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Media Cause Digital Community Building for Nonprofits

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Originally delivered 5-19-14 at the Social Media for Nonprofits conference in Boston, MA

Originally delivered 5-19-14 at the Social Media for Nonprofits conference in Boston, MA


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  • We’re going to talk about digital community building, how it works and why it’s important.

    We’ll also give a brief overview as well as some practical tips for making the most of the 4 essential tools for building strong communities (Google Ad Grants, Email, Social Networks, and website).

    Hopefully we’ll give the marketing folks in the room a few ideas to take back to the office while giving the executive directors and development folks a new way to think about growing your organizations through this concept of digital community building.

    But first let’s start at the very beginning as I’m sure some of wondering… What is digital community building?
  • We hear these words “community” and “community building” a lot in the nonprofit world.

    Sometimes it’s in relation to the communities that nonprofits serve, like a local Boy’s & Girl’s Club. Sometimes it’s used in relation to capacity building. And for those of us that work in the social media or online marketing space it’s often used to describe our nonprofits presence on social networks likes Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

    But what do I mean when I say Community? READ DEFINITION

    Before we tie digital community back to growing your nonprofit, let’s take another quick poll…

  • For most nonprofits it should be D. Big nonprofits that have huge brand awareness – The American Red Cross, ASPCA, etc., They are able to get donations from the first interaction, because individuals already know who they are and what they do. There is already a relationship. But for the rest of us, it means we need to build those relationships first, so that people get to know our organizations and why our mission should be so important to them.

    With that in mind, let’s start with what we hope is a different way to think about online marketing for your nonprofit…
  • We get RFPs all the time for fundraising campaigns. While we love the business, the fact of the matter is that you see extremely low conversion rates when you ask people to donate with in seconds of meeting them, which is the exact equivalent to buying ads on Facebook, Google, or banner ads around the web or even TV that directs to a donation page.

    There are a few exceptions to this, like disaster relief, but by and large ad campaigns are expensive and rarely give you a positive return on investment…

    Let’s take a closer look at the financial argument for community building versus advertising…
  • Any organization can buy ads on the major ad networks like Google and Facebook, where $1 CPC are achievable. It can also be much higher than that but we’ll use $1 to be very conservative. If we were to assume a 5% conversion rate, which is to say that 5% of the people that land on your site take the action that you want, which is very very generous. This could be below 1% depending on the ask and your website, but let’s assume 5% to be on the optimistic side. We’re talking about spending $100 to reach 100 people and $20 - $50 to drive an important action whether it be sign a petition or donate for a matching drive.

    If you had to do this each and every time your organization ran a big campaign, it’s would be really really expensive.

    So what’s the alternative…

    A Viral Button – I’m actually still looking for it, so if anyone has any leads on that let me know.

    The next best thing is building strong communities.

  • So this is in reference to a Malcolm Gladwell piece in The New Yorker called “Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted.”

    He made the argument that social media makes it easier for activists to express themselves and harder for that expression to have any impact.

    But in Egypt, Gladwell seemed to be wrong. Of course, social media didn’t cause the overthrow of a regime. It didn’t cause 100,000s of protester to take to the streets, but it did help this happen so much faster. It did help the collective power of all those tweets, youtube videos, facebook posts, etc, have an impact. To the point that each individual didn’t feel like they were alone and that they had collective power, because they understood there was a community of like-minded individuals out there ready to take action.

    Now, not every organization is trying to overthrow an oppressive regime. There are many injustices in the world and worthy causes that people are passionate about and want to support. With 24/7 internet connectivity between computers and smart phones, many nonprofits can tap into this power of community to further your missions.

    So now that we covered the importance of community building let’s dive into the HOW. We’re are always happy to share our secrets.
  • OK, so who wants to know the biggest secret to building valuable digital community?
  • That’s probably something everyone has heard before.

    But it’s important to point out one big difference.

    The communities goals are more important than yours.

    Well hold on now.. We’ve been talking about how valuable these communities are, how they are going to help with cheaper, more effective marketing? How they are going to help grow my organization? Doesn’t it seem a little backwards that what the community wants is more important that what your organization wants?

    Don’t worry, this is still all about your nonprofit but it’s probably a different approach that what you’re doing today. If you go back to the definition of community building – it was a group of individuals and/or organizations that support your organizations MISSION – not necessarily your organization (yet).

    This is the big shift that I am asking you to consider: Changing your communication model from being organization centric to being support centric.

    With that in mind let’s take a look at the work flow of community building as a new approach to marketing…
  • Transcript

    • 1. www.mediacause.org | connect@mediacause.org | @mediacause DIGITAL COMMUNITY BUILDING FOR NONPROFITS Cody Damon @codydamon
    • 2. Digital Community Building 1. Community Building 101 2. Community Building Tools • Google Ad Grants • Email List • Social Networks • Website/Blog
    • 3. What Is Digital Community Building? A group of individuals and/or organizations that support your organizations mission. Supporters have actively subscribed to one or more of your organizations digital channels.
    • 4. Quick Poll A. 1 B. 2 C.3 D.More than 3 E. Don’t Know How many interactions does your nonprofit typically have with donors before asking them to give?
    • 5. How Not To Do Community Building You don’t ask for a donation within the 1 minute of meeting someone. Why do so many nonprofit do that online?
    • 6. Community Building Vs Advertising Advertising is expensive $1 Cost per Click 5% Conversion Rate 1 X 100 X .05 = 5 $100 to reach 100 people $20 to drive 1 important action
    • 7. The Power of Community mediacause.org | connect@mediacause.org | @mediacause The Revolution Will Be Tweeted
    • 8. Want to know the secret to successful community building?
    • 9. Review and prioritize your GOALS before starting The COMMUNITIES’ GOALS are more important than yours. But don’t forget…
    • 10. How It Works 1. Get permission to continue the conversation 2. Connect on issues the community cares about 3. Share content that informs and inspires 4. Celebrate wins and progress together 5. Ask for participation
    • 11. Community Building In Action Meet New Supporters : Grow Communit y Engagement: Focus On Community Goals Active Community of Supporters -- Driving Org Goals RSS (blog) Social Content Email & Newslett er Google Ad Grants Shared Content & Social Ads Blo g (seo )
    • 12. Community Building & Essential Tools 1. Community Building 101 2. Community Building Tools • Google Ad Grants • Email List • Social Networks • Website/Blog
    • 13. Program Overview  $10,000/mo free ad credit on Google.com  $2 max cost per click  Ads shown below paid ads  1000’s of new potential supporters on your website each month Sign up IMMEDIATELY at Google.com/nonprofits Google Ad Grants
    • 14. Your #1 Goal is Donations, but…
    • 15. Email List Building with Google Ads
    • 16. Homepage Vs. Targeted Landing Page Conversion Rate = 12.59% 1,000 + email address / mo
    • 17. Case Study: Cornell Lab – Inbound Google “screech owl” and land on the AllAboutBirds.org species account May receive direct mail Begin receiving monthly eNews and email solicitations Learn more about the Lab through triggered emails See offer to download owl sounds in exchange for email address Donate/Join for the first time via email or direct mail
    • 18. Community Building With Email Tips: • Don’t forget to thanks and welcome supporters • Remember to focus on the communities’ goals • Over 50% of emails in 2013 were open on a mobile phone (use responsive templates & mobile friendly donation tools)
    • 19. The secret to building community: ENGAGEMENT Facebook: likes, comments, and shares Twitter: retweets and replies Email: open rate, clicks, forwards Blog: subscriptions, comments, and shares Community Building With Social Media
    • 20. Tip #1. Leverage High-Arousal Emotions Physiologically high arousal emotions fire people up. They drive people to action and spread the word: • Awe • Excitement • Anger • Amusement • HumorLearn more: bit.ly/FirePeopleUp
    • 21. Tip #2. Share Content That Achieves Community’s Goals Futures Without Violence Audience size 37,579 Post reach 89,984
    • 22. Tip #3. Share Progress & Victories Water4 Audience size 2,435 Post reach 14,336
    • 23. Tip #4. Encourage Participation Cornell Lab’s weekly quizzes help maintain its audience engagement
    • 24. Community Building With Blogging Our Goal: Become the industry leader. Community Goal: Become educated and protect children. Research: Identified 50 keywords that would boost Thorn’s organic search results. Execution: Created keyword driven content calendar. Results: After 1st month, 24% of all traffic was from blogs. After 3rd month blog posts had been shared over 500 times on Facebook and 200 times on Twitter
    • 25. Community Building With Blogging Tips: • Focus on your communities’ goals • Do your SEO keyword research • Use titles that draw readers in • Make it easy to subscribe, share, and comment
    • 26. Case Study: Cornell Lab - 2013 Results • Year over Year Facebook • Likes increased 78% (171,037) • Engaged Users Increased 52% (102,706) • PTAT* Increased 67% (50,208) • Increased our email file by 56% to 522k • Increased unique users to website by 31% (2.5mm) • Doubled online fundraising over prior year ($537K to $1.1mm) • 60% of first-time donors are coming from online • Average “sales” cycle – 78 days from lead to donor
    • 27. Case Study: Cornell Lab Fundraiser Email Subscribers: Reach – 31,043 Donors – 5 Facebook Fans: Reach – 46,533 Donors – 9 BOTH: Reach – 24,160 Donors – 19
    • 28. Thank You! Learn More: www.mediacause.org Email: cody@mediacause.org Questions?