Hello nonprofits. Welcome to 2014.
We don’t have a lot of time for people to get to know us. In fact, it takes people three seconds to determine whether they are interested in you. Nonprofits need to be laser-focused on their content and social marketing efforts to differentiate themselves from the others.
Here are seven nonprofit marketing gems that are easy to implement today that will help your nonprofit shine tomorrow.
1. Be a storytelling pro. Do you remember how a great film or book made you feel? You were on the edge of your seat, emotionally engaged, wanting more. Good storytelling is all about telling your story in a personal, authentic way that engages your reader so much they are compelled to take action. You tell your story through connecting emotionally and personalizing it, like you are sharing it with your best friend. And you make them part of the story. You introduce yourself, talk about how you came to be, explain the conflict you are facing, and communicate it in such a way that you gain their heartfelt understanding. You share what you are trying to do to affect change, why it matters, and how you are making a difference. But the story doesn’t end there. You set it up as a sequel so that they want more and they want to become part of the story to find out more. Emma Coats, a former Pixar story board artist, shared Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling, a list plus the commentary, a few years ago. While lengthy, it is a good guidebook for storytelling.
2. Use images in your content. It is much easier to make an emotional connection using images than it is to use words. Put a face to your nonprofit. However, the images should be representative of your nonprofit. We call this “being on brand”. Always being on brand helps people remember you – who you are, what you do and why they should care about you. For instance, if your nonprofit has to do with kids, show smiling faces of kids having fun to connect with prospective supporters. Remember to keep the images positive.
3. Use videos. Do you have a YouTube Channel? If not, make sure your explainer video is on your website. If your website analytics shows a lot of video views, consider creating a YouTube channel that has videos about what you are doing, but also how your efforts are impacting others. Consider engaging your base for ideas. User-generated content not only gets your supporters involved, it also helps you maintain a steady stream of relevant content.
4. Nurture your community. Where does your community live? Is it subscribers to your blog and/or newsletter? Is it a forum on your website? Is it a Facebook group, Facebook page, LinkedIn group or some other medium? Wherever your community is, you must take care of it. The community is where your advocates and brand ambassadors are. Make sure you are feeding them with content they are interested in. If you aren’t sure what their interests are, consider conducting surveys, and watch their social like and share habits, comments to your blog, analytics, and other behaviors. Feed them with useful information, quotes, images, videos, and other things. Engage with them and get them to talk about themselves through asking thoughtful questions and soliciting comments. Also, make it easy for your supporters to share information with you. Encourage user-generated content. Ensuring a good experience for your current supporters will lead to more supporters.
5. Take care of your social house. Ensure that you visit and manage each of your social media accounts daily. Always be in audit mode, continuously improving and adding value to your social media real estate. And, depending on where your audience resides, you may also want to consider other social sites. Besides Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and YouTube, consider SlideShare, Quora and other sites. Remember to provide content that is informative, educational and engaging. Monitor social sites for new followers and fans as well as new comments, and be accommodating and supportive. Also, be sure to follow up timely to questions and comments. And, of course, your social strategy should be to understand and listen first, engage and help, and then promote.
6. Become a great content creator and curator. 2014 is the year that nonprofit content marketing is really going to take off. To differentiate your nonprofit, your content needs to educate, meet the needs of your supporters and carry the message of your brand. Your content strategy should have a mix of original and curated content. Check out other blogs for content to curate. A great list of blogs is located here. Consider annotating curated content with your take on it or ask thought-provoking questions about it. We suggest putting a content marketing calendar together to help you plan your content. This calendar from HubSpot is one of our favorites. Another great idea for nonprofits is to work your content around current events, news and calendar events that are related to your nonprofit.
7. Create an influencer strategy. Influencers will help you extend the reach of your brand. Research a list of influencers that make sense for you. Follow their social media accounts. Research who they follow because influencers typically follow influencers. If they have a blog, subscribe to it and make comments. Listen to them, help and engage with them, develop relationships with them, and then ask them for help. If you are not too sure where to start, check into the above lists of blogs, check out influencer sites such as Kred or FollowerWonk, or do a good old-fashioned Google search for nonprofit influencers.
Implementing these nonprofit marketing gems will help your marketing star shine brightly for 2014.
This post originally appeared in Business 2 Community.