Using 4 Online Tools to Inspire Volunteers and Donors, Part 2
[Editor's note: This is part 2 of a three-part series on the session, "Get Heard: Using Online Tools to Inspire Volunteers and Donors," by Erik Mintz, director of event marketing at Constant Contact, held at the Nonprofit Technology Conference. Click here for part 1.]
"Social-media marketing is a business tool if you do it right," Mintz said. "It's about people marketing on your behalf."
Marketing on social media lets you purposefully tap in to the conversations happening online to promote your organization, engage with your constituents and drive word-of-mouth. But don't forget, Mintz said, that social media is just technology; social-media marketing is the process of using that technology to connect with friends and build meaningful relationships.
The ultimate goal is to get the people that matter to your organization — donors, influencers, activists — to connect, engage and share your message with their networks of friends. It's word-of-mouth marketing on steroids, given the enormous reach of social media. Social-media marketing is a business development activity, and if done thoughtfully, your fans take on the responsibility of marketing on your behalf.
"From a marketing perspective, it's about listening first, and then marketing," Mintz said.
Before you begin using social media organizationally, however, you need to know what you are trying to accomplish. Here are some goals Mintz shared that social-media marketing can help you achieve:
- Increase brand awareness by informing donors and prospects about who you are and what you can do for them.
- Provide great customer service by listening and responding to what your donors/supporters are saying to you and about you.
- Drive donations by providing compelling offers that inspire people to participate and share with their friends to generate new supporters.
- Improve customer retention by developing relationships so people will know, like and trust you.
Mintz then discussed the three major social networks that every organization should utilize in one form or another: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Who is on it? More than 500 million people, and most likely many of your donors and prospects. Facebook's user profile cuts across ages, races and locations, making it the best known and most used social network in the world.
- What do people do there? Facebook makes it easy for people to share news about their lives, photos, interesting articles and mindless games with their friends.
- Why should you care? The sheer volume of Facebook usage makes it important, but more importantly, people do more than connect with friends. They connect with businesses and nonprofits, sharing the news, deals and interesting content they get from each other and from organizations they connect with.
- Who is on it? Twitter is ranked as one of the 10 most visited websites and enables anyone to share and consume information they find interesting.
- What do people do there? Twitter users post news, articles, promotions and jokes all in 140-character chunks. By "following" someone on Twitter, you can see all of their posts and easily share them with the people who "follow" you. For many, Twitter is a great source of real-time news and insights about the things that matter most to them.
- Why should you care? Twitter gives brands a voice and is another fast and easy way to share your messages and get feedback from your donors and prospects in real time. And because it's so easy for messages to spread quickly, Twitter can bring your message to new audiences that you might not be able to find through traditional marketing.
- Who is on it? LinkedIn is the most widely used social network for connecting people professionally (based on business profiles, not personal lives).
- What do people do there? LinkedIn users create professional connections based on their interests and experience, often participating in group discussions relating to their industry or areas of expertise. "I think your LinkedIn profile will become even more important going forward," Mintz said, as nonprofits look to connect with vendors and corporations for cause marketing.
- Why should you care? LinkedIn is a great way to create professional connections that can give you ideas and advice for running your organization and help spread the word about the value you provide your donors and beneficiaries.
The key to using these social networks to successfully market is making them true two-way conversation portals. Organizations are not in control of the message anymore — they are part of a conversation. They must listen and interact with these spaces in a way that engages and incorporates the audience. The messages must be relevant and personal, so real connections are made. That way, donors and supporters become raving fans. Then in turn, they become advocates of your organization, spreading your message and the great work that you do to their networks on their own, thus marketing on your behalf.
But, Mintz cautioned, "there is no magic bullet. I don't believe you're best trying to survive on social media alone. It must be integrated with all the other communications that you do.
"Social media is really a return to very traditional values," he added. "Tapping in to conversations to drive word-of-mouth marketing. You should be building fans, followers, connections. That should be the fulcrum of your social-media strategy. It's not about financial success; it's about social success."
Check back next week for the third and final part of this three-part series.