Does Your Database Have Personality?
(The following is based on Robyn Fern Perlman's 1:15 p.m. session, "Turning Data into Dollars ... The Engagement Link" at the AFP TechKnow Conference going on today and tomorrow in Orlando, Fla.)
Yes, new fundraising technology accumulates personal data. But it also sorts the data at extraordinary speed, allowing us to integrate key information and send it out through powerful social networks quickly, seamlessly and consistently.
This is exciting but in many instances disappointing because we don't get the results we think we should. So although we may push information out, are we creating the kinds of engagement that generates online conversations triggering actions resulting in donations and committed long-term donors? Does our social-media strategy reflect an understanding of behaviors and motivations representative of those we are seeking to engage?
If not, perhaps we should consider a tactic widely used in the ad agency community and now in the development of social-media strategies to understand consumer-response patterns: creating personas from our database. Personas are fictitious consumers. We create them when we segment our data in a way that gives it personality. By understanding the personalities that emerge from our database, we may construct and direct messages that take into consideration consumer preferences regarding how they receive information and the kinds of information they will act on.
Nonprofits can create personas in order to determine what to say, how to say it and what social-media networks will connect this information to the people that care about what we say. The outcome is to have our stakeholders not only engage with us but also tell their stories about their relationships with us to their own networks of friends.
When we use technology to let our stakeholders share who we are — through their eyes — to their peers, we can connect to huge new audiences. When we engage the persona of a designated group by creating more conversation, we extend our circle of influence. This is using content-management systems and constituent-relationship management software to drive social media the way it was intended.