Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Six Points for Good Content Leading to Engagement

Engagement comes from content. And the most often given advice about content? Make it good. But what, exactly does that mean? What is good content?
  • Relevancy, Timeliness
  • Informative, Funny, or Touching
  • Presentation
  • Visual/Audial
  • Inviting Comment or Elaboration

Relevancy, Timeliness

Via Media Republic/Global Voices
What you're posting about has to be something meaningful to your audience. If your NGO works with others to stop human trafficking, then it's likely your audience has come to you for information with relevance to that. And if it ties-in to something that is currently in the news or viral, all the better. This doesn't mean you can't post content that has little or nothing to do with your mission - you can come at your subject obliquely or even not mention it, if your content is something you know your community shares an interest in. With the right caption, even an LOL Cat can communicate some of the difficulties of the hopeful, yet often frustrating work you do. Be aware of what memes are and which ones are trending (being shared a lot) and use them when you can do so appropriately.

Informative, Funny, or Touching

Informative could be describing what your NGO buys with donations or how data is being used to find the people who need your help the most. You can switch this up with content that addresses something similar but does it with an emphasis on finding the humor in problematic situations or making the struggles involved more real and therefore able to be empathized with. Keep the mix going so that your community can find something in their stream from you that appeals to them.


Be sparing with your words, even if the platform allows you to use as many as you like. With text, make your first sentence something that will get their attention. Be careful with grammar and punctuation. If you're using a platform that allows hashtags, use them, but keep them separate from the text - a post becomes harder to read when each word in the title or description has # in front of it (e.g., #lonely #dogs #need #homes #now).

Available on Zazzle


If selfies have taught us anything, it's that people love visuals. And platforms like Twitter have made them easier to share than before. Audial pieces are catching on as well, although the preponderance of people are more visual than hearing oriented. Still, an occasional inclusion of something to listen to will provide variety to your content stream. Podcasts, animated gifs, slideshares or graphs with voiceover, and video are all different ways to engage with your community and freshen up your messages. There's even a new service for audial posts:

Inviting Comment or Elaboration

Whenever your posting, design/write your post with the idea of inviting comment, elaboration, or collaboration. Questions such as 'would you do this?' or 'how would you manage it?' have always been good, but you can even use hashtags which can take the shape of an informal comment or even a punchline:

Plus, as the example above indicates, using hashtags to express emotion can lead to engagement because it's our emotions that get us involved and talking.

Good content starts with a good idea - you already have that in your small nonprofit. What you seek to do is translate your mission into easily understood conversation. And just as you wouldn't check your feelings at the door when talking with a friend, you should keep them in your social communications.

The Sixth Point

If you've been counting, you know I've only covered five points. The sixth is not something you can include in content. It's Response. Too often we focus on what we can say instead of listening. To really promote engagement in your social media accounts, pay attention to what is in them. And respond. Even if you don't say anything more profound than "Love that" or "LOL" you are connecting with someone and that will encourage them to re-connect.

Good Information

Richard Millington of the UK is a master of building community. Check him out here.
Data can lie - here's how visual representations of big data can be misused on purpose (article by Ravi Parikh).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Facebook - Stay or Go?

More and more folks appear to be waking up to the change in their reach on Facebook - seeing a lot more posts wondering whether they should stay or go. And since FB hasn't said anything about whether they'd cut the nonprofits any slack, that's a question that's going to remain a while. So what to do?
I think this is a good time to experiment. Patricia Redsicker cites recent research indicating that social media platforms that play to peoples' visual senses do better than other platforms. Facebook is number one on that list, but that may be partially due to it's being around the longest. And one study at Princeton has them losing 80% of their base within the next three years. Also in the running are Tumblr and Pinterest.


So why spend some time on Tumbler or Pinterest, depending on where you think your audience is. Tumblr is where a lot of the younger people are these days; good if you've been wanting to engage with a larger number of young volunteers or donors. Here's what turned up when I did a search for 'nonprofit' on Tumblr:

There are several nonprofits on Tumblr and if you do a search, you'll probably find several groups who can inspire your own Tumblr page. 

I found Tumblr pretty easy to use, but if you'd like some coaching, there are a number of tutorials, including this one on Digital Trend. For more tutorials, just Google how to use Tumblr.


Pinterest is another visual platform. Rather than blogging, you pin pictures to various boards - think of each board as a picture album. Each picture can be associated with a specific link and has a description. Here's a bit of what I got when I searched for 'nonprofit organizations':

You could set up different boards for different programs and the pictures could direct the viewer to a blog, an article, an invitation, a web page - anyplace where the picture is available to be pinned from. Write a good description and add a comment and you can start a conversation.

The audience, according to many social media consultants, is mostly women.

What About Facebook?

No need to give up on it just yet; keep up with posting and engaging. Just make that you don't go on autopilot. Making your content worth looking at is always a goal to write towards and the best way to help make sure it reaches your intended audience. Strive to be fresh and interesting rather than boastful or boring. Include images because they really do help.

Tip: It used to be that people would frown on you for liking your own post, but these days, that like might help get your post seen in the first place instead of seen by less than 6% of your followers and falling quickly off the page soon after.

Finally, make sure you track what kind of engagement you're getting and how much. You will need this information to help you decide whether or not you want to stay or go.