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ds-connex: a Social Media nonprofit success story


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The ds-connex story - how one small social enterprise is striving to grow community, social media and fundraising for local Down syndrome associations nationwide

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ds-connex: a Social Media nonprofit success story

  1. 1. Ds-connex: A social media success story September 23, 2014
  2. 2. Today’s session • Background on ds-connex • Social media & the Buddy Walk • Strategic approach • Content as cornerstone • Key lessons learned o Earned – owned – paid • Measurement & metrics • Parting Thoughts • Discussion
  3. 3. Who am I? • Career PR pro since 1991 • Social media advocate and strategist since 1994 • Blogger since 1999 • Now “mom blogging” at lara- • Columbus transplant since 2005
  4. 4. Tony R. Wells Foundation  Founded in 2001 by Tony and Dana Wells after selling their international IT training business  Mission: Create Value for the community by developing stronger nonprofit leaders and investing in the next generation of social innovations  Work with more than 90 nonprofit organizations  More than 25 years experience serving on nonprofit boards  Vision for helping families and children with special needs – especially Down syndrome, due to a Wells family connection
  5. 5. Phase one: research • Attended regional Buddy Walk events • Reviewed more than 225 Buddy Walk events o Number of teams and participants o Average money raised per team and individual o Size of market o Staffing model – volunteer vs full time office staff o Use of fundraising solution o Extensive review of social media activities o Search Engine Optimization (SEO) audit o Website performance audit
  6. 6. Phase two: analysis Analyzed Buddy Walk research findings as well as results of other national walk events. Keys to success:  Highly engaged community of event organizers, sharing knowledge about how to create a great experience for participants  Clear, common voice through social media to promote advocacy and to recruit support from the local community for sponsorship and participation  Year-round event promotion to maintain a high level of engagement  Use of a peer to peer fundraising solution to expand teams and create a healthy competition to raise money
  7. 7. Social media research
  8. 8. Social media research
  9. 9. Social media observations  Most Buddy Walk events have a Facebook page but rarely update  Only 17% use Twitter and less than 5% use Pinterest  Audience is primarily female  Buddy Walk events leveraging social media raise more money than other events of equal size  Adding new content is the largest challenge for individual event coordinators  Inconsistency of language about the Buddy Walk causes confusion  Most organizers only promote the Buddy Walk event for four months or fewer per year  Celebrity endorsements and press coverage are largest contributors to awareness
  10. 10. COMMUNITY + OUTREACH + FUNDRAISING The goal: Increasing Buddy Walk fundraising results from $11 to $40 million per year within five years The strategy:
  11. 11. Ds-connex 2014: Launch • Recruited staff with specialized skills • Developed ds-connex website, including Connexions blog • Converted DSACO’s fundraising solution to Stride • Validated strategy with NDSS, other Down syndrome orgs • Launched ds-connex in January 2014 • Rolled out national social media program for ds-connex • Developed hub & spoke strategy for Buddy Walk partners o Local implementation plans customized by market o 23 Buddy Walk partners ramped up on social by May
  12. 12. By the numbers • Grew from 12 Facebook fans to 840 engaged fans in six months • Built Twitter following from zero to 408 fans • Grew Pinterest following from zero to 83 • Social media is consistently the top traffic driver according to Google Analytics • Managed social media for 23 Buddy Walk partners o Total of 72 profiles monitored o 43 profiles actively managed
  13. 13. How we began • Strategic focus on owned and earned social media • Content as foundation and cornerstone • Blog posts • Content aggregation and dissemination via Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest • Campaigns to encourage content creation and sharing • Engagement and follower growth as ultimate goals o Demonstrate credibility, authenticity o Lead by example • Daily social media monitoring/listening
  14. 14. Simple, effective social strategy 1.Perfect your profiles • Ensure bio, about page or description is complete and includes website • Demonstrate expertise, credibility, humanity in each post 2. Listen more than you speak • Search for key words across platforms • Observe conversations before you jump in 3.Build your community • Develop relationships over time • Focus on engagement 4. Contribute great content • Share ideas and insights through status updates • Focus content on audience – not just on your own needs 14
  15. 15. Content strategy • Differentiation through unique content • Posts modeling community building • Social media knowledge sharing • Fundraising tips, especially about online fundraising and peer-to-peer • Showcase positive, inspirational content about Down syndrome • Give ‘em what they want
  16. 16. Recommended content ratio 16
  17. 17. Creating a content calendar  Can include many social platforms  Can be done in any format (Excel, Word)  Use as a guide; be able to adapt accordingly  Beware of over-reliance on scheduling  Use Facebook Page Insights and URL shortener analytics to determine which type of content is most appealing  Think beyond text to great visuals  Keep character count in mind – less is more!  Align messaging and themes with other marketing communications
  18. 18. Listening strategy • Why listen? o Content o Ideas o Trends o Compliments o Complaints o Pain points • Free listening tools o Hootsuite o Facebook and Twitter Lists • Down syndrome associations (includes Buddy Walk organizers) on Facebook • Buddy Walk organizers on Twitter • Down syndrome associations on Twitter
  19. 19. Using Lists as a tool • What are Lists? • Hand-selected group of contacts with a common interest • Create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others • Viewing a list will show you a stream of content from only the users on that list • Benefits of using Lists: • Easily segment followers, fans or influencers • Industry experts • Media outlets/reporters • Monitor competitors • Follow or participate in events in real time
  20. 20. Using hashtags • Useful in organizing and tracking trends • Use or Tagboard to find and track relevant tags • To search hashtags, go to your navigation bar and enter it into the search field. Results will populate below • Searches can be saved by clicking on the gear • Recommended uses for hashtags: • Find people/organizations with similar interests • Create conversations around a brand or event • Create structured online events (Twitter Chats) • Monitor topics of interest (i.e., causes, conferences, etc.) • Discover new sources and information • Quickly assess sentiment
  21. 21. Following to gain followers • Ways to find new Twitter followers: • Find through Twitter search • Use Twitter’s recommendations • See who is following/not following you • Communi.It • Use Twitter directories • Twellow • WeFollow
  22. 22. Engagement strategy • If content is king, engagement is queen! • Ask questions • Answer questions • Use humor • Figure out what gets the best engagement – and do more of it
  23. 23. Growth strategy • Organic (earned/owned only) growth is S-L-O-W! (About 6% per year) • Great content, solid engagement are the foundation • To increase growth, it makes sense to “boost” with paid campaigns if you can • Start small – experiment in $5 or $10 increments to see what works. Hint: Facebook typically drives more results than Twitter
  24. 24. #DownsyndromeDads campaign • Facebook photo contest to grow our community, gain more followers, showcase our commitment • Timed to Father’s Day 2014. 22 entries (dads nominated by wives, friends, selves) • More than 65,000 Facebook users viewed the nominees' inspiring photo entries. Ds-connex more than doubled our Facebook fans (from 120 to our current 307 fans) and increased our Twitter following by 10% (from 250 fans to our current 276). Per Google Analytics, we drove almost 300 new visitors to the ds-connex website in one week, and had 318 unique views of our blog post. • Full details available at campaign
  25. 25. Paid media strategy • Boost what is already doing well organically. Great content becomes great ads • We "boosted" our social efforts with small ad buys on both Twitter and Facebook. • Our tweet about #DownsyndromeDads reached 23x our usual reach, thanks in part to $20 in ad support. However, these results were not high enough to encourage us to invest in Twitter ads again for this particular program. • Our boosted Facebook message about #DownsyndromeDads, however, was our most successful Facebook post ever, with an organic reach of 1,048 and a paid reach of 15,153
  26. 26. “Like” drive campaigns • Facebook does not allow you to buy page “likes” BUT you can make a donation for likes • We undertook like drive campaigns with select partners we knew were our biggest fans • Gained approximately 200 new page likes from each campaign (and donated $200 to each Down syndrome group)
  27. 27. Community-building strategy • Whenever possible, we lift up local Buddy Walk events – whether our partners or not • Buddy Walk of the Day • Messages of congratulations and good luck before their events • Tag other pages and organizations whenever possible • Ask our fans to share our content with their friends and family
  28. 28. Blogger relations • Research the top bloggers in your topical or geographic area • Find them via Google searches, ask around, check your Google Analytics inbound links • Create Facebook and/or Twitter lists to keep track of them • Down syndrome bloggers on Twitter • Down syndrome bloggers on Facebook • Follow and like their content. Leave them comments. Link to their blog posts. • Develop relationships over time so when you have an “ask” they’ll be receptive!
  29. 29. Metrics & measurement • Facebook: page likes, people talking about, engagement, post reach, shares • Twitter: followers, @ replies retweets, favorites, lists, engagement • Pinterest: followers, likes, repins, comments • Positive, unprompted mentions on any social platform • Social media as a top traffic driver according to Google Analytics
  30. 30. Five stages of social media sophistication Level 1 • Ignoring social media Level 2 • Experimenting with social media Level 3 • Supporting marketing campaigns with social media Level 4 • Developing and executing a social media strategy Level 5 • Embracing social media holistically throughout organization 31
  31. 31. Top 5 social media mistakes 1. Just having a profile (often incomplete) 2. Self-promotional spamming 3. Assuming social media replaces networking 4. Thinking others will flock to you 5. Not being able to handle negative comments 32
  32. 32. Who’s using social media?
  33. 33. Commitment is critical • Consistency is key to building and cultivating a community online • It can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but with a strategic approach, a social media program is very manageable • Aim for 15 minutes per day at first • Build up to an hour per day if you can 34
  34. 34. General social etiquette • Participate in conversations as if with someone in real life whom you respect o Talk like a real person o Try to express your unique personality in your posts o Be helpful and bring value to the conversation o Remember to always be professional in communications • Pay attention to how community members interact with each other 35
  35. 35. Recommended resources • – free social media management tool • Smart Brief on Social Media – stay in the know about top social news • Explore Facebook Insights as well as the Analytics areas of Twitter and Pinterest • Look at your Google Analytics to see which social sites are working hardest for you! 36
  36. 36. Thank you for your time! Questions about social media: @LaraK (Twitter) 614-702-2126 Questions about ds-connex or Stride: 614-571-5195