What do you want to accomplish? What resources you have available to you? What is your experience and understanding digital marketing and social media?
The answers to these questions can help you understand exactly what level of social media help would enable you to reach your business goals in the most efficient and effective way.
For more about what you can expect from social media and how to decide what help you need, read my post on Linkedin, What Kind of Social Media Help Do You Need?
Did you know that 72% of all charitable contributions are made by individuals? That eclipses foundations (15%), bequests at (8%), and corporations (5%) by a large margin. In addition, 88% of dollars raised comes from 12% of an organization’s donors and that nearly 1/3 of all online donations are a result of peer-to-peer fundraising. (source: nptechforgood)
Now: Imagine if you could get enough existing individual donors to influence their peers to also become donors. That would be a pretty powerful thing, right? But that can only happen by creating and sharing stories that can be passed along.
People Prefer Stories to Stats
Statistics are a great way to inform people about an issue or a solution. They speak to the mind. We become more knowledgeable. We may share that knowledge with others making more people knowledgeable. That’s great. But if you want people to act and to be moved, you need to appeal to their emotions, and you do that with stories.
My first nonprofit client was the Atlanta Children’s Shelter. I received an invitation from them in the mail – you know, that box that the USPS puts a bunch of unwanted letters and flyers in that we all throw away without looking at? That’s what I did with their invitation; I threw it away.
It was only when I checked my email and read a message from a friend telling me to look out for an invitation from the shelter that I dug it out of the garbage, wiped the spaghetti sauce off, and realized that I’d been invited by a friend to attend a fundraising breakfast for the shelter. My friend was a table captain in charge of inviting people to sit with her at her table of 10. Not only did I want to support my friend, I also suspected I would be interested in meeting the other people at her table, so I RSVP’d.
The event was lovely. I learned about what the shelter did and about the needs of homeless moms. It was educational. I was happy that I attended. And then it happened.
A beautiful woman who I spoke with when we were mingling before the event took the stage. Earlier, she told me she was a little nervous, and I assured her she would do great because of how articulate she was. As she ascended the stage, poised and graceful, she began to unfurl an awesome (in the old-fashioned sense of the word – full of awe) story: She had been a client of the Atlanta Children’s Shelter. She had been homeless. This radiant, intelligent woman was on the streets with her child. She did not represent what I had always assumed what homelessness looked like, yet there she was, telling her story.
I was hooked. I was ready to get involved. I was going to make some calls and see how I could help. But helping by pulling out my checkbook at that exact moment was not what I was thinking. The deal was still not closed. Not until I learned from the next speaker that their operating budget was a little higher than other shelters because their pre-school was NAEYC accredited.
I was a mom of two young boys and I knew the high standards of a NAEYC accredited preschool. I had removed my own children from pre-schools who chose not to renew their accreditation because of the cost of NAEYC. It was expensive, but I knew it was worth it. Here was a preschool for homeless children ensuring that even though these kids were off to a rough start, they were going to have a quality education. The moment I heard this my checkbook was out and I was writing the biggest check I could afford.
There are a number of lessons in my personal story. One is that direct mail is equivalent to throwing dollars in the trash.
- 5.6 million tons of catalogs and other direct mail advertisements end up in US landfills annually.
- 44% of junk mail is thrown away unopened, but only half that much junk mail (22%) is recycled.
- The average American household receives 848 pieces of junk mail per household, equal to 1.5 trees every year—more than 100 million trees for all U.S. households combined.
- Junk mail destroys 100 million trees a year—the equivalent of deforesting all of Rocky Mountain National Park every four months.
- Largely due to deforestation, junk mail manufacturing creates as much greenhouse gas emissions annually as 3.7 million cars.
- Americans pay 370 million annually to dispose of junk mail that does not get recycled.
Also, people respond to their peers and stories move people. But one of the more important lessons is you need to know what stories will move people. For me, it was her story plus the NAEYC accreditation that did it. However, once I started working with ACS I learned that most people did not put the latter issue high on their value list. Everyone has a different trigger.
Know Your Audience’s Hot Button Issues
People will donate based on what their values are. Nonprofits seeking donations can be one of the most competitive industries out there. The resources (money) that people are willing to give is limited and if they choose to donate those dollars to cure cancer, then they won’t have that money available for homeless children or premature babies. Individually, we can’t save the entire world, so we have to focus on giving according to what we value most.
Why do people give? Here are 7 main reasons:
- They feel like they are part of the community and it is their responsibility to contribute to the good of their community.
- Their religious convictions motivate them to contribute to the greater good.
- The see charitable giving as good for business either for tax breaks or PR opportunities.
- They get involved for the networking opportunities (remember why I initially went to the fundraising breakfast)
- They feel a moral obligation to “do the right thing.”
- They have been recipients of a nonprofit’s service.
- They were raised to share their wealth.
Your stories need to appeal to at least one of these motivations and it needs to do so in an emotional way.
Structuring Your Story
Stories do not have to be long. Consider the challenge to tell a story in six words or less which led to “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”
A single image can tell a story. For example:
Meals on Wheels
The key to a good story is that you get your audience involved with the main character. You show them the challenges they are facing and provide the opportunity for your audience to make a difference.
Telling your story through digital platforms today provides many more opportunities to build relationships with your donors based on what they care about. Through retargeted ads you can show
specific ads for stories that are already resonating with them.
Every social network is investing heavily in video which is a more dynamic way to share your stories.
Most importantly, stories shared online and through social ads allow your audience to get engaged through comments and by sharing them with their peers.
Remember that 1/3 of all online donations are a result of peer-to-peer fundraising.
That is a big deal.
Many nonprofits feel the need to post content daily on social media, which yes, you should post daily. But be careful to not post content just to mark it off your to-do list. There are nonprofits that I have supported, that I have been passionate about, but that I had to simply unfollow their social sites because when I saw the updates my attitude was “so what!” or “that again?” Be mindful that your content is constantly compelling by being passionate about the story you are telling as opposed to feeling compelled to post an update.
When you tell your stories, make sure you lead your audience to a call-to-action that is appropriate and seamless. Maybe you’re focused on increasing awareness about your mission and therefore your call-to-action is for your audience to spread the word. Maybe you need your audience to get involved and write to their representatives. Maybe you need volunteers.
Your call-to-action does not always need to be and should not always be about giving money. Give people other opportunities to get involved and the money will come.
Make sure your audience does not need to jump through weird hoops to respond to your story. They should be able to email with a click, not have to copy and paste or write down an email address. They should be able to donate through a site like Paypal, where they do not even have to pull out their wallet. Make sure volunteer opportunities are specific and signup is easy.
As a nonprofit, you are on a mission to make the world a better place. That mission is driven by the stories of the people you serve. Their stories drive the passion of the people who work in the nonprofit every day. Share those stories with that passion and your donors will work for you.
Destinations all around the world invest millions of dollars in attracting visitors each year. You see commercials with celebrities inviting you to California, or families enjoying the beaches of Florida while most of the country is waiting for the next winter storm. Attracting conventions and visitors to your city means more economic growth, not just in tax revenue, but in increased revenue for local businesses including hotels, restaurants, attractions, and so forth.
Over the years, as more people spend the majority of their time with digital media and travel planners have begun to conduct all of their research online, destination marketers have moved their marketing messages to optimized websites, blogs, and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. But is simply moving your content from one media platform to another the best approach? Of course not.
When new platforms are introduced, marketers need to be quick to seize new opportunities. Consider when radio, once the major media platform, was usurped by televisions in people’s homes. Did communicators simply switch their message from one platform to the next without looking at the new opportunities that they could explore in the new medium? No.
Now that people are carrying around the entire interactive world wide web in their pocket, marketers need to rethink not just how they will communicate but what they can communicate and how their communication can impact the experience of their audience. Based on Google’s recent algorithm updates, we also know that the more useful and timely your content, the more your content will show up in search results.
Studies show the 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know and 70% trust opinions posts online. Therefore, the best way to market your destination is through word of mouth. The best word of mouth comes from people who have had an amazing experience. The best way to help your visitors have an amazing experience is to empower them to feel at home in your home – to be able to experience your city like a local. Here are 4 ways to refocus your content from marketing to attract visitors to empowering your visitors.
I can guarantee that you have people in your city who are quite knowledgeable about the best places to visit and they love to share their in-depth knowledge with friends and strangers alike. In The Tipping Point, journalist Malcolm Gladwell referred to such people as “Mavens.”
What makes leveraging the content of such Mavens so powerful in your marketing mix is that your audience will recognize the passion they have when sharing information and the authenticity of their advice. Their words are based on beliefs and experiences as opposed to a marketing message that is trying to sell something.
Many of these Mavens have already leveraged digital media sites to share their stories and have already built a significant audience. By working with your local Mavens not only do you get to share great their stories with your audience but you also get to tap into their audience.
What is common knowledge to locals is often completely foreign to visitors? On my first visit to NYC, I did not understand that “No Standing” signs were no parking signs and I spend my first night in the city getting my car out of the impound. This is not a good experience. I am a local in Atlanta and fortunately know when to ignore my GPS when it tries to get me to turn down a one-way street, an unfortunate GPS glitch that will get locals in some serious trouble. On a recent visit to New Orleans my son spent 5X surge rate on an Uber because he did not know how to catch a taxi or navigate through the transit system.
By creating an arsenal of insider insight guides that can be linked to within relevant content on your site, share within a library, and promote on social networks, you can empower your visitors to become “mini citizens” of your city for a few days or weeks.
Visitors need to know breaking news happening in the city that is specifically related to their experience. The local news that is covering who was murdered and what store was robbed is not where your visitors need to be tuning in. Instead, they need a news outlet that tells them the weather information and what some alternate plans that they can make if the weather has interrupted their day. They need to know what shows are playing or games that are going on where they can still get tickets. They need to know what streets or highways to avoid during certain hours and alternative ways to get around the city.
When you switch your marketing from just trying to showcase all that your city has to offer to providing insights on how to experience your city, not only does your marketing become more useful, but it will develop into a rich story about the many characters that make your city great.
Need help getting started empowering your visitors with these tips? Contact me.