Yesterday, August 11, was the first ever Social Media for Non-profits, Toronto Meetup group, sponsored by Incline Marketing and there was no shortage of great tips from the speaker and engaging discussion among the attendees.
If you are unfamiliar with Meetups and what they are all about, you shouldn’t be for much longer. They are one of the next steps in continuing education and are a great way to learn and network.
Last night’s event looked at blogging and how non-profits, associations, charities and small businesses can utilize the platform to grow and thrive. The speaker, online marketing specialist Kelsey Atkinson, gave a great talk that covered everything from the benefits of blogging to the nitty gritty task of actually writing a post.
Here are six main takeaways from the presentation and discussion:
1. Google Gets Bored Easily
There are numerous reasons why you should have a blog (community building and content creation for example), but one reason you may not have thought of is improved search engine optimization.
In extremely simplified terms, SEO is what determines what page your website shows up on when a current or potential member of your community searches for relevant words or phrases on search engines, like Google.
Atkinson says that Google is always looking for new content on your organization’s website to determine its relevancy. You are not going to be updating your mission statement, list of services or contact information every week or month, so a blog is the best way to get fresh content on your website that will make it easier for people to find your site and get some value once they are there.
2. Give The People What They Want
One of Atkinson’s points was to tailor your blog design to the wants and needs of your audience. This may seem like a no-brainer, but there are many little details that are nonetheless important and often get left by the wayside when you are planning and publishing your blog.
For example, if your members or readers are predominantly seniors, make your blog’s font larger so it is easier to read. If the majority of readers are people from your industry, feel free to use jargon and pro-speak because your audience might feel insulted if they think it’s been dumbed down. However, if you’re writing for the general public, simplify things a little so readers don’t feel alienated, confused and left out.
3. Ask And You Shall Receive
Social media is a great way to come up with ideas for blog posts and hidden among the tweets and links to other blogs is another great source for content; questions to your community.
Atkinson says that asking questions on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms can generate great responses and even better blog topics for your site. When you get to the heart of what members/donors/volunteers/customers are thinking and doing on a regular basis, you can determine what issues are most engaging and relevant to your community. Answers to your questions can open your mind up to fresh perspectives and views that you never would have thought of otherwise.
4. There’s More Than One Way To Skin a Blog
Writing a blog week after week, month after month can be monotonous at times, so imagine how your readers might feel. Posting the same old blog post, in the same old format can get tiresome for your community and can end up driving them away.
Luckily, Atkinson had a few pointers on how to change things up from time to time and inject some excitement into your organization’s posts. She outlined five different types of blogs in her presentation, which included lists (good for a quick read, categorizes information to make it engaging and easy to take in), interviews with staff/members/etc (get a fresh voice on your blog, it’s conversational, highlight’s passion), visual (photo collages or infographics that present your organization and stats in an engaging way), guest posts (a fresh voice, lends legitimacy to your blog) and the traditional take (informative, in-depth, storytelling).
5. Stop, Collaborate and Listen
Before you hit publish on your newest post, you should probably take one extra step, says Atkinson.
It’s always a good idea to get someone else from your organization or industry to give your post a once-over before it goes live. This not only cuts down on the amount of inevitable spelling and grammar errors, but it also serves as a check and balance for your style, format, voice and information. The proof-reader may alert you to the fact that you are using too much jargon or that you need to include links within your text to guide people to other parts of your website with more information.
Sometimes an extra set of eyes is just what your blog post needs to cover all the bases and take that one extra step from good to great.
6. Use The Well-Worn Path
Having a blog on your organization’s website is no good if no one reads it. That is why promotion is so crucial to realizing the benefits of blogging.
There are the social media channels of course. Tweeting, posting on Facebook and LinkedIn and pinning your blog on Pinterest are all great ways to get the word out. But there are many other paths that are already well-established within your organization that will help people find your blog, says Atkinson.
Tack the web address for your blog onto your email signature and business card for when you are getting in contact with members or connecting with a colleague at a conference. Add a link to the organization’s blog to the weekly or monthly e-newsletter. Tell people about your blog before you start a presentation or when you create your organization’s regular magazine. Your organization has worked hard to establish a connection with its community. Use these connections to draw attention, and traffic, to you blog!
Creating, maintaining and growing a blog for your non-profit, association, charity or small business takes a lot of work and dedication. The six points above can go a long way to helping you sustain your passion for the project moving forward and will ultimately lead to growing your organization.
Thank you to everyone who came out to the first ever Social Media for Non-profits, Toronto Meetup. Stay tuned to lots more opportunities to meet up and learn about social media in the near future!