A few months ago I took a job that required a lot of skills I did not have, so, I improvised.
Now, this sounds kind of negative, but it’s true. Overseeing communications and social media is not something I had experience with in the past, but I figured I could teach myself through the piles of resources online and by trial and error. I can safely say, it has been much harder than I assumed it would be. I didn’t go into it thinking just anyone could become a marketer, but I did go into it a lot less prepared than I should have. I had good intentions of taking online courses and reading through a lot of “how-to” guides before my start date, but those kind of got pushed to the side when I started watching Scandal (for that I blame my friend Danielle).
It is not that I don’t “get” social media…
I know that people respond better to pictures over text, that it should be a conversation not a monologue, that it is important to take the time to make photos the right sizes for different social media platforms. I understand how to use Constant Contact and make newsletters, how to post a picture on Instagram, how to write press releases and create flyers. I get that it’s important to be quick to respond to any comments/retweets, and that I should be telling a story.
It’s the execution that’s hard.
What do people want to hear? What is going to make people stop to Like/Share/Tweet my post instead of continuing to scroll? Why does my story matter? Well, I haven’t figure it out yet.
There is good and bad of working in marketing in the nonprofit sector. On the one hand, it is much easier to tell a story because you are cause-focused. There is a need you are trying to fill and people can relate to that. On the other hand, it is so hard to sell and recruit for a non-tangible product or something that doesn’t instantly gratify the customer.
It might seems common sense to some people, but here are 3 small tid bits of what I have learned so far in selling your nonprofit on social media. It’s not necessarily rocket science, they are just things you don’t think of until you have to do it, and it takes time to learn how to do it right.
- People like numbers (at least when it comes to nonprofits). When I post something that shows quantifiable measures of what we accomplished or a donation we received, it has much higher engagement. It’s about outcomes and specifics.
- People like compliments. Things that make people feel good about themselves, their profession, or something they did for you, goes a long way. I use #gratitudetuesday to highlight a volunteer, a donor or a company that is a close sponsor. I give shout outs to teachers (our main stakeholder) to let them know just how great we think they are.
- People like pictures. Don’t waste time with words because you already used 1,000 in 1 picture (hah!). Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what the picture is, it could be a picture that tugs on the heart strings or it could be a GIF of Will Ferrell doing something ridiculous, pictures work. It appeals to a different sense of emotion than words do.
I am still trying to figure it all out. Story telling isn’t easy, and it’s even harder when you only have a small amount of time to dedicate to it because it’s not your only job, as I know is a common struggle in the nonprofit sector. Marketing is something that takes practice and heavily relies on analytics to really see what your stakeholders want and are engaging in. If you don’t know anything about using Google Analytics and Facebook insights, you better get to it.
I have always been a very organized and well-planned out individual, but I have learned the importance of that even moreso over the last few months. You have to plan! Creating content day by day is not only a waste of time, it is also very ineffective. If you are really going to do it well, you need strategy.
Here are some resources I’ve found, hopefully they are helpful to you.
- The Art of Listening
- Twitter Guidebook
- Social Media Strategies for Amplifying Social Justice Issues
- Center for Nonprofit Excellence
- Boost your nonprofit marketing impact with Google Analytics
- Nonprofit website analytics: measure what matters
- Instagram fundraising made easy
Social media and marketing, just like anything else, takes time to learn and get good at. My goal is to spend the next few months really focusing on how to improve engagement with our stakeholders, and really connect with the community. You should do the same.