Last month I wrote about why prioritizing your marketing communications objectives; then building a strategic social content marketing plan to help you optimize your content for social channels to achieve these outcomes is so important in today’s digital marketplace.
This month I’d like to discuss how to do this by offering you five ways to get to your goals, generate more leads, drive greater engagement and, ultimately, raise more money for your cause.
1. Document Your Strategy
Per the 2015 Nonprofit Content Marketing study, only 23% of nonprofits with a content marketing strategy had it documented; yet these were the same folks who were most effective in all aspects of content marketing. Documentation is also the best way to get everyone in your organization on the same page. Content marketing should not be siloed in one department, because a successful strategy crosses departments and folks from different areas should take on different assignments. You may wish to include development staff, marketing staff, executive management, volunteer coordinators and program staff (e.g., ask your folks in the field to make quick videos with smart phones; then tweet them to major donors). Here are some of the things to come to consensus on; then write down:
- What is the tone, style and voice of your content? Will this be different on different platforms (perhaps based on the demographics of your supporters who use different media)?
- How will content deliverables be produced; who will be responsible?
- How often will deliverables be produced/distributed?
- Who will be responsible for follow-up/engaging with constituents?
- What process will you use to evaluate engagement, and who will be responsible?
Only 15% of nonprofits surveyed in the 2015 Nonprofit Content Marketing study reported feeling successful at tracking ROI. Notably, relatively few reported using some of the more standard metrics used by businesses (e.g., subscriber growth; increased advocacy; SEO ranking; benchmark lift of product/service awareness; inbound links; sales; lead quantity and sales lead quality). Here are the evaluation processes that were used:
2. Budget for Your Content Marketing
The most effective nonprofits spend more of their marketing budget, excluding staff, on content marketing (30%) than the least effective (13%). 57% say lack of budget is a challenge, while 37% of non-profit marketers intend to increase their content marketing budgets.
It obviously makes little sense to spend time documenting a content marketing strategy if you don’t have the resources to act on it. So it’s imperative to allocate a budget for this endeavor. First and foremost, of course, you need staff. If you can’t hire who you need, consider outsourcing. In any regard, there are other areas to consider setting aside budget for:
- Search engine marketing
- Analytics and tracking tools
- Promoted tweets
- Print or other offline promotion
- Social ads (e.g., Facebook; Linkedin)
- Content discovery tools
- Native advertising
- Online banner ads
While many nonprofits get queasy at the thought of allocating funds for advertising, you do have to spend money to make money. If you distribute your content in such a manner that it engages the right audiences and drives important leads, then it’s penny-wise and pound-foolish not to do so. Just start small. Test and analyze the platforms you’re considering using before launching a full-fledged campaign.
Earmarking resources to accurately track and determine which channels drive the most traffic, and which types of content generate the greatest engagement and influence the largest donations should be more of a no-brainer. You want to be able to assess where new leads come from, and what type of engagement you get from these leads.
- Referral traffic (the most desired type of traffic, because referred visitors are already interested in what you have to offer; easy to track if you use Google Analytics)
- Click rate on social shares (easily generate more clicks by adding share buttons not just to your website’s home page, but landing pages, subpages, images, videos and to any form of content you can think of)
- “People talking about this“ on Facebook. Interestingly, Buffer found that text-only posts of quotations had the farthest spread for them. So try solving some of your content creation challenges by simply sharing some inspirational quotes that connect to your mission! Images are great for virality too, and Buffer makes it easy to share both.
- Most popular content (easy to track if you use Google Analytics)
3. Tell Better, More Frequent Stories
The Nonprofit Content Marketing 2015 study found that 66% of non-profit marketers are focusing on becoming better storytellers. It turns out that human beings are wired for stories. It’s the oldest form of human communication. It’s how we make sense of our world, and our place in it. What a perfect vehicle for talking about how to make the world a better place!
It turns out that social media is an optimal mechanism for spreading stories, because a basic feature of stories is the telling and re-telling. A great way to do this is the widespread technique popularized in the 19th century when books were premium items and installment literature was the way to bring it to the masses. This is how authors like Charles Dickens, and Alexander Dumas got their start, and later on Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry James and Herman Melville. It’s one reason that when they were made into books these novels were so long (writers were paid by the line and the episode).
Serial storytelling works because each episode is easy to digest. And folks welcome your content as you continue to tell the story or let it unfold. Then, if you’re lucky, they’ll share the story with their networks. Your story will then self-replicate as it’s passed from one listener to the next.
4. Develop an Influencer Strategy
One of the best ways to turn your content viral — and spread it beyond your current supporters –is through the use of influencers. And these folks don’t need to be Hollywood or sports celebrities. You simply want to find folks who care about your cause, have large online networks and who may be likely to share your content.
TRUE STORY: When I worked at the San Francisco Food Bank, we found that Mommy Bloggers and Food Bloggers were our best social media sharers. Why? The moms really cared about making sure all kids, regardless of income, got healthy nutritious meals. The foodies cared about anything to do with food, and liked the idea of giving back. So we often asked these folks to share our posts; they were really nice as pie about it.
Who are your likely influencers? Think about who might have brand affinity for your cause; then begin to develop relationships with these folks.
5. Share Your Content in More Places
In our digitally revolutionized society inbound marketing is the best way to turn strangers into supporters. Inbound marketing means that, once you’ve created great content that aligns with your constituencies’ values and will naturally pull folks toward your organization and mission, you then publish that content with your constituents’ habits in mind. You go where they are. You engage with them in a manner in which they’d like to be engaged.
The places you share your content matters. A lot.
So maximize your chances of reaching folks by using multiple social media platforms. According to the Nonprofit Content Marketing 2015 report, nonprofit marketers are using an average of five social platforms as of the end of 2014.
If you want to raise more money you can’t silo your marketing and your fundraising efforts. They’ve got to work together seamlessly if you have a dream… a vision… values… a mission you want to spread. Understand that from the outside looking in, you are ONE organization. No one cares which department created or implemented which strategy. They simply want value and consistency.
Want to know what it takes to be a “best-in-class” nonprofit marketer/fundraiser? The folks at Content Marketing Institute have done a pretty good job of summarizing this for you:
How does your organization rate? Where are you strong? Where could you improve? What obstacles stand in your way?