These days everyone is using social media. From celebrities to business leaders, from politicians to your neighbor, they’re all there. You’ve probably noticed all the big non-profits are there too.
Perhaps you’ve set up an account for your non-profit on Twitter, but it’s all too overwhelming. With limited time and money, you don’t know where to start. Or maybe you’re using Twitter, but your followers aren’t converting into members or donors.
The sea of social media — even with all the opportunities it presents to tell the world about the good work you’re doing — can seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
This week’s featured Social Caffeine ebook is 10 Commandments for Raising Money for Non-Profits on Twitter. This ebook will guide you through building an engaged following on Twitter, and converting those followers into donors.
After March 8, the book will go back to its regular price of $2.99.
Just in case you’d like to try before you “buy”, here’s an excerpt:
A Tweeting Strategy to Build a Network of Donors
If one thing exists that you can’t expect from Twitter, it’s instant results. Building a following takes consistent time and effort.
Users expecting things to happen fast will be quickly disheartened. They start out well, posting tweets five or 10 times a day, engaging with everyone who follows them. They retweet other people’s content to attract attention. But nothing much happens. After a month, they have only 10 new followers. They lose enthusiasm and begin posting less often. The next month passes with only five new followers. The downward spiral continues, leading to full surrender just three months later.
You must have a posting strategy. Decide ahead of time how long you’ll spend on Twitter, how many times you will post each day, the types of content you’ll be posting, and the people you’ll be targeting with your posts.
Growth will be slow at first. Maintain faith with your strategy, and your growth will accelerate. The more followers you have, the faster you can grow.
Types of Tweets
If you ask a marketer how they use Twitter, they’ll talk about sharing value. Value can seem like a nebulous concept, but it’s actually quite specific. Providing value means giving your audience exactly what they want or need. As a non-profit, your followers want to feel good about the work you’re doing. They want to feel as though they are a part of an organization that is making the work a better place. Your tweets should meet that need.
You can share the following:
- Links to blog posts, articles, videos, podcasts, and pictures relevant to your target audience. Write an enticing headline to encourage people to click. Your linked content should show why the work you’re doing is needed, show what non-profits like yours are doing to make the world a better place, or address a specific problem faced by non-profits in your sector. If part of your non-profit’s mission is educational or to be a media voice, include links to reflect this.
- Non-profit News. Twitter is a great place to share your non-profit’s success. You can also tell stories around the success of other non-profits in your sector by posting their latest good news.
- Current Events. Frequently post links to stories from major news outlets. Share links to current events affecting the work of your non-profit, offering your own comment alongside the link. Links or comments on current events are one of the most popular and widely shared types of tweets.
- Office News. All non-profits face daily struggles in their work. You might find sharing these on Twitter tempting — it seems like a good place to vent. But avoid the temptation, always. Research shows that people on Twitter are turned off by whiny tweets. And sharing your woes on Twitter is unprofessional. Instead, share occasional snippets of positive office news and success.
- Personal Updates. If you’re a one-man-band non-profit, you may also want to post personal updates. As with office news, post personal updates only on occasion, if at all, and always make them positive.
- Retweets. When someone you’re following shares a tweet you like, retweet it. Retweeting others is a great way to land on their radar, and the more you retweet others, the more likely they are to retweet you. You want your tweets to be retweeted as much as possible, because that always leads to wider exposure.
- @Replies. Unlike traditional media such as newsletters, which were a one-way conversation, Twitter is two-way. You have the chance to engage with your supporters, so do it. When any of your followers say something interesting or relevant to your non-profit, engage them in conversation by sending an @reply. @Replies are public, so only say things you’re prepared for the whole world to see.
Curating used to be a word you’d only hear in museums. Curators collected ancient artifacts.
Curating has become an online buzzword for collecting and sharing content that’s relevant for your followers. Curating can be the ideal strategy for those starting with social media, and it is perfect for non-profits working in advocacy, education, or capacity building.
Collect useful content as part of your research — or ask your research staff to do it for you — then share it. Curation is less time-consuming than creating content from scratch, yet offers your followers high value. Offer your own comments and insight to your curation to add value and voice. This will help your followers see you as the go-to person for ideas and content in your sector.
You can curate content by sharing it in your Twitter feed. You can also use purpose-built curation tools. One of the best tools for curating with Twitter is Paper.li. It lets you curate content you’ve found from social networks into an online newspaper. You choose the keywords and users you want to bring into your paper, and Paper.li does the heavy lifting of bringing it all together.
Aiming for retweets must be a key part of your posting strategy. Whenever tweets are retweeted, you gain exposure and credibility. Retweets draw new followers. The best way to get your content retweeted is to share the content most relevant to your followers. Do this, and they’ll want to share it with their followers.
Asking people to retweet your tweets increases the chances of your tweets spreading. When you’re sharing something you think deserves a wider audience, add the phrase please retweet to the end. Research by social media guru Dan Zarella found this simple phrase increased retweet levels by four times.
Retweet others’ content. By showing willingness to engage and take part in the sharing spirit of Twitter, people are more likely to want to retweet your content.
And lastly, always send an @reply to say thank you to people who retweet your content. Two simple words that make a big difference and make you stick in people’s minds.
As a general rule, the more you can post on Twitter, the better. Aim to post a minimum of five tweets a day, and a maximum of 50 — that’s one every 30 minutes. Twitter is a huge river of information, constantly flowing. The more droplets of you in the river the better, without resorting to spam — then people will think you’re a pollutant, and they’ll clean you from their Twitter stream by clicking unfollow.
The worst thing you can do is drown your followers in a sea of updates — posting an update every minute, or posting 50 updates in the 30 minutes you’ve set aside for Twitter each day. Instead, use scheduling tools to evenly space your Tweets. We’ll cover the tools you can use in the next commandment.
Don’t post the same thing more than twice.
Only share quality content. Don’t share crap for the sake of having frequent updates.
* Don’t spam your followers with a flood of updates or irrelevant content.
Target Potential Donors
Target particular users as part of your strategy. This is particularly effective for non-profits, as most people believe they should be doing more to make the world a better place and are happy when asked to get involved in doing this, especially if doing so only takes a couple of moments.
Celebs are an obvious target. Send them @messages about a campaign they can get involved in. If they like what you do, they could be sharing your message with a Twitter audience of millions.
Also make contact with potential service users, and people you can help. You can target these people by following them and sending them an @message to say hello. Don’t come on heavy with how you can help — they might not be interested. Just initiate conversation and let them ask the questions if they want to.
Finally, make sure you’re connecting with people who care about what you do. Let’s say you run a rescue center for stray dogs. With a quick search for dogs using the Twitter search bar, you’ll find thousands of people talking about their dogs. You can send all these people an individualized @message.
Don’t ask for donations — it’s tempting, but it’s spam, and it will put people off your organization. Instead, join the conversation. Let people know how you love and take care of dogs too. Trust that if they want to know more, they’ll look at your Twitter page and click through to your website. Being willing to listen and showing you care is a much better way of building a network of dedicated supporters than asking for donations.
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