The Like or the follow is only the beginning of the relationship between you and your followers. You must be relevant, interesting, concise and responsive and provide value to your followers. The Humane Society does a great job of using social media to build an online community of engaged supporters. So how to they do it?
1.7 million Facebook fans
200,000 Twitter followers
103% growth rate on Facebook from 2012 to 2013
93% growth rate on Twitter between 2012 to 2013
$1 million raised on Facebook (lifetime at the middle of 2013)
$200,000 raised per year on Facebook
300,000 actions per year taken on Facebook
They have a clear goal
Their goals in using social media are advocacy, fundraising, providing customer service, and increasing brand sentiment online by promoting the good work of the organisation. Everything they do online is tied to advocacy and fundraising. Social media is no different.
Once you have a clear understanding of what your goals are you need to come up with some tactics. Ask yourself
Do those people do what you want them to?
How can you make them do it?
How are you making is a valuable community for both you and your members
How will you get them to come back?
They listen to their followers
They listen and comment on feedback on posts and they make sure to answer every question. Facebook is more than just a news feed. People use Facebook to engage in conversations so it’s important to spend the time to talk with your supporters
They show they care
When someone gets a response it builds trust and loyalty. Supporters want to feel that you appreciate them and that they’re not just another donor. They will be more likely to donate again or recruit someone else if you let them know they are appreciated. They answer everyone that asks a question in a comment string or writes on their wall. On Twitter they have set up keyword monitoring so they are notified whenever someone shares their donation or get involved in a campaign.
There are lots of social media management tools available to help you monitor comments and mentions. Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Mention, Commun.it are some of the more popular ones although there are dozens more I could mention.
By monitoring social media you can respond when someone talks about you or mentions a hashtag or keyword that relates to your cause. You can use it for prospecting or engaging with established audiences by responding to questions and provide them with information and advice they may need.
They post lots of different things
Post lots of different types of content – variety is important. People like variety. So ask opinions, share photos and videos, ask questions, post updates and sometimes ask for help, but not too much. That way they know when you do ask it is important
They share fun content
They understand that to engage with supporters they need to provide content that their followers are interested in.
By providing their supporters with content that they want the Humane Society have built a connection with their charity that has enabled them to get them to reciprocate by supporting them with donations, taking action, filling out forms or joining events.
They share fun contests that supporters what to engage with
They use polls and questions and ask for opinions
They let supporters know how they can help
They use Facebook ads
They use Facebook ads to target fans for donation and action campaigns to ensure that supporters see their posts and convert them. Facebook ads provide an incredible amount of options to target specific audience groups making it a very powerful tool.
They create a customised experience
They use Facebook custom tabs to show people how to donate, become a member or take action. They found that directing visitors to the member tab to subscribe for their magazine was their most successful donation method last year.
They write user centred content
Instead of saying “sign our disaster preparedness pledge” they might say “you wouldn’t leave your pet behind, would you? Then sign the pledge!” By moving the emphasis from you organisational goals to your supporters’ perspective you will be more likely to get them to do what you want.
They encourage followers to share their stories
They use Facebook to ask supporters to share their own content. This has been a really effective way with interacting with their followers
They share outcomes
People want to see how their time and money is making a difference. They show them by following up with posts that show supporters what they have achieved with their help so that they’ll be more inclined to give the next time.
They know what works
They use Google Analytics to monitor how different campaign promotions are performing. This allows them to understand if and how they are converting fans into constituents, test different ad text and images and discover what their audience is responding to.
They also use social media measurement tools to monitor engagement with their posts and updates so they can discover what works and what doesn’t. This is one of the most striking advantages of digital communications over traditional media. It enables you to assess in real time how supporters are responding to your marketing.
Humane Society report their weekly social media mentions about the organisation in social media to executives. I believe that this is extremely important. Leadership need to be aware of the impact of social media and understand the relevant and value it can bring to the charity and the impact it is having. Sharing reports like this can be an extremely effective way of demonstrating this.