5 Reasons For Associations To Consider Producing Sponsored Content

Everyone loves Buzzfeed, right? The eclectic online media platform has become a cultural phenomenon that has achieved incredible staying power over the years, which is not an easy task in the age of fleeting viral sensations. With its wacky quizes, addictive lists, GIF-filled editorial and surprisingly solid long-form articles, Buzzfeed has become an online powerhouse. It’s that one site millions of people click on every day just by habit.

While the incredible share-ability of its articles deserve much of the credit for Buzzfeed’s success, there’s another strategy the site has used and elevated to great effect during its rise to the top that has allowed it to grow and thrive; sponsored content.

While sponsored content (the practice of allowing companies to post online content, such as a blog post, to a platform in return for money instead of the traditional approach of blatant advertising) is nothing new, Buzzfeed has surely embraced the strategy more than most and has been successful with this model. Posts like “9¬†Things That Have Changed In The Last 20 Years” and “Sunbathing: Expectation Vs. Reality” (sponsored by Motorola and Cancer Research UK respectively) are just two examples of this sponsored content or native advertising.

Sponsored content isn’t purely the domain of big-time online media platforms. Here are five reasons your association should consider implementing a sponsored content strategy for its social media efforts.

Brings In Revenue

This one is a no-brainer. Your association is already pulling in sponsorship money by giving companies a forum to promote their products at events, in your magazine and on your website. With sponsored content, you can add another way for companies to get their point across to your members. It’s a win/win situation in which the association gets another revenue source and more money to invest in member benefits.

Provides Value To Sponsors

Your sponsors are super important. They give a lot of money to your association, which in turn can be used to fuel the organization’s ongoing efforts and new projects. However, sponsors want to see a return on their investment as well. If associations fail to highlight the value of sponsorship, that money won’t be flowing through the door for very long. Generating sponsored content for your association’s online platforms allows the association to analyze the response to the content even better than traditional media. You can show sponsors valuable performance indicators such as clicks, views, read time, etc., that highlight the increased engagement between members and the sponsor. Going into a meeting with a current or potential sponsor armed with this data is a powerful strategy to receive and hold onto sponsorship dollars.

Gives More Information To Members

While sponsored content may seem like nothing more than hiding an advertisement inside some hastily put-together paragraphs, if you plan right and put in the work with your advertising partners, this content can really help your association’s members. The companies paying for these sponsored content slots often have a beat on the newest trends, innovations and thoughts in the industry and can shed light on the information members value most. Create some guidelines for the companies you are working with or have a brainstorming session with them to ensure the content they push out via sponsored posts fit with the needs of members. This will help get members more engaged as well. Remember, sponsors have a reason for creating solid, engaging content as well; they want eyes on their content!

Gets You First Dibs On Exclusive Content

As we said in the previous section, sponsors are usually businesses that are in tune with the needs, wants and views of members and have the resources to introduce innovative solutions to their problems. Giving these companies a platform on which to introduce these products to their target audience (your members) allows them to promote new products quickly in a forum their demographics trust while also building up the perception of the associations among members as an organization that is on the cutting-edge and exhibits the most current developments in the industry. This way, when your members are thinking of where to look for all the latest news, they will think of your association first.

Promotes Events, Services And Initiatives Better

Sponsored content is a two-way street. Once your sponsor has created content and paid for it, it makes sense for them to get their money’s worth by spreading that content everywhere, from Twitter to Facebook to their own website. Usually, their target audience is your audience, so casting a net this wide will inevitably increase awareness and exposure of your association among the people who matter most to the organization. Depending on the type of content in the sponsored post, this can lead to more attention for your association’s next big conference or a new opportunity for members created by the association, which can then lead to more revenue.

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.

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.