Breaking Down Twitter Statistics To Create Better Content For Your Non-profit

Gathering and analyzing Twitter statistics doesn’t need to be the work of a rocket scientist. It does take time, know-how and resources to complete a thorough check-up of any organization’s Twitter account, but knowing where to look is the first step to ensuring you’re going down the right road with your tweets.

You can always look at the number of followers you gained or the number of retweets you received in any given month, but those figures don’t tell the whole story.

Here are some other places to look that capture what people think about your content and how they are interacting with your organization on Twitter:

Follower Demographics

Sure, your non-profit/association’s Twitter account gained 55 followers last month, but who are they?

Breaking down your new followers into demographics allows you to figure out a couple key things: Are you reaching the right people and what audience is most interested in your content? Once you know the answers to these questions, you can adjust your content and total social media strategy to either capitalize on a growing demographic or target another group that is crucial to your operation.

For example, it might so happen that students are following your association’s account in larger numbers than veteran members. Upon realizing this, you can either start catering a larger part of your social media efforts to these youth (ex. writing blog posts about resume writing for your industry) or start adjusting your Twitter content to interest veteran members more.

Breaking down your new followers largely depends on the organization and its stakeholders. You may break them down into members, non-members, industry professionals, industry organizations, donors, sponsors, volunteers, media professionals or other more specific and relevant groups. Having a grouping for irrelevant or spam followers is also important as it helps give you a real number of followers, rather than one inflated by bogus accounts or those just reaching for higher follower numbers.

Clicks on Links

Knowing the number of times people have clicked on a link you have tweeted to an article, website, blog or other content can tell you a lot about your account’s past and future. Most importantly, this statistic can help you figure out what sort of content people are interested in and what tweet format helped that link appeal to so many users.

If one link has twice the number of clicks than another, there is very often a reason for this. Knowing this discrepancy allows you to study both tweets and see if one issue is getting more attention than another. If your followers and other Twitter users are more interested in one issue over another, it is probably a good idea to plan some more content around addressing this issue and issues that are similar.

Studying the format of a tweet that led to a much-viewed link can also be useful. What sort of voice was used? Was the tweet long or short? What sorts of hashtags were used and did it tag any other users, like the author? Did it come right out and explain what the link was about, or did it tease your audience? These are the sort of questions that be answered if you know which links are clicked more than others.

There are many free tools you can use to track clicks on links, but our favourite is Bit.ly. Bit.ly allows you to shorten links, tweet them out and track them on your account. It shows you the amount of times someone has clicked on a certain link as well as the time, country and platform used.

Most Retweeted/Favourited Post

Knowing how many retweets and favourited posts your account received last month is great, but you should go one step further and check out which tweet/tweets received the most attention.

Knowing which tweets were popular and shared most often helps you in much the same way knowing the click-on-link numbers does; it allows you to see which content is working and which content is not. It also gives you a chance to see which followers are most active, influential and interested.

For example, questions may be retweeted more than quotes, pictures may be favourited more than posts without images, blogs may be retweeted more than newspaper articles and local news may be favourited more than national news. With this information, your organization’s Twitter account can work towards promoting questions, tweets with photos, blog posts and local news. Not only do these stats help you focus your energy and time when gathering, creating and planning content, but they also allow you to generate more engagement by catering to the desires and interests of your followers.

Time Window and Day With Best Results

There is no blanket rule for the perfect time to tweet because your organization, and its community, is as unique as every other organization. However, it is important to figure out when your followers are most likely to see your content and engage with it. Are they tweeting at lunch or are they logging into their accounts and reading blog posts at night?

For example, we work with a client whose members are early risers because of the industry they work in and are thus more likely to check Twitter in the early morning (when they start work) or early afternoon (when they finish work). Having this information up your sleeve allows you to schedule your tweets to maximize the number of followers that will see the post. The more people who see the post, the more chances there are for people to engage with your organization and see value in the content it is sharing.

Figuring this stat out may take some time and effort, but it is well worth the work. It will help both your organization grow its online presence and your non-profit/association’s member access important information. Remember to include all engagement figures when calculating the best day and time to tweet, including clicks, retweets, favourites and mentions. It is also crucial to take a large sampling of your followers’ engagement patterns; looking only at a week’s worth of data will probably not represent an accurate example of how your followers use Twitter.

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Measuring Twitter statistics is an imperfect science, but by looking deeper into the numbers, it is possible to better your organization’s account and its content to appeal to its target demographic and engage them with increasingly relevant and interesting content.

4 Ways for A Non-Profit Organization to Use Social Media on its Website

An organization’s website is its online HQ. It’s where much of the non-profit magic happens.

Websites can help a charity take donations, update an association’s members on the latest news and services and give other non-profits a space to tell its community about an upcoming event.

The bottom line is that websites are important to your non-profit, as is social media. So how to you bring the two together to make the online experience better for your community? We’ve put together four suggestions for integrating social media with your organization’s website.

1. Twitter

Putting your organization’s Twitter feed on the home page of its website it a great way to keep visitors to the site up-to-date and engaged. Not only does it let your community know your non-profit is on Twitter (and make it more likely they will follow the account), but it also makes the content you tweet about more accessible to those who may not be as social media savvy. Twitter feed widgets are generally simple to install and don’t take up too much space on your website’s home page.

One tool that could help your organization drive Twitter engagement from its website is ClickToTweet. This tool allows you to write a suggested tweet for any content on your website and turns it into a clickable link on your web page. It kind of looks something like this:

Tweet: The Upwards Blog: Bringing you the latest in social media for non-profits since 2013 http://ctt.ec/99Su1+

This makes it easy for visitors for your website to share news, information, event notices or other things from your website without a hassle while allowing you to track how many times your community engaged with the link.

2. YouTube

Your website is almost like a welcome mat for visitors; you can either put out the old, dusty square of fabric or roll out the red carpet to start the experience. YouTube videos can help you make it the latter.

Making a YouTube and placing it on your home page is a great way to welcome visitors to your non-profit’s website right away. This sort of video can be as simple as a greeting from the executives/board of directors or it could explain, in a fun and visual way, what your organization is about. It may also be helpful for those who are new to your website, such as first-time members or donors, to have a video guiding them through the website and how to get the most out of it.

YouTube videos can also be used to highlight members, donors, volunteers or sponsors for your organization. Putting these videos on your website, in a place designated for community recognition, would only increase the exposure your members receive. Not only does this highlight the good your community is doing, but it also shines the spotlight on what your organization can offer to potential and current members.

3. Blog

If you want your non-profit’s website to be more than just a dreary notice board, it’s time you became a storyteller (aka, a blogger). A blog creates a space on your website to tell stories, go in-depth on issues and allows for some creative sharing strategies for members, volunteers and staff. It takes your website from a boring drive down a country rode to one along a stunning, ocean-side highway.

Establishing a blog on your website takes a lot of consideration, design and content creation, but the benefits and options are numerous. Share photos, event recaps, editorials, calls-to-action, original articles and infographics from your blog. Make sure to have a specific section for your blog and make it easy to access blog archives. Not only does this help your organization’s SEO, but it makes it a better experience for visitors.

4. Pinterest

Pinterest is like the older brother your website wants to be like; it’s creative, it’s engaging and it’s visually appealing. Really, what this section is all about is mimicry; try to make your website more like Pinterest. Have more visuals on your page. Lists and how-to guides can help clear up complicated processes for members or donors. Include infographics and link to other resources your community might find interesting.

If you’re really in the mood to be radical and revolutionary, make your organization’s Pinterest account its website. It’s cheap and is guaranteed to pack the visual punch that’s engaging. Have a Pinterest board for each section that would normally be a menu item on your website and tell stories about your association or other non-profit through pictures and infographics. This approach isn’t for every organization, but it does offer something new and fresh.

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Your non-profit’s website is an integral part of what makes your organization tick. Incorporating social media into your website takes it to a whole other level and gives your community a place to learn, participate and have some fun at the same time. Explore the options available for you and your non-profit when it comes to combining social media and website and watch a world of opportunity become open to you.

The Debate: Should Non-profit Executives be on Social Media?

Opening Arguments

Argument For: Of course non-profit executives should be on social media. They are the face of the organization and know the ins and outs of its cause/industry. Being involved in social media is one more way to serve their community/members and be a leader for the organization.

Argument Against: There really is no need for non-profit executives to be on social media. It is not helpful and could even be hurtful to the organization. Their time and effort should be directed to other areas and the risk of making a mistake and being criticized are not worth the potential rewards.

Resolution #1- The risk of executives participating in social media is more than worth the rewards.

For: Yes, there are risks to participating in social media for anyone who types out a tweet or snaps a picture and puts it on Instagram. The key is understanding those risks, avoiding them and having a strategy just in case something goes awry. The truth is, if executives never took a risk, their organization would never move on to bigger and better things.

Against: What if an organization’s executive tweets out something that’s a not too politically correct? What if their blog posts are riddled with grammatical errors or spelling mistakes? What about if they get into a Facebook battle with disgruntled ex-members or volunteers? Risking the reputation and goodwill of your organization is not worth the 140 characters.

Rebuttal: Not so fast there buddy! Your executives are the face of your organization; you trust them to talk to people on the non-profit’s behalf every day, so trust them to do great things online. Besides, you’re forgetting the biggest risk; becoming disconnected with what your members/community really wants or needs. Social media definitely cuts this risk down to a minimum!

Resolution #2- Executives should take the time and resources that are needed to participate in social media on a daily basis.

For: Let’s face it, social media takes a little more than one or two minutes when it’s done well. Crafting the perfect pin or taking time to contribute to a LinkedIn discussion is an investment of time and energy, but’s it’s an investment that is worth it for non-profit executives. Serving members and contributing to the community are the main jobs of executives. The best place to inform, educate and advise those who are key to your organization is online because that’s the go-to resource for many people today. Taking this time will help executives stay connected, in-touch with the community they are serving and up-to-date with issues affecting those they are looking to help grow.

Against: Non-profit executives are already too busy. The demands on them, both time-wise and financially, are strenuous. Wouldn’t it be best to prioritize the responsibilities and tend to matters that actually need attention, rather than trying to construct a perfect response to a tweet from a member or a donor? Executives owe it to their community to be focused on the task at hand and be fully engaged in making the organization run properly, not fiddling with social media.

Rebuttal: How wrong you are, Mr. Against. Well actually you’re right, non-profit executives do owe it to their community to be focused on making their organization run properly, but part of what makes a non-profit great, day-to-day, is connecting with the members/community on a regular basis. Social media gives the executive the tools to communicate even more with these groups, which provides ways to make their experience with the non-profit even better. Surely the time and resources it takes to accomplish this growth is worth it!

Resolution #3- Marketing is no longer the sole territory of the marketing team and thus, executives need to get involved.

For: This one is definitely true. Social media broke down the walls between the communications team and the rest of the work place that traditional media had built. Social media made marketing your organization accessible to all and a collective responsibility for all employees. That includes executives. It especially includes executives. They are the face of your non-profit and hearing their stories, expertise or input is probably one of the best ways to connect with your community in a way that makes them realize the value in your organization and want to invest in it with time, money and other resources.

Against: False, false, false. Executives should stick to what they know. They shouldn’t water down both their own efforts and the efforts of the communications team by wading into the social media waters. They aren’t trained, they aren’t prepared and they aren’t hired to do that sort of job. Overseeing the message is a good thing, but don’t take it into your own hands.

Rebuttal: Your thinking is backwards my friend. The efforts of an executive would not water down the end results, they would bolster it! A complete effort from all members of the organization only legitimizes and strengthens social media’s benefits by spreading the message far and wide and giving your non-profit’s community more avenues to engage with the organization. Plus, social media is done best when it’s done with a personal touch. That’s why only training can be done on the job for an executive. Only by tweeting, posting, pinning, etc., can they develop their own voice and take full advantage of all social media has to offer.

Result

I think we have a winner and it’s the “For” argument! The truth is, executives should be on social media and helping their organizations connect and engage with members or others in the community. There may be some fears at first, but learning this new skill is important to helping your organization thrive and rise to new heights.

5 Ways Social Media Can Help Your Association’s Lobbying Efforts

Non-profits do a lot of things very well; networking, education and events come to mind.

A vast majority of member-based organizations do all these things with one goal; to promote their members and help them grow in their professions. That’s where lobbying comes in. There are few better chances to make big change in the lives of your association’s members than bringing an issue to those in government.

Lobbying can be used in many ways by associations, whether it’s to encourage tax fairness, promote regulation, combat negative legislation or some other issue.

But lobbying can often be a time-consuming and expensive endeavor, especially for non-profits that don’t have the big budgets of their corporate counterparts. Social media can come as a reinforcement on this front, helping associations and their members petition for a better tomorrow for all in a particular industry. Here are a few ways to turn social media into social change:

1.  The Rallying Cry

You can’t have grassroots advocacy without the roots; i.e. the hundreds or thousands of people that are stakeholders in your cause. For associations, these people are the members. Getting members together to support a common cause can be a challenging goal to achieve. It’s not that they are apathetic or unwilling, but sometimes it’s difficult to reach such a large and diverse audience made of people focused on their own careers.

Social media helps get the message out to members fast and efficiently. For example, an infographic blog post can help explain the issue, its effect on members and what the association is doing to help the industry with lobbying efforts. A YouTube video is a great way to let members know how to go about contributing, whether it’s writing a letter, signing a petition or some other activity that benefits the lobbying effort. And lastly, tools like Twitter and Facebook are great ways to spread these messages far and wide.

2. The New Tin Can and String

The old tin can and string were the cell phones of childhood, the devices that supposedly kept friends connected over the vast distance that was the playground. The technology age has arrived and with it, an update on the homemade device. Now you can have a two-way conversation with anyone by using social media and this comes in handy when you’re an association lobbying for change.

Social media platforms give your association the vehicle to pass on information to members about the lobby efforts and issues at hand while at the same time giving members an opportunity to ask questions, share ideas and offer feedback on the lobbying activity. Twitter, for example, is a great way to pass on information and talk to members in a way that engages them and encourages them to take up the cause. This turns your effort into a truly grassroots approach and helps you triumph much faster and easier.

3. The Radar Game

It’s important to stay on top of the latest news around the issue your association is lobbying for and social media is the place to do this monitoring. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, blog comments and reddit are only a few of the social media channels that can be used as your organization’s radar. Tracking the goings-on around the issue you are lobbying for gives you a sense of how to best go about garnering support amongst members how to effectively push for change.

Social media is also a great place to connect with those who have been through similar situations. LinkedIn, for example, is a great platform to connect with association professionals who have had success in lobbying for similar legislation and getting their insight on the matter. Even connecting online with someone who hasn’t been as successful in mobilizing support, rallying members or petitioning the government can be helpful and lead to a breakthrough.

4. The Bottom Line Builder

Let’s face it, lobbying can be expensive. There’s travel, consultants, studies and more that push you up against a wall financially. But social media can help mitigate the monetary worries of lobbying and can bring lobbying from a bottom line buster to a bottom line builder.

Connecting with member online saves the time and money spent on mailing members. Planning gatherings or town halls with a Twitter chat or through LinkedIn can save your organization from planning a massive, in-person event. Every step is easier on your wallet with social media and has the added benefit of reaching more people.

5. The Megaphone

Recognition is important to retaining members and drawing new ones. That’s part of the reason an association would lobby; an organization recognizes what its members need and it works hard to achieve it. Sometimes this takes political action.

Recognition begets recognition. In other words, when you recognize your members with lobbying efforts, they will recognize your association’s hard work. Social media amplifies this outcome. When members see how vocal your association is online, they will appreciate the effort be more likely to support not only the lobbying, but other initiatives in the future.

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Lobbying is part of the mandate for many associations. Social media helps reduce the difficulty and cost of lobbying while increasing member engagement. All this adds up to a campaign that has more of a chance to succeed. So next time your association is pushing for change with your local or national government, embrace social media and all the great things it has to offer!

 

Looking Back At the Year That Was: Trends and Topics for Non-profits and Social Media

We past a pretty cool milestone last week; our blog celebrated its 50th-post birthday!

If our blog was a person, it might entering into a mid-life crisis. Fortunately, we don’t think our much-loved platform will suddenly start buying sports cars or quit its job and move off the grid.

But we did think it would be a perfect opportunity to take some time and reflect on the last 50 weeks. We put together five lessons we’ve learned from 350 days of writing on non-profits, associations and a little thing we like to all social media.

1. Social Media is the Next Step in Education

Education is a vital part of any professional association’s mandate. A large part of the allure for members is getting access to cutting edge lessons from experts in the field so they can grow in their careers and collectively thrive as an industry.

Social media is a new frontier in education that can help your organization’s members to learn every single day and connect them to the information that matters to them. Setting up a live blog at your next conference will allow your attendees to get the most out of the event. Twitter chats give your members a chance to learn from each other in a very engaging way, while other social media tools make these lessons accessible to all members, regardless of tech abilities.

Social media and educational events go together like peanut butter and jelly and can even encourage face-to-face networking at conferences. But social platforms open up whole new opportunities for your members to learn their way; when they want and how they want.

2. Urban Legends Don’t Hold Any Weight

There’s no doubt about it; social media can look scary from the outside. There are plenty of reasons to convince yourself that social media isn’t right for your non-profit, but many of them just aren’t valid in a world that is constantly becoming more and more connected online.

Criticism can be handled in a way that actually turns a frown into a smile. Social media ROI is a slippery animal to snare, but it’s not impossible, nor is it all about the numbers. You also shouldn’t count out a social media platform just because it’s changed, just as no one should bet against your organization‘s ability to do good (and use social media to achieve it). And forget what people are saying about non-profit’s these days; your unique and your social media accounts should be too!

3. A Little Recognition Goes A Long Way

Everyone likes a little time in the spotlight once in a while, especially those members of your non-profit community who work tirelessly to strengthen the organization. Social media has proven again and again that it is the tool for the job.

Sponsors are key to any non-profit’s operation so a Big Ask is important. But a Big Thanks, facilitated by social media, is also a critical step to continued support.

Recognizing each and every member of your community is important as well and that’s why giving them access to the latest news and trends that fit each person’s interest is important. And then there are those who many disregard as posers in the non-profit world, but with a little patience, a bit of care and a pinch of social media love, they can be some of the most active members of your organization.

Giving a face to the Twitter name can help connect members of your community and rewarding great ideas through social media can be the start of a long and happy relationship between members and your non-profit.

4. Consistency is Key

You know consistency is key in everything your organization does; from event planning to processing member dues to the services you provide. Well, same goes for social media.

Social media is a conversation that requires frequent follow-up. Creating a buzz is great, but you need to sustain it. A great conversation generates a great brand, which comes from connecting with the right people on a regular basis. Maintaining consistency doesn’t always follow a stable schedule and things may happen that are out of your control. This is when social media can really help with a solid plan B. And always remember, you may be using technology, but you’re engaging with humans, so a consistent, human voice helps a lot.

If you want some examples of how putting in daily effort can take your organization to a whole new level, take a lesson from the Sochi Olympics or the social media giant Facebook.

5. Images Are Powerful

A picture is worth 1000 words; the saying that has spawned a million spin-offs, puns and quotable lines. But in the midst of all the cliches and corniness there lies a load of truth. Images can be an amazing way to connect with an audience and encourage them to invest in your non-profit or association. Social media makes this easier than ever.

The photo is a critical ingredient to any part of success on social media. We even made it a New Year’s Resolution for non-profits looking to grow and succeed in the online world.

Facebook, for instance, gives you a platform to share photos and harness the power of images. Pinterest is not only the fastest growing social media site, but is full of potential for non-profits to show off their services and success. And last, but not least, YouTube allows your organization to show its human side, to capture the passion of staff and connect the world to your amazing members

 

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It’s been a great year of innovation, insight and ideas. Thank you to everyone who joined us on that journey and we are looking forward to continuing it, starting next week with another great post!

Let us know what you though the social media highlights were of the past year in the comments. And remember, stay social!

Creating an Online Newspaper for your Non-Profit: Who’s Going to Read it and Why They’ll Love It

There’s enough news about your non-profit’s industry or cause to fill an entire newspaper. So why don’t you give it one?

Paper.li is a platform that allows organizations to curate and present a customized online “newspaper.” The site gives you the chance to bring together all sorts of content on chosen subjects, industries and causes in one place. The process involves adding keywords, influential Twitter users and relevant hashtags in order to capture content being tweeted out. If it’s done well, the resulting “newspaper”, created on a daily or weekly basis (depending on your preference) gives readers a snapshot of interesting and important news and insight for a particular industry or cause. The link can be tweeted out, posted to Facebook and added to a blog post or Pinterest board. The automated tweet feature also includes mentions of some key contributors.

Incline Weekly Example 1

There are other areas of your paper that be customized in order to appeal to your audience and promote the content. For example, the name of the publication can be changed to be engaging and informative and a Twitter widget can be added. It is also possible to view stats on how many visitors your account had and how many have subscribed.

Incline Weekly Tweet

The value of the paper.li platform isn’t contained to a few members or sections of your association or non-profit’s community. The benefit that a paper brings extends to every group that is vital to making your organization thrive. The following are a list of key elements to your non-profit and why they’ll be reading your online “newspaper,”:

The Sponsor

Sponsors are integral parts of any initiative your association or other non-profit wants to follow through with. They help provide needed resources to make events, services, publications, etc., a success. However, it’s no secret that sponsors want something out of the deal as well. They want your members to recognize them, understand their value and invest in them.

Having an online newspaper allows sponsors to see the trends in the industry and understand the issues and updates that your organization’s community talks the most about. Providing sponsors with this information in one easy-to-access place allows them to see that your members will value their services and helps them plan with your non-profit to sponsor smarter, making it a win-win for both parties.

The Member/Donor/Volunteer

These are the people that make your organization’s world go round. You give them valuable services and they provide your non-profit/association with member dues, financial resources and a purpose. One of the services that an organization can give to this group that is extremely valuable is information. Education and information makes your community members’ lives better by giving them access to strategies that advance their career or passion.

A paper.li newspaper is one of the best ways to bring together the information that is relevant to members on a platform that is accessible to all. Members, donors and volunteers are able to see what is being said and by who. There can be a blog about a new app that is helping those in your industry or an article from a magazine about new ways to support a cause. And this is just the tip of the educational iceberg on paper.li. This is a very effective and efficient way for your community to learn, network and continue to grow in their careers or lives.

The Staff

It’s great for your staff to be tied into all the latest news and trends in the industry in order to promote your cause and generate new ideas to grow your organization. Unfortunately, this is not always a possibility, especially as content is pushed through social media platforms at an astonishing rate these days. However, paper.li can help a non-profit’s staff keep up-to-date with the industry/cause more easily.

A paper.li account can also help staff in a brainstorming new ways to better serve your association/non-profit community. The event staff can prepare more relevant education sessions at conferences or create engaging fundraising event by monitoring the issues people are talking about on your online newspaper. Member relations staff can develop new and better services and tweak older ones to be more relevant.

The Media

Members of the media are often your organization’s link between your industry/cause and the general public. Media may jump into a story without too much prior knowledge of the environment or people that your organization deals with or what it is trying to achieve. An online newspaper can help bridge this gap in knowledge for members of the media and can help direct to influential people in the industry who are well-spoken and well-respected.

An online newspaper also situates your organization as its own media outlet. Having this available to the general public helps to relay a message to people while cutting down on industry jargon and other barriers to access. It is a medium you control and can be changed to fit the changing time your organization may encounter. This ensures that your organization stays relevant in the long-term and established the association/non-profit as a go-to resource for information and expertise.

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A paper.li account can be beneficial in many ways to many stakeholders. Take the time to set one up and maintain it and your organization will reap the benefits for a long time to come.

How to Create an Awesome How-to for Your Non-profit Community

How-to guides are tremendously popular at the moment. Websites like wikiHow give step-by-step instructions to curious Google searchers and advice articles dominate Twitter feeds.

The rise of how-to content on the internet is well-deserved. People are looking for information and these guides are catering to the needs and cravings of an increasingly tech-savvy population.

How-to guides can give associations and other non-profits a great opportunity to provide members with more value and increase awareness of a cause or industry among the general public. One of the chief reasons members join an association is to learn and grow professionally. How-to guides are a great way to make learning easy and your organization’s other services more accessible.

There are many online platforms that provide you with the tools to create a successful how-to guide, ranging from YouTube to blogs and infographics.

Still don’t know where to start with your own how-to? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a how-to guide of our own!

Step 1- Choose a Focus

Having a how-to guide requires something that needs explaining. If you are helping to explain something that is very simple or that none of your members need to know, readers/viewers will have no use for your guide.

For example, pick a newer service that your organization provides to members and create a how-to for accessing that service and getting the best out of it. This is useful for members and promotes your organization’s value to its community.

Step 2- Plot the Steps

Before you even get started creating your how-to online, it’s a good idea to write down and review the steps. Completing this step can tell you a few crucial things about your guide including: Is the issue too simple? Will people have use for it? Are there too many or too few steps? What audience am I trying to target?

Answering these questions before you begin will place you in the shoes of your members or the general public, which will help you make a better how-to that addresses their needs and concerns.

Step 3- Chose a Platform

Not all social media platforms were created equal; some are better for your how-to guide than others. The two platforms that lend themselves to good how-tos are blogs and YouTube. Both allow for visual storytelling, longer explanations and accessibility by just about anyone.

Think about which platforms are best for your certain guide. Are written words and photos/infographics on a blog good enough? Or does a video showing a step-by-step explanation do the trick better? Think about the resources and technical knowledge you have and how many people you can reach with each platform.

Step 4- Be Clear and Concise

Once you have started making your how-to guide, make sure to keep it simple. The purpose of your guide is to make it easy for the average Joe to access your association’s benefits. If you fill your how-to with complicated steps, vague references and technical jargon, people will become even more lost than before.

Step 5- Use Visuals and Examples

Many people learn by seeing. Adding visual, whether it’s a video, pictures or an infographic, is always helpful. If members are able to follow along with the how-to as it is explained, it becomes much easier to get the hang of the activity.

This how-to guide from the American Diabetes Association is a great example of the power of visuals in getting a message across.

Step 6- Do a Trial Run

Before you release your how-to for viewing by members or the public, be sure to take it for a test drive. Follow along with the steps yourself and ask a colleague or volunteer to try it out as well. You may find that there are some steps missing or a gap in the information. Testing your how-to will ensure that everything is clear, concise and complete so your members will get the most out your guide.

Step 7- Promote It

There’s no sense in having a well-made how-to guide if no one sees it. Promote your guide on other social media platforms and on your website. Make it available at conferences and meetings. Make it accessible for everyone.

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How-to guides are a great way to engage your members and add value in the process. Pay attention to detail, keep it simple and let your members know it’s there.

What do you think makes a great how-to guide? Let us know in the comments!

Six Ways to Sound More Like a Human and Less Like a Robot

Use more technology, but be more human.

That last sentence seems kind of like an oxymoron doesn’t it? But it’s an important lesson to remember when you are managing social media platforms for an organization. As technology advances and online marketing becomes the norm, people are increasingly looking for a human touch amongst the cyber-babble.

This is even more important if you are managing the social media of an association or other non-profit. People are drawn to these organizations exactly because they offer something distinctly human. They offer networking, mentors, a helping hand and a chance to give. All these benefits come with personal stories and the opportunity to make a life or several lives better.

But the question remains, how does one keep from sounding like a robot on social media, a mode of communication that, at times, offers little in the way of personal contact? Here are six tips that can help you inject some spirit into your Tweets, Facebook posts, pins and blog.

1. Don’t Copy and Paste Headlines

Explain the content in your own words; it’s as simple as that. Nothing seems more robotic (and just downright lazy) than simply copy and pasting the exact headline or description of an article, video or blog post. Be creative with your description of the content you are sharing. Make it fit with your brand and use words that resonate with your audience

2. Tailor Responses to Individuals

Responding to people in the first place is a good sign, but you need to go a step further to avoid a comparison to R2-D2. If someone shares your post or retweets one of your tweets, say thank you, but don’t do it the same way you just did for another follower. If you receive some criticism or feedback, address the person directly. Whatever you do, don’t throw a canned response at them. This strategy may take a little more time, attention to detail and research, but it will be well worth the extra resources.

3. Tell Stories About Other Humans

In the realm of social media, you are what you post. When you post content about real people, whether that’s your members, staff, volunteers, donors, sponsors or the people you give you give to, it goes a long way to softening the rough edges of a big, organizational account. It highlights your non-profit’s ability to relate to people, connect with their needs and interact with them on a human level.

4. Ask Questions and Respond to Answers

No human being just talks at people all day, every day. That’s why it’s important to ask questions of your following. Not only can this result in great engagement and key feedback for your organization, it can also help members see the non-profit as more human than robot. Asking questions is a normal part of any conversation. Listening and responding answers means you care about what other people are saying. Sharing this experience highlights the humanity in your organization and allows your community to see there really is a person behind those tweets/posts/blogs/pins.

5. Keep Up Human Appearances

There are just some things humans cannot do and people will shine a negative light on your organization if it seems like you are circumventing these obstacles. For example, one person cannot keep up a shred of a meaningful relationship with 2000 people. So don’t follow 2000 people on Twitter. Only connect with those who share relevant content and provide you with chances to engage.

This doesn’t mean you have to keep your “Following” section to 50 people, but try being somewhat selective. People will appreciate that your organization is not in the social media game purely because of the numbers, but rather the quality of the connections it maintains. This loyalty will be reciprocated.

6. Have Fun

We know, we know, this is a vague and cliché tip, but there’s a reason everyone says it; because it works. Don’t take yourself too seriously when formulating content. It’s okay to make jokes, use slang, craft a play on words or try something new one in a while. Being formal all the time is overrated and can put people off your organization. Most people look to social media to connect with friends and pursue a passion, so make it easy for your community to see you as a friend and a fun way to accomplish goals and dreams.

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When you manage social media platforms for an association or non-profit, leave the robot on the dance floor and show your human side. Your community will appreciate it and want to keep coming back. Once that happen, the possibilities are somewhere near limitless.

Pinterest for Non-profits: The Anatomy of a Great Pin

In an online world where more users mean more influence, Pinterest is climbing the ladder of social media bigwigs.

There is no doubt that business is booming on Pinterest and non-profits are not excluded. Having a strong Pinterest profile could be a key part of your organization’s social media strategy and overall path to success.

But what makes a perfect pin? What secret ingredients need to be tossed together to create an irresistible image that leads your community to information and investment in your association or other non-profit?

We have some thoughts on that:

1. Label Your Pins The Right Way

Pictures may be able to say 1000 words, but you’ll need a few more to make a successful pin. If no one can find your pins, than no one can see them, engage with them or benefit from them in any way. The same goes for pins that confuse your followers; if they don’t know what they’re looking at, they’ll skip right over it and take their chances elsewhere.

First thing’s first; create boards that are descriptive and easy to find, both on Pinterest and search engines. A board called “Our Awesome History” might seem fun and descriptive, but when a member is searching for you online or on Pinterest, this board will likely not show up. Stick to something simple and descriptive, even if it’s not terribly imaginative.

As for your pins, add a description that is clear, concise and relevant. Keep the description short without too much jargon. Using hashtags is also a good idea. It’s always a good practice to search various, relevant hashtags to determine which ones are used the most and will gain your pin more exposure in your target audience. Ensure the link from your pin to any website or other platform is working. There’s nothing worse than seeing a pin you want to follow up on and discovering it leads nowhere.

2. Use Your Best Images

This may seem like a no-brainer, but higher quality pictures catch the eye quicker and thus draw more engagement.

Invest the time and resources in taking, creating or curating really good images. This can turn into a great opportunity to engage your association members or non-profit community by crowd-sourcing images from an event, project or initiative.

Once you have these photos, do a little research (and your own trial and error) to see what sizing makes the image look great. These images are a representation of your organization, so make them a great one; your followers and community will appreciate this effort. They will probably also engage more with the content.

3. Make Sure Your Pins Tell a Story

Descriptions are a great way to tell your audience what they’re looking at on Pinterest, but as we mentioned further up in this post, they should work to enhance and organize your images, not serve as a crutch for a poorly put together or confusing photo. Your visuals should tell a story by themselves, especially because each and every one of your members has a history and wants to be part of your organization’s continuing tale.

For images to capture a moment that tells a story, they should be focused, vibrant and descriptive. Think of a key moment at an event, a scene that displays everything you want to say about your organization, its goals, its benefits and, most importantly, its people. The image should evoke an emotion and give people information at the same time.

Another great tool that can tell great stories on Pinterest is the infographic. The name itself, infographic, explains its purpose; to inform your audience on a subject while being visually appealing. No other description necessary!

4. Have a Call To Action in Your Pins

You use calls to action on your other platforms and communication material, so why not on Pinterest? When you create an image to pin, add a call to action in it.

By now you know that the images should inspire and educate your community on a certain cause, but they may be sitting there after the initial interest has worn off and asking, what do we do next? A call to action takes your storytelling a step further by explaining to your association members or non-profit community how they can add their own voices to that story.

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Pinterest can be an exciting and beneficial platform for both your organization and its community. By combining the elements above into each and every pin and having some fun with it along the way, you can create great content that will engage, educate and inspire your members.

The Good, the Bad and the Useless: The Latest Social Media Features and the Pros and Cons for Non-profits

Social media can do many things for non-profit organizations. One of those things is keep you on your toes.

The different platforms are always introducing new features and tweaking existing ones in order to provide users with the best, most engaging experience. Associations and other non-profits need to keep up to date on these changes in order to maximize their effectiveness on social media. After all, some of these changes could mean a huge boost to your organization. However, others may be bad or just downright useless for your organization.

To help you decide which is which, we’ve put together a list of some of the most recent new features on the major social media sites and broke down the pros and cons for each one through the eyes of a non-profit.

Twitter Mute

What Are We Talking About: The mute feature allows Twitter users to silence chosen accounts they follow. In other words, if you don’t want to see any tweets from someone, you can mute them and poof, they’re gone from your Twitter feed.

Pros: The mute feature could de-clutter your Twitter feed. If you connect with a Twitter user who doesn’t post relevant content, but tweets often enough to distract you from focusing on other, more relevant accounts, you can erase their presence and gain some control over a messy feed. The person can still retweet, favourite and reply to your tweets and they do not know they are muted. This could help non-profits spend less time sifting through tweets and more time sharing the best content and interacting with its target audience. It’s a more polite way to take people off your feed than unfollowing them.

Cons: You could lose touch with your community. There’s a reason you connected with someone on Twitter and most of the time it’s because they were a member of your community, shared great content or were active in your cause. If you get into the habit of muting those you follow, you could miss out on great content, tweets about your organization, a post about an important issue your organization should address or a chance to interact with a post that highlights a member’s achievements.

Pinterest Q&A

What Are We Talking About: Pinterest is testing a new Q&A feature allowing users to post questions on a pin and notifying the user who pinned the image of the question. The intent is to make Pinterest more engaging and connect users with more people and more information.

Pros: This feature has the potential to increase engagement on Pinterest. A Q&A will, in theory, make it easier for your non-profit’s community to connect with your organization and vice versa to get more information, have better conversations and build longer-lasting relationships. Answering questions is a great way to provide an added service to members of your community and further establish your organization as a helpful, transparent and beneficial source of information and action.

Cons: There aren’t many drawbacks of this feature specifically from a non-profit’s point of view. The feature may fail, just as a similar Facebook service did. You may also get some negative or spam questions, but that risk arises on any social media platform anyways.

New Twitter Profiles

What Are We Talking About: Twitter recently rolled out new-look profiles for users that includes a different profile and background photo display and the ability to pin a tweet to the top of your profile in order to highlight it.

Pros: The new features allow Twitter users to make profiles fresh, creative and unique. The new, larger and more versatile banner could help non-profits stand out from the crowd and convey their goals to the community in a way that is engaging and informative. Being able pin a tweet of your choice to the top of the profile could be useful for organizations looking to highlight a call to action, recognize a standout member of their online community or remind members about an upcoming event without tweeting about it a dozen of times a week and falling prey to the mute feature.

Cons: It takes time, patience and some creative know-how to bring your profile up to date. This isn’t necessarily a con as much as it is a minor inconvenience. However, if your non-profit doesn’t have the resources to dedicate to updating your Twitter profile, your account could end up looking outdated and, worse still, could lose out on the benefits of the new features.

Facebook Nearby App

What Are We Talking About: Facebook debuted the Nearby Friends App last month and was the first significant addition to its mobile platform in over a year. The feature lets users see which of their Facebook friends are in physical proximity to them. It provides a map that places a picture of your friends in the location they are in.

Pros: This feature doesn’t provide many major benefits to non-profits at the moment. To see the location of your friends, they need the app turned on as well, which may mean the chances of finding members close to you only get slimmer. They may be an opportunity for organizations to alert their community of a nearby event or initiative if they notice that many of their friends are living, working, etc., around a certain part of a city.

Cons: Again, there aren’t many cons that come to mind when exploring this app. If you’re looking at broad stroke, the app could cause your community to question their privacy settings. However, this feature may border on useless for many organizations and with less power, comes fewer drawbacks.

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Keeping up with the latest and greatest (and not so great) features being offered by social media platforms can help enhance your overall online presence and communications strategy. Exploring these features and seeing which ones could help your community, and which ones won’t, will allow your organization to rise above the rest.

Let us know in the comments of any other newer social media features you use or that could be beneficial to non-profits and associations. And remember to stay social!