by Jeff Tippett and Kristen Baughman
For most businesses, a presence on social media is a necessity–it’s no longer an option. But as someone responsible for a business, you have to make sure the allocated resources provide a solid return on investment. So what are you going to do about it? Here are five suggestions to start improving your social media today:
Establish your expectations.
What are your expectations from social media? Are you looking for brand awareness? To drive sales? To put people in seats? What are your expectations or goals for social media? Once you know your expectations, you determine if they are realistic. For example, let’s say you need to put 25 people in seats at your restaurant tonight. So you take a picture of your featured menu item and post to Instagram. If you only have 100 Insta followers, the chances are very slim that you will meet your goal. Make sure you have clear, attainable expectations for your social.
Find alignment with your other communications channels.
Although social media operating in a silo can work, it isn’t optimal. So, start by asking how it aligns with your business goals. Next, look for ways to integrate with your other communications platforms like your marketing, public relations, events, etc. You’ll find social explode as you integrate and make it part of your mix.
Are you talking, listening, or engaging?
All three! All social media–regardless of platform–has three components: audience, content, engagement. These three are like a tripod: you need all three and at all times. But let’s focus on engagement. How do you get people into the conversation? Try techniques like tagging key influencers, asking questions in your posts, prompting people to respond, etc. Don’t forget that social media is social; you have to create content that makes them want to engage.
For instance, if you’re a restaurant creating a special dish feature, use an engaging photo and tag the farmer and other producers you’ll be featuring in your social media post. It doesn’t hurt to spread the love! Plus, the farmer may share your food photo resulting in even more social media engagement. Check out this Instagram repost example for Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork. This farmer reposted a chef who is using their pork for an upcoming dish special.
Face it–there’s a lot of content out there. In fact, there are apps to filter the noise. You have to bring value to your audience. Can you make yourself the self-proclaimed authority? Become the go-to person? Constantly ask yourself why should people be listening to you. Is that reflected in your content? If you are bringing value, people will engage.
Here’s an example from Nello’s, a North Carolina company offering a variety of Italian sauces. The owner Neal is photographed with Whole Foods’ CEO, which gives the brand authority. Plus, Nello’s puts a call to action out by asking followers to take and post a #SauceSelfie, and in turn, Nello’s will donate a jar of sauce to their local Food Bank.
Let’s be honest–most posts are boring. And no one cares about boring posts. You need to spice things up a bit–while staying true to your brand. Look for ways to speak in an interesting manner (maybe even shock), post eye awakening stats, staggering graphs, etc. People won’t engage and they definitely won’t share if you don’t stand out.
Check out this example from No Kid Hungry, which promotes a new advocacy program for schools to start providing free breakfast to students who are hungry. The Facebook post starts out with alarming information and shares a video with more eye awakening stats. Over 2.6K views and 46 shares later, No Kid Hungry did an excellent job promoting their new advocacy program.
Just because your social media sucks, doesn’t mean you can’t change it starting today. Start with these five tips. Test to see what works. And don’t give up. You social media can be a powerhouse to help you accomplish your goals!
About Kristen Baughman
Kristen Baughman is the founder of Tabletop Media Group, a boutique media agency based in Raleigh and serving clients in the food, beverage and agriculture industries. Her company offers consulting services in the fields of social media, graphic design, illustration, special events, public relations, website design and videography. In her free time, you can find her relaxing outside with her dog Cheerwine, watching the Wolfpack, or at one of the many Triangle breweries sipping on a North Carolina beer.
What if I told you lacking financial resources is not your problem? Your problem is resourcefulness. Most associations and organizations have more dreams than cash in the bank. Whether working with associations, non-profits, or even speaking during seminars that I lead, I often hear worthwhile goals. These visionaries know where they want to go to find success, but often view financial resources as a roadblock. What if they didn’t have to be? How do you find the financial resources you need to accomplish your goals? To answer this question, I turned to a top fundraiser, Clarenda Stanley-Anderson, to seek some input. I had five burning questions, and I knew she could answer them. Take a look:
If an organization is considering an initiative that requires funding, how does that company identify a professional fundraiser?
The first place to start is within your networks. Put the word out among your circles, Professional fundraisers with proven track records are often hired through referrals. Another place you would look is organizations with similar initiatives and missions. Who is already fundraising in this space and doing it well? The average period a fundraiser is with an organization is two years. This is largely in due to the fact that other opportunities present themselves. This doesn’t mean that you woo the other organization’s top fundraiser away, but instead look at the junior, up and coming talent.
Also, do not overlook in-house talent. Do you have a program manager that has taken the initiative to secure resources in the absence of a development officer? Is there someone on staff with transferable skills? Of course, using contract fundraisers is always an option. You will get a seasoned fundraiser well-versed in best practices. The cons are that the contract fundraiser will not have institutional history, the fundraiser will be limited in the relationships they are able to build with donors, and a contract fundraiser can cost considerably more. Contract fundraisers may be more practical for special events, grant-writing, or providing training to current staff and board members.
In all fields there are those that ‘get the job done’ and those that just merely coast along. How does an organization find a ‘get the job done’ fundraiser?
It is important that the fundraiser has demonstrated results in applicable experience. It is easy to be impressed when someone has raised $10 million, but what if they raised that through grants and the organization is looking for someone to raise major gifts? Also, the organization should find out if the fundraiser is a self-starting, entrepreneurial thinker. A simple conversation asking the right questions will give you clues to this person’s drive and passion. Are they able to make decisions independently? Come up with creative solutions to problems?
Passion fuels action. Make sure that you are hiring a proven fundraiser who is genuinely passionate about the organization’s mission. That is key in order to build authentic relationships with donors and colleagues.
I must mention that organizational leadership has to understand the role of the fundraiser. An effective fundraiser will yield results – not miracles. The organization’s executive leadership and board have to understand their roles in the fundraising process. Many times, they will be the ones to make the ask. A strong fundraiser will ensure that the leadership is prepared for this role and that the ask is made at the appropriate time.
What are three questions an organization should ask when interviewing a fundraiser?
What gift are you most proud of and why?
Give an example of an ethical dilemma you faced with a donor or prospect and how you handled it?
How do you see yourself advancing our mission and why?
You obviously have a stellar track record raising money for groups. Give me three things that you attribute to your success.
I only raise money for causes that align with my philanthropic core. There are organizations who are able to pay more or offer better benefits, but if you make that the determining factors, you will soon burn out. I also recognize that fundraising is an ever evolving profession so I am committed to being a lifelong student to ensure that I stay abreast of current trends and best practices. Lastly, I am a firm believer in self-care. I take vacations, surround myself with positive, affirmative people and am active in hobbies and passions that allow me to unplug from my professional life.
What advice do you have for organizations that have dreams and goals but lack the funds to make things happen? What could they do right now to move the ball just a little down the road?
There are a ton of free resources out there to help an organization get started. A couple of my favorites are the Association for Fundraising Professionals (most local chapters have member scholarships) and the National Council of Nonprofits. Both have a wealth of free tools and resources on fundraising.
Do your research and compile a list of questions. Then, ask a fundraiser for 30 minutes of their time to answer a few questions. We are some of the most generous people around! Community foundations are a great place to find fundraisers who are eager to help. Rely on your volunteers – those people who proved they are committed to advancing your mission. Employ them to assist in fundraising.
Lastly, look at various grants for capacity building. Foundations are recognizing the importance of a fundraiser to an organization’s sustainability and are funding initiatives to help organizations create a development office.
Clarenda has offered five nuggets of knowledge that could take your fundraising to the next level. But remember: Resources are rarely the stumbling block. Resourcefulness is. So, dream with me just a little. What good could your organization do if money were no longer an obstacle? What type of campaigns could you launch? How could you create change for your members? Let’s be resourceful and make things happen in 2017!
About Clarenda Stanley-Anderson
Selected as the 2016 Outstanding Fundraising Professional by the Association for Fundraising Professionals Triangle Chapter, Clarenda is a generalist who has earned the coveted Certified Fund Raising Expert (CFRE) designation. With more than $51M raised in her decade-plus career, she specializes in individual giving and major gifts. She currently serves as Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Shaw University where she spearheaded the University’s 70% increase in private philanthropy last year. She can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
By Jeff Tippett
Imagine hundreds or even thousands of people helping you push policy changes—or stopping changes. Do you realize how much more effective you could be with them helping you? Well, people will help, but you have to find them and motivate them. To do this, online petitions could be one of your best tools, but do you
know how to effectively use them?
Every successful online petition has two major components: persuasive
messaging and tons of participants. In my next post, I’ll discuss ways to
market your petition and integrate it into your other communications
channels. For now, let’s focus on persuasive, effective messaging. This messaging takes strategy, skill, and careful planning. How do you message for success?
- Keep your message simple. You only have seconds.
Policy issues are almost never simple.To the contrary, they are extremely complex, but this complexity can bog down your participants, seem overwhelming, and reduce participation. So, boil down your message to something extremely simple. Say it in two to three sentences.
- Evoke emotions in your messaging. Especially anger.
When people care, they get involved. All emotions are not equal. As much as we may not like it, anger and hate can motivate and actuate participants.
- Take something from them. No one likes their toys taken away.
While prospect theory (what someone can gain) is sometimes the only option, look for ways to craft your messaging around what is being taken from participants. This is called loss aversion. You are more likely to get garner passionate participants if you stress what they are losing.
- Speak to people’s self-interest. They care about themselves the most.
People really don’t care about your cause; they care about themselves. While I would love to believe we are motivated by the general good for all people, the truth is most people are motivated for their own self interest. So, ask yourself how your cause affects them. Make sure you message in a way that motivates them—personally.
- Craft a strong CTA. That means call to action.
What do you want people to do? Why should they do it? When should they do it?
I generally advocate for a single call to action. If there are multiple actions you want, consider incremental steps. For example, if you want them to sign your petition and follow on social media, consider only asking them to sign the petition. Once participants have signed, follow up with prompts to follow on social media. People easily get confused and drop when it’s not clear what they should do–or if you are asking them to do too many things at once. Again, keep in mind you only have seconds.
- Tell participants how much time you require. And it should be 60 seconds or less.
While you may capture participants’ attention, motivate them through solid messaging—they are still weighing out how much time it will take to participate. Everyone is busy, and we’ve all responded to a call to action only to get bogged down and quit. Once you get participants this far in the cycle, don’t lose them. Give them a clue like: “Sign this petition in less than 60 seconds.” If you’ve crafted compelling messaging, they will likely give you 60 seconds.
The success or failure of your online petition largely depends on your messaging. Your messaging will make—or break your campaign. So, keep these six tips in mind. And reach out for help if you need guidance or get stuck. And let’s build a large group of passionate people to help you affect the change you want!
Watch the video here.