On this episode of Bloomerang TV, Julia Campbell of J Campbell Social Marketing joins us to talk about how to build loyalty among your nonprofit’s social media followers. You can watch the full episode here:
Steven: All right, welcome. Hey there. Thanks for joining us for this
week’s episode of Bloomerang TV, our nonprofit marketing,
technology, fund-raising podcast. Thanks for joining us for
15 minutes or so. Today I’m really excited to be introducing
our guest. She is Julia Campbell. She is a nonprofit social
media strategist. She’s an awesome blogger, someone you’ve
got to follow on Twitter if you’re not already doing it. Hey
Julia, how’s it going?
Julia: Hey, how are you, Steven?
Steven: Good. Thanks for joining us.
Julia: Thanks for having me. I’m excited.
Steven: From a fellow Massachusetts resident and native, so that’s
cool. Now Julia, you’re someone I’ve followed on social media
for a little while. You put out awesome blog posts, really
great content. You focus on social media for nonprofits
Julia: Well, I focus on digital marketing so social media is kind of
the buzz word but I really firmly believe in a very holistic
approach to nonprofit communications, so you have to have the
messaging, the mission, the website, email marketing,
blogging, content creation; it all kind of goes together.
So when I started out, I was doing a lot of consulting around getting
nonprofits on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram but then I
realized those are just tools. They don’t work unless you
have other platforms kind of in-play and unless you have a
great fundraising plan and a great marketing plan already in
Steven: So, that being said, obviously nonprofits are using social
media today more than ever. They do a lot of weird things, I
kind of noticed and maybe you’ve noticed that as well. I know
you’ve written about this. One thing is followers, right?
There’s this weird obsession about having a lot of followers.
I see nonprofits tweet something like “Oh, we’re one follower
away 300. Can we reach 300?” What is that? Why do people do
that? What is this obsession with followers in your mind?
Julia: Well I do that too, to be fair. When I was about to reach 7,000
on Twitter I was like “Yay, help me get to 7,000.”
Steven: That’s a big number. Congratulations.
Julia: Thank you. I mean, it’s been 10 years but I really believe in
the slow and steady, turtle versus the hare approach and not
everyone likes that and that’s not really for everybody but
that’s my philosophy. I think if you put in the hours and you
put in the time and you’re consistently putting out great
content and interacting with people and showing that you’re a
real person or a real organization the numbers are going to
So a lot of nonprofits, they look for this kind of quick fix and it’s
not necessarily their fault. It’s because they don’t
understand the culture of the social media tools and the
channels and they’ve heard so many great stories about their
competitors or their colleagues or their partner
organizations getting 10,000 Facebook fans. I just don’t
think that social media is a numbers game anymore. I really
think that it’s important to be reaching the right people,
whether that be 50 people as opposed to 50,000 people.
So to be targeting, almost like finding your tribe, which is
something that Seth Godin and Chris Brogan talk about, really
finding your people that talk to you, so for a long time when
I wrote my blog I really didn’t know what I was writing
about. Like in the very beginning I kind of was trying to
reach businesses and I was talking about social media. I
wasn’t really sure.
Then I thought you know what? My audience is really the small to mid-
size nonprofit professional who’s kind of on-board with
social media but wants to convince his or her supervisors,
wants some new ideas and tips and tricks of how to use it,
maybe wants to explore new platforms. They’re on Facebook but
they want to use Twitter, so to speak to that particular
person has been really effective for me and I feel like I can
tailor my communications and I think nonprofits should be
doing that also, not trying to reach 10 million people, maybe
trying to reach one million people or even 1,000 people that
are the people that are going to spread the word and become
advocates for your cause.
Steven: I completely agree with you, by the way. You talk about this
idea of having a tribe and having an online community that’s
loyal, right? The word loyalty is something that you use a
lot. How do you build that loyalty among a small group rather
than just having this massive, faceless huge following that
isn’t really doing anything for you?
Julia: Loyalty comes after a lot of work, a lot of hard work. So if
you consistently are authentic and credible and you’re
putting out information that is helping people or is useful
to people, so what you really want to do first is figure out
who your community is and then what they like. So
unfortunately news flash: they love your nonprofit but that’s
not the only thing that they like.
For instance in Boston, you might want to be talking about the Red
Sox. You might want to be talking about something else going
on in this area that they like. You don’t necessarily want to
be fake or pander or anything like that but understand that
you and your cause are kind of a little, small portion of
what goes on in their life every day but that they like you
because of the impact that you’re having.
So I firmly believe in rewarding and acknowledging your followers. So
that would mean thanking them constantly, interacting with
them. If they post a question or a comment, replying, saying
thank you for sharing something that they wrote or featuring
a fan of the week on your page, however it is that you want
to build and acknowledge your community, and then also giving
them the tools to really spread the word about your cause.
So a lot of events do this, where they have the social media
ambassadors, where the social media ambassadors will kind of
spread the word via Twitter or they’ll donate a tweet or
they’ll donate a Facebook post and spread the word and that
will help your nonprofit sort of get access to a whole group
and a whole network that you would never have had access to
And that’s really the name of the game on social media. Likes and
comments are all well and good but you really want to get
those shares and those re-tweets because that’s going to help
amplify your message.
Your loyal followers are the people that are going to like you and
they’re going to donate-well, they might not donate, they
might really just want to donate their time, maybe they do
donate their money-but they’re the people that are going to
spread the word. So they’re almost functioning as your online
Steven: Yeah, I want to pull on that ambassador thread a little bit
because that’s really important, right? I see nonprofits
maybe miss that sometimes. It seems like you’ve got your
brand Twitter account or your Facebook page and it’s got your
logo, and you’re speaking as the brand and they stop there,
right? So that’s only one way or one set of followers.
But what about getting like your employees on your social media
accounts and those outside ambassadors, maybe board members,
even donors. How is that important? Do you think people
should do that?
Julia: Absolutely. I think that social media and fundraising can exist
in a silo. And if you’re a development department director
right now listening right now, you know that. You know it so
well. You can’t just be given a fundraising goal of $14
million and then kind of put it away in your office and never
spoken to again.
So the same with social media: if you are the intern or volunteer or
staff member, whoever you are responsible for, you really
need a group of people. I mean it takes a village. I love
when I see nonprofit CEOs and executive directors tweeting
and like I know now the new thing is for local city mayors to
have Twitter accounts and I love that.
I really like seeing the human side of the nonprofit. If you’re a big
NGO, to have your development department person, maybe your
fundraising person, your board chair, having people-they can
still have their own Twitter account-but having them identify
as a member of your community. I love the idea of donors
doing that so I firmly believe the only way to succeed in
social media is to have that community of online ambassadors.
And then your ambassadors could be the 13 year old girl who just
wants to send out a tweet every once in a while, that really
likes animals or she wants to raise money for pediatric
cancer research, whatever she wants to do. To have those sort
of higher level people that are paid by the organization,
then you know you have your board members, your volunteers
that are donating their time and effort every single day and
then people that might just want to be donating time online.
Maybe that’s all they can do. Maybe they don’t have time to work in
the food bank or they don’t have the money to donate but they
really want to help spread the word about the cause.
Locally the Beverly Farmer’s Market does a great job. Actually, the
first day is today of the season. They do a fantastic job
just getting people like me-even though I do actually visit
the market-but people that are online and have a big network
and like spreading the word about things and then encourage
us. We don’t get any reward for it other than we just we just
love the market and we want to see it succeed but there’s a
huge group of us sharing information constantly. We just like
I know that for every nonprofit there’s that same group of people out
Steven: Oh yeah. Every nonprofit has it for sure.
Julia: Right. Absolutely.
Steven: So you get your ambassadors going. You know you want to build
loyalty and not just be kind of promotional and simplistic in
your messaging. You’re doing all of this stuff that you talk
about and that you think is good. How do you know it’s
working? How does that sort of loyalty manifest? How do you
know that you’re doing a good job or that maybe you still
have some work to do?
Julia: Right. Well, that’s a tougher question. So I also believe in
measurement and analytics. I don’t think that anyone should
be kind of tweeting in a vacuum. And there’s 1,000 free tools
If you have a heavy social media presence and you’re spending a lot
of time you probably want to invest in some kind of analytics
platform that’s going to show you this person came from
Facebook to our website and then this person made a donation
or signed up for an email list. It’s all relative to your
So when developing an online communications plan, you want to make
sure that you’re being very strategic and very specific about
your goals. Everyone says “Okay, we want to increase
awareness, we want to increase donations.” Fine, I do
But you have to drill down even deeper than that and if you’ve never
measured that before, then you have to probably set up
measurement for three months to see how is our online
community growing and then you do measure the numbers in that
way because you don’t really have anything else to measure if
you’ve never measured before.
Then you want to say “Okay, is this driving traffic to our website?
Is this increasing event signups? Is this getting more phone
calls?” I had a nonprofit that I worked with that wanted to
raise awareness. They knew they couldn’t have a big
fundraising campaign online because no one knew about them.
So one of the measurements and one of the benchmarks we set were: is
the phone ringing more, are people more interested in
volunteering, just very anecdotal, qualitative data. So you
can get the quantitative data, which is the hard numbers but
the qualitative data is really important too.
If you’re spending all of this time and money but you’re not really
seeing any advancement toward your goal, whatever that might
be, then you want to make sure that you’re every month
measuring, analyzing and improving. So what can you do
differently, what are you doing that your community really
likes, what’s really working, what’s kind of falling flat?
What are your competitors doing?
I don’t really like the word competitor but what are the other people
in your space doing that is working for them? What’s not
working for them? It’s really time consuming. I mean, you’ve
got to read blogs, you’ve got to kind of keep up-to-date on
all the changes in social media and I know that is incredibly
difficult and time consuming when Facebook just switched all
the pages over to this new format.
Julia: I had some clients that didn’t know this was going to happen
even though I’ve been telling them it was going to happen,
but in the day-to-day you just have to set a priority. If
you’re saving people’s lives, the Facebook page change is not
a priority in your life until it happens and then you say “Oh
my god, how do I update this? Where do I go for my insights?
How do I analyze what I’m doing? How do I communicate with my
So just be willing to kind of try new things, be open-minded and at
the end of the day-I mean this is my job and how I make my
living, but it’s not brain surgery-I mean if Facebook closes
tomorrow people are really not going to die. They’re not
So the work that your nonprofit is doing, whatever it is, like
preserving a land trust or saving animals or helping domestic
violence victims, that is by far the most important thing and
don’t lose sight of that. As long as you’re communicating
that impact every day in all of your communications then
you’re going to be successful.
Steven: Yeah, you’ll be fine. And luckily you’ve got a great blog like
Julia’s that will carry all of the things to keep up on. So,
yeah that was great. I love the advice. I love especially the
stuff on specific goals like more phone calls or people
clicking or people signing up for events rather than just as
followers growing and are you getting likes. All that is
important, but really drilling down.
Julia: Yeah. You can’t really do marketing or fundraising if you don’t
have a list to market or fundraise to so you do want to focus
on numbers a little bit. But if your open rate on your email
is 100% but no one is actually donating then…
Julia: So you get caught up in like “Oh, we’ve got this great open
rate,” or “We just got our 1,000th Twitter follower,” but
Twitter is not driving any traffic to your website. It’s not
actually doing anything so to make sure you’re always looking
back and saying “These aren’t just vanity metrics. These are
actually working towards what we want to do.”
Steven: I love it. Well, this was awesome. This was great advice. Just
in the final seconds we have-I know you’ve got to run-but
where can folks find out more about you? What’s your Twitter
handle, what’s your URL and we’ll link to all that stuff.
Julia: My Twitter handle is @JuliaCSocial and my website and blog is
JCSocialMarketing.com and you can email me or tweet me. I’m
always online and happy to answer any questions.
Steven: Yeah. Do that. Do follow her. She’s awesome, with great
content. Julia, thanks for doing this. This was a lot of fun.
Julia: Thank you. A really great opportunity. Thanks, Steven.
Steven: All right. We will catch you all next week with another
episode. Thanks for watching and we will see you then. Take
Julia: Take care.