In my last post I suggested that successful nonprofit marketers have 8 common social media and content marketing routines that get them valuable actions. After all, you don’t spend time on marketing communications just for your own amusement, do you?
Hopefully, you know what you want folks to think, feel and do once you’ve messaged them. Then you put consistent strategies in place to achieve your objectives. You create habits that assure your success.
I covered four such habits in my previous post — routines geared to assured you stop talking at folks and begin building relationships with folks. This article will cover the next four, which are about assuring that once you connect you get the specific results you seek.
- Build meaningful relationships
- Be constituent-centered
- Use psychology of persuasion and neuroscience
- Tell a story
- Get visual
- Connect with influencers
- Create a balance of desired action responses
- Measure your effectiveness; adjust
1. Get Visual
So much competes for folks’ attention that they don’t even open your content, let alone share it.
If your content isn’t getting shared, you need to figure out a killer way to capture attention in a very short time frame. Enter visual content marketing!
With the ever-increasing popularity of visual social media such as Pinterest, Instagram and Vine, not to mention media sites like YouTube and Vimeo, visual content marketing is one of the hottest digital marketing trends around. And there’s a method to this madness!
Did you know the brain processes visual content 60,000 times faster than it decodes text? Since folks are increasingly strapped for time, this can mean getting noticed vs. getting ignored.
Images, like stories, are a short-cut to appealing to human emotions. Our brains are hard-wired to make decisions based on visual and emotional content. And this is important if you want your constituents to actually act on your content.
To understand how this works, the first thing you must know is that your brain is split into two main sections: new and old. Your new brain controls thinking. Your old brain controls behavior, decision-making and emotions.
Guess where decision-making happens? In the old brain! So data doesn’t influence it. Images and stories do.
So why not use the way our brains are wired to drive results – clicks, shares, comments and donations?
ACTION TIP to get visual: Use Images Everywhere; Avoid Using Text Alone
You’ve got no more excuses for not adding visuals to your nonprofit marketing communications. Take photos with your smart phone or use free stock photos. Here’s a huge List of Free or Low-Cost Image Collections put together by Beth Kanter.
Using text alone can depress response. Instead, use text with your visuals to supercharge their impact and get some interactive dialogue going. A great way to do this is to ask a question connected with your image.
2. Connect with Influencers
Before you can enlist folks to influence others on your behalf you have to find the folks who have that influence – and lots of connections – with your target audiences. This means compiling a list of folks who may be instrumental in spreading your content and influencing folks to act.
ACTION TIP to connect with influencers: Find and Get to Know Influencers.
First determine the qualities one of your influencers might have. Generally, you want someone who cares about your cause, has a large online network and who may be likely to share your content. When I worked at a food bank we looked for active bloggers who cared about nutrition and food and who would be seen as authorities in these areas. We found that our best influencers were “Mommy Bloggers” who cared about kid’s health and “Foodies” who cared about food being delicious, healthy and accessible to everyone.
One way to find these folks is using LinkedIn. You can always ask your connections for introductions to folks you want to know better. But did you know some people let you send them messages even if you’re not connected? These folks belong to the Open Profile network for premium account holders. Open Profile members appear with an icon that looks like a small ring of dots next to their name in search results and on their profile.
Once you’ve targeted your influencers, make a plan get to know them. Get some blogger outreach strategies here, and 12 relationship-building strategies you can use with influencers here. At the food bank we scheduled time to connect with these folks via social media first; then email. Sometimes we picked up the phone. First we offered resources, knowledge and volunteer opportunities to get our influencers engrossed. Then we actively engaged in conversations. By the time we asked for favors we were already trusted buddies.
3. Know Your Intentions; Create a Balance of Desired Action Responses
Often when I ask nonprofit marketers what their social media strategy is they’ll spout off a bunch of numbers: “3 tweets a day” or “one weekly Facebook post” or “a monthly Pinterest game.” These are activities, but they aren’t a strategy. A strategy addresses the underlying reason you are doing all these things.
To be a successful nonprofit marketer doesn’t just mean looking busy and racking up numbers. It means being strategic about what’s keeping you busy. Who cares if you have 5,000 followers if none of them every do anything that moves your nonprofit agenda forward?
Generally, your goals will fall into one or more of these three categories: (1) create awareness about your mission, (2) drive purchases from those who benefit from your mission, and (3) raise funds to sustain your mission. Each category demands different calls to action.
ACTION TIP to Set and Follow Your Intentions: Sharpen Calls to Action
The key to an intentional content marketing strategy is to always ask this question: “What do I want my constituent to do and/or feel when they see this?” Then make sure whatever you send out clearly calls for this desired action response.
Think about some actions you might desire:
“I want my reader to…”
- Feel moved to share our post with their networks. [awareness]
- Think about calling on our nonprofit as an expert in our field. [awareness]
- Sign a petition. [awareness]
- Notify a legislator of our issue. [awareness]
- Make a comment that offers their opinion. [awareness]
- Provide survey feedback. [awareness]
- Play a game/take an interactive quiz. [awareness]
- Provide their email address in exchange for a “gift” of content [awareness]
- Share on Instagram or “pin” on Pinterest [awareness]
- Pay for a service [sales]
- Enroll in a fee-generating program[sales]
- Buy tickets. [fundraising]
- Make a donation. [fundraising]
- Ask others to make a donation [fundraising]
As you can see, there are plenty of different calls to action. Since you don’t want constituents to think all you care about is their wallet, I recommend you shoot for a lopsided balance of three to four awareness-building activities for every sales or fundraising activity.
4. Measure Your Effectiveness; Adjust Your Strategies
You won’t know if your social media strategies are successful unless you track and measure their effectiveness. As management guru Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets improved.”
Yet too few nonprofits really do this. And there are so many things you could track that it can become overwhelming. Pick a few, and get started.
ACTION TIPS to measure effectiveness: Use Analytics Tools and A/B Tests
See where your traffic comes from. Begin with a simple, free program like Google Analytics. LinkedIn sending you lots of leads? Great. Keep it up. Pinterest not so much? If you’ve given a social media channel a decent run (18 months or so) and it’s driving no traffic, perhaps it’s time to retire it in favor of a strategy that’s more effective for you.
See the types of content your audience prefers. Analytics will tell you which articles your audience opens. And the length of time with which they engage on particular website pages, blog posts, etc.
Also consider simple A/B tests to see what works, what doesn’t and what works best. See how here. Test one variable per test. A headline or subject line. An image. A color or font. A call to action. A requested donation amount.
Once you know what’s working you can adjust your strategies to provide content that’s designed specifically with your audience in mind.
Get into an Effective Social Media Routine
Stop winging your social media strategy. Decide where you’re headed; plan ahead to assure you’re not wasting your time and energy to get someplace you don’t really want to go. To paraphrase Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll very likely get there.”
What do you think? What routines do you incorporate to ensure your social media and content marketing is delivering the outcomes you seek? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.