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How to Promote Advocacy through Social Media

If you are looking to increase both donations and engagement in your cause, social media is a valuable tool that shouldn’t be overlooked. For many associations and nonprofits, print campaigns provide the bread and butter of their communication with supporters, and the majority of donations still come from direct mail channels.  As such, it might not be easy to include social media as part of your campaigns. However, with statistics from The Chronicle of Philanthropy showing an impressive increase in online donations, it’s clear that connecting with supporters online is more important than ever before.

The Importance of Social Media for Nonprofits

Social media provides a versatile and immediate channel for nonprofits to connect with their target audience. A successful fundraising campaign is based around an emotional connection with supporters, engaging them in the cause and motivating them to take action. Social media can be used to spread the word about a cause and inspire action.

Social media’s immediacy is a boon for nonprofits. Social media can be used to keep supporters up to date on measurable goals, fostering a sense of involvement with a campaign. Nonprofits can also post updates on their activities, answer questions, and raise awareness through social networks.

Social Media and Print Channels in Tandem

A well-written print campaign is a must, but many print campaigns don’t link directly with social media. By including links to social media profiles in a print campaign, you are encouraging supporters to connect in a variety of different ways, especially considering the growth in online giving.

Of course, the social media profiles in question need to be well thought out and active if they are to play a role in increasing donations for a nonprofit. In addition, a smart print and social media campaign will come with a built in plan for measuring its success. Clear metrics that show which channels are most active or most profitable will mean measurable feedback, and the chance to streamline the next campaign to build on the strengths of its predecessor.

Presenting a Unified Message and Clear Call to Action

One of the keys to running a successful campaign using print and social media together is to make sure your message is unified across all channels. From the layout of a mail shot to the overall look of a Twitter profile, it’s vital that all channels present a strong, unified message. A nonprofit is a brand as surely as any for-profit company, and that should be reflected in the consistent use of visual elements such as logos and typeface, and less tangible elements such as tone of voice.

One of the strengths of a print campaign is that it usually includes a clear call to action, leaving supporters in no doubt as to what to do next. When incorporating social media, it’s important to avoid the temptation to talk around the subject with no clear call to action. The call to action can be a donation, of course, but it can also be liking or sharing a status, signing a petition, or inviting a friend. One of the strengths of social media for nonprofits is the potential range of calls to action, which can increase supporter interaction with a campaign.

While print media is likely to remain a mainstay of fund and awareness-raising for nonprofits, social media has a valuable role to play. By utilizing the strengths of both channels, nonprofits can create a well-rounded campaign that meets supporters where they are and engages them in the cause at hand.

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6 Reasons to Focus on Social Media as an Important Marketing Tool

Social media is an extremely beneficial outlet for your association, and you should begin taking it seriously now. Don’t believe me? Here are six reasons why you should:

1. You Don’t Have to Throw Money at a Facebook Page

If your advertising budget is low, then the best way to get your association in front of prospects is through social media. The cost of social media (outside of paid advertisements) is relatively inexpensive; the only costs being the time and money you must pay an employee to manage it. A study by Hootsuite concluded that organizations are drastically altering their marketing efforts towards social media. They also found marketing departments are now hiring based on social media ability. Effective use of social media allows you to lower your marketing costs, while increasing traffic to your website and ultimately growing membership.

2. Climb to the Top of Keyword Searches with Each Post You Make

KeywordAs you become more active on social media, your website will rank higher in searches. By posting valuable content on social media and linking it to your website, you can help improve your search engine optimization. Search engines now factor in more than just how many times a keyword is in your content. Often websites are selected by not only their keywords, but their presence and activity on social media as well. In a list of SEO tips for 2015, Hitsearch said, “It’s not just about making a lot of keyword relevant ‘stuff’; it’s about producing something that is useful to the customer or client.” A strong social media base will help your association show up in front of competitors during a keyword search, which will bring more leads and potentially more members your way.

3. Legitimize Your Association with Content You Stand Behind

Every post your organization makes on social media is a chance to reinforce your association’s identity. Making your content available on multiple social media platforms makes you a more familiar and recognizable association for members. Huffington Post stated that defining your identity is imperative for any organization to be successful. Also, having these different channels where your content is posted makes it easier for new members to become familiar with your services. Posting relative and knowledgeable content that reinforces what your association believes in will make your organization appear as an industry leader.

4. People are Talking About Your Association, Join in the Conversation

TalkingOne of the main benefits of social media is that it allows you to join in as well as start conversations. If someone posts something positive about your association, you can easily thank them, and show them other services they may be interested in. On the other hand if a member  posts something negative about your organization, social media allows you to apologize quickly and then take the next step to make things right. Social Media Today showed us that 53% of small organizations use social media as an engagement tool for providing 2-way conversation customer support. The speed of this interaction means any bad word of mouth can be dealt with before it can severely damage your organization’s reputation.

5. Find out what Interests Your Members to Better Engage Them

Interests2As easy as it is for you to interact with a member, it is just as easy for existing and potential members to get involved and interact with your association. Through likes, favorites, retweets, and shares, members can engage with your organization and promote your content for you. This is an ideal situation for your association because if others share your posts it will help to humanize your cause. Studies conducted by Social Media Today show 80% of customers and members on social networks prefer to connect themselves to organizations through Facebook. Social media allows you to easily measure what content is getting positive feedback. This can be done by looking at the number of likes or shares a social media post has generated. This makes it easier for you to post content which stimulates conversation between members and your association.

6. Set Yourself Apart from Your Competitors

The final reason why social media marketing can be one of your strongest marketing tools is that the majority of your competitors are not doing it. On top of that, those that are using social media are not necessarily using it correctly. Having social media puts you one step ahead of all of your competitors that do not use these channels. Just by having these platforms available to your potential and current members makes your organization that much more convenient to be a part of. EMarketer reported that 24% of organizations have integrated social media in a structured way. The more places that your association can be recognized the better. That is why just using social media can set you far ahead of your competitors. According to Forbes, most organizations feel that social media marketing is a fad that will inevitably die down. This mentality will only make it harder to catch up to those associations that are embracing the changes, and utilizing not only direct marketing, but social media marketing as well. Give yourself an advantage in 2016; have your association embrace social media and all of the marketing benefits that come along with it.

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10 Ways to Interact with Your Audience Online

Are you stumped on finding ways to interact with your target audience online? No need to worry any longer. Here are plenty of different ways for you to creatively engage with your audience using social media and your association’s website.

Encourage Webinar Sign Ups
You can announce webinars on your blog, social media sites, website, or eNewsletter. Webinars are an opportunity to share your expertise with any number of people, and you are able to have them participate, ask you questions, and share their ideas during the webinar as well. Webinar programs, such as GoToMeeting.com, even allow you to record the webinar so you can post it on all channels, like your blog, for future reference.

Encourage eNewsletter Sign Ups
eNewsletters are always a great way for your audience to stay up to date with what your association is doing. It also gives organizations the opportunity to show a more personable side to their audience. Some ways to humanize your association with eNewsletters are by integrating YouTube videos of members or employees discussing a particular subject, blog posts, and sharing pictures of events the association participated in.

Event and Seminar Invitations
Events and seminars can create an opportunity to see which of your social media channels work the best. If you advertise the event on all channels with a link that directs them to the event’s registration page, create a survey question to see which tactic actually led them to the event. It will give insight of where and how much traffic flow is occurring.

eBook and White Paper Downloads
Sharing information and industry expertise are two big trends in social media and are great ways to promote your association to your members and audience. If you announce to your online audience that these materials are available online, they will be able to learn more about you and you will be able to easily pass along information to members. Try to set up a landing page to download the item for free as well. Having them enter their email address and answer two or three survey questions before downloading the content gives you the chance to gain more information.

Create a Contest
You can incorporate this into your eNewsletter, blog, social media sites, events – essentially anything. Have your audience enter the contest by submitting their email address and answering a few survey questions. This information will give you material to see if any of the participants could be prospective members. You can also create a thank you email to send to all of the participants in order to encourage future interactions with them.

Create a Poll
Polls are a fantastic way to learn more information about who is following you online. They are quick, easy, and efficient for both you and the participant. You can have the poll focus on any type of subject matter that is beneficial for you to learn more about prospective and current members. Display a poll on your website, eNewsletter, and social sites!

Make a Video
Creating videos is so easy with the help of flip cameras, digital cameras, mobile phones, etc. They only have to be 30 seconds to two minutes long in order for it to send a valuable message to your audience. You have the opportunity to do so much with videos. Some ideas are announcing a contest winner, wishing your audience happy holidays, live footage of events, interviews with members, or association announcements. Let your audience see the personable side of you and give your team and members the opportunity to participate with your marketing efforts. Integrate the videos on your website, eNewsletter, and your social media sites.

Organize Testimonial Interviews
Having your testimonials in video-form would bring new life to your testimonial page on your website. Your audience would be able to see current members, how they talk about your association, and it would be much easier for them to explain their experience with your association in person. Written text can only capture so much, but videos have the capability to show how happy a member is with your association. Posting videos is possible on all social media sites and you can monitor how many views and comments each one receives.

Create a Blog
Blogs can be used as your weekly eNewsletter. It is easy to keep them updated frequently (bi-weekly or monthly), and you can blog about almost anything. Integrating videos, announcements, poll results, experiences at events, or subject matter are all fantastic topics to discuss in a blog. Your audience is able to leave comments and share with friends, and you can easily announce news in a quick manner. Promoting new entries across all of your online channels immediately after is possible as well. Don’t be intimidated by the blog; entries can be as short or as long as you want!

Host a Twitter Chat
Twitter chats can be very useful when it comes to attracting an online audience and giving those participants a chance to engage or respond to what you are saying. Twitter makes sharing and interacting easy because of hashtags, retweets, and username handles. You can promote Twitter chats easily and see how people shared information after the chat as well.

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8 Ways to Gain More Followers on Social Media

Gaining more followers on social media is an attainable goal for any association out there. It takes dedication, but if your organization can implement these techniques across your channels, growth of followers will certainly follow.

Social media is an action-reaction forum and it’s important for associations to understand the importance of not only sharing, but also listening to your audience to see what you can improve upon so your marketing efforts benefit your current and potential members. Follow these eight tips to improve your social media marketing efforts and better grow your online presence.

    1. Follow similar organizations in the industry. It’s time to start researching! Look up other organizations in your industry and follow relevant companies, associations, employees, and other people who are joining in the conversation. By surrounding yourself with a network of organizations that value your brand and expertise, you can become an influencer among them.
    2. Post on all your channels frequently. Set a social media schedule and stick to it. Don’t let weeks pass between social posts, and try to maintain consistency. Once you set your tone on social media, your audience will get used to your posts and come to expect information from you on a regular basis. The more active you are on your channels, the more likely you are to gain followers, make connections, and build relationships. Although it’s important to post frequently and consistently, it’s important to avoid “bursts” on any of your channels. Look into scheduling your posts with a sufficient amount of time in between.
    3. Be an educational and informative resource. By offering content that is informative and useful to your audience, you’ll become known as an authority, resulting in an increase in retweets and shares. If you’re not sure what your audience is looking for in terms of content, ask them! From there, you can research their interests and provide your own opinions and advice on them. Make sure your posts are crafted in a way that entices potential followers to follow through and access what you are providing.
    4. Don’t be afraid of a little humor. A little light humor can go a long way in humanizing your association. Look for fun ways to connect your post to relevant, comedic topics when possible. Maintaining a level of professionalism is still key, but a little humor once in a while can go a long way. Memes are a big hit across all social media, so when you have some extra time on your hands, throw together a quick meme to share with your audience.
    5. Incorporate inspirational and encouraging posts. Encouraging posts motivate your audience and lead to more shares and exposure. Inspiring quotes and photos make a brand feel less commercial and get more shares. Not everything you share has to be promoting a service. Light-hearted and humanizing posts help build relationships with current followers and can help lead to new followers.
    6. Offer an exclusive. Run a contest or a promotional event through your social media pages. Not only does it encourage your audience to follow you on your various social media pages, it also helps them to better connect with your association. Whether it’s a deal only for your Twitter network, or a first look at something new in your organization, people like to feel as if they’re part of the inner circle.
    7. Respond to your audience. Reciprocation is key when looking to build and improve your social media presence. Respond to others in your network and keep up your dialogue. Many organizations think that once something is posted, that’s the end of the line. Existing and potential members often seek more information from a post. Make sure you’re monitoring sentiment to gauge audience reaction to your posts and most importantly, show your audience that you care about their concerns.
    8. Invest in the right social media marketing software. In order to truly be effective on social media and be able to calculate the ROI for your organization, you need to have an efficient social media software. Having the right software allows you to plan, schedule, execute, and measure all of your social media efforts, making it easy to see what’s working and what’s not, and how you can improve moving forward. Once you have a plan in place and a software to help you manage, you can improve interaction with your audience and better serve their needs, ultimately resulting in more active followers across all social media accounts.

There’s no question about it. Online marketing is more important than ever for your organization, and social media is certainly no exception. Finding your audience and effectively interacting with them opens up a wide range of opportunities for your organization. Start small and try implementing a few of these tips into your strategy – your organization will be sure to see positive results.

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6 Tips for Handling Member Issues on Social Media

Your social media profiles require attention. Attention beyond your marketing team posting links, updates, videos, and so on. Social media is all about engagement and interaction. But sometimes that interaction isn’t all light and goodness. You may have disgruntled members post negative comments. You may have confused prospects post misleading statements. With that being said, you need to have your team at the ready to handle issues as they crop up. Here are six ways your association can provide the best social member service possible:

  1. Clipboard with Checklist and Red PenHave a strategy. And make sure everyone on the team knows what that strategy is. There should be specific reasons for why you do things and how you do them. Having a strategy will also help you implement procedures later, as your social member service actions need to evolve.
  2. Have your procedures in writing. Have your procedures in writing. It’s easier for things to fall between the cracks if you don’t have set, written policies and procedures for your team to follow.
  3. Be timely. Social media is very fast paced and you need to keep up with that or you will seriously miss the mark. You need to have eyes on your social media platforms daily (better yet, hourly) in order to see what’s being posted or commented on so that you can respond as soon as possible.
  4. Be openly responsive. If someone posts something on your social media profile page, then address it there. You can always take it somewhere private (direct messaging, email, phone, etc.) as well, but you want to show that you are on top of things, not only to the person who posted, but to others viewing your social media profile. If you take it private without addressing things openly first, then you appear to be unresponsive to the rest of your audience.
  5. Empower your team. Empower your entire team (or the majority) to respond without having to hold hands with management every step of the way. This is easy with the proper training and having policies and procedures in place. Your team should be trained using hypothetical situations and past issues. An emphasis should be placed on how response time is crucial.
  6. Don’t always engage. Every so often a “troll” may come along just to stir things up. Your team shouldn’t be sucked into the crazy. You can either ignore a troll and delete/block the spam accounts, or just have a set answer that your team uses. In either case, you don’t want to feed the beast and continue some sort of silly “argument” with someone who is just there to cause trouble.

Your association’s main goal is to make and keep members happy, and this goal stands true for social media as well. If a problem or complaint arises with a member or prospective member on social media, take a deep breath, and remember these six tips to help make it right.

Be sure to comment here, and then share this post and tag @AssocMarketer on Twitter!

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