Social Media Marketing 101 for Non-Profits

Courtesy of Your Social Move

Plagued by the lack of funds, non-profits like associations and societies often have to employ shoe-string marketing strategies. With its relatively low cost compared to traditional advertising, social media marketing can be an attractive option. However, the devil as they say is in the details.

Speaking at the Association Management Seminar (courtesy of MCI Singapore), Martin Ross of mediamind shared that non-profits first need to understand the digital landscape and the plethora of social platforms available.

Different platforms have different qualities. For instance, LinkedIn may be more useful for B2B type associations than Facebook.

In terms of utility, non-profits can leverage on social media for lead generation, brand building, communication, R&D, thought leadership, as well as product and service launches and customer retention.

Rather than measure anything and everything, those tapping on social media should focus on 5 to 10 social media metrics. These may range from unique visitors, cost per unique visitor, page views, visits, interaction rates, to forms submitted, comments, members/fans, uploads, and reposts.

One of the most important things non-profits should do online is to listen. Beyond the buzz/chatter on one's industry, one should also analyse sentiments (positive/negative) and learn what one's competitors are doing.

In the B2B domain, understanding the concerns of end consumers may also be useful in shaping one's products to better meet their needs. For example, a manufacturer of packaging material may want to change how its product opens or closes based on feedback gleaned from product forums or blogs.

Beyond product development, social sentiment analysis also allows one to sharpen one's message/creative, improve ROI, control digital mobs (by nipping negative conversations in the bud), and strengthen competitive strategy. With a deeper understanding of their members' customers or clients, non-profits can better tailor their offerings to suit their members' needs.

To partake in the conversation, one could adopt what Ross calls the "Oprah Strategy" of establishing thought leadership and credibility, namely:

1) Drafting Social Media Releases instead of traditional press releases. Geared towards the intended end-user, a Social Media Release might read like this...

"WDA Wants Waste Management Workers in Singapore to Earn More"

...instead of something like this...

"Singapore Waste Management Industry to Get $5 million WDA Training Boost to Raise Productivity Levels"

2) Exhibiting EQ in working with one's online stakeholders, be they passive audiences, knowledge seekers (those that ask a lot of questions), supporters (your brand believers), and skeptics (uh oh).

A useful tip which I totally subscribe to is this: take all conflicts offline as soon as you can.

In summarising his talk, Ross reiterated the following takeaways:

1) Get people on your side and listen first;

2) Use what you've learnt to formulate your approach;

3) Engage on things important to your members and their customers, not yourself;

4) Avoid hardselling, anti-social behaviour or defensive responses;

5) Understand that your customer is your friend and that we don't exploit our friends;

6) We converse with individuals online - not companies. Hence one should always adopt a one-to-one conversational style which addresses their needs and concerns; and

7) People who manage social media responses need to be trained to deal with online feedback.

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