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!

The New Platform That Could Revolutionize The Way Non-profits Do Meetings

Camaraderie is one word often linked to associations and other non-profits. Being in an association means connecting with those who share your passion and working together with those people to strengthen a cause or an industry. It’s not uncommon for members to meet life-long friends or mentors through an organization.

Non-profit events are the place to go to find friendship and togetherness. Some of the best conversation and biggest brainstorms can come when members connect face-to-face. So why not have more meetings, events, conferences, etc.?

This is easier said than done. Events are expensive and take a lot of time and resources to coordinate, especially for non-profits with finite staff members and budget space.

That’s why Meetup is such a great platforms. Meetup is a site that bills itself as “neighbours getting together to learn something, do something, share something.” Basically, it is a platform where you can search for a group of like-minded individuals in your community who meet up, network and talk about their passion. And it has the potential to revolutionize the way non-profits serve their community.

Here are four ways Meetup can help raise your organization up and give your community an opportunity to thrive.

#1. Encourages Board Members to Get Involved

Your Board of Directors may be spread out across the province, state or country. Although they may want to help the organization and its community, sometimes they are limited to monthly or quarterly meetings because of geography.

One of the best features of Meetup is that a meeting can take place anywhere and anyone can plan one. The members of your Board can take advantage of this to coordinate a meeting with your non-profit’s community wherever they are. It’s a great way for the Board members to get involved, get to know the community and put their own mark on the organization.

#2. Empowers Local Chapters/Leaders

Members of national organizations likely share the same problem as Board members; they are spread far afield and chances to connect with others in the community are few and far between. Local chapters and leaders in the community may want to build up the organization, but lack the resources, time and know-how to do so.

Meetup gives these individuals an opportunity to organize a gathering of local members, share stories, take the pulse of the community, gain feedback and increase services. Engaging the local community is important to ensuring the larger organization enjoys a dedicated member-base that will keep coming back again and again. Meetup is a great way to start achieving this goal.

#3. Promotes Your Organization

Organizing a meetup, big or small, can bring more awareness to your non-profit and grow its community. Meetup is one more platform that gets the word out about your organization. Its search function makes it easy for those with an interest in the cause or industry to find a meeting you have planned.

Meetups are also a chance for current members of your organization’s community to show a friend or colleague what your non-profit has to offer. It’s a perfect place to connect with people that share the same interest as you and get to know the benefits of joining an organization full-time without formalities, a hard sell or a rigid schedule.

#4. Gives Members Some Freedom

The conference or event scene isn’t for everyone. Don’t get us wrong, events are amazing. They raise awareness, provide networking and learning opportunities and connect organizations with those in the industry. But sometimes people won’t attend because of limited financial resources, geography or a feeling that the event lacks relevancy for them.

Meetup can change all this by putting event planning in the hands of members. They can meet up, network and find solutions to shared problems in the setting they want, at a time they want. That can mean meeting for lunch every week to hear a professional speaker talk to the group or it can mean a monthly pub night. Organizing a meetup or helping members organize a meetup gives your organization the ability to connect with different demographics in an efficient and cost-effective way because it gives people the choice to network the way they want to network.

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There’s no telling what the future of event planning has in store, especially because each and every organization is different. Meetup offers a great option for non-profits searching for ways to connect its members with each other and the organization itself. Don’t forget to promote any meetups on your other social media platforms and follow up using your various social media channels.

Let us know what you think about Meetup and how you can see your organization using the site. And, as always, stay social!

Social Media And The Shutdown: What To Do When Your Website Isn’t Working

It’s inconvenient, it’s panic-inducing and it’s time-consuming; it’s the dreaded website shutdown and it’s going to happen to you sooner or later.

Your non-profit’s website can go dark for any number of reason, but it’s usually technical difficulties or because it’s receiving an update/facelift. These things happen. Updates are especially inevitable, a sort of necessary evil. But as much as a website shutdown is unavoidable at times, it still causes headaches for members and upsets would-be visitors to your site.

Luckily, social media can help cure some of what ails your organization when its website goes on vacation. Having a social media strategy for a website shutdown is important and can serve as one part of a larger plan for your non-profit when dealing with emergencies.

Twitter and Facebook are great social media platforms to use during a website shutdown. Both sites allow you to get the word out fast and efficiently while giving your community access to your organization without using its website.

Twitter and Facebook are great platforms to use to notify your community if you know your website is going to be down. It is important to post frequent messages with details of the shutdown in the days leading up to it. This way, your community will know what’s going on and can plan their actions accordingly. You definitely don’t want your community renewing their membership or donating money at the time of a shutdown. Twitter and Facebook can help prevent that.

If your website blacks-out without warning, Twitter and Facebook are great tools to notify your community, handle criticism in a helpful and transparent manner and help your community with any questions they would normally look to the website to answer. Twitter and Facebook are great for this because they allow you to instantly connect with your community and have conversations that could save your members, donors and volunteers time, money and headaches.

YouTube is another great tool to use during a website shutdown, especially if you know ahead of time that your site is going to be unavailable to your community. Being unable to access a website can mean not being able to contribute money, sign up to volunteer, learn about an organization or become a member, no matter how much you care about the organization. Making a YouTube video can help guide your community and ensure that even after the website shutdown, people come back to your site again and again.

Making a YouTube video ahead of a planned shutdown can help communicate important points to your non-profit’s community in an engaging and lighthearted way while including a human element to the process. It can help explain the need for a shutdown (a retooling, general maintenance, etc) by describing how one inconvenience will make the experience better for a long time to come. Explaining ways that your community can stay involved or find information during a website shutdown can also be a fun and informative way to handle the issue.

Shutting down your website, even if it’s just for an hour or two, can be a tough, but necessary decision. When it happens without warning, it can be a nightmare for you, your organization and its community. Having a plan in place to deal with this issue is important to responding quickly and ensuring your community doesn’t abandon your non-profit. Social media can be a huge factor in this strategy and can put a positive spin on an otherwise unsavory activity. Building a strong social media presence today can help you with your bugs and glitches tomorrow.