Tag Archives: Social media

What’s “Good” Nonprofit Facebook Growth?

Being liked on Facebook isn’t enough, but it’s not a bad place to start. Facebook continues to be an important channel for building engagement with community members, volunteers, donors and potential donors.

In March 2010 I started tracking a sampling of Sacramento nonprofits to understand something about the growth of Facebook. By “sampling,” I do not mean that I constructed a representative sample; let’s say I taste-tested them to get a sense of average performance and growth. Though there were baseline numbers out there in the blogosphere, they were generally for big, national organizations. I wanted to know what a local nonprofit should be striving to achieve.

I’ve now got 33* organizations in my sights including a few that I added in this round and a few that I exclude from analysis as outliers.

Here are the highlights from an analysis of 24 local nonprofits:

  • In 2010 (when I was tracking a much smaller comparison group), the average number of likes was around 500. The average is now 973.
  • I was surprised by the continuing growth between June 3, 2012 and June 3, 2013. As the denominator gets bigger, it gets harder to achieve impressive growth. That’s just math. I was also concerned that Facebook’s changes have made it harder for nonprofits’ content to be seen as widely. Among the 24 nonprofits who had at least 500 likes last year, growth ranged from a low of 11% (People Reaching Out) to a high of 63% (United Way California Capital Region).
  • In the group with 500-1,000 likes last year, growth averaged 34%. (United Way fell in this group, with 501 likes as of 6/3/12 and 815 as of 6/2/13).
  • In the group with 1,000+ likes last year, growth averaged 39%. The “winner” in this larger category was Effie Yeaw Nature Center, which grew from 1,125 likes a year ago to 1,763 today. The growth of this larger category impressed me. It suggested that whatever “machine” they ginned up to get to the 1,000 mark is still accelerating.

What about the outliers?

I don’t know what’s going on with Stanford Youth Solutions (formerly Stanford Children’s Home). They started their Facebook page in 2011 and had 393 likes this time last year. Now they have 70. They’ve redone their website but their social link (singular) is buried (unobtrusively displayed on the right several screen swipes down).

Susan G. Komen, which experienced a dramatic drop in racer participants, has also had a huge loss in Facebook friends, dropping from 9,815 in 2012 to 6,948 today, a 29% drop.

I also exclude the Crocker Art Museum because of their size. But they should be feeling great about continuing growth, from 13,860 a year ago to 18,194 today, 31% growth!

How’d they do that?

Facebook doesn’t have to be a part of a nonprofit’s marketing strategy, but I’d be hard pressed to come up with a circumstance when it doesn’t belong in it.

One of the obvious differences between organizations that grew rapidly and those that didn’t is the placement of Facebook on their website page. I suspect that also carries over to other communications – printed materials, emails, etc.

For every rule, however, there’s an exception. Effie Yeaw is obviously doing a great job of promoting their Facebook page, but not on their website. If the link is there, I couldn’t find it!

I’ll do some more sleuthing to see if I can ferret out winning approaches in content as a driver of Facebook growth.

*The organizations I track – all local affiliates:

United Way, American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Clubs, Child Abuse Prevention Center, Children’s Receiving Home, Crocker Art Museum, Diogenes Youth Center, Effie Yeaw, Foodlink, Francis House, Give Local Now, Goodwill, Hands On Sacramento, Junior Achievement, Lilliput, Loaves and Fishes, Make a Wish, People Reaching Out, PRIDE Industries, River City Food Bank, Sacramento Children’s Home, Sacramento Steps Forward, Sacramento Tree Foundation, Sierra Forever Families, Salvation Army, Susan G. Komen, Stanford Youth Solutions, St. John’s Shelter, Volunteers of America, WEAVE, WIND Youth Services, Women’s Empowerment, The Y of Sacramento

Comments Off on What’s “Good” Nonprofit Facebook Growth?

Filed under Social media, Uncategorized

More on Seattle’s #GiveBig Online Giving Event

Give Big home screen

I popped over to Twitter to see if #GiveBig was being used as a hashtag for Seattle’s community-giving event since it wasn’t obviously promoted on the home page of The Seattle Foundation, host of the event. Sure enough, #GiveBig was beginning to heat up.

I immediately noticed that my alma mater, the University of Puget Sound, was tweeting about its “One of A Kind” capital and scholarship fundraising campaign. As I did with Sacramento’s Arts Day of Giving, I made a small donation to support the Loggers (yes, Loggers) and learn more about how Seattle/Tacoma is deploying technology to support charitable giving. And naturally I sniffed around a bit to see how different nonprofits were using the opportunity.

Not all tweets were created equal

Some nonprofits seemed to use their 140 character message spaces more effectively than others:

  • The Pike Place Market Foundation won my prize for “best Twitter voice.” Twitter messages tend to be a bit cheeky and I liked their “#GiveBig to the Pig” message (“Rachel,” the 550-lb. bronze pig statue at the Pike Place Market is a famous landmark). But I suppose it’s hard to replicate this particular tactic if you don’t have an iconic farm animal associated with your charity. However, this can be emulated: The Pike Place Market folks chose to include a shortened ow.ly link to take people right to a donation page. I noticed that other charities linked to their event profile page, which would have required one more click to donate. A small thing perhaps, but you lose “customers” with every extra click.

Pike Place Market #GiveBig tweet

Seattle Foundation giving page

  • Some nonprofits’ messages struck me as more powerful than others. They moved beyond the obvious, such as focusing on the generic “it’s #GiveBig day” message, the opportunity for matching funds, or a few phrases about what they do (e.g. “serve 5,000+ homeless families ea yr” or “supporting girls and women”). Better examples: @ConservationNW got a little conversation going by encouraging people to list favorite animals. @MakeAWishAKWA tweeted a beautiful image they posted on Instagram.

@Conservation NW tweet

Make a Wish tweet

Make A Wish Instagram Image #WishBig #GiveBig

  • A number of charities asked for help funding specific programs. @IslandWood tweeted: “Every gift of $25 on May 15th funds an outdoor learning adventure,” and @GenderOdyssey made an appeal for funding of a staff position: “It’s true! We want to hire a Conference Director!! There’s just one thing…” (the tweet continued with a link to a blog post about the need for paid staff help).

Technology notes

Communities have assembled the technology for online giving events several ways. Sacramento’s Arts Day of Giving modified Guidestar’s Donor Edge ecommerce tools. Several other high profile online giving events, like Greater Washington’s “Give to the Max,”  have used Razoo.

I know that the Arts Day of Giving folks worked hard to make sure the e-commerce site wouldn’t crash with the volume they hoped to generate, and it looks like Seattle’s behind-the-scenes e-commerce provider, ClickAndPledge, also kept up per the Tweet below:

Tweet about receipts

BUT least two nonprofits posted that their website was down during the event. Nonprofits could experience more intense website traffic than they have experienced previously, since all of the push happens in a 24-hour period. Nonprofits: be ready!

Comparing Seattle/Tacoma and Sacramento:

There were a few things that I liked better about the way Seattle managed its Give Big event, and a few things I liked better about Sacramento’s approach:

Seattle wins:

  • For including the option of a survey (an embedded Survey Monkey link) that popped up right after you make a donation. It might have been a bit long (15 questions), but I liked the additional information about whether these are additional gifts if someone has given before.

Give Big survey - 1st five questions

  • For being able to process receipts that come through with the name of the organization as the sender (the email also had a pdf attachment with a printer-friendly version). The receipts lacked any kind of emotion, but the specific sender did underline the connection to the charity (and tax deductibility).
  • For giving people the option of donating to a stretch pool. Sacramento used matching funds from partners, but Seattle let community members continue to add to those matching funds. I thought this was a nice solution for people who wanted to participate in Give Big, but weren’t attached to a specific nonprofit.
  • For their use of Twitter pics, which looked great on a computer screen. I also noticed that Jimi Hendrix Park made nice use of this feature:

Give Big Twitter pic

Jimi Hendrix Park

Arts Day of Giving wins:

  • For promoting Twitter more visibly on the home page of the campaign. Seattle’s Give Big folks did promote social sharing but you saw the Twitter and Facebook push after completing a donation. This shouldn’t be an either/or. It would be best to promote the Twitter hashtag on the home page and have easy next-steps on the screen that pops up after donating.

Give Big post-donation screen

  • For a better way to list nonprofits. Both cities had a search field that made it easy to find a nonprofit if you knew who you wanted to donate to. But Sacramento created “buckets” — categories — of nonprofits while Seattle offered up a verrrrryyyy long directory of nonprofits. It felt like it took five minutes to find University of Puget Sound.

Seattle Give Big nonprofit list

Should Sacramento be afraid of becoming too successful?

I stumbled across one other important bit of dialogue while kicking around the Seattle event: it may be beginning to wear out some participants. Seattle’s event, by the way, is now in its third year.

Humanosphere, which reports news and analysis of global health and the fight against poverty, noted that it “drives many people nuts” because people are getting deluged with emails from nonprofits who have their email addresses. It’s a big enough issue that a guest column by Joy Portella, a consultant formerly with Mercy Corps, was published in the Seattle Times.

Both note that the online giving event may be especially helpful to small nonprofits that simply can’t get their message to penetrate to the same degree on their own.

If people in Seattle/Tacoma are getting deluged with emails from nonprofits, it suggests to me that there is a cadre of people who are very involved in supporting the community. These people may indeed get a bit annoyed by the “cacophony” as Joy Portella put it.

But Sacramento has a long way to go to get more people to give charitably, on a par with other communities our size.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Finally! Online Community Giving Blitz Comes to Sacramento

#artsdayofgiving

In 2011, I wrote about Washington DC’s “Give to the Max” online fundraising blitz, and I’ve been anxiously waiting for something like that to come to Sacramento. This Monday, April 29, that moment arrives as Give Local Now, the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, For Arts’ Sake, Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission and the Nonprofit Resource Center bring us the Arts Day of Giving. As happy as I am for the arts organizations that will benefit, I’m even more excited about what it potentially means for all local nonprofits. I caught up with Susan Frazier of Give Local Now to learn more about the event — and the progress of Give Local Now’s efforts to energize local giving.

Let’s start with the basics: what do you want people to do on April 29?

We want them to go onto givelocalnow.com, where they will be redirected to a special giving page. The page will be up over the weekend but they won’t be able to donate until 4:29 a.m. on Monday, April 29. It’s very simple and quick to get to a list of nonprofits and pick the one you want to donate to. The page can handle 10,000 transactions a minute so it’s not going to slow down. Check out the tutorial about a minute in:

You can also help by spreading the word. Local arts organizations stand to win prizes including $1,000 for the organization that generates the most posts on Facebook and Twitter during the 24-hour-period, but posts must be public and use the hashtag #artsdayofgiving.

Is this the first 24-hour online giving event in the area that benefits a group of nonprofits?

It is. You have to have sophisticated technology in place, which we now have, thanks to the Sacramento Region Community Foundation. The next online giving event will benefit the full sector of nonprofits, in May of next year.

The Sacramento Region Community Foundation has been terrific. The amount of labor and investment that they’ve taken on has been stunning. It’s a real gift to the region. They both funded and staffed the development of the technology.

Technology is more and more important to nonprofits. What technology was required to make this online giving event possible?

We integrated two pieces of existing technology: a database and an ecommerce/campaign tool. The database comes from Guidestar; they branded it as DonorEdge but we renamed it GivingEdge. The secure ecommerce/campaign tool provides the landing page for the day, which will instantly track and display each donation and all kinds of statistics as the day goes along. You’ll be able to tell which nonprofits are getting what and how we’re doing against our goal.

The database allows donors to see really robust information about a nonprofit’s programs, financials, management and governance. We only have the arts organizations profiles now but by fall we hope to have good representation of all sectors of the local nonprofit community. While Guidestar includes all IRS-registered nonprofits, those organizations will have to choose to complete a profile for GivingEdge. The database shines a lot of light and transparency on organizations.

What do you hope will be raised for the arts?

We hope to raise as much as $500,000. We have $100,000 in matching donations from a variety of corporate sponsors and businesses and restaurants that are offering discounts or freebies to contributors who show a receipt for their donation via print out or on their smart phone. And this was just added: Bistro 33 locations are offering a 20% discount to donors and Harv’s Car Wash will provide a free wash. We’re deeply grateful for the support of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, Western Health Advantage, Wells Fargo Bank, Barry and Lynda Keller, Enlow and Mel Ose Endowment for the Arts, Safe Credit Union, Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, and the Jean Runyon Endowment for the Arts Fund, which will give a cash prize of $1,767 to the arts organization that raises the most overall during the event.

Why the particular focus on the arts?

The original initiative idea came from “For Arts’ Sake,” through Mayor Kevin Johnson’s office. They thought it would be a great use of their initiative and they knew they couldn’t do it alone.

What are you hearing from local nonprofits about their fundraising success as the local economy begins to slowly improve?

I’m hearing about a slight uptick, but there’s also a lot of concern among donors. As one donor said to me, “Darn, I thought this economic downturn would get rid of some of these nonprofits.” What’s behind that is some skepticism about whether the sector has too much duplication. Nonprofits are really frustrated with that, that they may not be able to attract donors, often because of a misperception. That’s something that this database can help with. It may show that they fill a need that other nonprofits do not, or suggest opportunities for collaboration.

What’s next for Give Local Now?

We’re gearing up with a bunch of different strategies. One of them is the nonprofit capacity piece, working through the Nonprofit Resource Center to build fundraising skills of nonprofits and their Boards through training, and to make them better stewards of the resources they have. We can help them with their message about why they’re worthy to invest in, as opposed to “help us because we’re desperate.” We’ve written a grant for a series of training sessions that will bring executive directors and Boards together to help them understand fund development better – their different roles and responsibilities as well as best practice strategies.

Another focus is measurement. In September 2011, we announced three ambitious goals: to increase the regional average of households that give to charities; increase the average household contribution of households that give; and increase the share of giving that stays here in the area vs. benefiting national or international charities. To help us track progress, we’re developing a set of measures using nonprofit partners’ results as the data source. But first, we need to get local nonprofits on the GivingEdge tool.

The third thing we’re doing is developing a whole suite of new tools that will help local nonprofits connect with donors. We are changing out the website to have a lot more donor tools on it, and to enable donors to get a lot more information about local nonprofits.

The fourth strategy is just an awareness and outreach strategy, with an underlying idea of building regional pride. If information about the cool things that are happening here were more broadly known, there would be a greater sense of pride in philanthropy.

What are some of the cool things you’re seeing?

One example is “Reason to Party,” which organizes events benefiting a cause they select as a way for 20-somethings to have fun and donate. It’s pretty inspiring. Another is the El Dorado Giving Circle, a group of several hundred women in the foothills who contribute individually and pool their donations to make an impact on a cause they select together. The Metro Chamber’s Project Inspire is another innovative way approach to philanthropy, where anyone who donates $250 or more can participate in supporting an exciting project benefiting the Sacramento area community.

Any parting words?

There’s nothing static about Give Local Now. New ideas come in everyday. I really see it as a snowball rolling down hill that’s picking up pieces as it goes. It’s a catalyst. We’re starting to attract people that can see this as a vehicle for change.

Comments Off on Finally! Online Community Giving Blitz Comes to Sacramento

Filed under fundraising, Uncategorized

Benchmarking Facebook page growth among Sacramento nonprofits

We interrupt our series on strategic planning for nonprofits to check in on an important tactic. Although organizations like NTEN collect and report valuable benchmark data about online communication and fundraising by nonprofits, they usually survey nonprofits that are much larger than those in a community the size of Sacramento.

Starting in March 2010, I began collecting information about Sacramento nonprofits’ Facebook results. Initially I looked at a dozen or so. In September 2011, I expanded my efforts and started tracking more than 30 organizations’ Facebook pages. I took another snapshot today.

Since I have more data for the 9-month period, I’ll report that. Excluding three outliers, nonprofits here in Sacramento experienced an average growth of 38.6% in “likes” over the past 9 months. Among nonprofits who had between 500 and 1,000 “likes” as of September 2011, Effie Yeaw appears to be the winner. In September 2011, they had been liked by 621 people and now they boast 1,125. Good for you, Effie Yeaw, as you make the important transition to being supported by donations rather than funded by a governmental agency! We’ll have to check in and find out how they managed such great growth.

I excluded Sierra Forever Families because they had literally just launched on Facebook when I took my first data snapshot. I also excluded Stanford Home for Children, which has a new identity as Stanford Youth Solutions. Evidently they abandoned their Facebook page with the old identity and are now promoting a page with the new one.

I also excluded Susan G. Komen’s Facebook page. They either picked up a huge number of new likes after the recent Planned Parenthood funding controversy, growing from 2,167 friends in September 2011 to 9,815 today, or it’s possible that they have more than one Facebook page and I previously pulled numbers for a different one than I did today.

What gets you the most new likes, Sacramento nonprofits?

(The chart below is not the entire data set, so the math won’t work right if you try to calculate the average.)

1 Comment

Filed under Benchmarks, Social media, Uncategorized

Washington D.C.’s give local #Give2Max campaign

Sacramento’s Give Local Now campaign is trying to cajole locals  into giving more of the donations locally, having learned that a higher percentage of our residents donate to global issues rather than local causes compared to other communities. I’ve heard radio ads and seen digital billboards.

I’m watching Twitter this morning to see how Washington D.C.’s Give to the Max Day is unfolding.  It’s a 24-hour fundraising blitz for 1,300 participating nonprofits.

Although most of the day is ahead (and people may actually be working), almost 4,000 people have given at this moment to raise over $400,000 so far.  They even had one minute where $7,000 came in.  Communities within the target area are competing, as are nonprofits on the leader board (scroll down).  Click here to see a local TV news story featuring spokespersons from Razoo and United Way.  Razoo’s Lesley Manford reported that a similar campaign in the Midwest raised $14 million, so she threw down the gauntlet to the local area, “It’s like the Super Bowl of nonprofits.”

Comments Off on Washington D.C.’s give local #Give2Max campaign

Filed under fundraising

20 questions from CSUS Graphic Design students

CSUS professor Gwen Amos’ “Visual Image” students have a tough assignment:  research and understand the scope of poverty in Sacramento, and develop a print piece, poster and campaign to assist a worthy nonprofit.  Today I met with four students — Biz Lemma, Charmian Mendoza, Jessica Ripley and Kevin Swaim — to discuss their preliminary ideas to benefit Women’s Empowerment, an organization that they see has having a vital mission and approach to helping homeless women. (Note: their work is not sponsored by Women’s Empowerment but they selected the organization and are busily working on ideas to advance its cause.)

They also came with a laundry list of questions – 20, to be exact!  More than a dozen were of general interest so I’ll do my best to answer them here.  Readers, do you disagree with me? Please comment.  I know the students would appreciate the input.

How can we, as designers, use social marketing strategies to influence the behaviors of the public?

How can’t you?  I know that’s not what you asked. Social marketing literally means influencing attitudes and behaviors to accomplish a public good. All causes have to “map” how they will get people from point “A” to point “B.”  They may have to create awareness first before getting people to take steps that will accomplish the good they envision. Or it may be that people are already aware of the issue and just need to know how they can get involved, usually starting with low-risk baby steps and progressing to higher involvement. Social media, which we discussed today, offers an important set of tools to get people to engage.

What methods have been used in “call to action” campaigns that would work on a local scale?

We discussed a variety of examples when we met, but I’ll share one here.  Some of the most successful campaigns address a problem that people immediately grasp, make it easy to support the effort, and have a short-term sense of urgency.  “Give to the Max Day” in Minnesota is an effort by that state’s nonprofits to come together and get people to give locally.  Last year, the effort raised more than $10 million from 42,000 donors in 24 hours.

What levels of interactivity do we need to reach in order to make an impact? How important is it for the audience to be able to interact with an advertisement as opposed to simply read information on a flyer?

I know from our conversation that you’re wondering whether a poster or flyer (which requires no interaction) is better or worse that some kind of communications tool that makes you take an action (like a tear-off pad).  Old school direct mail advertising used to favor pieces where you had to apply a sticker and send in for the free offer.  Asking people to do something yielded higher returns than just a plain old mail appeal.  But today, it’s important to remember that people have short attention spans.  Something tactile might work if it’s clever enough and makes sense, or it might get ignored.  Spend time thinking about where people are now in their decision process about involvement.  Do you need to spend time raising awareness as a “drip irrigation” method: delivering a steady stream of short messages through passive media like billboards?  Or do people already ‘get it’ and just need an easy way to act – like click a button on a website?  When it comes to interactivity, I’d think less about print, which has a substantial up front cost and may be risky in terms of return. Think more about online tactics.

For a cause like helping to alleviate poverty, is a magazine the right way to present the information we have?

It could be a way to present it.  First you have to reach an audience that wants to know more. Magazines have the luxury of multiple pages to tell the story, and the ability to present compelling visuals.  They might be a great tool for major donor prospects.  Another approach might be a video.

Do you think that social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is more successful currently than traditional billboards, print ads, mailers, etc.?

The metric for success here is return on investment.  For every dollar you spend, what do you get back?  Because social media are cheap or free, it’s hard to beat the return.  Plus you can experiment rapidly.  On the other hand, the jury is out in terms of social media’s ability to generate substantial donations.  As pointed out recently by John Kenyon at the Nonprofit Resource Center conference, email and even “snail mail” still play an important role in generating donations.  (Here’s an old presentation of his that explains the role of email in fundraising.)  Online donors frequently become snail mail donors.

Is there any gain in having volunteer organizations on Yelp?

Yelp is definitely a social medium, but people tend to go there for reviews.  It can be a good place to create events to attract new friends and followers.

Do you feel that QR codes are a fad?  Are these marketable to older crowds as well?  Are people more likely o get involved with an organization, or at least visit their websites, if there is a QR in the ad?

Old like me 🙂 ? I think they’ll be useful eventually but right now they’re mostly sizzle and no steak for nonprofits.  On the other hand, there is a small set of people who love new tech toys, and those people might follow a QR to a website.  If you’re trying to recruit programmers to work with disadvantaged kids near Silicon Valley, a QR code on ads might work well.  Think about your target audience first.  Do they have smart phones and use a QR reader app?

What is a good way to advertise for volunteers as opposed to donations?

Volunteering and donating are both behaviors.  As we talked about today, friends are a more influential source of information than paid advertising.  Think about how you can mobilize people to bring their friends into a cause, whether it’s as a volunteer or donor.  You might think of those as alternative paths for giving.  Some people might have more time or talent, while others have more financial resources.  Nonprofits need both.

What is a good length for a YouTube video campaign?  Would these be effective for groups such as Women’s Empowerment so that the target audience can put a face to the cause?

Watch TV news and you’ll get a pretty good idea about the optimal length of a video.  Keep remembering: we all have short attention spans!  I haven’t seen data about optimal length but I’d guess 2-3 minutes would be the maximum before you start to lose people.  Videos do need a story arc: something that engages you, depicts a struggle or a challenge, and releases tension by providing information about what you can do.  Video is ideal for organizations like Women’s Empowerment, much harder for organizations that have “colorless” visuals – e.g. free tax preparation assistance. [Update:  The Give Minnesota folks are also running a nonprofit video contest called “Does this make my heart look big?” The second flash image that comes up once you land on the site asks for votes on the most compelling video.  Check them out and see what you think about length and impact.]

What sort of information would an organization trying to raise community involvement need to include on a Facebook page?  In trying to up the number of volunteers, would Facebook be more successful than traditional print ads or flyers?

What works best – always – is an integrated media campaign across multiple channels, but nonprofits rarely have the money for that.  Websites and Facebook are very cost effective channels for engaging people.  The beauty of Facebook is engagement and interaction; it’s a conversation rather than a one-way channel.  Spend time looking around on Facebook fan pages to see what kind of content (and messages) seem to be working for nonprofits that have similar appeals.  Draft a one-page “message and voice” guideline with your ideas about what the nonprofit needs to convey (prioritized) and what its personality should be.  The idea is to get other people to post on your page and on their own page.  Above is an example from today on River City Food Bank‘s Facebook page – 2 people who cared enough to post.

How many campaigns should an organization have per year?

Whatever number is effective!  It would depend on the organization and what it’s asking through the campaigns.  The big thing is that the organization should map out a strategy for the year.  For example, it might start the year with a personal outreach campaign to major donors, then promote an event, then focus on a membership drive, then do a holiday push and “it’s not too late” New Year’s reminder.

Parting words

Start with the end in mind (outcome).  What is the problem the client — in this case, the nonprofit — is struggling with that marketing and design can help solve?

Conceptualize a strategy that goes from awareness of a problem or cause through the behavior that the nonprofit wants to encourage.  You will undoubtedly have a limited budget so pick just one step on the long ladder from awareness to behavior as a place to begin.

Test it on your mother.  Can you explain what you want your Mom to do in 140 characters or less so that she gets it and wants to help?

Think in terms of a short campaign – or at least a fairly short experiment.  So many of the “old reliable” marketing techniques have fallen by the wayside with splintered audiences.  Now everything is test and learn, keep building on what works and stop doing what doesn’t.  What can you do that’s not too expensive and gets a response in 6 weeks or less?

Good luck.  And thanks.  The nonprofit world needs young people like you who care, and have talent to share.

1 Comment

Filed under Social media, Strategy, Uncategorized

How STF made 1,000+ new Facebook friends in 30 days

Check out the Sacramento Tree Foundation’s Facebook page posts before and after their very successful Facebook growth campaign, and then read what Colleen Cadwallader, the organization’s development director, has to say about the results. (Note: republished version – section that was left out was inserted.)

Before – 1,200 friends:

Before: 1,200 friends

After – ~3,500 friends*:

*Approximately 300 of the new likes were from outside the local area

Background:  After renovating its Campus Commons senior independent living community outdoor environment in Sacramento – including planting 106 new trees – Sacramento-based Ray Stone Seniors approached the Sacramento Tree Foundation about a cross-promotional campaign.  Active in the local community since 1968, the company saw a connection between their renovation effort and STF’s campaign to preserve and protect Sacramento’s legacy of trees.  What if local companies got behind the community goal of planting 5 million trees? The company offered to make a donation for every new Facebook friend that liked the STF Facebook page in a 30 day period – an adaptation of a matching donation fundraising program.  In return, STF would expose its audience of 12,000 newsletter subscribers and 1,000+ Facebook friends to Ray Stone senior independent living communities.

Disclosure:  “Philanthrophile” is not a bystander in this one.  I was a matchmaker.  As an owner/family member and sometimes-consultant for Ray Stone Seniors, I stumbled across the fact the Campus Commons senior independent living community had made a dramatic investment in trees and landscaping as part of its vision of having a high quality indoor/outdoor living experience.  It occurred to me that there might be an opportunity for a new kind of business collaboration that supported both organizations’ goals. “Philanthrophile’s” personal goal is to help local nonprofits find effective and affordable ways to further their missions.

Q & A with Colleen Cadwallader

What happened?  Did engagement and interaction increase, decrease or stay about the same?

Engagement and interaction increased ten-fold; however, that was in large part because we made an extra effort to post fun and interesting things that enticed fans to participate more.  The promotion really motivated our staff to use Facebook more.

What did STF do to promote and add legs to the campaign?

We used a number of different tactics to get the word out:

  • Email taglines about the campaign were added to every staff member’s signature
  • Two single-message Constant Contact email blasts were emailed out to our 12,000 contacts
  • We advertised through Facebook
  • We participated in a radio interview with KFBK
  • We asked our partners to put the campaign on their pages (see example below)
  • We asked our Board members and staff to put the request on their own personal Facebook pages
  • We asked people to like us while we had them at tree-planting events
What lessons did you learn?
Enthusiasm about the promotion was very high at first, but began to lag as time went on.  Thankfully, we had written down the tactics we wanted to follow and made sure to keep revisiting them and taking action.  However, we did not do a final push/count down during the last two days of the month.  If we had asked our Board members/partners/staff/friends to help one last time, we think we could have seen an additional spike.  We also had fewer events than usual this September.  If we had done the campaign in October or November when we are out almost every weekend, we would have been able to garner an even greater response.  People really loved this concept and everyone wanted to help, even Congresswoman Doris Matsui!
How does Facebook fit into the STF’s communications strategy?
The STF does not currently have a communication position on staff so our social marketing campaign is created with that in mind. However, we do try to take advantage of every opportunity available to us especially those that are cost efficient and user friendly.  For that reason, over the past 12 months we have been relying more heavily on social media, especially Facebook.  One of the things we enjoy most about Facebook is that a number of our staff members can manage the daily communications, which not only helps in terms of utilizing people resources but also ensures that we are communicating regularly with our fan base.  Recently, we recruited an unpaid intern to help us keep the fun in Facebook.  She is helping us to increase user interactions by posting engaging activities like the picture photo caption contest and the Tree of the Week note.  She is newly graduated from college and brings some fresh ideas about social media.
Are you rethinking the results you hope to achieve in the wake of last week’s changes to Facebook?  Do you expect Facebook to increase, decrease or stay about the same in importance?
We would like to understand better how the changes are supposed to be helpful to nonprofits especially in terms of the Causes pages.  Changes to Facebook cause our organization a bit of frustration because we don’t have a lot of time and effort to put into learning the new in’s and out’s.  At this point we expect Facebook to remain an integral part of our social media.
What did you expect would be the direct and indirect benefits of this promotional campaign?
We were very excited when we learned about Ray Stone Seniors’ promotional idea.  We expected that the direct benefit would be an increase in our fan base.  When we launched, we hadn’t thought much about the indirect benefits – although one of the greatest indirect benefits was greater commitment on our part to increase the number of interactions by engaging our fans differently.
What happened?  Did you achieve those benefits or different benefits than you expected?
We set a goal to reach a total of 2,000 fans by the end of the month and had to reset that goal when we passed it just 2 weeks into the campaign.  On September 30, we had a fan base of about 2,500 — an increase of 1,366.  What’s most incredible is that our fan numbers have continued to increase over the past few days. We believe this is due to the fact that our social reach has increased so much and more people than every are liking, commenting and sharing our posts.
Do you think you reached new audiences — or segments — as a result of the growth campaign?
We targeted a few of our Facebook ads specifically to high school and college-aged Facebook users because of the need to inspire this age group to volunteer at our plantings and apply for internships.  These audiences grew.  We also saw a big increase in women ages 25-34 and older audiences as well.
Below:  examples of the Tree Foundation’s Facebook posts and comments during September
First nudge:
Reminder:
Partner post:
Next post:  Ray Stone Seniors’ point of view

Comments Off on How STF made 1,000+ new Facebook friends in 30 days

Filed under fundraising, Social media, Uncategorized

Should Facebook administrators always comment?

Aliza Sherman's model of fan loyalty and advocacy

Everything that I read suggests that acknowledging positive comments on an organization’s Facebook page is considered best practice. Guy Kawasaki made this a major theme in his recent book, Enchantment: the Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions, and Beth Kanter has spent the last couple of weeks echoing the importance of the ABC’s (always be commenting).

Why commenting makes sense

Facebook is a social medium, not a bulletin board.  If you say something nice to a friend, you at least expect a smile or a nod.  Maybe they’ll eventually figure out a button that Facebook administrators can use that winks as if to say “back at ya.”  But for now, commenting back is the only way to have a brief exchange.  (Responding to negative comments is a subject for another post.  Most advise responding to negative comments as well, but of course the execution is different.)

Nonprofits need to encourage comments by others because that’s how they’re going to gain exposure to people who aren’t already fans.  Even people who are fans generally don’t seek out your Facebook page to see what you have to say.  They read your posts when they are published automatically to their wall.  What you really want is to get people so excited about your mission and their relationship with you that they spontaneously post to your organization’s Facebook page.  That shows a lot of engagement, but it also means that their post publishes to all of their friends, even if they haven’t “liked” you.  (One hitch: depending on your EdgeRank score, which is determined by Facebook’s black box algorithm, your posts may not make it into “top news” feed, requiring people to click on “most recent” to see your posts.)

Do as I say, not as I do?

It’s hard to go to a conference where someone isn’t extolling the importance of actively commenting back on organization pages.  But when I recently checked some of the organizations I thought would be most active, I was surprised they don’t comment back as often as I expected.

American Red Cross, for example, has a huge Facebook presence, with over 300,000 fans.  Posts generate not only “likes” but comments by the dozen.  Looking at posts by the organization for the last couple of weeks, however, I didn’t see any comments in response to posts by fans.  They didn’t remove a comment that was anti-semitic, or acknowledge one guy who went so far as to outright solicit his friends on Facebook: Please give to the American Red Cross. They help during disasters when no one will. Donate by calling 1-800-HELP-NOW. Your $$ monetary cash donation will help the American people better than donated supplies. Thank You!

If you’re in a growth mode, you had better be commenting back!

It’s possible that when an organization becomes really successful on Facebook, it is no longer practical to try to acknowledge all comments – even positive ones.  How do you “smile” back at one comment and not acknowledge others?

Most organizations in this town, however, are still trying to grow their Facebook presence.  They may have a goal of achieving 1,000 friends on Facebook, for example.  They need to grow the number of fans a steady 5-10% each month.  And one of the most practical ways to do that is to recognize Super Fans, as suggested by Aliza Sherman (hat tip Beth Kanter).

 

 

Comments Off on Should Facebook administrators always comment?

Filed under Uncategorized

In the online world, which function should lead?

Is public relations about controlling the conversation, and therefore antithetical to social media, or does PR play an important role in shaping brand message? Not surprisingly, the panelists for the “Facebook for Public Relations,” weren’t in alignment. Some were associated with online marketing companies while others represented PR companies. A woman in the audience from Fleischman heatedly told the panel that PR should lead the parade because PR had been successfully managing content for 65 years. Hoo boy.

From crowd comments, it was pretty clear that PR is not well understood. One guy went so far as to say that his attitude toward PR was “meh” because he got plenty of press releases.

Adele Cehrs of Epic PR Group made one of the better comments by noting that PR can play a critical strategic and tactical role when bad things happen, whether to your company or to a competitor’s. Companies have the potential for thought leadership across channels by paying attention to conversations on and offline.

Why bother with traditional media at all, an audience member asked. “Third party credibility,” Adele suggested. Chris Brubaker of Roost noted that traditional media may have a more immediate and material impact on sales than social networks.

“PR has a certain smell to it,” one person said. Sally Falkow of PRESSFeed acknowledged that there is good PR and bad PR. People expect 2 way channels with real people, not with the PR people. Authenticity is critical. That means admitting if there’s a problem with your product or service.

Cultivating relationships with journalists and bloggers, in advance of need, is a precondition for effective PR. That requires not only knowing who they are, being familiar with what they write about, and being helpful. Sally noted that many journalists actually post about what they’re researching.

The speakers mentioned several tools for finding bloggers and writers who have an interest – and following – for a particular topic for example, Socialmention and tracker.

Is this the end of PR, the moderator asked, or at least the name of the function? A journalist commented that he didn’t want to be bulldozed; he would write what he wanted and, good or bad, it would be better than a news release.

“The Internet is another medium. We have to learn how to deal with it,” concluded Sally.

As a former senior marketer, strategy officer and senior leader in a national PR firm (three different hats, three different companies), I found the whole session SCARY.

(live from All Facebook Expo from my iPad with apologies for errors)

2 Comments

Filed under public relations, Social media

Does Facebook’s Sponsored Stories make sense for nonprofits?

After listening to Katie Faul, head of Global Ads, Product Marketing Facebook, I thought it just might – so I’ll check it out and post about it soon. Katie described how UNICEF nearly doubled the number of fans it had on Facebook – to 107,000 fans – using tools like Sponsored Stories.

Katie used the power of stories to communicate the impact of social sharing on Word-of-mouth. She described how her friend’s online sharing about his workout led to 10 new customers of a fitness machine. Online sharing helps people find jobs, learn about bands and discover small businesses.

Whereas the Internet was used largely for search in the 90s, now it’s used to ask friends for their recommendations, or for social sharing. Now the majority of website traffic may come from social sharing (via Facebook or Twitter, for example) rather than search.

One of the biggest changes has been with photo sharing. More photos are now shared on Facebook than all of the online photo sharing sites combined.

Companies are now using Facebook as a critical part of product development. She referenced the experience of Squishables, which recently asked online friends what color they preferred for their latest toy. 15 percent of Squishables sales now comes directly from Facebook.

AmEx created Small Business Saturday and attracted over a million friends who began sharing stories about their favorite local small businesses. Besides the promotion’s rapid traction, retail sales tripled year over year for that Saturday.

Katie suggested that small businesses – or nonprofits – use signs in physical locations to encourage people to join you on Facebook, or “like us” ads for those that do not have bricks and mortar.

Sponsored stories is Facebook’s new product that allows organizations to achieve greater visibility by advertising in association with news feeds.

Facebook is thinking about how to help increase the volume and quality of spontaneous stories through Facebook. Sponsored stories, unlike a Facebook ad, “pin” a story to the right hand column of someone’s wall (for a fee, of course). But they are stories shared by someone you know rather than a third party organization. Sponsored Stories isn’t just one thing; there are actually seven different versions depending on whether someone wants to deploy it on a website or Facebook page.

The best stories are simple – and entertaining. Most people are in a “lean back” mode when they look at their news feed. In at sense, photos are a story, so photos are way to communicate something simple.

A key theme of Katie’s talk was amplification. How do you avoid getting lost in someone’s feed, or ignored?

Whether or not nonprofits use a tool like Sponsored Stories, the concept of amplification makes a lot of sense.

(posted live from All Facebook Expo from my iPad… With apologies for formatting glitches or errors!)

Comments Off on Does Facebook’s Sponsored Stories make sense for nonprofits?

Filed under Social media, Uncategorized