At one time, nonprofit organizations thought social media could do amazing things – all they needed was a “Like” on their Facebook page to build a community and raise awareness. But just clicking "Like" doesn't get those bikes to children in need, petitions signed, or playgrounds built. And now that Facebook is close to 10 years old, and Twitter is seven, there is a mounting backlash against social media – nonprofit leaders want to see more results. Some have even started calling their social media followers “slacktivists.”
But are we too quick to blame the very individuals that are supporting these great causes? While there can definitely be a few issues there, the positive side of digital activism is being ignored – and in the right hands, with the right message, it can be very effective. Old adage – they’re not bad, they’re just misunderstood.
The important distinction to make is that there are very diverse supporters across several different generations that require different communication and prefer to take different kinds of action.We are currently trying to engage four generations: the Millennials, Generation X, the Baby Boomers, and the Matures.The youngest users of digital media, the Millennials (Generation Y), are the most active, but Generation X and Baby Boomers are online too and are still a valuable resource to be targeted. To be successful, nonprofits need to understand how each of these groups wants to be engaged and personalize their campaigns accordingly.
We are currently trying to engage four generations: the Millennials, Generation X, the Baby Boomers, and the Matures.The youngest users of digital media, the Millennials (Generation Y), are the most active, but Generation X and Baby Boomers are online too and are still a valuable resource to be targeted. To be successful, nonprofits need to understand how each of these groups wants to be engaged and personalize their campaigns accordingly.
A MarketWatch blog, from Aug 9, 2013, quoted Tammy Gordon, vice president of social media with AARP in Washington – “The older generations are starting to shift from only following friends and family to getting more interest-based in who they follow,” she said. “It’s not about just following the grandkids anymore.” There’s also evidence that older Americans are using social media to influence family and friends with regard to the causes with which they’re concerned, Gordon said—and that includes urging their connections to vote a particular way during elections.Baby Boomers are experienced givers and will continue to engage with organizations they've known for years and often belong to, such as churches and synagogues. Although they have become more connected digitally, they still give through direct mail or telemarketing solicitations. To be successful with this group, nonprofits must build trust and show how they will spend the money wisely.
Why am I making this effort to identify the generations out there? It goes back to my earlier message – different generations have different preferences, so you need to target them with different kinds of action to be successful. One size fits all – doesn’t!Direct mail and email communication on its own is not enough. The median click-through rate for emails in 2013 was 0.5 percent. The next generation of supporters is engaging through multiple channels – people are drawn in by stories and visuals. Traditional ways of building lists will no longer work effectively or economically. Nonprofits need to think through HOW they are asking supporters to engage. Email will remain an important piece of the puzzle, but the decline and response rate shows the importance of including additional channels into the mix. Nonprofits must track and account for multichannel behavior. The Millennial generation is growing up and they are very active online. Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are also online, but as you can see from the data, their behaviors, intentions and usage differ from each other as well as from Millenials.
All groups can be reached effectively with the right messaging. Nonprofits need to think about offline and online communications in conjunction with each other. If you do have something offline, like an event, have an online component to it so supporters can pledge during the event from their mobile devices. If you have a special rally, make sure you have all the related hashtags communicated before it starts. The same goes for the direct mail pieces – have the hashtags and URLs listed.Whether nonprofits are doing fundraising or advocacy, if they don't rethink how they are reaching individuals (note we say individuals not people), and understand the modern rules of engagement, they can expect their support to decline as well. Nonprofits who define their communications and match their campaigns up with their supporter's needs, will ultimately see the results of their efforts.
Embrace Technology to Micro-organize, Listen and Micro-target Know What Your Supporters Want It's time to stop complaining about supporters being lazy and start thinking about who your supporters actually are and what you can do to effectively engage them – do they value the long term relationships, are they passionate, do they go to Facebook for advice, do they need to have your trust, do they place more importance on convenience? Nonprofits need to think through their messaging and start engaging at a micro level – instead of one ladder of engagement that gets only 10 percent of your supporters to move up, have two, five or 10 ladders that get 50 percent of your supporters moving on up. With the technology available today, nonprofits can organize more efficiently than ever before. Every message sent to a supporter list should be individualized, to show the recipient that yes, I know you and understand what is important to you. If your nonprofit is still doing traditional email blasts – nine out of 10 recipients aren't opening your email.
Good Content Requires Good Listening To write great content that taps into what supporters want, nonprofits need to listen. Social media listening, also known as social media monitoring, is the process of identifying and assessing what is being said about a nonprofit, a cause or a particular campaign that you've recently launched. To succeed in any campaign, social or otherwise, nonprofits will need to recognize that social media has transformed marketing from a monologue model to a dialogue model and is quickly becoming an important intelligence tool.
It may seem like supporters are saying "listen to me when I want you to," which is something to think about when planning your social conversation. By listening, nonprofits can figure out what their supporters are saying, as well as where and how they might best insert themselves into that conversation.
While everyone's input matters, some matter more than others due to their reach and influence. Social listening will enable your organization to identify the top influencers on your supporter lists. Once identified, you can begin building relationships that may result in their extending such influence on your behalf. If you do, you'll know where the conversation takes place. Whether on Twitter, Facebook, forums, blogs or other channels, if you listen, you'll know what topics are being discussed. The information found will provide insight to what is on your supporters' minds and what they care about most. You will also become aware of key words people are using related to the environment, global policies, current events or popular culture. By incorporating messaging that your recipient’s care about and use regularly will show that you are in touch with what's important to them.
SegmentationTaggingScoringSegment your listTarget donors based on past-giving/#GT participationUpgrade previous donors to higher gift Invest in marketing automation now
Don't Personalize, IndividualizeTo personalize is to add a name in the address field and distribute the same message to an entire list. To make your message individualized, you are truly trying to create a message for as small a group as possible that speaks not just to their name, but to things you know they care about. Use dynamic content to populate a supporter's most recent donation amount in a quick donate button – so they don't have the same donation amount as everyone else – they have what they gave last time (or maybe an amount that is just a little but more). An individualized message would also make a reference to past activities with the nonprofit and why they need to give again. Individualizing your content works. According to a recent study by Janrain, email segmentation based on demographics and interests led to a 244 percent increase in email opens, 161 percent increase in click through, and a 330 percent increase in revenue per mailing.
Targeting expands past an individual and takes advantage of the idea that birds of a feather flock together. People seek out others with similar thoughts and preferences. If you can identify your influencers within your supporter lists and turn them into advocates of your cause, then there is a good chance their followers will be interested in your message and potentially become your supporters as well. With the technology to listen to what supporters are saying, about themselves, your cause and about your nonprofit, you can target the right people with the right level of personalization. The result – long-lasting, high-quality supporter relationships that translates to higher response rates on your email asks and ultimately increased overall engagement.
Welcome everyone, we’ve been listening to some great ideas and strategies as to how we can motivate our online supporters to do more than just “like” a Facebook page or sign up onto an email list. In the minutes ahead I’ll try to show everyone what Earth Day Network has been able to accomplish by applying some of those strategies to our communications channels in real life.
Three years ago we created the website A Billion Acts of Green as a way to engage our online supporters, grow our email list, increase our web traffic and turn those supporters in to donors. We’ve always been able to get new email signups from our website and likes on our Facebook page simply because we’re an environmental nonprofit and the organization behind Earth Day. Now we were looking for a way to further engage those signups other than with your typical email newsletter or donor solicitation. At the time we began to see other groups gravitating towards creating online action centers and decided to explore whether this would be effective for our organization. Using Salsa we built a simple HTML and CSS based website with webforms and a counter that tied into Salsa’s API. The counter automatically updated anytime someone did one of the actions or donated to Earth Day Network. In addition to the traffic we drive there from email blasts, we also get organic traffic from web searches and social media.
When creating calls to action on this platform. We take into account a few different factors. We think about the individuals on our email list and our followers on social media. We look at the demographics of our subscribers and followers; things like their age, geographical location and even occupation, when that information is available. We then come up with simple things that they can do in their individual capacity that will put them on the road to becoming more engaged activists online and eventually offline.
Examples of some of the actions we’ve created are adjusting the settings on your water heater, learning how to compost and even sending letters to members of Congress. All of these are examples of simple things individuals can do in their own capacity to get them on the road to becoming fully engaged activists. Eventually you could branch out and begin to organize rallies and other large gatherings though a similar platform.
At Earth Day Network, what we often aim to do is create calls to action that will resonate with our followers individually first on our website and then we tailor the outreach to the specific channel we proceed to target our supporters on. One of our biggest communications channels besides EDN’s email list, is our Facebook presence. With 147,000 followers, how we communicate on this channel plays a major role in how successful any online call to action will be. When promoting a call to action on Facebook we’ve found there are three things to pay attention to. They are the image you use in your post (and you have to use an image), the copy you write and the call to action itself. If the call to action is something they care about and the image draws them in, your followers are more likely to share your post and click on the hyperlink to the call to action.
Even with the advent of social media, the most effective way to engage your supporters and get them to take action or donate is still through email. Here the strategy is different from that of social media outreach. There have been many books written about how to write great email copy for calls to actions and for donor solicitations, so I won’t go into detail here. What I will say is that what we’ve found to work is personalization, storytelling, shorter copy and images.
In closing, here are some of the few small steps that Earth Day Network has taken to turn our slactivists into more engaged activists. Please visit the Billion Acts of Green website and try it out for yourself. Thank you.
Transcript of "Why Are You Slackin’? Get Past the "Like" Already. "
Why Are You Slackin’?
Get Past the “Like” Already.
Why Are You Slackin’?
Get Past the “Like” Already.
Understand what motivates your online supporters to
slack tiv ist – (slăk'tə-vĭst) n.
One who endorses a cause on social media or
signs an online petition without taking a
corollary action in the real world (donating
money or time). Derogatory.
There should be no Slacktivists!
Different kinds of action
Everyone’s Online. Everyone.
The older generations are starting to shift
from only following friends and family to
getting more interest-based in who they
follow. It’s not about just following the
VP Social Media
Different kinds of action
Does This Look Familiar?
he could have
Listen – Really - Listen
Some Tools for
(available with Salsa)
32% of consumers don’t know you’re
listening (38% of Millennials)
50% want you to listen to their ideas
60% want a response to complaints they
made via social media
Listen – Really - Listen
• Speak to Your Very Best Supporters
• Who is where? And, when?
• Attract more of the same
• Create Tailored Programs,
not Just Messages
Know Your Niche(s)
• Right Message
to Right Person
• Increase Open
• Decrease Opt-
• More Effective
• Tracking &
• ROI Reporting
• Measure Value
• Clean Lists =
• See Again
Now Hug Your Data. Hard.
Tag, they are it!
Online Donor Social Influencer