they belong to and learn who else they support.

If you are targeting mid-level donors, consider Facebook. Facebook has more than 1.6 billion users, ranging across multiple demographics.

Build a presence by uploading tailored photo albums that may also include words. Create special event pages to promote specific fundraising activities. Videos may also help capture your audience providing more details in an engaging informative style. Add a call to action. Facebook also allows nonprofits the option of "Donate Now" to help drive donations directly to your cause.

Twitter's 140-character limit makes posts seem more conversational. Twitter remains popular with users between 18-29 but has also gained traction amid the 30-49-year-olds. Stay on top of Twitter by replying to supporters in a timely manner to better engage and encourage more sharing. Retweet posts to gain more followers and spread your message to a broader group.

Both Facebook and Twitter are helpful tools to promote fundraising events. Be sure to understand your specific goals such as driving attendance, increasing raffle sales, advance auction bids or to spread the word.

Pinterest provides a flow of information with a creative flair targeting female supporters 42 percent of women on the internet use Pinterest. Think of ways to visually share your message combining images of both words and pictures, and increase exposure to both special events and sponsors. If one of your sponsors is a local clothing store, salon or jeweler, use Pinterest to show off a few dresses, hairstyles and/or jewelry that can be worn to the event, offering both your sponsors and attendees value.

Videos have grown in popularity and greatly increase social media impact. Videos can be housed on YouTube, allowing organizational tools into playlists and homepage customization that helps nonprofits stand out to share their message. Keep videos short two to three minutes can say a lot. Snapchat is helpful for sending both impactful photos and short videos that can remain live for 24 hours helping to create some timely "buzz."

Tracking posts

Always be sure to monitor posts across all social media so you can quickly engage supporters who comment or reshare your posts. This helps build rapport and expand exposure through their social media networks, increasing your overall reach. Learn how your supporters use social media and add to your plans for future posts.

Developing a clearly defined strategic plan for social media unlocks the mystery and potential profits.