Archives for posts with tag: nonprofit

Not long ago, groups planning a festival or other large event had few effective ways to spread the word. And even fewer cost-effective ones.

Social media, and Twitter in particular, have changed that.

Based on work I just finished for a client that involved marketing, public relations and outreach for a major event, this post summarizes 10 steps any group can use to promote an event with Twitter.

These 10 steps lay out some solid basics for Twitterers unaccustomed to these tactics. And they would also make a good check list for those more familiar with using Twitter and related tools on the social web to influence and draw attention.

You need at least 3-4 weeks before the event, if possible.

Step 1. Prepare

In this phase, scout for the partners and people connected to the event who have the most influence online. Good indicators are the numbers of engaged and active followers they have on Twitter, as well as their scores from Kred or Klout. (I’m a fan. But both have detractors — however, that’s another post. )

The point is, you need to swiftly identify the folks to pull into the social campaign who will have the biggest impact as they promote the event on Twitter and through apps that work well with Twitter. Once those people are identified, contact them and make sure they are involved in planning the event promotion from the start.

Step 2. Pick a hash tag

This is not as easy as it might seem. The hash tag for the event is important because it will let you monitor Tweets about it and let fans and participants follow the Twitter conversations about the event.

The hash tag must:

  • be short
  • be easy to use/type
  • make sense

And the hash tag must not:

  • be used yet (check by searching options on Twitter)
  • be an acronym that is, or could be construed to be, profane (checking an urban dictionary is a good idea)

My suggestion isn’t just to monitor the Tweets using the hash tag, but also to track Tweets with the name of the group or event. When responding to those Tweets, you can add the hash tag for the event to spread awareness of it. Tweetdeck is handy for monitoring those mentions, as it allows several searches to be set up in columns right next to each other.

3. Start to Tweet

Now that you’ve got your most influential partners on board and a great, effective hashtag to use in all Tweets and mentions, you’re ready to start Tweeting. This could happen about two weeks before the event. Using a tool that lets you schedule Tweets is helpful. I really like Bufferapp and Hootsuite.

4. Create conversations

Automation can be helpful — you don’t want to swamp followers with Tweets at one time. But don’t rely only on that. Engage and interact with those who Tweet about the event or share the Tweets that you and your partners send. Create catchy Tweets that refer to the event’s highlights. Mention some of the influencers, and the event hash tag, of course. This encourages responses, sharing and interaction.

5. Keep it interesting

Sending out the same Tweet (or very similar versions) will bore followers, at first, and then annoy them. Mix it up. Send out some Tweets that offer a countdown to the day. Send others that tease highlights. Send others with a map or other interesting info. Send some with a question, like “What are you doing on ____?” (fill in the date of the event) and link back to a website with all of the details.

6. Use tools to drive more influence

The technology and apps that exist now to turbocharge the effectiveness of Twitter and enable smooth, frequent sharing are amazing. Twylah is a fabulous tool for amplifying Tweets and dressing them up so they are curated and presented in a magazine style. Scoop.it is also a great site for creating a customized magazine of links and Tweets. As traditional media cover the event, links to those articles could be added through Scoop.it. Make sure to mention the Twitter handles of partners, in addition to the event hash tag, when posting to encourage sharing.

7. Use art

As you send out a mix of Tweets, include art, such as the event’s graphic or logo. A pretty easy way to create art to Tweet is to make a tag cloud of words that characterize the event, using the logo for the shape of the cloud. Here is an example I did for this client’s event. Maps, guides to transportation (or street closures, if relevant) or the lineup of bands or other highlights can also work well.

8. Build promotion to a peak

The wonderful site Storify, which makes stories from Tweets and other social posts, is often used after an event to summarize it. However, it can also be used very effectively just before the event. Here’s the one I made the day before this client’s event. With Storify, you can gather the promotional Tweets that have been sent about the event. It can concentrate the excitement. And the Storify story can be easily shared, which also ramps up the social sharing. So make sure you mention others who can ReTweet.

9. Monitor and stoke engagement

On the day of the event, keep monitoring the hash tag associated with it and the names of the group hosting the event as well the name of the event. Respond to Twitterers who are talking about the event. Keep the conversation going by asking those folks to Tweet about their favorite aspect of the event. Then share those. Monitoring also alerts you to trouble spots. Are lines too long? Are the bathrooms unkempt? People will often Tweet about that. Deal with any complaints, proactively. You can acknowledge and respond through Twitter.

10. Afterwards, take stock

Assess what worked and what to improve upon for next time. Hashtracking is a great site for providing information about impressions on Twitter that specific hash tags received. For the 24 hours surrounding Discover Gordon Square Arts District Day on June 9, there were more than 128,000 impressions of #GordonSquare!

I’d love to hear the ways you’ve used Twitter to promote an event.

This post breaks down the steps for promoting an event on Twitter, making them easier to digest. But if you’re new to Tweeting, it might still feel overwhelming. If so, pull in someone more seasoned in social media to help.  You can find me on Twitter here.

“Oh, you’ve got to use…”

It’s easy to feel like you aren’t sure what to do, where or how, on social media. After all, the life cycle within the social media sphere can feel as if it’s shorter than that of a fruit fly. New lingo. New sites. New companies. New capabilities.

So, if your organization is mulling its social media strategy — putting one in place or changing the one you’ve got — keep this in mind:

There’s no one-size-fits-all set of rules.

The way to connect with audiences you want to start and maintain conversations with is to make sure your strategy matches the organization’s own style and culture. Social media is, ultimately, about relationships and brand. To be effective and authentic, your social media tactics must work in concert with those.

To my mind, there’s no one channel that all organizations have to use or approach they must take, especially if your group is a nonprofit or is focused on building communities. By definition, those are as unique as the people in them.

The one thing you must do? Customize your social media outreach.

By itself, that won’t guarantee success, which takes time, diligence and responsiveness that lead to trust and build credibility. To do that, you need to interact and converse with the audiences you want to reach.

But how your organization does that through social media can, and should, be framed to suit your organization’s goals for outreach. What does it want to do? Reach funders? Find clients? Build public or industry awareness?

Two examples

Consider two organizations I’ve conjured for this blog post: a fairly traditional law firm and a nonprofit focused on community development. Their audiences and messages would be very different, as would their cultures and brands.

Case # 1

For the law firm it’s better form to have someone else tout its work, social media marketer David Heyman notes, lest the firm look like an “ambulance chaser.” A Face Book page might not be one of the social media tools it would employ. Perhaps, instead, a blog would be the way to go. That would let the firm talk about fresh trends, or do’s and dont’s within scenarios that potential clients might need counsel in navigating, Heyman suggested.

The firm, of course, wouldn’t talk about clients or any specific cases in its posts. But, by using social media, it could show its expertise in action and through examples, enabling its authority to spread much more widely than if it were published in a printed newsletter. And the firm’s followers, who would’ve opted in to receive the blog or e-newsletter, would increase the impact by sharing it with some of their followers.

Lawyers do have constraints and rules for conduct, notes lawyer, blogger, podcaster, presenter and digital media strategist Whitney Hoffman. So, they need to be sensitive to concerns such as those that relate to promoting their business or attracting clients, Hoffman says.

Still, there are smart, tailored ways they can tap into the power of social media to increase their public profile and credibility and, indirectly, their business. (Thanks to Marjorie Clayman and Shonali Burke for helping me find the experts I quoted in this example!)

Case #2

The nonprofit whose work centers on community development, on the other hand, would seek to engage in active conversations with the audience it serves. It would use social media in much more direct ways to reach current and potential clients, as well as many others.

This group would want media, bloggers and the public to know about its work and its outcomes. Using social media tools successfully would drive more viewers to its website. It could also lead to more interviews or invitations for guest posts on related websites. The nonprofit group would also want to spread evidence of its expertise so it could increase opportunities to present at conferences or appear on panels.

Like all nonprofits, this one would need to raise funds. It probably believes that existing funders know all about the nonprofit’s programs and its track record. But that’s usually not the case. Funders need to see and hear, often, how a nonprofit they are supporting is using the money. That not only lets them know the money is being used well, it gives them some recognition, too, through association.

By putting those stories out through social media channels, it informs potential funders, too. The nonprofit’s social media outreach should make it easier for it to find more resources, from grants to respected board members to volunteers.

Goals for outreach shape the social media tools

It might be that, in setting up or refining a social media strategy, you bring in a consultant or adviser with that expertise. But even if you take that path, it’s a good idea, first, to think through the outcomes you want to achieve.

Once you are clear on what you want social media to help your organization do, it will be easier to sort out which tools and ways to do that. And then you can assess new ones, strategically, in terms of whether they’d let you meet the goals you’ve already set for a smart, customized approach to social media.

It makes keeping up with the latest social media developments less frantic because you don’t have to adopt every new tool. What you choose to add should make sense in terms of your brand and culture. It depends on what you want to say and achieve, and who you want to reach, why.

So, that’s my opinion. What do you think?