Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Interaction and Asking in Social Media - 9 Things to Keep in Mind

My online friend and fellow Santa Cruzan, Kevin W. Grossman is a thought leader in human resources and recruitment. The other day he posted a link to an article by James Bowley about personalizing the HR transaction.
The challenge isn't just about the existence of information [...] It's about whether your [HR] message reaches its intended audience, and when it does if it's engaging enough that they'll pay attention.
 Although Mr. Bowley is talking about HR communicating with employees and managers, I realized that his points are just as applicable to interactions between you and your supporters on social media platforms. There are nine categories in the article, which I've divided up into Interaction and Asking. Let's take a look:

This is when you're monitoring social media and looking for opportunities to start or join a conversation that touches on your mission. 

Speak On Their Terms
General messages don't reach people. Know who you are trying to reach. If you have someone who regularly shows up in your feed, address your posts to them without using their name. If you don't have a regular, use this trick from my theatre days; imagine someone in the audience, someone particular and play to that person. This will help keep your posts from sounding one-size-fits-all or like they came from a bot.

Speak in a Localized Language
While you should avoid agency or nonprofit jargon, if your audience is a group with a bit of language of their own (think farmers, educators, etc.), then don't hesitate to sprinkle a little of the phrases most commonly heard in the community. Not so much that you come off like a wannabe, but enough that you don't come off as an outsider, either.

Learn From The Questions They Ask (and What They Do)
Are there follow-up questions to something you've posted? They might present opportunities for adding to your knowledge or show up gaps in your information or how you've presented it. If you've put out a link, are they following up on it? Ask why or why not. What posts are being shared or liked? What do they have in common?

Promote the Organization
Each time you enter into a conversation with someone online, it's an opportunity to tell them not just about the subject under discussion but how it fits in with what the nonprofit is doing overall. For example, when the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz hosts its annual Human Race kickoff breakfast, they aren't just telling groups how to fundraise with the event, but making a pitch for community collaboration.

This is when you need help from the community - volunteer, funds, or just sharing a post.

What You Want Them to Do
Be very clear and very specific. Don't ask them to donate, ask them to donate to a specific program or even a specific part of a program. Donations of pencils can be easier to come by than nonspecific donations of office supplies because it can be visualized easier.

When You Want Them to Do It
Leave something open-ended, and it will be more easily overlooked. If you ask for boxes of crayons to be donated by the date that the first drawing class is to start, you'll have a better chance of getting just that.

Tell Them Why You Want Them to Do It
From Indiegogo Campaign: Keeping Hunger at Bay
Naturally, it's a good thing you're asking them to do, but give them some kind of reward they can visualize, like the smile of a child being able to open a new box of crayons or the expression of an elderly, house-bound person opening a Valentine's Day card. Tell them how their action will help specifically. Even better - use a photo, a video, a slideshow, or a gif.

Enrich Decisions With Analytics
Show how their decision will impact the nonprofit. We've all seen the commercials where the narrator tells how each dollar amount translates into real help. These translations aid people in already seeing themselves as helping in a concrete way. Use figures, infographics, and cite studies or experts and provide links, particularly as you follow-up during the campaign: "Because of the volunteers signed up so far, we estimate we'll be able to host 50 tours this year - but we would LOVE to be able to host 100! With your help, we can get there by February 15th! Please share."

Whenever you personalize and use specificity in your social media interactions, you're increasing your chances of getting that one more bit that can put you over the top and help you make your goal.

Crowdsourcing/Social Media fundraising Win: Shakespeare Play On
In three months, they managed to raise enough money to fund their 2014 season. If possible, I'll find out how they did it, and write about it here.

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