The Dos and Don’ts of Running a Contest on Social Media for Non-Profits

If your non-profit is ever looking for a win/win scenario on social media, a contest is the way to go.

Social media contests are nothing new, but a well thought out and creative one can help your association or other non-profit achieve its goals. The second part of that win/win comes when your members or community have a chance to voice their opinion, win a prize and a have a little fun, all at the same time.

But just like anything you do on social media, contests shouldn’t be created haphazardly. A poorly formulated contest can do more harm than good for your organization. So we’ve set out to compile a list of dos and don’ts when planning a contest for your non-profit that will go a long way to helping you increase engagement and promote awareness on social media.

The Dos

Do create contests that will help you reach your overall goals. It’s important to ask yourself what the overall goal of your social media presence are and how can you structure a contest to help you reach this goal. For example, if your association wants to promote a new service, you might want to consider setting up a contest that encourages members to post about the benefits of said service or contribute feedback about it. Conversely, if you already have a large following on Twitter or Facebook, starting a contest that aims to increase followers is probably not a great way to allocate your resources.

Do take the time to plan the contest thoroughly. Take some time to ensure all the angles of your contest are covered, including budget, design, timing, wording, possible problems, etc. It’s also a good idea to make sure all relevant departments and personnel are informed of the contest, its goals, its rules and how it’s all going to work. This way, all staff members can answer questions and promote the contest to your community.

Do monitor the contest and follow up with contestants. Whatever your goals are for creating a contest, increased engagement is probably at the root. Monitoring the contest submissions gives your non-profit a chance to communicate with its members and show them that their voice is being heard and will likely encourage them to keep participating in other facets of the organization. Doing so in a timely manner is important to showing your community how much you care about them and how much value you can offer them.

Do have a plan to highlight the winner. Showcasing the eventual winner of your contest is a great way to not only cap off a successful initiative, but also tell a story about a member of your community. The winner of your contest may be a member of your association, a long-time volunteer for your non-profit or a new person in your community. Use this opportunity to tell their story and connect your organization with the great tale.

The Don’ts

Don’t skip the fine print. Writing up a list of contest rules, the methods for choosing a winner and any legal add-ons can save you a lot of headaches and possible court dates in the future. When your process is clear and transparent, it will make for a smoother ride for both you and contestants and encourage your community to participate in future contests.

Don’t ignore the regional and social media platform rules for running a contest. There are certain laws that your province or state may have about running contests. Similarly, many social media platforms also have guidelines to follow when running a promotion. Read up on these rules before starting up your contest because a misstep at this stage could cause you to be kicked off a site or be called out by lawmakers.

Don’t let up with the promotion. Let your followers know about the contest. And then let them know again and again. Don’ get us wrong, nothing is worse than being bombarded with the same message constantly on social media, but a consistent reminder to your community about the contest can help it flourish. Brainstorm some creative ways to promote the contest throughout the duration of it, such as using current submissions as a way to get potential contestants interested. Always be clear about what the contest involves and its parameters.

Don’t think it’s going to be all sunshine and rainbows. There’s a potential for disgruntled members or trolling social media users to use your contest as a platform to provoke a nasty response or air their grievances. Think about the possible scenarios beforehand and create a response strategy. It’s not a certainty that this will happen, but it’s always a great idea to be prepared to stop the negativity before it ruins the campaign and perhaps even turn it into a positive.

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Contests are great ways to get your non-profit’s community engaged. Your organization can also reap some other benefits, such as increased use of a service, more awareness of a cause, an increased following or crucial feedback. Preparation, creativity and attention to detail are all key factors in putting on a successful contest. If you keep that in mind, it could be a jackpot for both you and your members.

Want To Be A Blogging Wizard Or A Non-profit Wordsmith? Here’s Your Chance

We’re looking for guest bloggers to write about social media, associations, non-profits, charities, small business and other similar issues and organizations for our website!

If you’re unsure about contributing, this handy dandy infographic may be able to clear it up for you.

Guest Blogger 3

 

If the arrows point to “Blog for us!” give us a shout. Email us at inclinemarketingservices@gmail.com and together we can make some blogging magic!

The Anatomy of a Great Twitter Post

Crafting an informative and engaging piece of writing isn’t always easy. It gets even harder when you only have 140 characters to do it.

Twitter is often a medium where only the strongest survive. Understanding the make-up of a powerful tweet is important to standing out from the crowd, catching your members’ attention and providing the best content you can.

We took a look at some well-received tweets and broke down what made them successful.

Tweet #1

Great Tweet Example 1

Tweet #2

Great Tweet Example 2

Tweet #3

Great Tweet Example 3

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Great tweets are built on strong content, a desire to help improve the lives of your followers and a focus on promoting engagement. By examining those tweets that encompass these factors you can emulate them, develop a strong following and attain an even stronger return on investment.

What other factors go into making a great tweet? Let us know in the comments!

 

Converting the Skeptics: How Social Media Can Help Change the Minds of Non-Profit Naysayers

Non-profits are great. You know it, we know it, but, unfortunately not everyone feels the same way.

We hear the same reasons for not being part of a non-profit over and over again. Good, old-fashioned, one-on-one conversations can help turn the tide and make people realize professional associations, charities or other organizations are worth investing in. But sometimes people need more convincing. Sometimes your organization needs a way to reach not one, but tens, hundreds or thousands of potential connections consistently.

That’s when social media can play a role in turning even the most ardent disbeliever into a loyal member, volunteer, contributor, etc. We looked into a few of the more common situations where social media can help turn the tide, banish myths and highlight the benefits of being part of a non-profit.

Situation #1- The Investment Conundrum

Many people point to high membership dues without upfront value as a main reason for not joining their industry’s association. Many people only see the price tag of membership and not the benefits of it. Helping those in your industry see the true worth of an investment in membership can be done almost every day with social media in both big and small ways.

Let’s start with the small, or indirect, ways. By tweeting, posting, pinning and uploading frequently, your organization becomes the go-to source for information for your industry. All roads to knowledge go through your association. This shows people that it is worth being part of your association for its potential to unlock lessons that could bring their career to a new level.

On a larger, more direct scale, social media is a great outlet to promote events, draw attention to association services and map out exactly how an association plans to meet the needs of its members. Blogs are a great way to achieve this aim in detail and Twitter is a great platform to boost both reach and frequency of your message.

Situation #2- The Effort Theory

Social media is a great tool to show that making a difference is fun, flexible and has a huge impact.

For example, Nonprofit Technology Network announced a creative incentive via a blog and video post to raise $10,000 in scholarship money for people to attend the annual NTC conference. Executive Director Holly Ross let donors vote on which one of three embarrassing things she’d do if NTEN reached their goal. They quickly raised the $10,000 and donors voted for Holly to do a Single Ladies Video.

Using Instagram, Vine or Twitter to highlight the fun and inspiring moments of an event or fundraiser in pictures does more to change peoples’ attitudes than words can ever do.

Showing the extraordinary benefits of contributing can be done very effectively with Pinterest. By pinning an infographic of where someone’s money or time is going as it travels from their pocket to the cause is a great way for people to visualize how they personally are helping out.

Situation #3- The Generational Anomaly

Yes, associations have been around for many a decade and any institution that has been around that long is going to risk being called out of date. But the truth is every new generation breaking into an industry is going to benefit from joining an association more than their more experienced colleagues. Social media can put this into perspective.

Networking is a key ingredient to any young professional’s success and forming social media communities on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is a great way to encourage communication between members and show potential members the benefits of joining.

Similarly, highlighting the achievements of young professionals on blogs, Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms may encourage others to get involved in your association and work to get recognized.

Situation #4- The Transparency Factor

When anyone gives money, or even time and loyalty, into an organization or a cause, they want to know where it’s going or have a say in the services that organization is providing. For example, many people want to know how much of the money they donated to charity is going to administrative costs and association members want to have a say in the education topics of a conference they are paying for. This is where social media steps in to lend a hand.

Social media gives the public easy access to organizations and makes it simple to start engaging and informative dialogues with the non-profits they get involved in or are thinking of getting involved in. That’s why providing information on spending or impact is easy for charities through Twitter or Facebook and pooling ideas on products and services is a piece of cake for associations on many different platforms.

More transparency means more trust and more trust means a loyal base of members, donors, volunteers and customers.

Battling myths is a past time of social media. That doesn’t mean every naysayer out there is going to turn into your biggest fan just because they are following your organization on Twitter. But a strong social media presence is another tool in your non-profit’s toolbox that be used to encourage participation, conversation and a more informed and active membership.

What Non-Profits Can Learn About Using Social Media From The Olympics

The 2014 Winter Olympics brought with them two things, a collection of medals and a collection of lessons.

No matter what country you call home, how much you know about sports like curling and the biathlon, or what you do for the living, the Sochi Games could teach all a thing or two.

As the athletes leave Russia and the flame begins its four-year journey to Pyeongchang, we believe there is lots to learn from the Olympics that can help non-profits on social media. We decided to look at three of these lessons a little more.

Being a Part of a Community Feels Good

Canadians from coast to coast packed pubs and bars as early as 4 a.m. to watch the nation’s men’s hockey team play for gold. Why did they do such a thing? While the one-day loosening of liquor laws was a factor, the main reason was that Canadians felt like they belonged to something bigger than themselves. They felt like they belonged to a community.

Creating a similar community online for your organization and its members will help yield similar results. Giving your staff, volunteers, members, donors, etc., an opportunity to get involved and be part of an experience will help generate pride, passion and ultimately a loyal and engaged community. Conducting a Twitter chat about a recent event, offering a chance to contribute an article for your blog or giving an opportunity to share a song on your organization’s Spotify playlist are all ways to use social media include your customers and build a community.

Handle Mistakes With Care

The first images of Sochi were not of picturesque mountains or triumphant athletes, but rather horrible hotel rooms and undrinkable water. These pictures, made famous by reporters, spread through social media. Instead of addressing these problems, Games’ Organizer Dmitry Chernyshenko responded by telling journalists to “turn back and look at the mountains.”

Social media comes with greater interactions and greater transparency, but this also opens your organization up to greater scrutiny and potentially greater criticism. The best way to handle this criticism is to face it head on. Have a plan in place to address mistakes made or complaints received. Don’t be confrontational or flippant. Find a solution quickly and use social media to improve your organization, turning a displeased customer into a loyal community member.

Gold Medals Don’t Always Define Greatness

Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris won bronze in the slopestyle competition, but in a post-event interview he had this to say about the third-place finish, “It feels like a gold medal to me.” Considering McMorris had broken his ribs just a month before Sochi, a bronze medal was a tremendous achievement for him.

Many organizations, not just non-profits and associations, can get caught up in getting a ‘gold medal’ in social media, i.e. a large number of followers/fans/etc., and lose focus on other important indicators of success. Measuring social media ROI success is based on many factors and indicators, including how big your organization is, how new the organization is to social media and how many interactions the account is receiving. The most important thing to keep in mind is to build on recent successes to increase not just the quantity of engagement, but the quality as well.

The Olympics have come and gone for another year. The lessons that the world-class athletes have taught us can be applied to our everyday lives. What transpired in Sochi can especially be applied to non-profits and associations on social media. Remembering that community, transparency and patience can often be the best tools for success is important.  All are characteristics that will take your organization to the next level.

What do you think organizations can learn from the Olympics? Let us know in the comments! And remember, stay social!

Facebook Is 10: Why the Social Network is Still Near the Top of the Class

In social media circles, Facebook just became a senior citizen.

Facebook turned 10-years-old last Tuesday, a monumental milestone for the social media giant. Facebook has paved the way for a new wave of networking platforms and has changed the way companies, organizations and individuals connect to others in its decade-long reign as one of the internet’s titans.

Amidst all of Facebook’s past triumphs are recent questions about the site. Many are wondering if Facebook is in a permanent decline and the social network is fending off attack after attack on its future.

We still think Facebook can be a great tool for non-profit organizations to connect with the community, build relationships and grow. So in honor of Facebook’s 10th birthday, we’re bringing you 10 ways the platform can benefit organizations.

1. Photo Albums

Images can inspire many emotions and effectively send important messages. Both of these are beneficial to non-profits who want to draw new connections and serve current ones. Facebook gives a lot of flexibility when it comes to posting photos, allowing users to upload whole albums, tag people, caption the photo (including hashtags), share them and set the location. Numerous studies also show that Facebook posts generate the most engagement and click-through rate.

2. Contests

Contests can be an interesting and engaging way to connect with members, donors, volunteers and the community and increase awareness. Facebook is a great platform to launch social media contests, especially with its new rules, instated last year, that make competitions easier, cheaper and more effective.

3. Mobile Capability

Mobile usage has exploded in the last couple years and it only keeps growing. More than 50 per cent of mobile users use their mobile device as their primary internet source. Appealing to mobile users is, or should be, a big consideration for organizations.

Facebook has a strong presence on mobile with an easy-to-use app. The social network also develops and releases new apps often. This makes the social experience even easier and more engaging for users and more important for organizations looking to build connections.

4. Videos

Videos are a great way to tell stories and the popularity of Vine, Instagram and YouTube underline how important they are to social networking.

Facebook allows organizations to upload videos to their page, capitalizing on the effectiveness of the medium. Combined with the ease with which connections can comment and share on posts, Facebook’s video capabilities measure up quite well against those of other platforms.

5. “Donate Now” Button

Facebook introduced its “Donate Now” button almost two months ago, making it easier for people to give to non-profits and charities. Online giving increased by over 20 per cent in the last year and it continues to trend upward. The “Donate Now” Button helps organizations capitalize on this trend, makes giving easier, and strengthens relationships between non-profits and the community.

6. Event Planning

Getting the word out and coordinating the details of an event can be difficult. That is why Facebook’s event feature is so effective. It enables organizations to plan gatherings and convey information quickly and simply. It also allows attendees to spread the word themselves, helping initiatives grow and thrive. Last, but not least, Facebook’s event feature is unique among social media platforms. No such thing exists on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.

7. Hashtags

Hashtags help organizations appeal to a wider audience and gather great content to share to members and their other connections. While Facebook hashtags took a little while longer to catch on than their Twitter cousins, they are seeing wider acceptance in recent months. Facebook hashtags also keep them level with other social networks that also use hashtags.

8. Networking

Having a space to network with others is the big reason for people to be on social media. Giving people that space will draw people to your organization. Facebook is one of the best platforms to achieve this. Conversations on your organization’s page can be vibrant and sharing the contributions of others can be done in various, engaging ways. At the end of the day, your organization isn’t the only one who will be gaining new friends on Facebook, so will your members.

9. Turning Negative to Positive

Sooner or later, your organization is going to receive some negative feedback. Whether it’s blunt or thinly veiled, criticism is a way of life on social media. The real key is knowing how to deal with negative criticism. Facebook provides a great space to turn that negative into a positive. Other platforms are limited in the amount of characters or the medium you can use and this often limits an organization’s response. Facebook has very few limits and thus provides a forum to turn that frown upside down.

10. Promote Other Platforms

Many non-profits have a multi-faceted approach to social media, using several platforms to serve the community or members. Facebook is a great way to let others know about these other platforms. Promoting your blog, Twitter feed or an infographic you pin on Pinterest is just a click away on Facebook.

Facebook may be getting up there in years, but the social network hasn’t lost its appeal or its effectiveness for non-profits. Happy belated birthday Facebook!

What do you like about Facebook? What non-profits use the platform best? Let us know in the comments!

Three Ways for Non-Profits to Make Social Media Accessible

The world is smaller than it’s ever been and it keeps on shrinking.

Social media has played no small part in bringing the global community closer together. It seems everyone and their uncle is tweeting, posting on Facebook, reading blogs, pinning photos and creating Vines. And for good reason. Learning, networking, giving, sharing, talking, progressing; all are done easier and more engaging on these platforms.

But there are some missing out on this tech revolution. Although it may seem like everyone is signed up and tuned in to social media (and a great many are), there are those who either have no interest in it or do not consider themselves tech-savvy enough to start up an account.

These are the people in your organization, members, donors, volunteers, staff, etc., that are missing out on some of the initiatives your non-profit or association can make happen on social media. So how do you make your efforts accessible to more people and keep your community in the loop? Here are three ways to do just that.

Storify

Storify is a social network that lets the user create archives of conversations had on other social platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. By threading together comments, posts or pictures on a certain topic, Storify enables you to create an informative, interesting and coherent story for those reading it.

Storify doesn’t require a log in or a sign up, so it is easy and requires no set up for those who are social media-adverse. Put together a Storify stream after a Twitter chat or if you’ve documented an event and let your members or community where they can find it. It will allow members who may not have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., to get a recap of important conversations and participate in your organization’s initiatives.

Blog

If your members can access a website, they can read a blog. It’s that easy.

A blog is an easy, no-fuss way to share lots of quality content with your members. Blogs are versatile and can switch from news bulletins to conference updates and in-depth analyses of issues affecting a cause or an industry.

The best part about blogs is their accessibility. Adding a blog to your organization’s website it simple and makes a big impact. Having a blog on your website drives traffic to other parts of your online HQ and promotes conversation between members. But it also gives members who don’t quite have the hang of social media a chance to keep up to date on your content sharing, keeping them just as engaged as the rest of your organization’s community.

Live-Tweet at Events

Some of your members may not have Twitter, but it doesn’t mean they need to miss out on some great tweets during an event.

Hooking up monitors in the room(s) holding your event and setting it to your Twitter feed will expose all attendees to your updates. This low-maintenance strategy, for both your members and your organization, is eye-catching, info-packed and engaging for all in attendance. It may also encourage those who may not use Twitter to get on board with the platform. Don’t be surprised if your organization’s Twitter account has more than a few new followers the next day.

Social media makes information accessible to your association or non-profit’s members or community. But none of this matters if your social media channels are not accessible to all your members. Using the strategies above will help to ensure your whole community is aware of all your efforts online and build connections with those who make your organization thrive.

What tools do you use to make social media accessible? Let us know in the comments! And remember to stay social!

Twitter’s Nearby App Can Help Non-Profits and Associations

Social media has made it easy to reach out to a global audience, but has also renewed the focus on the local.

Companies, organizations and individuals are starting to pay more attention to those in their own backyard. Twitter’s new mobile app, called Nearby, gives a boost to this community-focused strategy.

The feature, which has been in test mode for more than a month, allows users to see a collection of tweets from people close to your location.

While the blogosphere has been abuzz about Nearby’s potential for local businesses, we thought it would be an amazing tool for non-profits and associations to capitalize on.

Here are a few ways organizations could benefit if Nearby is rolled out in full.

Volunteer Searches 

There are probably as many non-profits looking for volunteers as there are people looking for an opportunity to help with events, fundraising and day-to-day work. It’s a match made in heaven, right? Not necessarily.

Finding the right people to help in the right locations can be tricky. Nearby would give organizations a chance to target a local audience with their tweets. This would be the easiest and best way to contact future volunteers while ensuring they are from the area.

Local Chapter Initiatives

Many associations have local chapters that may struggle to be heard over the roar of their national, state or provincial counterparts on social media. Nearby could go a long way to fixing this.

Local chapters are all about drawing local members. By targeting local Twitter users with tweets about local issues, these smaller chapters will be able to cut through the noise to reach their target audience. For example, when promoting an upcoming local chapter event, the posting would show up to a much more select and captive audience than you would be likely to get without Nearby.

Business Improvement Areas

Business Improvement Areas, or BIAs, are the definition of a local non-profit. BIAs, for the most part, advocate for businesses in a small area of a city or town. Nearby seems like a dream app for these organizations. Both their members and their members’ customers are most likely in the area. Knowing who is tweeting what in the area and connecting with these users opens up a whole new way to engage the community.

Promoting Local Sponsors/Members

Every association has members who are doing great things in their community and every non-profit has a sponsor or donor who is dedicated to improving their local area. The Nearby app would be a great way to showcase both these groups and increase awareness of your organization’s partners in a place where they will gain the most benefit and recognition.

By recognizing a sponsor, donor or member and what they are doing in a certain city, it will increase their exposure to an audience that will be most interested and captive. This will go a long way to creating long-lasting relationships between your organization, your sponsors/donors/members and the community they serve.

Although Twitter’s Nearby mobile app is still in its infancy, it’s potential to positively impact non-profits and associations is already sky-high. From fostering relationships to building new ones, Nearby is a great tool for going local and doing so with a bang.

Check it out on your mobile device and let us know what you think. Also feel free to comment below and tell us how your organization connects with the local community. Stay social everyone!