This is Part 2 of a three-part series of blog posts on proven practices for social media for nonprofits. Click here to read Part 1, on generating revenue through social media channels.
The nonprofit industry might be abuzz about social media, but smart marketers know that social media alone isn’t enough to build the kind of long-lasting relationship that turns casual interest into engaged supporters. Hence the various tactics used to obtain email addresses from followers, fans, etc. in order to enable better targeted and personalized communications and supporter experiences.
File building via social media should be a strategic, planned exercise. Before we get into some proven practices on building your file via social media, here are a few basic building blocks to ensure that once you get those names, your outreach is appropriate and relevant based on the engagement channel. Planning for these activities before you begin any list building is a must. It’s not enough just to “get names” — you must have a plan in place and develop collateral for how you will communicate with and keep your new constituents after you have acquired them. Otherwise a lot of your file-building effort will be for naught.
- Segment and track performance separately for names acquired from a social media source — whether Facebook, Pinterest or another platform.
- Understand WHY people engage on these platforms and what kind of content/interaction appeals to them. Tailor subsequent communications, especially in the beginning, to mimic those channels. For example, a welcome series to folks who came from Pinterest might be highly photo-oriented, refer to Pinterest and what’s new on your organization’s Pinterest page, point to interesting pins, direct folks to photo-rich content on your own site (a program album for example) and, ultimately, encourage some initial form of engagement with your organization that is relevant to their channel, such as adding a photo to your album.
- Create a plan for keeping these folks. Social media is just that — social. Direct targeting takes away some of the public social aspect, so consider carefully how to target your message to this audience on a long-term basis and continue to provide more social engagement opportunities than you might otherwise. Make sure that any actions these supporters are asked to take have easy-to-use social sharing functionality.
- Respect privacy: while supporters like to be social, many are also protective of their social networks. Asking to share is OK; tweeting all their followers without asking them? Not so much.
Below are some strategies for file building via social media. While by no means exhaustive or comprehensive of every social media platform, some of these may generate ideas for your organization on how to leverage your presence across platforms.
- Contests and giveaways. This is one of the most popular tactics organizations use, especially among for-profit businesses. While these can generate significant sign-ups, especially if your contest includes a “recruit friends” feature, it is important to keep in mind that names gathered this way come with a setback — most will sign up for the prize rather than for the mission. So follow-up messaging must be focused on introducing your organization and building mission stickiness (very parallel to disaster donors, who are motivated to give after a disaster, rather than directly by the organizations, and can be converted into mission-driven donors).
- Mission-relevant contests. Some organizations can create more mission-relevant contests and then promote them across social media to build their files, even if the contest is hosted on the organization’s own site. One example of this is an animal welfare organization running a contest for the cutest pet or best pet “smile,” etc. While participants may still not be mission-sticky, they are better prospects for conversion because they share the organization’s mission interest.
- Mission-relevant incentives. These can work in instances in which an organization promotes its program or mission via social media and offers a support incentive for sign-up — think of the pink ribbon for breast cancer or the purple one for Alzheimer’s. Embedding sign-up forms on social media when possible (some platforms, like Twitter, don’t lend themselves to this well), takes away friction from the sign-up process because users don’t have to navigate away from the platform. In one such example, Kimbia’s client Go Red For Women used a Kimbia form on its Facebook page to give away the Go Red for Women pin, a symbol of the campaign. The embedded form drove thousands of new email signs-up. This kind of approach can apply more broadly: embedded petitions, pledges and other shows of support are a great way to build your file via social media promotion.
- Photos and video. Ask our commercial side marketing brethren, and they will tell you it’s all about photos and video — hence Pinterest and Vine as today’s social media darlings. Turning those into file-building momentum is more complex. Creating a video that goes viral — such as The Rain Forrest Alliance’s “Follow the Frog,” last year’s DoGooder Video winner — is a good place to start. Consider the aspects that can make it viral: humor, impact, purpose and information. The same goes for photos and memes. Tacking on email capture should be a key part of the planning process, whether asking for email to share a video, collecting emails to receive more videos or photos, etc.
- Social gaming. While games may be hard to monetize, they can be a great way to build your file, especially with a game design that encourages friend recruitment and social sharing of accomplishments. Social games can increase your organization’s reach exponentially; one Kimbia client saw a 200% sign-up rate compared to the initial targeted audience for a social game. As with other outreach, it is important to design the gaming experience to create a relevant relationship with your newcomers. Whether it’s a post-game welcome series or in-game mission development, keep in mind that gamers, especially ones recruited by friends, may have a connection to the game or their friend rather than your organization, and it’s your job to create that connection.
- Email tied to social media. “If I already have their email, then what’s the point?” This goes to the social nature of users. Targeting email contacts to push your social media presence can result in a bigger crowd on your social media site and can result in the grandfather of all social sharing — email forwards to those who are not yet on your list. Summaries of your best content, especially to those you already know are interested, are a great way to keep the momentum going and tie channels together.
The key to seeing real ROI on your list-building effort is to plan, measure and evolve, while keeping in mind that as with other channels, the fundamental marketing truth is the same: relevant content is king. In the next post in this series, we’ll examine how to leverage social media for events.