Sorry to be so blunt.
Here’s how you’re going astray: (1) your posts are too promotional; (2) your content isn’t relevant to your readers, and (3) you’re too repetitive and boring, without adding value. If you’re simply counting up your numbers of “likes” and “follows” and patting yourself on the back for how you’re growing your lists, you’re totally missing the point.
Social media is about being — dare I say it? — SOCIAL.
Counting vanity metrics wont’ get you far. Likes, follows and +1s are just the beginning of the “relating to” process; not the end.
Though I see much less “we’re on Facebook… like us!” than before, I still see plenty of outside/in broadcast type posts and tweets that do absolutely nothing to build a relationship with your constituents. They’re all about you… how great you are… how much you accomplished. They don’t engage your audience. They have no purpose beyond checking off your list the fact that you posted them.
Are you suffering from the dreaded anti-social disease of making social media about list building and checklists – and you – rather than about relationships and constituent-centered connection?
There’s a 6-step cure to the anti-social disease.
1. Employ the “3 to 1 Relationship-Building Formula.”
When all is said and done, successful marketing and fundraising is all about relationships. And relationships are built on giving, giving, giving; and then asking for engagement. So every time you enter the social media space I want you to offer three gifts; one ask.
Here’s what I mean.
Offer up three pieces of content your audiences will value. Three gifts of practical tips, useful advice, recommendations, stories, inspiration, timely news, entertainment or humor. Three gifts that answer frequently asked questions. Three gifts that engage your readers’ emotions. Then… follow up with one ask. And I don’t necessarily mean an ask for money.
Asks are ways to stimulate conversation and active participation with you. You can ask for comments and retweets. You can ask folks to sign a pledge or petition. You can ask folks to volunteer, play a game, enter a contest or respond to a survey. You can ask folks to simply share their accomplishments or social updates with you. Or ask them to share inspiring quotes, reading recommendations, funny photos, memories or stories.
What else can you do to engage folks and make it more about them?
2. Publicly recognize and honor your constituents.
Show some volunteer and donor love by praising them in front of other folks in their networks. Endorse them on Linkedin. Send a twitter shout-out singing their praises. Repin something from their Pinterest board to one of yours. Retweet their posts. Comment on their online discussions. Send a laudatory email with updates on their latest personal or professional accomplishments or life cycle events to others in their group (e.g., alumni association; advisory committee; auxiliary; giving club).
3. Respond to constituent interaction
It’s easy to overlook this important step. Two of the most important words in social media are “Thank You.” Show that you’re grateful for your constituents’ participation. Show that you’re listening! If someone comments, respond. If someone offers up the fact that they’re getting married or receiving an award, celebrate with them!
When you put something up on your social media page(s) why not hang out a few minutes to engage with your network? John Haydon, Facebook, social media and nonprofit marketing guru, suggests not calling it ‘posting’ but ‘planting seeds.’ Want your relationships to grow? Nurture them.
4. Give ‘em something to talk about!
Create a conversation; get people talking. When folks share your content with their friends and associates it’s an indication you connected with them. That’s what you want! You know that feeling you get when you meet someone and you say “I feel a real connection with you?” That’s the beginning of a relationship.
For this to happen you’ve got to give folks stuff they want to share, make it easy for them to do so and include an engagement value proposition that gets people talking. Think of social media as online word-of-mouth water cooler talk. It’s got to be interesting… intriguing… inspiring… educational… funny… something your reader perceives as worth reading, commenting on and sharing.
5. Talk to, not at, people.
Tell, don’t sell. Tell stories centered on your reader. You can do this quickly through a photo with caption or a 30-second video. And listen before you join the conversation. Listen and learn. Social media is like having a 24/7, 365-day focus group to listen to. This used to cost organizations big bucks. Not anymore. Take advantage.
6. Know who you’re talking to.
Honest-to-goodness! Can you really have a conversation if you’re just blathering mindlessly into the ether? That’s the essence of making it all about you. Yet you can’t make it about your reader unless you stop and think about who they are.
Rather than write to a faceless mass, I suggest creating marketing personas. As marketing guru Heidi Cohen tells us: “Marketing personas are imaginary versions of your prospects, customers and the public that contain in-depth, lifelike character traits, including fun names, to help develop content and marketing.”
Shed the narcissism. Stop the me, me, me broken record syndrome. People aren’t interested in you. They’re interested in how you can help them – even if that’s simply making it possible for them to act on their values and help others.
Speaking of Getting Social Media Right…
Check out Social Media for Non-Profits: How to Raise More Money and Get More Attention. I’m so pleased to offer you this special E-Course by my friend Joe Garecht of The Fundraising Authority. You’ll get fundamentals plus specific guidance for supercharged Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media pages and campaigns for your non-profit. Plus some bonuses from both me and Joe. Check it out here. Early Bird Registration gets you $30 off!