What an exciting era we live in. We have gone from Hippie to semi-Geek in one lifetime. In 1968 when I graduated High School, if you had told me that I would be "tweeting" I would have been really confused because there is no way on earth I could picture a tweet being anything but a bird singing. Yet here I am. The largest new segment of Facebook followers are women my age, go figure?
Nothing is really new this is just like one big "party line" the type of phone I had in my first home in Wisconsin. You could not have a dedicated line and there where always people like Esther Hernkind who would be listening in on my phone calls. Now we listen to tweets, Facebook, Linked en, my space and more. Social Media is the party line of the new century.
Knitting, believe it or not has prepared me for the Social Media. My mother taught me to knit when I was five and I have been doing it all my life. I can't tell you have many baby sweaters and blankets I have made? In knitting we learn to count, to concentrate, to follow a plan and create. These basic skills have carried me through my whole life. I always say a day without knitting is like a day without eating. To some it might be compared to a day without "blogging." Just like real knitting we have to knit together all our social media....here are some tips I've garnished along the way:
Step 1: Connect Everything
Give yourself some link love! Make sure that you have social media icons connecting to your various profiles in your website template. You can find hundreds of free icon sets online - with styling to match any website â€" by searching for "free social media icon set." Add the icons to your email newsletter templates and social media links to your email signatures. Add "share" buttons to your website pages and email newsletters too.
On your social media profiles, include links back to your home page and your newsletter archive and subscribe pages. Where you can, embed your email signup form into your social media profiles.
Ensure that some basic branding (e.g. logos, colors, taglines) are consistent throughout. You shouldn't try to make your Facebook page or email newsletter look just like your website, but they should match enough that we can tell they represent the same organization.
This may seem like a very basic step, but the reality is that few nonprofits have effectively connected all the pieces of their online presence. Your supporters should be able to effortlessly travel between your website, blog, email newsletter, and social media profiles without having to hunt down those connections. And what they see as they travel from place to place should be consistent.
Step 2: Share Across Channels
With everything connected, now you can start thinking about ways to strengthen the bonds between your online channels, which encourages your supporters to move between them and to connect with you in multiple ways.
The more channels you can use to reach a supporter, the more likely they are to see your updates, to engage in conversation, and to build a positive image of and rapport with your organization.
As you develop your editorial calendar and think about what to say and where to say it, keep in the mind the strengths and weaknesses of various channels. You want to share the same basic message across all channels, but you'll often vary the specific call to actions.
For example, if you are working on a fundraising campaign, email is a better bet than social media for the direct ask for the donation, with highly visible links back to a campaign landing page and donation form on your website.
But what if you want supporters to connect with others who are also giving to the same campaign? That's where social media can be highly effective. For example, on your thank-you pages and follow-up emails, you could encourage your supporters to share a story about why they are giving to your cause on your Facebook wall. Both calls to action - donate in email and share in social media - support the overall campaign by capitalizing on the strengths of the two different channels.
Step 3: Reinforce What Works
Track how supporters are engaging with you through various channels online. What are they doing and where are they doing it? What paths are the taking as they move between your website, blog, email, and social media profiles? What types of content seem to work best in your email newsletter versus your blog or Twitter?
Also think about ways you can reuse content across channels. Listen to the conversations and bring what you learn back into new content. Can you post a question on Facebook or Twitter and use the conversation there to guide the creation of a blog post?
You shouldn't silo your offline marketing from your online marketing, and you shouldn't silo your website, email, and social media marketing either. Knit those loose ends together and you'll weave a stronger community of supporters around your good cause.