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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Why aren’t people attending your events? 3 event marketing don’ts

If you’ve ever planned events, you know how frustrating it can be if they don’t turn out the way you thought. Fortunately for me, I’ve planned smaller meetup-type social events that aren’t the fundraising kind. Even if only a few people show up and have a few drinks and a few laughs, you and your guests can consider it a successful evening.

You would think that social media marketing would give event planners a huge leg up to get tickets sold and butts in seats. It’s summertime right now – a busy time for events – and my friends and I are checking out festivals and meetups on a regular basis.

But I’ve seen so many huge, basic event marketing mistakes that make me wonder if anyone is forking over their dollars to pay an admission fee. Here are 3 event marketing don’ts. Names and identifying features are blacked out to protect the guilty. Hey, I’m annoyed, but I’m not a jerk.

Don’t forget vital information – like the time. And LISTEN to your Facebook fans.

I recently paid $112 for 2 tickets to a brand-new music festival. Happy to do so – my husband and I love one of the bands that’s playing, the festival is 5 miles from our house, and neither of us had plans for the day.

The problem? We’ve heard about the festival for a month, and – even after buying the tickets – could not find the time that it starts and ends. Anywhere. Not on the festival’s official web page, not on their Facebook page, and not on the Ticketmaster site. Despite that, we bought tickets anyway (again – we do not have plans that day and we are really excited to see one of our favorite bands), but none of our friends purchased tickets because they wanted to know the start and end time before committing.

So I decided to ask the festival organizers to give us basic information that should be part of any event’s public-facing digital and social presence. And this happened:

Facebook Festival No Time Listed

I asked organizers about the time, and – instead of answering me – they liked my comment. What?! Did they even read my comment? I just paid $112 for tickets. Tell me when I need to show up. Why is it so hard to find this out? By the way, their answer was wrong. They officially released the schedule on their website since that post, and the entertainment begins an hour later.

If you are having an event, please make sure the time and date are EVERYWHERE. And make sure the information is CONSISTENT. I’ve never had this experience anywhere else, and it is ridiculous. Attending an event should not involve attendees begging organizers to tell them where to show up.

Don’t put the burden on your attendees. And be professional.

I love 5K races. There’s a few local 5Ks that I’ve participated in since moving to New England. I know – 5Ks are mostly an all-volunteer effort, and sometimes that means you’re not going to get top-notch, professional marketing. But you should make an effort because it could make a difference.

This email is from a 5K I’ve participated in for the last 5 years. The first year, organizers sent an email and did not use blind carbon copy. Everyone on their list was in the To: line. So unprofessional. This year’s email takes the cake:

5K Email

They sent a reminder through the registration service – my Gmail flagged it as possible Spam. And the organizer tells his potential attendees in a poorly-written email to register ASAP so he doesn’t have to deal with last-minute registrations like he did last year.

Excuse me?

Last-minute registrations are NOT my problem as an attendee for a 5K race. There are a lot of people who do wait until the last minute because of weather. Your communications to attendees should be professional (check your spelling and grammar!), provide the facts, and thank people for even considering your event. That’s it.

Be mobile-friendly

Here’s a reality: A large portion of your audience is finding your event information via mobile. And that’s because a smartphone is an important part of our daily life –  79% of adults age 18-44 have their smartphone with them 22 hours a day. We’re using mobile when we’re meeting up with and talking to our events and making plans. We’re using mobile while we’re watching TV at night. We’re on our smartphones when we’re waiting in line. We are using our smartphones as a way to plan how to spend our money and our free time.

Please make it easy for us to find information about your event, and don’t make us look at things like this:

Event Calendar

Can you read this calendar? I can’t. Unless I squint and scroll, and use an un-pinching motion to zoom in. And I’m probably going to click the wrong link because sometimes links are too close together. No matter how much I zoom, I can’t aim that well with my giant finger.

Your website and your event information need to be easy for me to find, read, and scroll on a mobile phone. If it’s not, I’m going to give up and check my email. Or check out my Facebook and Instagram apps. Make sure your font is not tiny. Don’t overload your page with lots of paragraphs and photos. I don’t want to spend 5 minutes scrolling. Give me the basics on one page. Not sure if your event info is mobile friendly? Try it out on your phone, or ask a friend or colleague to check it out. Can they find what they need right away?

What should you do?

I’ve covered the don’ts today, but what should you be doing? Check out my posts on marketing best practices. Or add your suggestions in the comments. If you’ve found examples of event marketing gone wrong or event marketing done right, I’d love to hear about it!

How one small business creates great Facebook content

Anyone who uses Facebook for social media marketing is looking for that magic bullet of content: What can I post that will get my fans talking, make them loyal, and spread the word about my business?

One of my favorite local small businesses has figured it out. Modern Edge Art Bar is a studio in my area that offers BYOB painting classes, jewelry classes, birthday parties, and kids classes. I have taken 3 of the BYOB classes, and was thrilled as a non-artist that I could have so much fun with my friends and walk out with a painting I am proud to hang up at home.

When I first heard of Modern Edge last summer, and liked their page, they had a few hundred fans. Since then, they’ve grown to 1,200 fans and have expanded their business – last month they moved to a larger space, increased their staff, and added more classes.

I think that word of mouth had a lot to do with Modern Edge’s growth, and they’re getting great word of mouth through Facebook because of the engaging content they share. Here are 5 ways Modern Edge creates great Facebook content

1. They strike the right tone

Modern Edge doesn’t post bland text updates about products or services. They share information about their business in a friendly, helpful way. This post is about a possible painting for a future BYOB class – it got 33 comments and 133 likes.

Modern Edge Painting

2. Photos, photos, photos

There is no mystery about what happens in a Modern Edge art class. They post photos of what project the class will work on. They post during a class. They post photos of happy artists with finished projects. This is the cover photo they posted after a class I attended with my friends.

Modern Edge Cover Photo

3. Call to action/get people to share

Want to drive traffic to your products or services? Modern Edge has this down: tell people how many seats are left. Or ask your fans to share on Facebook for a chance to win a free class. This post got 47 comments:

Modern Edge Giveaway

4. They ask for their customers’ opinions

Modern Edge instructors are trained and skilled art teachers. But you can’t fill your classes if no one wants to learn what you’re teaching. They keep their classes fresh by asking their fans what they want.

Modern Edge Facebook Poll5. They’re not all business

This Bob Ross meme is spot-on. It’s about art and it’s entertaining to fans, which is why it got 53 shares.

Modern Edge Bob Ross

Need more help with Facebook marketing? Check out my other posts about Facebook!

A lesson on Facebook EdgeRank: Fans miss out when they don’t engage

Like ButtonIt’s not a secret that – as a user of Facebook – you don’t see every single thing posted by people or pages in your little corner of the Facebook universe. It’s all based on Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm.

If you’re not familiar with EdgeRank, check out this nifty infographic by PostRocket – EdgeRank is Facebook’s formula that determines what a user sees in their newsfeed. It’s a complicated secret sauce, but the basic idea here is this: between your friends and the pages you like, there’s a lot of stuff being posted, and Facebook wants you see the posts that are most relevant to you. Relevancy is based on how much you interact with a friend or a brand page. The more you comment on, like or share posts, the more often that friend or page will appear in your feed.

Facebook has become a primary source of where we get our information about our friends’ lives, news, and what’s happening at local businesses. And if something’s not in your newsfeed, you’re missing out.

I experienced this in my life this week. It’s a small incident, but it illustrates the power of EdgeRank:

My friend Andrea and I take a Zumba class at our local gym. There are 2 instructors who teach the Zumba classes, and we prefer one instructor’s teaching style over the other. When we walked into the class this week, the other instructor was setting up. We saw a mutual friend and asked if she knew what was up – she said that the regular instructor announced on her Facebook page that she wouldn’t be teaching that day.

Not a big deal to most people, but it was to us. We left during the class, before the first song was over.

“We were on Facebook all day,” I said to Andrea. “Why didn’t we see this?”

And then it hit me: EdgeRank!!! (shakes fist and screams at the sky) I didn’t see the Zumba instructor’s post because I never interact with her content. My lack of engagement means those posts are hidden from my newsfeed.

Something else hit me: Marketers talk all the time about what brands need to do – create engaging content, share more visual content, think about the frequency of posts, and find out what days and times are best – but the fans have a responsibility too.

If you are really loyal to a business, it’s a good idea to interact with a brand on Facebook on a regular basis so the information you’re interested in is coming to you in the newsfeed. It can be as simple as liking a post, or you could take a few seconds to write a comment. Or – if it’s something you think your friends might enjoy – click that share button.

Another thing that helps? Use Facebook’s interest list feature and give yourself easy access to all the recent information from the pages you really want to keep track of.

Have you missed out on something because you didn’t see it on Facebook? Let me know in the comments!

Want loyal customers? Take a lesson from Sephora: Teach them how to use your products

After the makeover: Melanie and I strike a pose during our post-makeover cocktail celebration.

Melanie and I strike a pose during our post-makeover cocktail celebration.

I am a member of the cult of Sephora.

Actually, I’m a VIB member – that’s Very Important Beauty – of their Beauty Insider rewards program for spending $350 in a calendar year (don’t judge; it’s not all for me – I do buy lots of birthday and Christmas gifts there!).

Why do I keep coming back? Because Sephora is not just a place where you buy makeup. You also have access to information and education – in the store and online – to help you choose the right products and learn how to use them.

This is a lesson that anyone – whether you’re a small business or big corporation – can use to win loyalty by letting customers try out products and services, and going beyond that with in-person demonstrations and social media content that provides education and best practices.

It starts with the store itself. If you haven’t been to a Sephora (or if you’re a guy and have stayed far, far away from them), they have a knowledgeable staff and aisles and aisles of makeup. Each product has a sample available that customers can try on. There are plenty of endcaps with disposable eyeshadow brushes, cotton swabs and tissues that allow you to try on the makeup (without getting any germs from the last customer). Beauty Insider members also get samples to take home and try based on purchase points earned – and a free birthday gift.

A Sephora palette from one of my Instagram photo-a-day pics.

A Sephora palette from one of my Instagram photo-a-day pics.

Sephora also offers a range of in-store educational services: express makeup application, classes and personalized consultations. Most are free, and a few are paid. A few weeks ago my friend Melanie and I made appointments for the customized makeup application, and it was definitely worth the price. The Sephora consultants were fantastic – they helped us with all of our questions on makeup application, indulged us with our “I always wanted to learn how to do ____” requests, and helped us find our own perfect colors and combinations. I had such a great experience and shared it on Facebook (word of mouth!), which is why I’m going back this weekend with 3 more friends – I’m picking up a few supplies and hanging out while they get express makeovers.

Most of their social media and email content shares that same combination – they strike a good balance of education and best practices vs. sales. The Sephora Facebook page and Pinterest boards are full of pro tips, links to Q&As with cosmetic company founders and reps, links to instructional videos, ideas, trends and invitations for fans to share their tips and photos.

Yes, Sephora is a global company and they want to make money, but they’re also providing a good experience for the customers with the sampling and educating. If you’re a customer, you can know on the spot if something’s right for you and not waste money on products that you’re never going to use. And if you’re a loyal customer, you’ll come back when you’ve used up your favorite shade of lipstick.

How can your business get noticed in the new Facebook news feed? More visual content

A look at the new Facebook news feed (image from Facebook)

A look at the new Facebook news feed (image from Facebook)

The most important lesson from Facebook’s news feed upgrade announcement this week is this: multimedia is critical to your business’ success on Facebook.

Photos and videos will appear larger in the news feed – currently that content makes up 50% of the stream. And there’s a good reason for that. Facebook users are more engaged with multimedia than with text updates alone, or with text and a link. MBooth found that videos are shared 12 times more than link or text updates, and photos are liked 2 times more than text updates.

It makes sense. for Facebook users – your fans and followers – photos and videos are a huge part of their social media activity. A recent Pew Internet and American Life study shows that almost half (46%) of online adults post photos and video, while 56% have completed at least one photo-sharing activity.

For small businesses who are already using photos and video, the changes validate the time and effort they spend on creating that content. For those that aren’t, it’s time to take stock of your content creation for 2013, and change those New Year’s content resolutions. The top content types that small businesses in a BusinessBolts.com study planned to increase this year were written content; 53% wanted to focus on video, and 30% planned to increase photo creation. If your business placed multimedia towards the bottom of the list, your smartphone is going to be your new best friend.

The time is right for multimedia content, especially for small businesses on a small budget – no one has to purchase expensive equipment, or hire high-end professionals to show off their business. Everything you need is on your iPhone or Android. The tools are extremely easy to use, and you don’t have to spend hours on your photos or video. A couple of images in a small album or photo collage, or a short video (really short if you’re using 6 second clips from Vine) are all you need. If you haven’t already, download Instagram and Vine, and start capturing engaging, interesting visual content.

We’re getting away from Marketing 101

This is a guest post by my friend, photographer and social media marketer Dana Dillehunt. If you have a minute (or two), please check out her photography website, read her blog, Like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter!

Dana is tired of brands and businesses abusing social media marketing. She’s got 4 tips on how you can redeem yourself:

Blonde Woman with MegaphoneIf McDonald’s was showing clips of ‘80s movies instead of advertising their food on TV, we’d all surely enjoy the commercials. But we’d have no idea that they were created by McDonald’s, and they wouldn’t exactly inspire a surge of Big Mac purchases.

So why are brands abusing the largest marketing opportunity available?

Somewhere along the blue-brick road, companies lost their way. They decided it was more important to have 1 million likes than 1,000 sales directly inspired by content. They wanted ALL THE FOLLOWERS, regardless of the actual audience composition.

So they stood over their social media minions (with whips! and fire!), evilly cackling away at LOLCATZ and ehrmagerds, completely neglecting their actual message. And no one bought anything from them, ever, and they went bankrupt and the media minions rose up and bought the company and renamed it something awesome and made all the bosses work as janitors.

Don’t let this happen to your business! Here are four no-fail ways to make sure nobody ever thinks of you (or your company) as a giant douche.

1. Stop asking your followers to LIKE, or SHARE, or COMMENT. They can read (they’re on Facebook, after all). Allow your content to inspire them, to drive them to do any (or all) of those actions. Even the least savvy of followers might be dissuaded from acting, just because you told them to. (We all have a little rebellious streak).

2. Don’t exploit memes because people “like” them. We don’t need any more stock Victorian imagery over pastel backgrounds with snarky text. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Does the meme somehow communicate your brand’s message? And on the rarest, (read: RAREST) of occasions, can it be modified or stretched slightly to align with your brand?

3. Don’t capitalize on national tragedies to leverage engagement. This is the douchiest move of all. We all groaned as brand after brand posted stock images of candles or flowers and aligned themselves as keeping “the victims of Sandy Brook Elementary in our hearts.” Just don’t do it. It’s tasteless. It’s OK to NOT acknowledge awful things. In fact, a nice way to acknowledge without being a total douche would be to NOT post. By not posting your typical upbeat, on-brand (albeit trite, in the face of tragedy) message, you are paying respect without exploiting. And we all know that it’s better to do a good thing without telling everyone that you’ve done it. Trust me. People will notice.

and of course, the most important lesson:

4. DON’T POST ANYTHING THAT DOES NOT DIRECTLY RELATE BACK TO YOUR COMPANY OR MESSAGE. Just re-read that a few times.

We’re all capable of producing fresh, inspiring and fabulous content, and have no need to resort to these awful (and surprisingly still prevalent) tactics.