Nonprofits: Don't Wing It With Social Media
We’ve entered a new era in nonprofit marketing. If you’ve dipped your toe in the social media waters, do you wonder why you aren’t reaching more people or raising more dollars? If you haven’t yet begun, have you considered what social media marketing might do to help you reach — or not reach — your goals?
Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE recently joined us for a discussion on social media marketing for nonprofits. In case you missed it, you can watch a replay here:
Steven: Well, Claire, it just turned to 3:00. Do you want
to get started?
Steven: Okay, great. Let’s do it. Good afternoon to everyone on the east
coast and barely good morning, perhaps good afternoon, if you’re also on
the west coast. It’s just about the noon hour there. Thanks for joining us
for today’s webinar, “Don’t Wing It With Social Media”. My name is Steven
Shattuckck and I’m the VP of Marketing here at Bloomerang. I’ll be moderating
Today, I’m just very excited to be joined by honestly one of my favorite
people in the non-profit world, Claire Axelrad, JD, CFRE. Hey there,
Claire, thanks for joining us today.
Steven: Great for you to be here for [inaudible 00:01:29]. She’s a
fundraising consultant. She has helped many non-profits raise hundreds of
millions of dollars over her illustrious career. Claire was named
Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year by the Association of
Fundraising Professionals. She also contributes regularly to “Fundraising
Success” magazine. She’s a featured expert on The Content Marketing
Examiner. She also writes for “Maximize Social Business” about social media
for non- profits on that blog.
She’s also a web and audio presenter for Next Level Non-profits, Third
Sector Today, four good non-profit webinars, Non-profit Radio, and the
“Chronicle of Philanthropy”. Most recently, her blog, which is a really
excellent blog, by the way, if you don’t read her blog I highly suggest you
do, but it was named Top Fundraising Blog by Fundraising Success.
She also teaches the CFRE course that certifies professional fundraisers.
She’s a member of the California State Bar, and a graduate with honors from
Princeton University. Claire, it’s just quite an honor to have you. I love
chatting with you on social media, I love to read your blog, and I’m just
really excited to have you share all your social media knowledge with the
listeners here today, so thanks again for joining us.
Claire: Very happy to be here. Are we ready to begin?
Steven: Yeah, I think so. I think we’ll say to the listeners that Claire
has got a pretty meaty presentation that she’s going to run through. We’ll
try to save as much time at the end for questions, so if you hear something
that maybe you want explained or elaborated upon, feel free to send in chat
box there, and I’ll see those, Claire will see those, and we’ll try to get
to as many questions as possible. I’m not going to take up any more time,
Claire, so why don’t you take it away?
Claire: Okay, thank you. I do want to say that if I don’t have a chance to
answer the questions today online, I will be very happy to answer the
questions via email afterwards. Today, we’re going to talk about stopping
the silliness and stopping winging it with social media. I’m guessing, I
don’t know where all of you are at. You’re probably are at different
places. Some of you may have just dipped your toes in the social media
waters and you may be wondering why you’re not reaching more people or
raising more dollars.
This webinar is going to explain why winging it, [inaudible 00:04:09] up a
page and sporadically begging for likes and follows, no longer works in
2014. We’re going to be talking a lot about a planful strategy, a strategic
strategy, a holistic strategy that integrates with everything else that you
do, and an action-oriented strategy so that you get out of it what you put
into it and what you want to get out of it.
I also want to say that this webinar should be a no-panic zone for you. You
don’t need a presence on every platform, but you do need to find the right
platforms for you and for your audiences and you need to make what you’re
doing count. You can’t just do social media on the side, perhaps to appease
a board member who says, “Oh, this other organization I’m with, they have a
Facebook page. They have a Twitter account. We should have one, too.”
That’s what I call a pretend social media program.
I want us to kind of start to even forget the word media here because my
hunch is it won’t be long before we retire this quaint phrase, “social
media”, and we just begin to think about it as one tool in our arsenal of
all of our fundraising and marketing communications. We’re basically, with
all of those strategies, trying to move people along a continuum from not
really knowing that we exist, to first, becoming aware of us, to getting a
little bit more interested, to then maybe getting a little bit involved, a
little engaged, and ultimately, hopefully, getting invested.
Social is the human condition. It’s the way we learn. It’s the language we
speak and that’s why it’s so well suited to moving people along the
continuum. If you’ve been tiptoeing around social media, if it’s the
elephant in the room, it’s time to stop that because your prospects are
here already. They are already checking you out. I’ve seen some research
that says that people are 70 percent along the pathway towards knowing
about you before you know that they exist.
They check you out on Yelp, they check you out on Facebook, and they check
out Twitter activity. They’re making decisions about you so you may as well
be joining the conversation. If you get a one-time positive Yelp review,
that’s really great, but it can become transformative if you respond to the
person who did that review, you thank them, and then they share it with
their friends. In the same way, a negative review can be really devastating
if you don’t respond to them and don’t try to turn them around.
Social media becomes a tool, really, that just helps you have a two-way
conversation. Non-profits often think they have to choose between putting
resources into program and putting their resources into what they consider
niceties, like social media, but it’s really not a nicety. If you don’t
create awareness about your existence, if you don’t create a dialogue and
engage people in your cause, then ultimately, you’re not going to have any
clients to serve.
The point is this conversation is happening. It’s happening among every
generation. There’s not just one demographic that’s on social media. That’s
why it’s being called “Generation C”, which means Generation Connected.
We’re all a part of this.
Here’s my little mnemonic device. The opposite of winging it, which is
having your arms flapping in the wind, is putting hip to arm. I have a
little yoga practice here because I want you to develop social as a
practice, as a ritual, and as something that you do consistently. The first
is to just hop on board and do it, understand the impact that it’s already
having on you even if you’re not doing it in a strategic manner, and then
get internal support. Get buy-in, get a plan, go for action, go beyond
likes and follows, put in place the resources that you need to do it well,
and learn to measure so that you’re doing this strategically.
Let’s talk a little bit about each one of these. The hopping on board part,
lots of non-profits are now doing this. I always say that marketing and
fundraising have changed more in the past five years than in the preceding
50. The digital revolution has really changed business as we knew it, and
marketing really, honestly, got a lot more complicated because we had
first, 1.0 Internet, Web 2.0 social media, and now we’ve got 3.0 mobile. At
this point, I don’t think many of you would think, “Well, maybe we don’t
even need a website,” but if you remember 20 years ago, 10 years ago, some
organizations were actually having this conversation, “Do we really need a
Now, you know that’s how folks connect with you and find you, and guess
what? Today, 2014, the number-one way that they’re probably connecting with
you and finding you is through social media. It’s important to recognize
everybody else is playing this game. Your competitors are. HubSpot did a
2013 inbound marketing report and they found that social drives both
customer acquisition and sales. It really is working.
I just want to mention, I’m going to be mentioning a lot of resources in
the course of this webinar today. I have a “Hop on Board Social Media
Resource Guide” for you. It’s eight pages. Steven will send a link to you
at the end of this webinar. That’s yours to keep so you don’t have to take
notes on all of this. I’m also not going to read every slide to you. I’m
going to be talking about other stuff, but you’ll get a link to this
webinar, as well.
Forty-seven percent of Americans are learning about you via social media
and online channels, so you may as well be putting your best foot forward
there. Fifty-six percent of those who are supporting non-profits on the
social web say storytelling is what motivates them to take action. What
that says is the type of content that you put out there in social channels
does matter. You can’t just slap any old thing up there. A lot of non-
profits, I don’t know if you’re doing this, but they’ll just say, “Hey,
we’re on Facebook now. Like us.”
Social media engagement, when you can get people to engage, does inspire
further action. You can see, 59% of people, according to this Waggener
Edstrom report, are donating money. I don’t think that that’s the primary
reason you should be in social, but it is something that is starting to
happen more and more.
Again, people are giving more, and it’s just like people didn’t used to do
online banking, they didn’t used to feel comfortable with a credit card
online, they didn’t used to donate to charities online, but they’re
starting to do that more and more and they are beginning to do social
giving more online, too. You want to be positioned for it. I don’t know
where you are. You may be anywhere along the continuum from, “My boss
thinks that social media is a fad,” and I actually had a boss say that to
me three years ago. That was three years ago. I don’t hear it as much, but
I do hear, “My boss thinks it’s okay to do it, but she just doesn’t want to
That’s really not that great because that’s sort of hamstringing your boss
to not be communicating in a way that a lot of people prefer to be
communicated with. I also hear, “My boss thinks we should do more of it
because it’s free.” We want to disabuse them of the notion that it’s free
because anything that you’re going to do well is going to take time and
resources, and staff time is money. Then, there are a few lucky ones who
say, “My boss fully supports it and knows we need to hire someone to do
it.” If that’s you, you’re very lucky.
Most of you, though, have to work to get some internal support to get this
an institution-wide culture of social at your organization. It’s really
likely that if you have social now, it sprouted up from a few folks who
liked it and advocated it, but you haven’t really internalized it as
something that’s critically important to your fundraising and marketing
goals. If your leaders are thinking, “Well, this is still the frontier,”
it’s your job to show them the mainstream bread-and-butter value that it
has. What you don’t want is social media siloed in a corner. You don’t want
it being attended to by the lowest-level staff member, a volunteer, or an
You want it to be effectively shared between more than one department, and
we’re going to talk about this a little bit more. I guess the best example
in terms of letting people know that business has changed and you’ve got to
adapt or you’re going to die is Kodak. Kodak thought that they could stay
pat with their film and their analog camera empire, and they’re dead now.
Other dinosaurs that come to mind are records, video stores, and
newspapers. If you don’t want to become irrelevant to your constituents,
then you have to adapt and change.
I kind of think about it as, “Would I refuse to text if I wanted to
communicate with my teenager?” No, I would have to learn to text, otherwise
I would never communicate with them because they don’t use the phone. We
really have to sort of use what people are using. Twenty years ago, people
wouldn’t have said, “I’m only going to communicate through the mail. I’m
not going to ever pick up the phone.” That’s really all it is. It’s just a
I want you to move social front and center. I don’t know why that little
move just fell off the corner there, but move it back front and center. I
would advise assembling some kind of a social task force. This is like a
team that will meet regularly and discuss what kind of content you want to
put up through social channels, where you want to repurpose that content,
when are you going to put that content out there, and where you are going
to put that content. Remember that your constituents don’t care about your
departments. They don’t care about marketing versus fundraising versus IT
versus volunteer department. They see only one you.
You don’t want a lot of people sending out random tweets or posts that
arennot communicating to one another. Not only are you bombarding people in
afunny way, but you may be doing different kinds of messaging, maybe using
different kinds of voices, and that kind of plays a lot of havoc with your
brand. You want to get this very integrated. As you meet together as a
team, you also source the wisdom of your crowd about all the things that
you have that could be interesting to constituents out there.
Lead with relationship building, not technology. When you’re trying to talk
to your boss, don’t let them think that this is just about technology
because then people tend to think, “Ugh, it’s kind of peripheral. We don’t
need to buy one more piece of software.” It’s really not about that. It’s
essential. It’s about transforming the marketing mindset to, “This is not
placing an ad. This is not spinning the news. This is developing
relationships with people. We can really talk to them. We can really find
out about them.” Your constituents want to be invited in. They want to be
taken for a ride. They really want a connection with you.
Now, you’re ready to hop on board, but you have to pick the right boarding
platform. Creating social media accounts is very easy. You can just slap
one up, but what one you select or which ones you select and how you use
them is what’s important, which brings us to creating a strategic social
plan. You want it to integrate with all your other marketing and
Let’s say you started to count Facebook friends and you counted Twitter
followers. The more they grew, the more you patted yourself on the back.
“Yay, we’ve got all these likes.” I want to tell you, stop patting yourself
on the back for this. It’s going for instant gratification as you cross
tactics off of your list, but they’re not going to provide any real results
that are going to help sustain your organization over time, over the long
If you’re talking about, “Oh, we’re really getting a big buzz on Facebook
right now,” that’s from your perspective. Chances are, no one is buzzing
about how many likes you have except for you. If somebody likes you and you
never correspond with them again, you just checked them off, how did they
feel about you then? If somebody makes a comment on your blog and you don’t
respond to them, how do they feel about you then? Those are one-time
transactions and you can check them off a list, but it’s not developing a
A plan is the thing that gets you around the Lewis Carroll quote that I
really like, which is, just to paraphrase, “If you don’t know where you’re
going, any road will take you there.” You want to know what you’re trying
to accomplish with your social media program. It begins with understanding
your market. Who are you trying to reach? People really come before
technology and tactics. Are your folks Mac people or are they PC people?
You have to do some research and figure out who you’re writing for because
otherwise, you’re just kind of shouting out into the ether.
One strategy is to develop what are called personas. I won’t have time to
go into the whole dog and pony of how you develop personas here, but I do
still have some really good links in my resource guide for you of how to do
some personas. There’s a downloadable workbook from Socialbrite and there
are some good templates and articles. Basically, you’re trying to figure
out a demographic, a lifestyle interest, who influences these people, their
personal goals, and you put a name to them and you actually could put a
picture on the wall, “This is one of our target markets. It’s Heidi. She’s
a soccer mom. She’s got two kids. She keeps a Pinterest board.” You do all
of that and you kind of try to understand who these folks are.
Then, you create your own persona. What is your personality? What’s your
authentic voice? Then, your goal is to try to match your persona to the
personas of your constituents. You may have a different voice in different
channels. In LinkedIn, you might have a professional voice. In Facebook,
you might have more of a familial voice or even a flirtatious voice. That’s
a great exercise to do to help you know who you’re talking to.
The next thing in your plan, and this is really, really important, is
building a content strategy. It’s a whole, huge topic unto itself, but as a
quick review, before we get to talking about the specific content, let’s
talk about the promotion channels because no matter how great content you
have, it’s a terrible thing to waste it. You have to select the promotion
channels where most of your people are. All channels aren’t created equal,
nor are they equal for every organization. Don’t just pick one because a
board member suggested it or because it’s what you use at home and you like
My advice is to begin with a blog. You’re beginning with your website. A
blog is like a super-charged website and you can have the blog right on
your website. I love, love, love blogs. I have a whole webinar on blogging
for non-profits that you can download for free on my website, which is
clairification.com. The reason that I like blogs is it sort of forces you
to get into the habit of creating consistent, fresh content. It’s not a
brochure. It’s so much better because we never used to know if people read
our brochures or not or what inside the brochure resonated with them, but
with a blog, you know.
If you’ve got analytics installed on your blog, you can tell and you can
actually ask people what they think. It’s just a really cool way to begin
to build relationships and learn about what other people think. I think of
a blog as the home for your content. You can leverage whatever content you
make for your blog everywhere. You can leverage it in your eNews, in your
hard-copy newsletter, your [inaudible 23:50] report, your grant proposals,
and your campaign appeals. It just gets you into this consistent practice
of fresh content creation.
Then, add email because email is what gets your message heard and it’s
still the number one way that folks get information online. It may not
sound as sexy as some social channels, but it’s very, very important. Then,
one social media channel because that’s what gets your message shared.
Email is not a particularly collaborative tool, which is why you have to go
beyond it, but you don’t need to be everywhere, and that’s where I’m
saying, “Don’t panic.”
You have to be somewhere, but it’s better to go all-in in one channel
that’s really going to work for you than to be half-assed in many.
Remember, this is social media according to a plan. If you don’t have a
plan, your strategy kind of sucks. Where do your personas hang out? That’s
really where you want to be sharing.
Next is to build your content calendar. Again, in my resource guide, I’m
going to give you links to a number of different templates for building
content calendars. There’s no one way to do it. You just want a system that
works for you, but start small and grow slow and steady. Too often,
marketers think, “Oh, I’ll just throw up something everywhere. I’ll post
here, I’ll post there, everywhere, I’ll have great stuff,” and then they
find they can’t keep up the pace.
The result is Facebook pages with no content, Twitter accounts that haven’t
had a message in months, and all of that looks really bad to the audience
that you started to want to impress in the first place. You want to avoid a
passive profile like the plague. One of the ways to make sure that you
stick to a schedule of getting content out there is by calendaring it. That
means specific times that you’re going to curate, look for content, create
content, and promote the content.
You want to keep a running content ideas file. Content is king. I know
you’ve heard this. It’s so true. It’s really your most important
fundraising marketing tool. I have found for my own blog that content
trumps everything. It doesn’t matter so much the time of day, the day of
week, or whatever you posted. If it’s interesting, if it’s what your
constituents want to know about, if it’s entertaining, people will find
your content. You already have a lot of content. You’ve got a lot of
program stories, you’ve got client stories, there are news stories that
probably are related to what you’re doing, and you’ve got program stuff
that has universal appeal that you can put together.
If you’re an agency that serves seniors, you could put together a tip sheet
on how to keep seniors safe. If you’re anybody, you could put together a
reading list of recommended reading on your subject. You could put together
a list of recipes from your staff or your clients, just stuff that is going
to make people go, “That looks interesting,” and then you become valuable
to them. You could do contests on your blog.
One of my clients, One Justice, they’re a justice organization. They put a
contest for “What’s your favorite justice movie?” They gave a water bottle
as a prize. They got more engagement on that than they had on any previous
post, so they continued.
They did “What’s your favorite justice song?” and “What’s your favorite
justice quote?” It is enabling them to talk about their mission, but it’s
doing so in a way that’s fun for people to engage with them. Get together
your social team, your social task force, and brainstorm with them. What
are some good content ideas for us?
Also, subscribe to social media of non-profits that you admire and see what
they’re doing. It’s perfectly fine to borrow their ideas and adapt them.
There are also a lot of good ideas you can find online on sofii.org. S-O-F-
I-I. You’ll also find more in the resource guide that I’m going to give to
you. Then, what you do is you plug in all your saved-up ideas into this
calendar. You’re after something like “July 1, blog post tied to
Independence Day” and you write down who is going to be the author, what
the title of the post is, a few details about the content, the date it’s
going to be due, and who it’s assigned to.
Then, you add “Tweet this post three times a day July 1, 2, and 3.” “Post a
link to Facebook two times a day, and then maybe include an article in
monthly eNews with a link to our ‘Donate’ button to help fund independent
living for people with disabilities.” Everything is kind of playing off of
each other and you’re leveraging the content so it’s not a waste of your
Then, you see this thing here where I say, “Engagement RCA”. Your content
has to be engaging to people. I like to think of it as an RCA Victrola
because a good recording really transports people. It gets them into the
music. It gets their toes tapping. Good stories will do that for people, as
well. You’ve got to be thinking not, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, we did
this, we did that, do stuff for us,” but more thinking about what you can
do for your donor. Your reader is always going to be asking before they
open anything from you, “What’s in it for me?” Make sure before you put any
content out there, you answer that question for your constituency.
Just a word about also being smart about your content. This is a
traditional marketing matrix. For those of you who are marketers, you’re
familiar with this. You have existing products that you already have and
then sometimes you create new ones. You have existing markets that you
already know and then sometimes you’re trying to break into new markets.
The most cost-effective, easiest thing to do is to penetrate your existing
market with your existing products. Usually, that’s where you’re going to
get the biggest bang for your buck.
Sometimes you decide, “Oh, no, we want to go out to a new market with our
existing product,” and sometimes you want to develop a new product and
bring that to an existing market. Those are good development strategies.
Sadly, I find the place that most of us tend to go is the lowest-yield,
highest-cost bucket of diversification. This tends to happen with social
media if you’re not really planning it. Let’s say you put up a Pinterest
board because somebody on your board thought that was a great idea. That’s
a new product for you; you’ve never done it before.
Then, you start hoping that random folks are just going to find you. Those
random folks are a new market. That’s a diversification strategy. If you
add Google Plus presence, that’s a new product for you, perhaps. Then, you
just wait for folks to add you to their circles. That’s a new market. It
doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but every time that you find yourself
going in the direction of diversification, I would take a moment, pull
yourself back, clear your mind, and get clarity around what’s our goal
You want to use social media to help you achieve your business goals. Now,
you want to build a promotion strategy with your content. I want to just
take a minute to remind you about email. It’s still the number one folks
communicate and it’s the most direct way. A lot of people are checking
email these days on their Smartphones as soon as they wake up. You want to
get all these people who are coming to you via different channels, checking
out your website, maybe coming to you from Facebook, Twitter, or whatever,
to join your email list.
If you’re linking them to your website and they only come there once, it’s
not going to do you that much good. Social Media Examiner did a study and
found out that 80 percent of the people who visit your website or your blog
will never return again. You’ve just wasted all of your energy getting them
Put up a “Subscribe” box on your website that is obvious. It’s good to have
it at the top of your inside pages, too. Offer something compelling to try
to capture leads. Offer them a little eBook, a tip list, a cheat sheet, or
a list of recipes, something that’s going to get them to sign up onto your
list so that you can then deliver info, eNews, blog posts, and appeals
directly to them.
That’s really the height of accessibility. Then, remember to promote
through channels where your folks are hanging. I just listed a couple
there. LinkedIn, I think non-profits don’t use enough. If you have a lot of
professionals as your donors or your volunteers, that’s a really good place
You want folks to take action. The old way of doing social media was very
passive, just going for likes and follows. We were really just doing this
sort of inside-out marketing where we pushed, we broadcast wherever. That’s
not that useful. What you want is more of an outside-in strategy where you
are pulling for engagement. You are giving people something really
interesting, something really helpful, and you’re trying to get them to
sort of feel like, “Wow. What they just put out there strikes an emotional
chord in me. It’s relevant to me. That’s me. I relate to that. I know
people who would relate to that.”
You need to think about what your desired action response is, that’s the
DAR, and what your call to action is going to be. You want to actively ask
people to do something, even if it’s just, “Please retweet”. It’s amazing
how many more tweets will be shared if you actually just say that.
You want to find your influencers and actively feed them. When I say
influencers, what I’m talking about is, the Social Media Today study that I
was referencing found that most individuals are not influenced by their
social peers. The people on Facebook who like you, all of your Plus Ones,
people are not really paying that much attention to those folks. They’re
paying attention to influencers.
You want to find those people and get them to be evangelists on your
behalf. These are the people, for those of you who have read “The Tipping
Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, he calls connectors and mavens. They’re the
people that people go to for advice. For example, I used to work at the San
Francisco Food Bank. We discovered that our influencers were mommy bloggers
because they cared a lot about nutrition and health for kids, and foodies
because they just were thinking about food all the time and they wanted
everybody to have good food, and health and fitness bloggers. Your goal is
to become a trusted resource and authority to those influencers. Feed them.
They’re your natural advocates.
While we’re talking about being social, what you want to guard against is
being antisocial. Your mantra should be unless you’re going to engage,
you’re not going to do it. You don’t want to ask people to retweet you and
then ignore them. If they ask you, do the polite thing and say, “Thank
you.” If you ask for a comment and they comment, thank them for that.
Social is really a pay-it-forward proposition. You’re offering gifts to
people. If you’re not offering gifts to people, then why should they give
them back to you? Intentional engagement like this is what makes social
media worth it. You really have to sort of see it and frame it as this
process of building and sustaining relationships that are ultimately going
to read down to your benefit and to their benefit. It’s got to be a win-
win. They’re just tools, and if you don’t use them properly with care and
purpose, they’re just not going to do that much for you.
What matters is how you are using them, which means you need to know what
you want to get out of it. What is success going to look like for you? Who
else shares your message? How you listen and apply what you learn to your
strategy moving forward?
There’s that old mantra that is used a lot in major gifts fundraising, “You
have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion.” It really
applies in spades to social media, as well.
Let’s get to the fun stuff. I really love Pinterest. I am about to give a
major gifts fundraising course which starts January 28. If anybody is
interested in it, check it out on my website today. I think Steven is going
to send you a link because the last day for early-bird registration is
today. I actually think you can use social media a lot for major gifts,
both as research and as a way to do moves with people.
Pinterest is just a fabulous source of research because I can go find out
stuff about my major donor prospects that I never even knew. I just looked
on somebody and found that they had a whole architecture board on
Pinterest. I thought, “Whoa. Is that useful because they’re about to do a
capital campaign. Here’s this person that we now know is very interested in
architecture.” Pinterest is a very visual kind of forum, so you need nice
images and you need to kind of key into trends on Pinterest. Do-it-yourself
crafts is a big trend and food is a big trend.
Here are a couple of examples from Goodwill. They have a whole board of DIY
crafts. Surfrider has food board, but all food that’s shaped liked sea
creatures. If you Google “clairification and Pinterest” you’ll find I have
a whole list of Pinteresting fundraising, lots of ideas of ways to use
Pinterest as a social media tool. Also, there’s a link to it in the guide
you’re going to get.
Another trick that I like is there’s a tool called Vsnap, where you can
record a 60-second, personalized video thank you on Twitter, which is a
really fun way to engage with your active influencers on Twitter or even to
thank a donor.
Visual is becoming the name of the game when it comes to getting stuff
shared online. Here are a few things that I like. I like this tool called
Quozio, which will make a little image for you. It’s so easy, at the touch
of a button, and you can attach that to your Facebook post or to your
Twitter post. Video is great. Thank you videos are great. People share
inspirational quotes a lot. Contests get shared a lot, and stories. Stories
really get shared, and that’s the type of content that you really want to
I’m going to skip over that. I meant to take that out. Talk about
resources. What resources do you need and how do you find them? They really
are a precondition to getting into the social media game. If you don’t have
a ball and a bat and nine players per side, you can’t play major-league
baseball. If you don’t have enough human and monetary resources to develop
a content calendar, a social plan, to implement it, and to measure the
plan, you’re not going to succeed with it. That’s why I think a lot of
organizations say, “We tried social. It really didn’t help us much.”
Like Goldilocks, you want to get it just right. Not too much, not too
little. How much do you need? I’ve often been heard to say that social
media is like a puppy. If you’re going to get one, you’ve got to care for
it or it’s going to die.
A little dab of social media is not going to do you. It’s like buying a
lawnmower and then never mowing the lawn. You’ve got the equipment, but
you’re doing nothing with it. A lawnmower needs human power to make it go
across the lawn, and social media also needs human power. You have to use
it regularly. As I said before, if you just dabble, if you just put up a
profile and it sits mostly idle, that works against you. Your audience
feels ignored and you don’t look very professional.
Don’t overdo it, though. Don’t adopt new channels if you can’t take care of
the ones you’ve got. Try to find a balance. If you find that your puppies,
your channels, aren’t thriving, then you might consider, “Do we need to
outsource this? Do we need to hire somebody? Do we need to get a trainer?”
Puppies and social media, neither one of them are free. Just like friends,
they require care and feeding. Identify the channels that you think are
going to be the most valuable for you and try to be there consistently. You
don’t necessarily need a full-time person, but you do need to figure out
what you do need.
Here’s one parameter of looking at, “Well, we think it’s going to take us
this long to create content and we think putting stuff up on the Web and
online is going to take this long. Measuring it is going to take this
long.” Figure out how many hours per week and then figure out who is going
to do what.
Sonia Simone of Copyblogger, if you’ve ever read her, she’s quite funny.
She has developed this law, “Nothing takes care of itself.” What she says
is, “90 percent of websites are wretched. Niney percent of Facebook pages
are wretched. Ninety percent of content marketing programs are wretched,
and 90 percent of social-media-based customer support is wretched.”
If you’re not yet doing a really good job, you’re in a lot of company. I
wouldn’t say it’s good company, but we can all do a better job. What we
need to do a better job are people who get it, people who get the rules of
social engagement. You do need to have somebody on your staff who
understands how to translate social engagement into business success.
I would commend to you two books by Beth Kanter and Katie Paine, “The
Network Non-profit” and “Measuring the Network Non-profit”. I’ve got links
to them in my guide. They’re very comprehensive and tell you a lot about
how to do this and how to measure it. Just a brief word on measurement, you
want to be very smart about how you’re measuring return. You need to know,
“What is success going to look like for us?” We’ll go through these briefly
one at a time.
You want a very specific, meaningful measurement that goes beyond likes and
follows. Get internal agreement on what you’re going to measure. What
audiences are you going to attract? What are your goals? What will success
look like for each different campaign or for each different platform? The
easiest thing to use is Google Analytics. If you have that installed on
your website or your blog, it pretty much puts this measurement process on
autopilot. All you have to do is execute your strategy for 30 days, say,
and then see which social networks are driving the most traffic to your
site and which types of content people are consuming the most. That way,
you can tweak your strategy. You’ll know where to focus and you’ll also
know what type of content to create.
Measuring the right things. There are short-term metrics and there are long-
term metrics. It’s very important to also include the long term. Let’s say
your goal is to mobilize support for an online advocacy campaign that
you’ve got and you want folks to come to a rally, an event. You’ve decided
to target your donors, [inaudible 47:37] staff, and members. The tools
you’ve decided to use are Facebook, Twitter, and your blog. The short-term
things, the transactional things that you might look at are the number of
likes, the number of retweets, the number of who viewed your blog,
You want to go beyond that. I think the most common mistake that non-
profits make is emphasizing the short term, emphasizing the number of fans
you have over other markers that are more valuable. That tends to be
symptomatic of the larger problem which we’ve been discussing today, which
is viewing social as just one more mass medium through which you can push
content. Liking is passive. Engaging is active. It’s very much like looking
at a first-time donation as the end of the road when it’s really just the
beginning because a one-time donation is a transaction. You want to
transform that into an ongoing relationship that will sustain your non-
profit over time.
Longer term is, “What happened? What were the actions that we’re taking?
How many people signed our petition? How many people came and attended the
event?” That’s what you’re trying to do, is drive some ongoing loyalty. You
want to be realistic. If it’s not realistic to measure return on investment
in a strictly financial sense, don’t. A lot of times, bosses will say,
“Well, show me the ROI here. I don’t want to invest any resource in this
unless I see it’s going to make us money.” That’s not really what’s going
to happen right away, but in the long run, if you engage with people, it’s
going to increase the probability of getting more sales and getting more
donations, which is why it’s an essential part of your marketing mix.
There is definite value in making people feel like your brand, your cause,
is a part of their life, and so you want to build a relationship that’s
based on loyalty to you, on feeling like, “Oh, there’s always interesting
stuff there. I enjoy getting their posts. I enjoy seeing what they’ve got.”
Then, it goes back to being realistic means knowing your personas, knowing
your target market, and knowing what they care about. You got to listen to
what they’re saying on social media. Social media, in a way, is a giant
One example that I think of is one time, when I was at the food bank, we
got 18,000 new likes in a weekend. I was so excited, but it was from this
online game that we were playing where folks were given the opportunity to
buy this chest with Kingdoms of Camelot, I think it was called. They could
buy a chest and then they could like you. We got 18,000 people doing that.
It turned out these people were from all over the world. The food bank was
local. They were never going to do anything with us again. We patted
ourselves on the back, we were so excited, and it was totally meaningless.
Measurement should be a time-saving thing for you. You shouldn’t be wasting
your time measuring things that are not getting results. You want to be
able to use what you measure to get better results in the future. If you
get good conversions from your Facebook posts, do more of that. If you get
good ones from tweeting, do more of that. If from discussions you start on
LinkedIn, you start to identify new people and build relationships with
that, do more of that. If you want to throw everything up on the wall to
see what sticks, you can, but at least pay attention to it and measure it
so that at the end of the month, when you see that some of that spaghetti
is slipping down the wall, you can pull it off and stop paying attention to
that. Only use the stuff that’s made to stick.
Takeaways: want to hop on board? You want to just do this? You don’t need a
lot of time to study whether or not you should do this anymore, it’s
pretty, pretty clear that this is an important thing to do. I really like
Shaq O’Neal’s mantra, “Social media is 60 percent to make you laugh, 30
percent to inspire you, and 10 percent to let you know about this product.”
If you’re spending 60 percent of your time just telling people about you,
you’re doing it a little a**-backwards. You want to offer constituent-
centered value to your people.
If they need a hole, you want to use a drill. If they want a hole and you
use a hammer, you’re not going to reach them. The need to be personal
people doesn’t go away just because you’re communicating digitally. No one
wants to hear about you all the time. It’s kind of a taste that you’re
offering them, an invitation to dance. You want to engage in order to
inspire real action and you’ve decided what those actions are going to be.
You’re planning. Just bringing people together online without knowing what
action you want is like hosting a special event and then never following up
with the people who attend it. There’s not real point to doing that.
You want to try to get people to stay with you by getting them subscribed
to your email list. Usually, once they’ve done that, they’re going to be
much more likely to donate to your cause down the line. Remember to invest
in this. It’s not free. You got to research your people, you got to
research your channels, you’ve got to measure, test, and make it work. I
don’t want you to get discouraged. If you do this and you find, “Gee, it
seems like only ten percent of the people ever seem to do anything,” that’s
absolutely okay. In fact, the most recent research from Forrester shows
that ten percent is the norm.
As long as you’re being thoughtful every step of the way so that you can
reduce barriers to action, make it easy, entertaining, meaningful, and
satisfying for folks to engage, as long as you’re going beyond this concept
of like to more of the concept of the customer experience, you’re going to
be great. Getting a single like, a single donation, is not going to build
you over time. It’s what happens next and next and next that makes the
Thank you. Do we have a little time for questions?
Steven: Yeah, we do. That was awesome, Claire. Thank you so much. That was
quite a meaty presentation, lots of things, hopefully, to take away from.
We’ve got about probably four or five minutes. We can maybe do a couple
questions. There was a lot that came through in the chat room. Claire, the
one that I saw that popped out at me is, someone was wondering your opinion
on tools like HootSuite. Do you use HootSuite? Do you use anything else to
kind of manage all of your channels there?
Claire: Yeah. I think HootSuite can be a good tool. IFTTT is another one. I
wouldn’t rely on those automated things entirely. I still like to take a
look at my Twitter feed and respond personally to people. I start to kind
of get a sense of the people who are [inaudible 00:56:03] early and I
really want to call them by name. Also, if you’re going to use a tool like
HootSuite or IFTTT where you’re regularly responding or tweeting other
people’s posts, you might want to switch it up so that for a two week
period, you do some people, and then the next two week period, you do other
people so it doesn’t look so automated. Then, people start to not value it
Steven: That makes a lot of sense. I can totally agree. There was a
question that’s kind of along the same lines from Robin. She was wondering
what the best way is to ensure one voice for your organization. Maybe if
you have a couple people in New York managing the social media, obviously,
those two people may have different personalities and voices. What advice
would you have for keeping that brand voice consistent?
Claire: Again, that’s where your social team comes into play. This is
something that you should be really doing holistically as a group. I really
advocate doing this persona exercise, where you kind of sit down and some
of the kinds of questions that I like to take people through are like, “If
we were a car, what car would we be? If we were a piece of clothing, what
piece of clothing would we be?”
It’s really interesting to see what people say. Let’s say they come up with
a Volvo. You say, “Okay, well, what does that mean?” “Well, we’re very
safe. We’re conservative. We’re reliable.” You want to come across with a
very reassuring type of voice if that’s who you are.
Maybe you’re a Maserati. Maybe you’re a little risky and sexy, and then
your voice is that way. Get everybody in your organization on page with,
“This is our voice here.” You can have different voices in the different
channels depending on who your audience is there. Just make sure that
everybody is on board with what that is.
Steven: Great. That makes a lot of sense, for sure. We’ve got about a
couple minutes left, and I want to leave a few minutes left for some
housekeeping things. I know we didn’t get to a lot of questions. There was
just so much good information from Claire. Claire, can you tell folks a
little bit about how they can get in touch with you if they have further
questions or maybe want to learn a little bit more about your practice and
all the good things you do?
Claire: Sure. You can reach me at [email protected] Again, I am
offering this major gift course that starts the 28th of January, but today
is the last day for the early bird, so I encourage you to go onto my site
and just take a look at the syllabus and see if that’s interesting. I think
it’s a really great course. A lot of people don’t understand that you can
use social media for major gifts, as well. It’s one more reason that a lot
of people think, “It’s just this little marketing thing. It’s fluffy. We
don’t need it so much. We’ll put that on the back burner.” Really, it’s a
meaty thing if you use it well.
Steven: In it, you’ll have Claire’s slides, it will have a full video
replay of the whole webinar, so if you joined late or had to duck out
early, you can watch that at your own leisure perhaps this weekend or maybe
next week, whenever you have a free hour. Since it’s just about the end of
the hour, I’ll say a final thanks to Claire. Claire, thanks so much for
spending an hour with us and sharing all of your knowledge, very viable
knowledge, by the way, for free to everyone who is listening, so thanks
again for being here. I really appreciate it and really had a lot of fun.
Claire: It was lots of fun to be here. I wish I could talk to each one of
you individually, but please, if there was a real burning question that you
didn’t get to ask, feel free to email me and I’d be happy to answer it.
Steven: Please do. Follow her on Twitter. If you use Twitter, send her a
tweet. She’s always pretty active there, as well. If you enjoyed this
webinar, we do these educational webinars every week, so check out our
webinar page. You can see our upcoming schedule there. We’ve got a lot of
great people slated to join us, Pamela Grow, Nonprofit Hub, Linda
Lysakowski, and lots of good people are going to be sharing their knowledge
with us over the next few weeks. Again, thanks again for joining us and
have a great weekend. We’ll talk to you all soon. Bye, now.