Azure Collier

my take on social media marketing and its impact on how we work, live and consume

3 steps to testing content for your Facebook page

A common question I hear from people using Facebook for marketing is “What kind of content gets the most engagement?” There’s no easy answer I can give you. But what you can do is test to find out what topics and types your audience is interested in. And you can also take advantage of marketing research that shows what kind of content gets a typical Facebook user’s attention.

That’s what I did recently in September when I started volunteering with the Leominster Office of Emergency Management (LOEM) and helping with their Facebook page. Before I became involved with the page, the organization had been posting text updates about severe weather warnings and links to news or information about public health, safety and emergencies. This was important information that the page’s fans needed to know, but it wasn’t getting them much engagement, spreading the word about what the organization and its volunteers does, or helping to grow their fan numbers.

What was missing from the page was original content, posts that show what happens behind the scenes at LOEM, and photos. If you want to increase your engagement, photos are a great start. Photos get 2 times the engagement of text posts. Photos are also the No. 1 content type shared by Facebook users.

So, for the month of September, I tried posting more of that type of content, and the results showed that this is what the fans want. Here’s how I tested the content:

1.       Testing Post Types

Facebook Insights Post Types

We posted 4 text updates during the month and tried 5 photo posts. The text updates included the weather warnings and information about a community event. The photos showed LOEM volunteers in action at a fire and at a booth during an annual festival, as well as a post known as a word image that combined a stock photo of a first aid kit and 4 emergency preparedness tips and a link to more information online.  It’s clear from the stats shown above in Facebook Insights that photo posts get the most reach and engagement.

2.       Measuring Likes, Comments and Shares

Facebook Insights Likes Comments SharesThough photos received more clicks than likes, comments and shares, fans are showed through digital body language by just clicking that they’re interested. Of course I’d love more likes, comments and shares on the page, but the clicks are a good start and indicate strong interest. The activity shows Facebook that these fans want to see our page’s updates in the news feed. And the actions of likes, comments and shares can be seen by our fans’ friends in their news feeds, which gives us greater reach, more exposure and potential page likes. The behind-the-scenes and LOEM in action photos are starting to help spread the word about what the organization does. Since the September tests, there have been a few fan comments thanking volunteers for their work.

3.       Posting When Fans are Online

Facebook Insights When Your Fans Are Online

In recent months, as Facebook has updated its Insights, page admins now have access to some great data about when fans are online. The stat – found when you click on the Posts tab in the new Insights –  shows an average  of how many of your fans are online during each day of the week, as well as during each hour of the day.

So I decided to post 3 out of the 5 photo posts specifically using the When Your Fans Are Online data. The majority of our fans who are online using Facebook are viewing the site from early afternoon to late evening on any given day of the week, from 4 pm to 9 pm. This is pure speculation on my part, but based on the time of day and the gender of our engaged fans (65% women, 40% of them are ages 25-44), many of them may hold day jobs and may be parents. They are using Facebook after work or after their kids are in bed, so they have time to browse Facebook. By posting during those hours, our content has a better chance of being seen in their news feed.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t solely rely on the When Your Fans Are Online stats. Make sure you’re testing other days and times as well. But the stats are a great start to helping you find a frequency sweet spot.

Results and Moving Forward

There’s a lot more that you can test when posting Facebook content, but just looking at these 3 factors helped us determine that trying visual content that showed what the LOEM was about is a great start to improving the page.  As more people interacted with and commented on our content, that engagement was seen by their fans, and that helped to influence fan growth. The LOEM page gained 10 fans in September. To some people, that may not be a lot, but to a small organization, those small gains are a fantastic step forward. We’re continuing to post photos and testing to see what other types or topics our fans will engage with.

Need more Facebook help?

Check out my other posts on Facebook marketing or ask your questions in this post’s comments.

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How to get volunteers involved in social media during your nonprofit event

I recently volunteered with the social media marketing for my local United Way’s Day of Caring for the third year in a row. If you haven’t heard of this event, it’s a day-long volunteering event where United Way chapters pair employees of local businesses with service projects at local nonprofits. I’ve written about volunteering for them before, and focused on how nonprofits can use social media to promote their events.

This year I noticed more social media participation from volunteers, which is key for nonprofits. Their volunteers are their biggest supporters, and social media provides an easy way for them to create social visibility for nonprofit causes.  What did we do this year to encourage conversation?  Check out these tips to get volunteers to share your event on social media.

My Instagram college from the Day of Caring kickoff.

My Instagram college from the Day of Caring kickoff.

Start at the kickoff

Over the last 3 years, we’ve become more vocal to volunteers about sharing their day on social media. Don’t just assume that people will take photos and post them or tweet using your event hashtag. Tell them to do it. Encourage them. The event kickoff is a great place to plant the seed. We add it to the “housekeeping” portion of the event kickoff speeches. Everyone is listening to instructions at that time, so we will list Facebook and Twitter URLs and the event hashtag on the screen, and our speaker will hold up their smartphone and reassure volunteers that they can and should use them during the day.

Send staff to the sites

The Day of Caring involves more than 600 volunteers at 62 project sites. Throughout the day, the sites are visited by project leaders, United Way staff and volunteer photographers. The organizers and photographers remind the volunteers – many of whom are already capturing their day with their smartphones – to share their experience on social media. And the volunteer photographers remind them that their photos can be found later on the United Way Facebook page.

Encourage people to tag themselves

When I posted the event’s photo album on Facebook, I tagged businesses, nonprofit agencies who have Facebook pages, and any people that I was personally connected to as friends. They’ll all get a notification that they’ve been tagged. The tagging and any activity they create when they check out the photo album will be seen by their friends in the newsfeed, and that creates social visibility among their networks.

Post when your fans are online

One of the best updates to Facebook Insights has been the When Your Fans Are Online stats. This tool looks at your fans over the most recent week, and determines the average number of your fans who are using Facebook on each day of the week and each hour of the day.

If you haven’t found this tool yet, the steps are below:

Step 1 and 2 When Your Fans are OnlineStep 3 When Your Fans are OnlineStep 4 When Your Fans Are Online

The Day of Caring took place on a Thursday, and Facebook Insights showed me that the highest number of fans were online at 9 pm on a Thursday. That’s when I shared the photo album and got great results – our content got 52 likes, 18 comments and 8 shares.

Share your volunteers’ posts

One great way to capture the conversation online during your event is to create a Storify story, which is a collection of social media content from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and more. You can do a search for your event hashtag and save all the public content that’s been posted. When you publish your story, you can also notify the people you quoted that they are mentioned in your content. Here’s a partial screenshot of the Storify story I created for this year’s Day of Caring.

Storify

Want more nonprofit tips?

Check out my previous posts on social media and nonprofits:

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Timelape video for Community Builders/United Way

Check out this video I worked on for the Community Builders of the United Way of North Central Massachusetts. It’s a timelapse of their Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day from last month. I’m very happy with how this turned out!

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15 tips for using social media marketing for nonprofit events

Yes, I know it says Tweeter (I didn't create it). But having the social info on table tents was progress!

Yes, I know it says Tweeter (I didn’t create it). But having the social info on table tents was progress!

I’ve volunteered for my local United Way the last two years, but I’m not building houses, helping with community gardens or raising money. I’m using my social media marketing skills to help the agency with social media for their events.

My role is to engage their audience of volunteers and supporters before, during and after events, including traditional save-the-date/registration, thanking volunteers when the work is done, and creating and sharing multimedia. Most of the work takes place during the event day – including live posting and working with a group of volunteer photographers who provide images and video content.

After helping with several events – including annual Martin Luther King Jr. service days and the Day of Caring – I’ve learned a lot of tips on how to use social media for nonprofit event marketing, and I’d like to share a few of them with you:

Working with the nonprofit staff, volunteers and supporters

1. Create a content calendar – Meet with event organizers at least two months prior to your event to plan out your social media communications. Include save-the-date messages, registration reminders, linking to monthly newsletters, and highlighting sponsors and participating organizations. Balance your event content with your everyday content so you’re not just talking about the event all the time.

2. Meet with everyone who has access to the organization’s social media profiles – It’s important to review basic social media marketing best practices to prevent oversharing, to know who is posting what content, and to review social media etiquette (such as not liking your own posts).

3. Look before you post – If you are a Facebook admin, you will get alerts when a fan interacts with your page or content. You don’t get alerts if another admin has posted to the page. Even if you have planned your content with the other admins, someone will forget. Check the time and the date of the previous post to avoid oversharing.

4. Integrate your marketing – Remind event organizers to include links to the nonprofit’s social media sites on every communication that goes out about the event, and make sure you have a sentence or two that lets volunteers know that they can find event updates there during the event day.

5. Follow your supporters – It’s important to thank your supporters – those who gave money to your cause, as well as those who sent teams to participate in your event. Get a list of supporters before the event day. Make sure your nonprofit’s page likes their pages, and your Twitter account follows their accounts. When you thank them on Facebook or Twitter, tag them. They’ll be notified that someone’s talking about them, and any interaction they have with that content will be seen by their fans, and so on.

6. Encourage volunteers to participate – If your volunteers don’t know that you’ll be providing live updates throughout the day, they won’t know to check your Facebook page or tweet about the event. Let them know in your event communications. Tell them at the event kickoff. We have lots of younger volunteers at these events, so – at one point during event kickoffs – one of the organizers holds up their smartphone and tells volunteers it’s OK to use it. We usually create an event hashtag for Twitter, and we’ve been getting better about sharing it and the social media info during the kickoff –we had table tents with the Facebook URL, Twitter handle and Twitter hashtag on display at the Martin Luther King Jr. service day this month. Volunteers had plenty of time to pull out their smartphones and follow us as they were having breakfast.

Working with volunteer photographers

All of the events I’ve worked on have involved projects that require physical labor. A few of them have involved multiple locations, so the following are tips for working with volunteer photographers under those conditions:

7. Use Dropbox to gather multimedia –You’ve got multiple people who are shooting at multiple locations and are producing dozens of large image files. Dropbox is the easiest and best way for you to receive those images. Create a folder for the event and share it with your volunteers ahead of time. New Dropbox users have trouble navigating the site, so setting this up ahead of time and providing instructions for uploading photos will make it easy on your volunteers and yourself.

8. Minimize your uploads – During an event day, I’ll edit as many images as I can and post them all at once in a Facebook photo album around lunchtime to show fans the progress that’s being made. I’ll wait for more photos to come in, and then add the rest of the images that night or the next day in one bulk upload. By adding a ton of photos at once, that action appears once in the newsfeed and will keep me from oversharing.

9. Provide some photography guidelines

  • No butts – Volunteers who are working at the Day of Caring or the Martin Luther King Jr. service day are typically doing a lot of bending over – working in gardens, painting rooms, or hammering nails. So you’re going to get a lot of photos of butts unless you point this out to your photographers. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want a photo of myself bending over to appear on Facebook. Ask your photographers to slow down, take their time and find a more flattering angle.
  • Smiling and candid shots are great – These events are about working hard, but they’re also about teamwork and having fun. Encourage your photographers to get group shots at project sites. These are great images for nonprofits to add to their website, blog or promotional pieces about their programs.
  • Ask for the top 10 – Save yourself and your photographers some time by asking them to send you the top 10 photos from each project site. It’s not realistic to use every image that was shot that day – no one wants to look through a Facebook album of 300 images to try to find themselves.

Working at project sites

On event day, your role is dependent on technology, so make sure you have everything you need:

10. Wifi – Does the event site have wifi? If so, get the account name and password ahead of time. If not, consider purchasing a mifi/wifi card to create your own wireless hotspot.

11. Social apps – Are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, HootSuite, or TweetDeck installed on your phone? Do it before the event day so you’re not trying to remember logins and passwords on the fly.

12. Electricity – Are there outlets on site, and are there enough? You might think about bringing an extension cord to support your laptop power source and any chargers you need.

13. Batteries – Are all batteries charged for digital cameras and video cameras?

14. Cell phone contacts – Add your event staff and volunteer photographers ahead of time so you’re not digging through notes or paper lists to find their contact info.

15. GPS – If you’re traveling to several project sites, consider using an app like Waze to get turn-by-turn directions.

This is a long list, but it’s essential if you want to get the most out of social media for your nonprofit’s service days and events. If you can think of any other tips, please share them in the comments!

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Engage, inform, recruit: How nonprofits can use social media to recruit volunteers

A version of this post appeared on the Constant Contact blog in December 2012.

When you think about nonprofits and social media marketing, you probably assume that these organizations are primarily using social media tools to fundraise. Without money, you can’t provide services or pay the staff who carry out those services.

Actually, most nonprofits are going social to build relationships. When asked about social media goals for the 2012 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report, nonprofits said their top three were growing their base, engaging members and growing fundraising. Two out of the three priorities focused on recruiting volunteers and supporters – growing and maintaining relationships.

So how can a nonprofit use social media to grow their volunteer base? That’s a question I answered recently for several nonprofits by presenting a session on social media during a November volunteer breakfast at the United Way of North Central Massachusetts.

The key is using the right content for your organization to engage your audience, inform them about your mission, and then recruit them once you’ve built a relationship.

Engaging content from the Humane Society Pinterest PageEngage

Engaging your audience means sharing content that encourages them to act – you can see how successful that content is when people comment, share, like, retweet, and repin. What kind of content is engaging?

  • Multimedia – Use photos and videos to engage your audience. The Pajama Program provides new pajamas to children in need, and their photos of smiling kids and families are a powerful way to tell their story. I couldn’t find one of the hundreds of their Facebook photos that didn’t have some fan interaction.
  • Inspirational – Get your audience thinking about what they can do to help. UNICEF has an entire Pinterest board of inspirational quotes and photos.
  • Asking a question – The Girl Scouts got a lot of mileage on Facebook recently just by asking a few questions:  “So we’d love to hear your good news about girls: what skills are they learning? What educational trips have you taken? In what way have they awed and inspired you?” That simple post got 186 comments, 422 Likes, and 35 shares.
  • Humor – Animal photos and humor are a natural fit for The Humane Society. Every one of the pins on their cute animal photos Pinterest board have been repined. Your nonprofit might not have anything to do with animals, but sharing funny content is always a good idea.

Informing Content on Facebook from Massachusetts Service AllianceInform

Social media allows nonprofits to interact with their audience on a daily basis. Take advantage of that interaction by informing your audience about your mission.

  • Share your news – This is basic, but it’s important. Regular posting of your accomplishments, announcements and events help to remind your fans of the vital role you serve in your community.
  • Education – Your knowledge is valuable – use it to educate your social media audience. The ASPCA has a Pinterest board full of pet care tips. Each pin links to a full article on the organization’s blog.
  • Events – Definitely invite your followers to events via social media, but make sure you’re posting after the event too. Event photos and video allow you to show off your hard work. Make sure you tag participants – people, sponsors and other nonprofits – in your photos to get more traction like the United Way of North Central Massachusetts did during their annual Day of Caring. As your fans interact with your content, their networks will see it, allowing you to spread your message even further.


Recruit

Red Cross Twitter Post About Volunteering

You’ve engaged and informed your followers, and formed a connection with them. They’re thinking about you on a regular basis and they support your cause. Reach out to them through social media to recruit them as volunteers.

  • Share links to your volunteer opportunities – You can post the link and add a description on Facebook and Twitter, but don’t forget about Pinterest. The San Antonio, TX Food Bank has a Pinterest board of volunteer opportunities and donation drives.
  • Talk about your industry – The Massachusetts Service Alliance, which works with dozens of nonprofit agencies, shared this Americorps infographic about what just one Americorps member contributes through their work. It shows your followers how they can make a difference.
  • Use statistics – The Red Cross has posted daily Hurricane Sandy relief updates on Twitter, including volunteer needs. They tweeted that 90% of their 5,700 workers helping with Sandy relief are volunteers, and linked to a website to sign up for Red Cross opportunities.
  • Try LinkedIn – The Heart of West Michigan United Way posts opportunities on their LinkedIn page, and they link to their website, which has a volunteer matching service.

Need more social media help? Check out my slides from my social media presentation, Engage, Inform Recruit: How to Use Social Media for Volunteer Growth.

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