‘Social content marketing’ is the terminology I use for the type of marketing everyone must do today to stay in business in our increasingly networked world.
Human beings have always been social animals. The digital revolution has simply made electronic media (email, the internet and social media) our ‘go-to’ place to socialize and connect with our fellow humans.
Is your nonprofit today social or anti-social?
If you’re trying to connect with your particular constituents – and if they’re trying to connect with you – two things must be true:
- Your target constituents must be able to find you, easily, online.
- When they find you, they must encounter content that’s personally relevant and meaningful.
Be More Strategic Today Than Yesterday
Some years ago when I began writing about nonprofits and social media very few organizations were being strategic in their efforts. They muddled through social media without any real sense of direction. A Facebook post here. A random tweet there. And not a whole lot else. They were online, but only in a half-baked way.
Not many channels. Not easy to find.
Mediocre content. Not enjoyable to encounter.
Common was “We’re on Twitter; follow us.” “Like us on Facebook.” Even when nonprofits got more savvy and began blogs (allegedly to communicate with their supporters), still a lot of the content was self-centered. “We got an award.” “We built a new center.” “We rebranded our website!” Not much meaningful dialogue ensued.
As nonprofits continued to spew content outwards, with little attention given to creating meaningful, relevant content that would positively engage their constituents and ultimately drive investment, I began to advocate for folks to stop merely counting ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ (vanity metrics) and develop an engaging inbound content marketing strategy:
“Folks, social media is not a numbers game. It’s an engagement game.
If your content doesn’t speak to your constituents they won’t engage. They won’t answer your call to action. They won’t advocate on your behalf or share your content with their friends.
As a result, you won’t expand your constituent universe. You won’t build awareness of your cause. And you won’t develop donor-investors. This is time wasting. This sucks.
What are you going to do about it?”
Plan Today for Tomorrow
Thankfully, more and more nonprofits today are doing something about it, endeavoring to be more intentional about their content marketing and social media. More have something they at least call a ‘content marketing strategy.’ Many are opening up to using different tactics, especially storytelling, and are using more social media platforms. Folks are also leveraging different types of content for different objectives.
This is a good sign.
Even better news is the fact that 61% of non-profit marketers are using content marketing to drive action according to the Nonprofit Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends by Content Marketing Institute and Blackbaud. This study also revealed that 68% say they want to use content marketing for fundraising.
But, if you’re going to put resources into content marketing you need to make it count.
Make Your Planning Count
The way to make your fuel count is to socialize it – that is, use it so your fuel ignites. Once your social content marketing is burning hot, use it to feed the engine that propels your enterprise.
- Content marketing is your rocket fuel.
- Social media, and sharing your content, is your gasoline.
- For nonprofits, your engine is fundraising.
By socializing your content marketing you get it hot enough to successfully feed the engine that will generate needed contributed support. It’s a continuum.
Hot content… leads to sharing… leads to… desirable engagement.
Count Your Target Constituents In
Social content marketing doesn’t put the message (your content) at the center. Or the medium (your email, blog, website or social channels) at the center.
Your target customer (aka target donor persona) is at the center of your social content marketing strategy.
That makes sense, doesn’t it? Being customer-centered with your marketing? Getting up close and personal and, gosh darn it, all social and human with your marketing? Not just hitting folks over the head with a sledge hammer about you, you, you?
I hear of few of you in the peanut gallery muttering “but our constituents don’t use social media.” Before you decide the rest of this article isn’t for you, listen up: 72% of American adults who are online use social networking sites per the 2013 Pew Internet project (note: 85% of American adults are online). Even among Americans 65+ years old, 43% use social. So, is it possible that your customers aren’t using social? Sure, but not likely unless they’re cave-dwellers.
Hold up a minute!
A couple of you peanuts are still grumbling under your breath that “our folks may use social sometimes, but with us they use email and that works just swell; we don’t need both.” Listen folks: Social and email are in the same strategic camp. Both are gasoline — used to keep your brand top-of-mind among people who have given you permission to do so. Email and social are complementary tactics, not oppositional ones. Wear them together.
Time to Get Dressed for Success
Okay, have I persuaded you not to walk around half-dressed? It’s a busy world out there. With busy people in it. Sometimes they’ll notice you; sometimes they won’t. Help them to notice you!
Based on how well you’ve understood their needs, your constituents will decide whether they’ll meet yours. When your interests and theirs align, they’ll take notice. It’s up to you to figure out where the values intersect lies. At that point of intersection is where your social content marketing strategy lives.
Will your potential supporters ignore your content? Will they take it in with detached half interest? Will they act on it and engage with you (e.g., send you valuable feedback, sign your petition, attend your event)? Will they love it so much they share it with their networks?
How do you need to dress yourself up to get folks to take your desired action responses?
Maximize your chances! Be strategic.
You need a lot of coverage in today’s nonprofit marketing place: Content marketing, social media and fundraising – all working together seamlessly.
The content marketing and social media train has left the station. It’s time to not just get on board, but to do so with style and savoir faire.
But you’ve got to begin at the beginning. There are no short cuts. The absolute number one pre-condition to developing new prospect-donor leads in our digitally revolutionized world is your foundational content marketing strategy.
Develop a Content Marketing Strategy that Taps into the Power of Social to Fuel Your Fundraising
Content strategy is the beginning. It’s your process for planning, creating, organizing, delivering and evaluating engagement with useful, actionable content.
The strategic part comes from assessing the needs of your target markets; then determining how your content can meet constituent needs as well as your organization’s objectives. How do you want your constituents to feel after encountering your content? What actions do you want them to take?
The social part comes from embracing the reality that this is a dynamic process rather than a one-time thing. As the needs and behaviors of your audiences change, so must your strategy. So you’ve got to create opportunities for dialogue. You’ve got to listen and be open to what you hear and observe.
To create an engaging strategy which is likely to lead to donations, try the following five tips.
- Use an editorial calendar to facilitate the consistent creation of high quality content and give your plan some needed organization. There are many different templates and content scheduling tools out there to choose from, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel (It can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet template; a Google calendar; a free Editorial Calendar Plug-in with a simple drag and drop interface or even a Word document, desk-top or wall calendar. It doesn’t need to be fancy; it just needs to be something with which you’re comfortable).
- Plan to incorporate visuals into your content marketing channels to amplify your reach and drive greater engagement. Be sure to leverage YouTube’s Nonprofit Program that offers such benefits as call-to-action overlays, listing on the nonprofit channels and the ability to drive fundraising through a Google Checkout “Donate” button. Add text too, like using questions to provoke commentary (e.g., “Fill in the blank: My favorite justice hero is ________”).
- Identify the key challenges your non-profit addresses. Use this to establish your organization as an authority in your industry (e.g., “Our Latest Whitepaper on School Lunches”).
- Identify the key challenges your target constituents’ face; use this to answer constituent questions and help folks to address their problems (e.g., “Here are 10 Tips to Save Energy” or “5 Answers to Your Questions about Preventing Bullying”).
- Get clarity on the goals of your content marketing strategy.
Consider what your organization’s top marketing communications concerns are. What will success look like for you? You’re going to want to design a social content marketing strategy that enables you to reach your key objectives. Prioritize them.
Whatever your goals:
- Make sure your marketing strategy drives awareness and interest with your top-notch fuel (content);
- Then stimulate engagement by pouring gasoline on your fire (social media and email), and ultimately
- Use the connections you’ve made and the relationships you’ve built to facilitate philanthropic investment (through fundraising).
Watch for 5 more ways to get your nonprofit’s social content marketing strategy on track in next month’s post.