Social Media tips to improve listening for nonprofits | Miratel Solutions

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4 tips to help nonprofits become better social media listeners

We often write about using social media to distribute content to your nonprofit supporters using the tools as a method to increase engagement and drive nonprofit fundraising results. It’s worth considering if enough attention being paid to the listening element of social media and what can the charity sector learn from doing so?

For years now with the rapid growth of social media the emphasis has been on distributing content and news to your followers, but in the nonprofit sector it’s a good time to assess just how well your organization is using these same tools to listen to the audience you’ve built. Considering almost three quarters of adults in North America consider themselves ‘active’ on social media it’s no understatement to say that there is no better forum to learn a significant amount about the needs, interests and expectations of both your existing donor audience but also your potential donors of the future.

With that said here are four reasonably easy to implement practices that can improve your nonprofits ability to listen via social media – initiatives that can go a long way to fostering stronger relationships with your audience.

Find out what works – If your approach to social media continues to essentially be a case of ‘throwing everything up against the wall to see what sticks’ you’ll never truly benefit from what social media can do for your organization.

As we’ve written about extensively on the Miratel blog there are numerous resources to track and measure how your audience find, react and respond to your content. By having a good understanding of bounce rates, share rates, read rates and comments/likes/retweets you can create a legitimate appraisal of what is working well, what needs fine tuning and what needs to be discontinued. The value of your content is determined by your audience after all, not by your authors. Taking the time to measure your social media activity is not only time well spent but it will help you create more specific content that your audience is hungry for.

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Reassess your social media staffing – The unfortunate reality is that more than half of nonprofits have a social media strategy that is in serious need of revision. More than 50% don’t conduct any measurement of their social media results including response and read rates, sharing and most importantly interaction. It’s a sad fact that after setting up social media accounts a large number of questions and comments from the intended audience go unanswered which is the definition of a missed opportunity. Almost half of small and medium nonprofits leave their social media management to a single person meaning if that person is not available nothing gets reviewed or updated. I wonder what is at the heart of this being overlooked and can only conclude that many charities struggle to see the value in delegating resources of time and money to social media, meanwhile not only is the medium not about to go away but in fact continues to grow. Social media is becoming the best way to find new donors and the value of fully engaging, including listening and responding to these individuals can’t be overstated.

Knowing your audience – Social Media provides a two way mirror into the thoughts, interests and actions of your audience – a fact that is sometimes not even considered due to the focus on posting new content. By taking the time to review the social media accounts of your donors, volunteers and supporters you can learn a great deal about them. You can better understand their motivations, the knowledge they seek and deem worthy of sharing and who they network with in the online world.

Using social media to its fullest potential will allow you to build an accurate and real-time profile of your audience which will provide key data about how you may better operate your fundraising campaigns. Unfortunately over 80% of the small to medium nonprofits spend no time reviewing the social media accounts of their followers and therefore are compiling none of this information – even if a full analysis is not possible for your charity even a preliminary exercise can give you a good feeling about the pulse of your specific audience.

Develop and improve channels of communication – Every visitor to your website and social media channels is a unique individual who will have their own personal preferences for communication. Some will tweet a question or retweet an article, others love to share and comment via facebook, some will comment on your blog to ask for more insight and clarification while others might be dedicated to Google+ or LinkedIn as their primary sources for information. In every case it’s important that you are opening up the channels of communication so that your audience have the options open that they prefer to use.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, social media hasn’t evolved into a one size fits all scenario and as a result its imperative that you provide the avenues of communication that your audience are seeking. The key of course is responding to the feedback that you receive whether it’s good or bad. Numerous studies have shown that the value of a ‘thanks for your comment/thanks for reading’ or a detailed response to a question or suggestion is one of the most important things that a company can do online. Consider that the member of your audience has taken the time to engage in the first place and you’re already past the first step to building a meaningful relationship.

I hope that you can use some of these suggestion within your own social media strategies and that they enhance your listening online. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below.

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Miratel Solutions is a Toronto call centre, eBusiness, and letter shop mail house specializing in professional fundraising services including PCI compliant inbound telephone fundraising, outbound telephone fundraising, online fundraising, lottery fundraising services, donation processing and receipting and direct mail fundraising services. We are committed to our CSR business values in all our business decisions and advancing the missions of the nonprofits we proudly serve.

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