That’s Engaging: Keep Supporters Engaged Year ‘Round
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That’s Engaging: Keep Supporters Engaged Year ‘Round

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Read this whitepaper to discover how to engage supporters at all times of the year and to see specific examples of how other organizations have done just that. You'll learn the types of content your ...

Read this whitepaper to discover how to engage supporters at all times of the year and to see specific examples of how other organizations have done just that. You'll learn the types of content your supporters want to see, how social media can help an organization become part of supporters’ lives in ways that don’t involve asking for money, ways to determine which social media outlets your organization should be utilizing, and tips and best practice do’s and don’ts on engaging supporters through social media.

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That’s Engaging: Keep Supporters Engaged Year ‘Round That’s Engaging: Keep Supporters Engaged Year ‘Round Document Transcript

  • That’s Engaging!Social media sites area perfect way to keepsupporters interested inyour cause year ‘round.
  • www.salsalabs.comIn a nutshell, social media is all about communication. Relationships. Engagement. While it’sfar from the fundraising powerhouse nonprofit fundraisers hope it will yet become, it does havepotential. But you won’t reach that potential by taking the already old-school approach to yoursocial-media strategy.Think of it this way, who are you more likely, personally, to help out: the biddy at your hairdresser’s who holds court every week about her fabulous life and hits you up suddenly for aloan? Or your best friend — a steadfast confidant with whom you share interests, celebrategood times, weather storms and communicate regularly — who comes to you with a need andasks for your help?Experts agree that sharing information on social media is a powerful way to communicateneed to your supporters. Certainly, you can use those status updates and tweets and pins tocall attention to a current fundraising campaign, and encourage your friends and followers todonate. That kind of focus makes it easy to craft updates, etc.But what about between campaigns, when there isn’t a big push or specific goal to focuson? Again, it comes back to relationship building. In fact, how you communicate betweencampaigns can be as important as what you do when you are actively seeking donationstoward a specific goal.Amanda Foster, an account manager at Salsa Labs, is adamant in suggesting that whetheryou’re trying to maintain interest in your cause on social media between fundraising pushesor you’re just building your social-media following, it all comes down to engagement. (Are yousensing a theme here?)Let’s be clear about what that means.Engagement is not talking at someone. It’snot jumping in front of them and shouting intheir face, then running away. Engagementis providing people with useful, interestinginformation, sticking around to hear theirreactions, and then responding in athoughtful way that lets them know you’reactually listening.What It Looks LikeEnvironmental Working Group (EWG) is anonprofit organization whose mission it isto “use the power of public information toprotect public health and the environment.”It specializes in providing useful resources toconsumers while simultaneously pushing fornational policy change.That’s Engaging!Social media sites are a perfect way tokeep supporters interested in your causeyear ‘round.One Thing You May Not Have Tried:Build Your Network of Organization-FriendsIf social media is all about forming connec-tions and building relationships, then youcould have a lot of success by extending thatbeyond just your supporters. Find like-minded organizations to connect to on yoursocial-media channels and see if they will dothe same. You can share each other’s social-media posts with your respective audienceswhen appropriate. It both increases thecontent you have to share as well as yoursocial-media reach.
  • www.salsalabs.comEWG is the group behind, among other public-information resources, the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean15” lists that address the level of pesticides found in certain types of produce; and the Skin Deepcosmetics database where consumers can investigate the ingredients and potential carcinogenicrisk of the beauty products they use.Colleen Hutchings, EWG’s deputy directorof online fundraising, said the organizationrelies heavily on its relationship with itssocial-media following to spur advocacy,broaden its reach and indirectly fuel itsfundraising. That being the case, EWG’ssocial-media team spends a lot of timefostering dialogs.Her key piece of advice is to use social mediato provide useful, interesting information.For its part, EWG uses social media (mainlyFacebook and Twitter) to communicatethe results of its research and its practicalapplication in its supporters’ lives. It doesn’tget much more practical, for example, thantelling folks that while it’s important to spendthe extra cash to buy organic celery andpeaches, it’s fine to go with conventionallygrown onions or avocados.“We are so lucky and are in such a wonderfulposition that we have incredible researchersand scientists on staff who are constantlypublishing new reports and compilingconsumer tip sheets that people want,” shesaid. “They want to know about the DirtyDozen and Clean 15, about the ingredientsin home-cleaning products, about what’s intheir shampoo and lotions.“Because we have a steady stream of amazing information that people want and that theycome to us looking for, that helps a lot with keeping people engaged with the organization,”Hutchings explained.But you don’t have to be a researched-based organization to have great information to post.The key, Hutchings said, is to know why your supporters are interested in you and what it isthey expect.“You want to think about who you are from your donors’ point of view, what role you play in theirlives and what they want from you,” she said. “Then make sure you give it to them before youask them for money. Become an essential part of their lives, and they will give to you becauseyou are filling an essential role for them.”EWG Marketing Manager Emily Ion Kosuge warned against using social media “as a bull hornor a place where you flood people with press releases.”Social Media Posts that Engage:The Top Five Types• Funny/Entertaining – don’t underestimatepeople’s desire to just have fun some-times.• Touching – tell a story or anecdote thatstirs emotion.• Educational – teach about your industry orcause.• Polling – ask a question to find out moreabout your community.• Controversial – get people thinking abouta recent event, ruling or other topic.Recent Trends:• Memes — posts that “go viral” and spreadquickly from user to user.• Lists – i.e. Top 5; ask followers to list theirown in the comments section.• “Do You Remember” — use a sense ofnostalgia to engage followers.• Infographics — stylized group of imagesthat explain concepts using fewer wordsarranged in quick-hit style.• Short videos — the shorter and moreentertaining, the better.
  • www.salsalabs.com“We focus on building a curious community who we want to hear from, and we create greatcontent for them, as well,” she said.And once the content is posted, Ion Kosuge stressed, it’s important to respond to commentsand foster conversation. Doing that moves your organization from “biddy at the hair dresser’s”status into “best friend” territory.EWG, which accomplishes most of its fundraising via email (save for a premium-based,end-of-year “snail mail” campaign), released its 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produceon June 19. Word went out via email, as well as to the group’s 165,000 Facebook friends and23,000 (across three accounts) Twitter followers. It was pushed out again the following week,right before EWG launched a fundraising campaign around the guide.Hutchings pointed to that as one of the best examples of using social media to keepsupporters engaged and thereby bettering your chance to garner support once there is afundraising push.KaBOOM!Another good example of the kind of relationship building that social media can provide is whatKaBOOM! does on its Facebook page. The organization, which is working to ensure that everychild in America has access to a great public play space, is all about kids and fun and energy.If you couldn’t figure that out by its name, one look at its Facebook page will do it.KaBOOM! fills its page with bright, vibrant photos of children at play or something closelyrelated, such as innovative playgrounds, fanciful artwork, etc. Its posts range from challengesfor followers to submit photos of kids playing to open-ended questions about newsy items likethe Olympics or a condo complex banning children from playing in the parking lot.Noticeably absent are financial asks and navel-gazing content all about how great KaBOOM! is.“I say this all the time, and I can’t say it enough around the office: Try not to ask too much ofyour supporters and find a way to serve them between campaigns,” said Kerala Taylor, seniormanager of online content and community for KaBOOM!. “Think about what content is sharableand what’s not. I can write a blog post about the importance of saving play and a few peoplemight read it, but it’s not going to get tweeted and posted on Facebook.“If you offer creative, visually compelling and, if you can, funny content, people are going topay attention. It’s not necessarily about getting people to do things for your cause, althoughthat clearly also is important,” she added. “If you keep them in the loop and give them stuff thatthey appreciate and want to pass on, they’ll remember you when that next appeal comes upand have a positive association with you.”Social media can help an organization become a part of supporters’ lives in ways that don’tinvolve asking for money. So when the fundraising element does kick in, donating seems morelike a natural extension of the relationship than a burden.“Social media hasn’t been fully used to its fundraising capacity. The tools haven’t really beendeveloped yet,” Salsa’s Foster said. “It’s more of a place to hear about fundraising campaigns,or do advocacy and get involved in other ways.”
  • www.salsalabs.comSo Many ChoicesSo you’ve paid attention, and you know what your donors and other supporters want from you.And you’re ready to give it to them on social media. You’re ready to stick around to read theirresponses, answer their questions, and to fully and genuinely engage them.But with so many social-media options and so little time and/or resources to do this with, youmight be feeling a little overwhelmed.Don’t worry, while it’s important to use as many channels as possible to reach your supporters,it’s best to focus your energies where they will have the most reach.“Being active on all the platforms is important because you can reach different personalities thatway, but the first step is to figure out who you want to reach and where they are,” Foster said.In the April cover story for FundRaisingSuccess, global social-media andfundraising consultant Ephraim Gopinaddressed the “where” of social media fornonprofits.“The ‘where’ of a social-media strategy istricky,” he wrote. “It’s best to start with twoplatforms or three platforms, get comfortable,engage, and as time goes on add newoutlets that suit your organization’s social-media needs.”According to Gopin, there are a number offactors that will determine your social-mediapresence:Where is your target audience hangingout? There’s no point in being onGoogle+ if everyone you want to engage ison Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or elsewhere.Manpower. Your organization has toinvest a lot of time in order to builda following and keep it engaged. At theoutset it’s advised that you spend, at a bare minimum, two hours per platform per week — —something to think about when deciding how many social-media sites to be on.Which platforms are best suited for your organization? Just because “everyone” is onFacebook and Twitter, does that mean you have to be there? When crafting a strategy,look at each platform to assess whether the content you’re considering pushing out will besuitable.Also, he wrote, “keep in mind that storytelling is an excellent way to bring in followers andadmirers. Look at each platform and decide where you can best tell your organizational story.”For instance, while provocative and compelling photos are great on any platform, Pinterestwould be a better option for an organization that has an abundance of such photos than onethat doesn’t. If your mission is conducive to creating emotionally charged videos, YouTube1.2.3.Less Known Social Media SitesYou May Want to Check Out:As we said, you need to find the social-mediaoutlets that make most sense for yoursupporters. Facebook, Twitter and YouTubeare huge but not necessarily where yoursupporters hangout online. Here’s a list of ahandful of social-media sites that you couldcheck out, but definitely talk to your loyalsupporters and get suggestions from them too:• Give2gether• Crowdsrise• Change.org• Care2• Meetup• DoSomething.org• Gather.com• Google+
  • www.salsalabs.comwould be a good way to go. Facebook is good for slightly longer posts; and if you prefer tocraft richly detailed stories in print, blogging can provide a forum. Of course, Twitter can helpyou point to all of these features in 140-word quips.Ultimately, keeping supporters engaged between campaigns comes down to the samecommon-sense strategies you would use to build your social-media following in the first place.Success!Wherever and however your organization chooses to communicate on social media, theexperts agree that you probably will have to rethink your idea of what constitutes “success.” It’snot as easy as sending out a direct-mail package, getting back a reply form and a check, andchalking that donation up as a success.In fact, you probably shouldn’t define social media success in terms of dollars raised at all —at least not yet.“Social media is all about return on engagement,” Gopin wrote. “You engage new people whonever heard of you; you build brand awareness; you use it to strengthen and expand prominentprograms; you recruit volunteers; and down the road, you potentially launch a campaign.“Here’s how NOT to measure engagement: by number of followers. If you have many followers butthey’re not engaged, what good is that? My goal is to have 150 active followers who will retweet,share and post my content when needed. Quality trumps quantity every time,” he adds.However, Foster adds nuance to that idea, adding: “Everyone has different goals. If you’re tryingto engage people first though Twitter or Facebook and then get them to sign up for you e-mail list— and they do — that is success. If someone has been on your e-mail list for years and years andthen all of a sudden they start following you on Facebook, that is very successful.”Tips from KaBOOM!’s Kerala Taylor onengaging supporters on Facebook, Twitterand other social-media sites, followed bysome other best-practice do’s and don’ts.Facebook“With Facebook, we found that images are really the best way to get people’sattention, especially since they introduced the new timeline,” Taylor said. There isso much noise and so many people trying to promote things. If you see a compelling image,you are much more like to respond to it in some way.”Other tips:1. Use Facebook’s longer format to share stories. If you’re just coming off of a fundraisingcampaign, having staff and volunteers share their experiences working on it or discusshow the money raised is making a difference is a good way to draw followers in. Or start toget people talking about whatever it is you will be focusing on in your next campaign.2. Post a few times a day, and include photos when possible. But spread out your posts,rather than posting five things in a row and going dark the rest of the day.3. Ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation going around specific issues.4. Don’t just post press releases and use the site as a bullhorn for screaming about how greatyour organization is. Offer information that people find useful or entertaining and want to share.continued on next page
  • www.salsalabs.comPinterest“We haven’t completely figured out Pinterest yet, but because a lot of what we do ismore visually oriented, we have a presence there,” Taylor said. “Like with anythingelse, you don’t want to be always asking, so Pinterest lets us pin pictures of crafty kindsof stuff, projects parents can do with their kids, especially in summer. Like a homemadesprinkler. Play-related stuff that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do specifically with theorganization.”Other tips:1. Pin photos of your staff and your programs in action, of constituents benefitting from yourservices, etc — photos that tell the story of what you do.2. Create Pinterest Boards for specific program areas or campaigns, and encourage staffwho are working on them to pin photos specific to their projects.3. Pin photos of things that are needed for specific projects or things donated funds will buy.Twitter“Twitter is a great tool to connect with people, to find people you might not find inother other places,” Taylor said. “We’re doing a Summer Playground Challenge nowwhere we ask parents to take their children to as many playgrounds as possible throughoutthe summer and submit pictures of them, then enter the pictures to win prizes. Twitter was agreat place to let moms know about the challenge. You can follow people and other pageswith similar interests, search their connections and send individualized messages.”Other tips:1. Use the sense of urgency that comes with Twitter’s fast timeline and quick bursts ofinformation to communicate news-related information and stay relevant.2. Ask for “right now” actions that don’t involve money: write a letter to the editor; call a legislator;meet NOW for a impromptu sit-in. Or send invitations to participate in other things.3. Watch for positive tweets from volunteers, constituents or anyone who might be talkingabout your organization, and retweet.4. Don’t tweet just to send followers to bland press releases.You Tube“We produce a lot of videos, mostly from playground builds,” Taylor said. We don’tdo a great job but we do have some really cool time-lapse videos of our builds. Themain tip for YouTube is to produce awesome videos. In a lot of our videos, we’re just talkingto people about playgrounds. If someone is already interested in what you’re doing, thathelps. But those kinds of videos aren’t good tools for bringing more people into your cause.”Other tips:1. Produce 30-second videos and make them as fun and visually compelling as possible.2. Don’t set out to make a “viral” video that will be passed around between thousands ofviewers. Internet sensations just happen. And sometimes the harder you try, the worse it is.LinkedIn“We have a presence on LinkedIn, but we don’t do much with it,” Taylor said. “I tendto think of LinkedIn as the more serious social network, a place to discuss researchand policy issues. But it’s not the place to talk about playgrounds and games, etc. But forpolicy-related stuff, you could have some luck driving discussions there.”
  • www.salsalabs.comWorking With SalsaThere’s more to social media than just signing up for Facebook, Twitterand Google+. Amplifying your cause online takes time, a little strategyand, of course, the right ingredients. Salsa has blended the perfect set ofsocial-media features to help take the hassle out of managing and growingyour social connections and influence. Our tools for social-media successlet you easily add social-sharing features to email and other content, makesupporter and event sign-up a breeze, track results, and more. Each ofthese features is fully integrated with the Salsa platform and enabled withsimple controls. Adding social media to the mix couldn’t be easier!Salsa Labs (Salsa) helps nonprofits and political campaigns to build, organize and engage a baseof support online through an integrated and flexible web-based platform. With Salsa, groups ofall sizes can easily manage their supporters and chapters, fundraise, advocate, communicatethrough email and social media, host events and measure results. Salsa is about more than justproviding technology; it offers strategic best practices, highly rated training, support and a strongonline community, so its clients can focus more resources on their mission. The company currentlysupports more than 2,000 organizations’ relationships with more than 75 million donors, members,activists and fans all around the world. Visit Salsa online at www.SalsaLabs.com.