Wed, April 16 2014
Filed under: Social Media •
Editor’s note: Did you miss Social Media Week? Don’t worry, every week can be Social Media Week for your nonprofit with the advice in this guest post from Social Media for Nonprofits founder Ritu Sharma.
If your organization is looking to get in on the action, here’s a day-by-day breakdown of some easy-to-implement, yet highly effective tips to get your social engine humming.
Monday: Create an Editorial Calendar
The typical nonprofit only allocates .25 full time employees to social media, and actually, you’re better off if this is split between several people with different perspectives and areas of expertise. Let those voices shine. How do you coordinate efforts? A content or editorial calendar is a simple tool that clarifies who is posting what, where, and when: a simple spreadsheet or a Google calendar suffices nicely.
Tuesday: Find Your Killer Pix & Vids
Facebook and Twitter posts with photos attract twice as many likes, comments, shares, and retweets. Imagery is key to both grabbing attention and engaging folks: in fact, charity:water’s Photo of the Day tweets are a huge part of what drove them to 1.4M followers. And videos? Ronald McDonald House Charities relies on video storytelling to help bring the impact of their work to life in their Season of Giving campaign. Sharing these clips on social media has increased the number of responses and prompts others to tell their story.
Wednesday: ABT— Always Be Tagging
Social Media for Nonprofits keynote Guy Kawasaki says that taking the extra time to tag supporters in photos and videos is crucial. And think about it on a personal level: when’s the last time you got an email from Facebook saying you’ve been tagged and you didn’t click through to make sure it wasn’t a horrible photo of you? Once you get people to your page, then the engagement can begin and they can help take your message viral.
Thursday: Keep it Simple
Remember to keep your posts pithy and to the point: less is more. The optimal tweet is 130 characters says Facebook for Dummies author John Haydon, and incredibly, he discovered that Facebook posts should be kept to 80 characters to maximize impact. So keep it simple and short: that’s part of the secret to going viral and engaging the “Kevin Bacon” effect, says Nonprofit Management 101 author Darian Rodriguez Heyman. But end those posts with a question to double response rates— people are much more likely to chime in if you ask vs. tell them something.
Friday: Follow the Leaders
Many nonprofits find Twitter perplexing. The simplest, cheapest, and best way to grow your follower base there is to follow others, especially those who are leaders in your field (i.e. other nonprofits, academics, journalists, etc.). Typically 20-30% of these will follow you back, plus you’re also creating a pool of resources that can give you a sense of what’s going on in your industry. Be sure to be a good twitizen and retweet valuable posts: it’s a great way to build up social currency.
There is no shortage of other tips I could share, but we’re out of days! If you want to learn more, I invite you to join us as the premier nonprofit social media for social good conference series returns to Seattle, WA this month. Use discount code “N4G” to save $30 on your registration. Social Media for Nonprofits—Seattle, April 28th, 2014: Register Today!
About Ritu Sharma:
Ritu Sharma is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Social Media for Nonprofits. Under her leadership, the world’s only series dedicated to social media for social good has earned a 92% approval rating from over 4,500 nonprofit leaders across the world. She is a public speaker, consultant, and event planner and heads up programming, marketing, and event logistics for the series. Previously, she produced Our Social Times and Influence People’s North American Social Media Marketing and Monitoring conference series and started a web development and social media business, which leveraged an international team of programmers and designers across India, Romania, and the US.
Fri, February 21 2014
Filed under: Social Media •
In honor of Social Media Week, I asked a few of our favorite nonprofit experts to weigh in with their personal picks for nonprofits who are hitting it out of the park on social media. Here’s what they had to say:
Principal, Founder & CEO, Sea Change Strategies
National Audubon Society
Where I follow them: Facebook and Twitter
Why they’re so awesome: Social media manager Elizabeth Sorrell knows her audience and feeds them a generous supply of bird photos, interactive challenges, and conservation news. She’s made the Facebook page incredibly fun and lively, and the extremely high level of engagement is testimony to that.
Darian Rodriguez Heyman
Co-Founder, Social Media for Nonprofits
Where I follow them: Twitter
Why they’re so awesome: Everyone talks about how amazing charity:water is at outreach, but one specific thing they’ve done on Twitter to get to over one million (!) followers is their “photo of the day” campaign. They use the assets they have incredibly well, and that’s the key to their success.
Where I follow them: Facebook and Twitter
Why they’re so awesome: They are timely, relevant, authentic. They use engagement data to optimize their social media communications. They use social media as a listening tool to tap into what their supporters are thinking and feeling about human rights. That info gets communicated to the fundraising and advocacy teams and informs integrated campaign opportunities.
No Kid Hungry
Where I follow them: Twitter, Facebook, and Google+
Why they’re so awesome: From the name of the organization to the information they share, No Kid Hungry does an awesome job of communicating their mission in a clear way. On social media, they vary the content they share to provide a wealth of value to those interested in ending childhood hunger in America. Despite their sizable following, they take the time to engage with individuals, responding and thanking supporters publicly. No Kid Hungry sets a great example for all types of organizations.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Where I follow them: Twitter and Pinterest
Why they are awesome: They do a wonderful job creating unique content for their site and promoting it on social networks. For example, in October they really captured the macabre spirit of Halloween. They had a great post on people who had claimed to see Washington’s ghost through the years. Thanks to their activity on Twitter, I recently discovered a detailed post on how Mount Vernon looked when Washington lived there in the 18th century. Finally, Mount Vernon doesn’t restrict their content to text. They also have an active YouTube channel. Check out this video on Washington’s dentures! As a guy who follows and loves history, Mount Vernon really makes it come alive!
Want to improve your organization’s social savvy? Download our free social media guide.
Thu, February 06 2014
No doubt you’ve seen the string of videos on your Facebook timeline—friends and family sharing their own social media time capsules. Facebook’s “A Look Back” movies offer personalized video montages to celebrate the social network’s 10th birthday. The videos are irresistibly sharable and have even struck a chord with the experts.
Here’s what makes these videos work so well:
They’re not focused on the organization. The folks at Facebook could have created something more focused on their platform and their accomplishments, but they knew that the real way to make us care about their birthday is by talking to us about, well, us.
They tug at our heartstrings. Above all, emotion rules. From the sweet background music to the heavy rotation of photos, the videos capture our attention and pull us in. These videos, while driven by an algorithm, are mirrors of ourselves and heavily feature the things that matter most to us.
They remind us of our progress. In keeping with the birthday theme, the videos allow us to look back and see how far we’ve come, whether we joined Facebook way back when or just last year.
They connect us to something bigger. The shared experience of posting the videos and the highlights they capture help us see how we’re connected to one another. The idea of Mark Zuckerberg and company inviting us to celebrate this big milestone together underscores this feeling of community.
In the process of accomplishing all of these things, these videos endear us more to the whole Facebook experience. Think about how you can emulate these qualities the next time you update your supporters on the progress you’ve made together.
Tue, January 14 2014
Is one of your 2014 goals to get your social strategy in order? Here are 10 fun stats on social media that can help you decide how to spend your time.
Need some help thinking about how to leverage social media for your nonprofit’s outreach strategy? Download this free guide from Network for Good, Social Media Mini Guide for Nonprofits.
Mon, January 06 2014
A story’s emotional power is a fundraiser’s best tool to gain the attention of donors and inspire action. One fundraising campaign that is hitting it out of the park with its emotional “wow” factor is Ronald McDonald House Charities’ Season of Giving. The campaign’s message reinforces the work that RMHC does by reminding supporters that there is strength in numbers and that they are really giving the gift of togetherness when they make a contribution.
I had a chance to chat with Jennifer Smith, Senior Director of Communications & Special Programs at Ronald McDonald House Charities to learn more about this campaign and its approach to connecting donors with the work they make possible. Jennifer was kind enough to share a bit of the process behind this amazing campaign and offer some tips to other nonprofits this holiday season.
“For any nonprofit, but certainly for Ronald McDonald House Charities, our goal is to share the impact of the work we do with the support of our donors. Every campaign we do lets our donors know that the work they make possible is making a difference in the lives of the families we serve. For potential donors, this illustrates the fact that they are needed,” Jennifer says.
The Seasons of Giving campaign includes donor communication pieces, direct mail appeals, videos, online ads, and social media outreach. In this multi-channel campaign, there are unifying elements, such as a red ribbon motif that provides visual connectivity across platforms.
Jennifer has a great reminder for all nonprofit fundraisers: Don’t forget to match the message with the medium. “We’re careful to tailor the message. You can’t just stick your direct mail language on Facebook. Different elements pull out different aspects. Use the different components of the story to target specific audience at the right time. We make sure the content is relevant but there are still the connected elements, such as branding and the overall messaging.”
How did RMHC arrive at this campaign?
Jennifer shares a fundamental, yet natural, shift, “There was a time when we spoke more to facts, figures and children served, but we found that to add more dimension to the message, we had to do that by telling the family stories. People are already willingly telling their stories—they want to be able to share what they’ve been through. They often want to give back and say, ‘We want to help YOU.’ You can’t manufacture authenticity. You need real people telling real stories.”
Here are Jennifer’s tips for other nonprofits looking to capture and share stories:
1. Listen to what people are already telling you. What are your supporters and beneficiaries saying? Take those words and insights and build a story from them. This helps your supporters understand how our work is making a difference, and that donors are the ones making it happen.
2. Sharing stories encourages others to tell their stories. After seeing the Season of Giving campaign, it’s clear that it’s not just about the official videos or stories—it’s about allowing more people to open up and share their stories. “Social media is a wonderful listening tool; the dialogue that happens is inspiring. I haven’t been in their shoes, so when they’re sharing their stories organically, it is a powerful experience,” Jennifer says, giving us a great reminder of the beauty of social media. “If you’re listening you can be more insightful and tuned in to messages that resonate. It also allows those stores to be shared more easily and more widely.”
3. Ask, but be sensitive. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Would you be willing to share your story?” Jennifer’s team is careful to recognize the challenges, “We’re very sensitive to the fact that some of these families are going through what they are going through. What is powerful about [the stories featured in our videos] is that Kayla and Christina are still fighting and working to heal from cancer.” Jennifer also reminds us that it’s important to have checkpoints throughout the process. Continually ask, “Are you still comfortable with telling this story?”
4. Make it a part of your organization’s culture. Jennifer shares how this works at RMHC, “The way our system is structured, we rarely have to do a formal process. If we see something that catches our eye, we first reach out to our Chapter and ask permission to find out more. Then if timing is right, we talk to the family.” Jennifer adds, “We also use stories from corporate donors, such as McDonald’s owner/operators, volunteers, and staff, etc. One of our core tenets is our compassion, from our training of our staff people to volunteers. We exist to provide resources when people really need it, and this permeates throughout everything we do.”
A big thank you to Jennifer for sharing her insight with our readers and to the people at RMHC for the great work they do. To find out more about the RMHC Season of Giving campaign, visit http://www.rmhc.org/season-of-giving.