A4NH Learning Workshop - Nov 2013


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The A4NH Learning Workshop provided background material on how nutrition and agriculture .................

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A4NH Learning Workshop - Nov 2013

  1. 1. Three Ways Nonprofits Can Use Content Marketing to Boost Recruitment & Awareness Today’s nonprofit needs a coordinated strategy for getting noticed online. You need to be where your audience is. If you’re not, they’ll find other causes to support, leaving your organization with a shortage of donors, members, and volunteers. What is content marketing? There’s nothing wrong with other causes but you’ve worked hard on yours. Members of your organization believe your mission is important. Therefore, you want to spread the word. Content marketing has been around for quite some time. In fact, it’s played a crucial role in the nonprofit world. AARP The Magazine, a compendium of advice for seniors and the largest circulating magazine in the United States, has used content marketing to engage with its constituents for years. Through the use of these tactics the organization has built a loyal and active group of members. Nonprofits like yours can use content marketing every day to make a name for their brands and engage with members of their audience in meaningful ways. Content marketing is the practice of creating engaging, informative, and compelling content to establish your organization as a go-to source for highly valuable information. Content marketing can be incredibly powerful when practiced consistently. It creates affinity with your organization’s brand. It helps your organization break through the noise of the web to reach more potential participants. Without it you could be missing a huge opportunity to advance your organization’s mission. National Geographic is another example of what content marketing can do for a nonprofit. The popular magazine holds the eighth largest circulation in the US, powering the National Geographic Society’s interests in exploration, education, and conservation since 1888. Content as great as what AARP and National Geographic creates isn’t easy to come by but it’s worth researching if you want to excite your audience into contributing to your cause. This whitepaper is focused on three different strategies your nonprofit can use to make a name for itself through valuable content: • 1. Tell a compelling story • 2. Help your audience accomplish something • 3. Connect like-minded people 312.529.3000 | info@duoconsulting.com | www.duoconsulting.com 2
  2. 2. Three Ways Nonprofits Can Use Content Marketing to Boost Recruitment & Awareness Let’s get started with the art of storytelling 1. Tell a compelling story Most of us are familiar with Make-A-Wish, the nonprofit focused on granting special wishes to children with life-threatening diseases. You’ve heard of it because the nonprofit is masterful at telling the inspiring, sometimes heartbreaking, stories of the children it serves. For years, Make-A-Wish accomplished this through traditional paid advertising and the press, as well as through its own channels. Today, Make-A-Wish tells its story through channels like Wish Stories, a designated section of the organization’s website devoted to sharing and amplifying the experiences of children in the program. Make-A-Wish takes a multichannel approach to storytelling, sharing experiences on social media channels (like Facebook) to engage its audience everywhere it lives. Storytelling has always been an essential part of building a strong brand identity for your nonprofit. In the digital age, nonprofits must share their story on all fronts to make sure they’re reaching their audiences. Make-A-Wish is a great example of an organization that’s doing it right. Where can you find stories that’ll engage your audience? Where to find stories that’ll thrill your audience Stories that power nonprofit content marketing can be found in all aspects of your organization and its operations. People form the core of nonprofits. Those people have stories related to your mission that are begging to be told. The ASPCA, a nonprofit focused on stopping animal cruelty, understands the power of the human element in every story. Check out this ASPCA blog post about a woman’s experience adopting a cat. The story isn’t really about Mr. Snaggles—it’s about the emotions Stephanie experiences after adopting him. 312.529.3000 | info@duoconsulting.com | www.duoconsulting.com 3
  3. 3. Three Ways Nonprofits Can Use Content Marketing to Boost Recruitment & Awareness There’s a human element in everything you do. Find their stories… …Through the work you do. It could be sending relief teams to impoverished countries. It could be tutoring inner city grade school students on the weekends. Whatever it is that your organization does, leverage the stories that are waiting to be uncovered and told. …Through the people you help. All nonprofits help people in some way. Even ecological organizations want to preserve the environment for the sake of humans—whether for indigenous peoples or the world’s inhabitants as a whole. The people your mission affects most have powerful stories to tell. …Through the volunteers who power your organization. Your volunteers and staff may have personal reasons and motivations for being a part of what your organization does. They may be willing to share their perspectives to help other people understand why your work is so valuable. How to tell your story You’ve found some stories worth telling. Now how do you tell them? Storytelling is an art form. It’s always a good idea to engage with an expert in whatever medium you choose to convey the essence of the story. Choosing that medium can be just as important to the process as the story’s creation. Here are three of the most compelling types of media you can use to tell your story. Since the dawn of recorded history, the written word has been a powerful storytelling device. From case studies and novels to pamphlets and newsletters, written stories have helped shape the way we consume and interact with information. Your organization has the opportunity to share your stories through the written word to reach your donor base, constituents, and evangelists. (It’s always a good idea to get the help of a professional writer or marketer for this.) Video is an especially engaging medium. 312.529.3000 | info@duoconsulting.com | www.duoconsulting.com 4
  4. 4. Three Ways Nonprofits Can Use Content Marketing to Boost Recruitment & Awareness Who doesn’t love video? Moving pictures continue to solidify themselves as one of the most popular types of media on the web. Your organization can use video promotions to tell a compelling story. Goodwill’s My Story is a great example of how to do this for your organization. Each video is short and simple, highlighting a Goodwill employee’s unique story. Social channels give you a unique storytelling opportunity. Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and other social channels give you the opportunity to couple pictures and words to convey succinct stories to your audience. Social media is a great way to inject a positive message into your audience’s day by making a quick connection through a brief story. Storytelling is important, but it isn’t the only way to use content marketing to your advantage. Next, we’ll take a look at how your content can help people with practical advice. 2. Help your audience accomplish something The Salvation Army has made a name for itself helping underprivileged and disaster-stricken communities. It takes that mission to the web through its blog and social channels, offering helpful tips and advice to its audience. The organization’s blog post “3 Steps to Being Better Prepared for a Disaster” is a great example of how it offers advice based around its area of expertise. What’s more, the blog post offers the advice through three different channels (writing, video, and infographics) to engage the viewer’s senses. Through Facebook and Twitter, the Salvation Army promotes its emergency-preparedness advice to its audience. This kind of content is how nonprofits help their audiences accomplish something. It represents a powerful way to build a connection with readers by providing them something valuable instead of soliciting them. A loyal readership eventually translates into memberships, donations, and other actions your marketing efforts are trying to accomplish. 312.529.3000 | info@duoconsulting.com | www.duoconsulting.com 5
  5. 5. Three Ways Nonprofits Can Use Content Marketing to Boost Recruitment & Awareness Today, this kind of content helps you do more than just create loyal followers. It can also help you stand out in the sea of information swirling around the web. How useful content helps you stand out on the web Tip: Interview members of your audience to understand their painpoints and where they go to alleviate (or try to alleviate) them. The Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit leader in medical care, research, and education. Years ago, it launched one of the smartest content marketing strategies in healthcare, a concept that pays off in big ways for the organization. Mayo compiled a giant list of known diseases, complete with write-ups of symptoms, causes, risk factors and treatments. Go ahead and Google “search a condition”. Chances are strong that Mayo popped up in the first page of results—in the top slot in some cases. Creating a huge library of useful content helped Mayo stand out against a backdrop of healthcare organizations that only wanted to talk about themselves. They spent resources on helping their audience before people needed them, banking on the probability that people will call them up when they actually do. Your organization can create helpful content to stand out from the crowd too. Here are three steps to helping people through content. Identify a need in your community Lots of content marketers look at what’s working for the competition and try to replicate it. The problem is that the competition is already doing it well and already has an engaged audience. What would compel that audience to move over to your content? Like any valuable product, helpful content that gets you noticed fills a real need within your community. That need typically isn’t being fulfilled anywhere else. 312.529.3000 | info@duoconsulting.com | www.duoconsulting.com 6
  6. 6. Three Ways Nonprofits Can Use Content Marketing to Boost Recruitment & Awareness Find out what kind of content your audience can truly benefit from. Without it, your content is just more of the same, lost in the white noise of the web. Strategize on how you can best fill that need You’ve found a gap—a place where your content could become valuable for your audience. How do you go about creating the right content to fill it? Your organization has a ton of media at its disposal, from blog posts to videos, from e-books to infographics. Depending on your audience, some types of information resonate better than others. Make one or two informational formats the centerpiece of your content strategy. Choose a single channel to serve as your content “hub”—typically a website or blog—and use that as the source from which your content will flow. Create a distribution plan. Do you know where your audience lives? Creating content is one thing; getting it out to your target audience is a horse of another color. Distribution is a tough part of the job, but it’s one that you should plan for. Corners of the web are dedicated to serving the people you want to reach. Finding those corners may seem like a tough task. But it’s actually a lot easier than you think if you can understand the motivations of your audience. Find those corners, whether they’re Subreddits, LinkedIn Groups, or niche community websites, and engage your audience in a conversation through your content. 3. Connect like-minded people Forming relationships and strengthening communities is so often at the heart of what nonprofits do. We 312.529.3000 | info@duoconsulting.com | www.duoconsulting.com 7
  7. 7. Three Ways Nonprofits Can Use Content Marketing to Boost Recruitment & Awareness live in an age where social media empowers us to bring those conversations online, helping organizations like yours connect like-minded people. The Episcopal Church is a great example of injecting social elements into your digital presence. The religious organization puts content creation in the hands of its congregation through an online prayer feature. Members can share their prayers directly through the website, where other people can pledge to pray along with the community. TuDiabetes is an example of a full-blown online community, one whose members connect online and often bring those newly formed relationships into the real world. The Diabetes Hands Foundation built the website to build “a community of people touched by diabetes.” Community managers help keep the TuDiabetes community active and on point. But most of the content creation comes from 30,000+ members themselves. Members of the community associate TuDiabetes with the Diabetes Hands Foundation, greatly increasing the rate at which they participate in the foundation’s projects. There’s no doubting the success an online community can yield for your organization. Communities are great opportunities for word-of-mouth marketing and general visibility and recognition. They can help keep your community engaged and build loyal advocates for your mission. This assumes you’re doing it right, of course. Essential elements of a successful online community Creating an online community is tough work. But it can have a huge payoff, especially for nonprofits. Online communities like TuDiabetes have a tight web of major elements working together to help ensure their success. These four elements are essential for any community. Suggested Reading: Young, Indi. Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior. Brooklyn, NY: Rosenfeld Media, 2008. Print. 312.529.3000 | info@duoconsulting.com | www.duoconsulting.com 8
  8. 8. Three Ways Nonprofits Can Use Content Marketing to Boost Recruitment & Awareness 1. A community manager. A strong community has a path of its own, but there’s always someone driving the ship. Community managers are essential elements of online communities because they keep interactions focused and consistent. They can also act as catalysts to conversations. They create promotions, start discussions, share great content, and make sure the voices of the community members are heard. Without them, a community loses its focus, fading into obscurity. Consistency matters 2. Seed members. Your organization has worked hard to build a consistent image. Hell, you may even be one of the defining people behind that image. If so, you probably understand the importance of consistency. No one wants to take part in an empty community. Any community that gets off the ground finds a pool of seed members, a group of people you reach out to beforehand to solicit their participation within the community. These seed members get interactions started, filling the community with content that new members can interact with. Think of them as the pioneers, the founding fathers. 3. A focused mission. Like your nonprofit, your community must have a strong mission statement—a guide for how members will use it. Too many aspiring community owners throw the topic out and expect members to visit and interact. With a strong purpose, members know exactly what to do when they visit. Otherwise, you’re left with a directionless group. Its members will drift around the site and never return. 4. Places to interact. Here, we’d like to take a minute to add a note on consistency. Consistency means never catching your audience off guard. Surprises are okay in the sense that they gel with the elements of your image that people have come to know and love. But surprises like changing your established straight-talk tone to one filled with humorous asides are the kind that will alienate readers. Above all, your content must maintain an image that runs consistent with the one your organization has spent years building. Consistency is a safety net, a constant reminder of why your audience spends its time and money helping advance your organization’s mission. Keep a consistent shop, and your audience will repay you. It’s as simple as that. Interaction is the cornerstone of a community. It’s how we network and share information. As such, every community needs at least one place where its members can interact with each other, whether it’s a forum, wall, or comments section. 312.529.3000 | info@duoconsulting.com | www.duoconsulting.com 9
  9. 9. Three Ways Nonprofits Can Use Content Marketing to Boost Recruitment & Awareness What’s next? Getting up and running with content marketing can be tricky. How do you design the perfect website for your content? What kinds of questions do you ask to better understand the motivations of your audience? How do you structure a content marketing program on a set budget? We’re here to help. Duo Consulting has worked with big and small nonprofits to help them create a stronger digital presence. Our clients include organizations like the Cara Program and the Episcopal Church. Our own content marketing is based on the time we’ve spent learning from these projects. Dig deeper into content marketing with other resources from Duo. Contact Ariel Upton directly at aupton@duoconsulting.com if you have any questions getting up and running with content marketing. Duo utilizes Drupal open-source technologies to create content-rich websites accessible through traditional and mobile platforms. Contact Michael Silverman, CEO for more information 312.529.3000 | msilverman@duoconsulting.com 312.529.3000 | info@duoconsulting.com | www.duoconsulting.com 10