At a Glance: Using Digital Platforms to Get Your Story Out
DonorPerfect Community Conference 2022
At a Glance: Using Digital Platforms to Get Your Story Out TranscriptPrint Transcript
Lori: Okay, so good afternoon and welcome to At a Glance: Using Digital Platforms to Get Your Story Out, presented by three speakers of The Nonprofit Center at La Salle University. Before we get started, I’m sure you guys all know the drill at this point, that any of your Read More
Lori: Okay, so good afternoon and welcome to At a Glance: Using Digital Platforms to Get Your Story Out, presented by three speakers of The Nonprofit Center at La Salle University. Before we get started, I’m sure you guys all know the drill at this point, that any of your questions that you have, please add into the Q&A. We want to make sure that we get to those questions because there’s usually a lot going on in that chat and it’s hard to search some out. If you want your question answered, be sure it goes in the Q&A. What I’m going to do at this point is I am going to hand it over to Meghan Pierce, who’s going to do some introductions and get you started
Meghan Pierce: Good afternoon. Welcome to our session, At a Glance: Using Digital Platforms to Get Your Story Out. I’m delighted to be here with you today. I know we are competing with maybe your lunch and probably a lot of other competing priorities. We’re grateful that you joined in on the session. A little bit about me, my name is Meghan Pierce, and I’m going to be the moderator for today’s session. I’m an associate professor of marketing at La Salle University, which is located in Philadelphia.
I do research on social information processing and on consumer wellbeing which basically means that I study the psychological, social, and cultural factors and how we can use those things to encourage pro-social behaviors and reduce risky consumption behaviors. Before coming to La Salle, I was a professor at the Catholic University of Chile. Before that position, I was working with the Health Communication Lab and the Center for Organizational Research in Lugano, Switzerland. During that time in Switzerland, I was working with a number of small to medium-size nonprofit organizations across Europe and across Southern Africa on impact assessment and behavior change strategy.
Before that, my passion for the nonprofit sector was really inspired by my first job in high school and leading into college at the nonprofit arm of the Fairfax County Park Authority, where I had to wear lots of hats from stuffing envelopes to database creation management, website design, and eventually holding an interim executive director role. I definitely understand how nonprofit professionals have to wear many hats under conditions of very limited resources. I hope that shines through in our discussions today and showing you that there are a lot of things that we can do in terms of thinking about sharing your story with very limited resources and in terms of time and money.
I regularly collaborate with the nonprofit center at La Salle, which provides educational programs, a leadership development, and expert consulting to nonprofit organizations and nonprofit professionals. I’m even more excited to introduce you to our panelists. Our first panelist is a Siani Butler and she is from Annapolis Maryland. She studied marketing and international business at La Salle and graduated in May. She interned at The Nonprofit Center working on their marketing and communication strategy.
She also interned at the mayor’s office in Annapolis, Maryland as a social media and communications intern and interned at the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Siani is currently on a hiking trip and was supposed to be with us live today, but there was a little bit of an emergency, so she’s not going to be able to join us live, but we have a plan B where she voice recorded on her slides. She’s going to be speaking to you in that mediated environment.
Our other panelist here who is live with us today is Amanda Miller. Amanda’s from Fairfax, Virginia. She studied marketing in management at La Salle. Also, graduated in May. She’s the first and only student to have earned a digital marketer gold badge after becoming certified in Google Ads, Google Analytics, HubSpot social media strategies, with her work in our Digital Explorers Lab. It’s a really important and amazing credential that she acquired. She was also a digital marketing intern at Seer Interactive, which is a really large social media and paid search firm here in the Philadelphia region.
She was a management and sales intern at Sherwin Williams, and she worked with We2Link, which is an app for people with traumatic brain injuries. They’re no longer students, they’re now young professionals and are ready to share some of their tips and tricks with you today. Amanda’s going to kick it off with discussing successful web strategy in particular. She’s going to be discussing search engine optimization and paid search. I’ll pass the baton over to Amanda.
Amanda Miller: All right. Well, thank you for the intro. Again, my name is Amanda Miller, and I’m going to be talking a little bit about building a successful web strategy using SEO specifically. Now SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is the process of improving quality and quantity of website traffic organically. It can be in used in conjunction with paid ads. However, we’ll be focusing on boosting your site to the top of Google searches without paid ads. Usually, when you make a Google search, you use a search term and a few options for websites will appear at the top.
For example, if you search the search term, St Jude, St Jude’s website will appear at the very top with an ad icon, then directly below, you’ll see the same website link appear without an ad icon. This means that the first link appeared because St Jude’s paid for their website to rank first on Google, and they pay for every single click that they received through that one link. The second link is a populated search website that Google’s algorithm pushed out because of a variety of different reasons. We’ll be going into detail about those soon and ways to improve those ways to then rank number one organically through Google search.
Again, SEO is extremely important. 8.5 billion Google searches are made every single day. I’m sure you Googled something at least this morning, and it really gives you the power to answer customer or donor’s questions, increase visibility, brand trust, brand loyalty, and it’s really budget-friendly. We’ll move on to the next slide to talk about, some of the ways that we can build out our search engine optimization.
If you’ve ever talked with anyone in marketing, you’ve probably heard them say, what are your marketing goals? It’s really important in finding what works best for you. With tight schedules and employee stretch thin as a nonprofit, developing really SMART goals and micro-goals can help you further your progress and measure those progresses. A SMART goal means making specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals.
I urge you to think about your website’s purpose. Why do you need a website? What’s the point? Just like your nonprofit has a mission. What does your website have as their mission? Whether you offer events, services, programs, or you just want to grow your organization through online donations, that may be recent enough to have it all in one place. Here are just a few common examples for nonprofits of their goals, and I urge you to pick out a few and keep them in the back of your mind as we go through this presentation.
All right. With all of that in mind, I’ve created some SEO tips and these are some really easy ways to rank number one on Google, without paying for ads. The first being telling a story. A unique voice is really important in consistently presenting your story, whether that’s using a casual tone or casual style of writing, or something that really connects with the viewer that is going to be on your website. Could be a consumer, a donor, someone in need of services. Using a third-grade reading level is also extremely important and that can help with accessibility to reaching the widest audience possible.
The second tip is to regularly update content. This can be very tough with a strict budget, but essential. So this may be a great opportunity to even start a blog on your site that can be easily updated even on the simplest websites like WordPress or Wix, whatever you guys use. New or updated content on your site tells Google that you’re active in creating content people want to read. It also helps you capture real estate in search engine result pages like SERPs and it gives you expert views on your issue, that also helps with boosting your ranking. Using relevant keywords is also extremely, extremely important, and probably one of the number ways to get started right now.
This is how your site shows up when someone searches something on Google using specific keywords that people may be searching that do connect to your website’s mission or to your nonprofit’s mission is also really important. There are ways to track and find these keywords with a small budget, but you can start today just thinking of simple keywords on your own. Embedding calls to action are also extremely important. You can have buttons that say sign up now or donate now or share. It reduces a lot of friction and why is it important to include a button? Any friction makes people drop off and not want to donate and any issue with an extra click is just too much work.
Simplifying that is extremely important. I’ve worked with children’s health and every time that I’ve created a website for them, I’ve also always included a little button that says make an appointment now. It draws the current user to a website page where they can easily fill in their information and create that next step.
At minimum, I have a rule of thumb of making sure you have a donate button in the upper right-hand corner or at the footer of the website. This can really take your website from $0 donations to $100 million. It’s really, really impactful. The next thing that I would say is to include images. Images do affect ranking on Google. Google can find out how many images that are on your website and will push the ones that have the most. Articles with more than seven images generate 116% more organic traffic than those with none. Articles with videos get 83% more traffic than those without.
These videos can also be spliced into social media posts which we’ll get into a little bit later but it’s really important to have images to tell a story and break up that copy. It’s best to use organic images and infographics that you generate, but you can definitely find free-to-use and paid stock photographs really easily through a simple Google search. The next thing I would say is to structure your pages wisely. 48% of articles that have an advanced heading structure with multiple headings perform really a lot higher than those with none, 39% of articles with no second heading or low performing.
When you structure your pages, make sure you include the title list or question or how-to in your websites, and also be careful when using listing. It can be super beneficial and getting your story out and as clearly as possible. I would just be careful with this as you want to make sure that they’re quite lengthy. Articles over 3,000 words get 138% more traffic than those with fewer than 500 words. Contrary to what you might think or believe, less is not more, more is more. You need 3,000 words to get 138% more traffic. 78% of articles with fewer than 500 words were never shared.
That means that you have to explain and use those keywords and as many as you can within each website and each landing page. Next, I would say to expand your topic coverage. I mentioned blogs and that can be really tough especially not having a lot to say but this means maybe including industry updates, other things that are going on, you can post for an awareness day or an awareness week. Those things are really important not just on social media but also on your website.
Lastly, you want to ask for backlinks. You’re in the nonprofit world, I know you’re not shy, if you’re an executive director or on the development team and a reporter contacts you for an interview, ask them for backlinks. These can link your site to that interviewer’s site or new site and they can do the same for you. They’re a great way for one site to vouch for another. The very last tip that I have that is extremely important and I’ve made my own slide for it is local SEO. Claiming your Google My Business listing can affect local SEO dramatically. 46% of all Google searches are made with local intent so that’s nearly half of the searches.
Again, relevant keywords are extremely important but what’s even more important is people that are looking to donate locally. You can click on the own this business question mark button right at the bottom there underneath the phone. You’re able to post photos, adjust hours for holidays, keep your contact information up to date, allows for easy Q&A, reviews, and it’s really simple to do and free. It’s a great way to really connect with the customer and it also really helps when people are searching on mobile devices and they can get to your location or donate through their phone especially easy through the maps app on an iPhone.
That’s another great way and great tool to do something really quick to improve your ability to be found through searches. Lastly here we have a little bit about paid, I know I said I wasn’t going to get into paid ads or anything but there was some research, I found that Google Ads has a Google Ads Grant that allows 10,000 of free ads done on nonprofits that you have to qualify for but it’s really easy and simple. We’ve included a link in this presentation but I’m sure you could just search Google Ad Grants. You can use that money towards ads and ranking number one with some value. That really can help it’s all free and I would definitely suggest using that for the paid side of things.
For SEO, the biggest thing to remember is just to answer relevant questions that people may be searching. I understand for most small nonprofits, we don’t have a lot of writers who can keep up and update things but it is important and I’m sure there are people that volunteer that are on the board that may have content creation experiences. It’s important to ask about these questions and there could be ghost blog writers for you. Having executive directors and board members often don’t realize how much they truly know about the topic and ghostwriters are able to interview them and extract amazing information. That’s another thing that I would leave you with.
One other tip is to not include dates into your URL on your blog if you are not posting a lot just because that will prevent Google from pushing your website further. If you are going to be posting a lot, make sure you include the dates, that can be extremely helpful. That’s through basic website builders like Wix and WordPress you can do those. Just in conclusion with a shortage of time and money, and resources, I understand that SEO may not be your number one priority but it is extremely important as Google searches are made every single day and that’s the way that your website and your foundation is going to be found is through Google.
I would definitely push some content out, ask for backlinks when you can, and make sure that your site really has a purpose and you’re telling your full story. Thank you for listening and I’ll be passing it off to Dr. Pierce to transition to the social media part of our presentation.
Meghan: Thanks, Amanda. She really has a lot of great tips and again, as she underscores, I know that SEO is really not made on the forefront of a lot of nonprofits’ minds. It feels a little bit intimidating but as you can see, there’s some basic things that you can consider in order to elevate your position in a Google search. I think that one of the things that Amanda mentioned that I found to be very often the case is that a lot of nonprofits struggle with their website development.
Once they finally get it together, they breathe this big sigh of relief and they’re like, “Oh, we’re done.” We’ve made this website and close effort into it but a website is not meant to be this static thing, it’s meant to be dynamic. When you are regularly updating content, as Amanda mentioned, that is going to elevate your position and search and it’s also going to be beneficial for whoever’s viewing your website. They want to see that updated content. While your mission doesn’t change, some of the activities and events that you’re doing, those things are constantly changing.
When people go to your website and they see outdated content, they’re not going to continue to visit so that’s why it’s elevated in search but it’s also a donor engagement tool, a beneficiary engagement tool, and something to really consider. I also liked how you talked about including images and secondary and tertiary headings which both of those things increases the position your search. Contrary to what a lot of people believe that more words on your page actually equals more traffic.
People often think that less is more, but as Amanda mentioned, just to quote her, she said, “More is more.” That’s because Google’s basically saying, “Oh, the people putting a lot of content here, they must have a lot of expertise in this particular area because they’ve really got a lot to offer here.” Those more words are really contributing to your position in the search, but also contributing to engagement with your stakeholders. One of the things that you’re going to hear as a theme across these two presenters is thinking about strategy. We are thinking about strategy. In particular, we’re thinking about setting objectives and goals.
One of the things that Amanda mentioned in her presentation was this idea of SMART goals. As you’re going to hear in just a few moments, Siani is also going to mention this concept of SMART goals. I think Amanda highlighted that very briefly, where those SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Let’s talk really quickly about what that means. I think that it’s nice to have this acute phrase of a SMART goal, but what does that mean for it to be specific? I like to use example when we think about specific goals, like the difference between something that’s very abstract and concrete.
What goal and motivation research tells us is that the more concrete the goal, the more likely people are to follow through with that. That also goes for when you’re communicating your calls to action or thinking about the things that you want to accomplish. One example of an abstract goal might be something like, “Get fit.” It’s very nebulous. It’s abstract. We don’t really know exactly what that means. Maybe we know it when we see it, but it’s really hard to define. In contrast, a concrete goal might be something like lose 5 pounds in four weeks, or decrease a mile time by one minute in two months.
For nonprofit organizations, an abstract or nebulous goal might be something like increased donations. Sounds great, right? What does that specifically mean? Instead, we might need to be more specific like increase annual giving by 3%. Raise $53,000 through a direct mail campaign in the month of November. When we’re talking about specifics, we need them to be very concrete. They’re also going to incorporate this idea of something that’s measurable or results-oriented. Increasing membership by 5%. Achieve X number of event registrations.
What that particular fundraising goal might be in terms of social media strategy, which we’re about to talk about. The number of likes or the number of mentions. They need to be concrete and measurable because what gets measured gets done. Then it also needs to be attainable. We want to be ambitious, but we also want it to be possible to achieve those goals. They must be relevant, which means that they have to align with your organization’s mission and values and also long-term strategy. That the more short-term goals should be serving that longer-term strategy.
Then finally, I don’t know about you guys, but I am certainly deadline-oriented. By having that realistic deadline attached to a goal, it’s really going to propel the action forward. Now we’re going to move on to presenting Siani’s side of the world. She’s going to be talking about nonprofit social media strategy. I’ll let you hear the voice on her slides and I might interject here and there on her slides.
Siani Butler: Hello, my name is Siani Butler. Today, I will be presenting on how to build a social media strategy for your organization.
Meghan: Siani’s presentation talks about four steps for nonprofit social media strategy. The first of those steps is defining goals. She says that the goals can really vary for each organization and they can really depend on whether or not your organization already has a social media presence. The second thing that she’s going to think about or consider is identifying target audiences or target markets. That’s knowing who your audience is and what they want to see on social media. That’s really key to identifying who your target markets are, how you can help create targeted content that your audience will engage with.
Then the third thing she’s going to talk about is building a schedule, which really includes two concepts. One of those concepts is this idea of thinking about how often should you be posting and building a content calendar. This allows you to really plan everything out. It gives you some time to think about what’s coming up and it makes it easier to fill voids and balance out your approach. Then the fourth thing that she’s going to be talking about is how to create social media posts that are appealing to the eye of the particular audience that you’re trying to talk to, grabs their attention, and interest them, and makes them want to know more about your organization and the content that you’re putting out there. I’ll let her talk about those goals.
Siani: To get the most out of your social media strategy, it’s important to set targeted social media goals. Using SMART goals, it allows you to develop highly targeted content that increases your results. Possible goals could be to grow your organization’s social media following, increase your brand awareness and regenerate new leads, get people to register for your event, and so much more. According to data by HubSpot, the main priorities of social media marketers at nonprofits are to fundraise, generate brand awareness, recruit volunteers, or share their news.
Meghan: When we think about setting goals, we also want to make sure that they’re measurable. Let’s talk about a couple of metrics that might help us understand if we’re reaching those goals. In the social media domain, we think about two key areas. One area is thinking about awareness. Awareness metrics really show you the number of people that see your content and how much attention your brand gets on social media. There are two indicators of that. One indicator is this idea of reach. Reach is simply the number of people that are exposed or see your content.
Then the second metric that’s relevant is this idea of impressions. Impressions indicate the number of times that people saw your content, but that can also be that the same person looks at your content more than once. The number of impressions of this metric can be much higher than reach because some people might be engaging with your content multiple times, viewing your stuff more than once. Reach is about the number of people and impressions is about the number of times that they’re interacting with your content. High levels of impressions compared to reach means that people are looking at the post multiple times.
We might want to do a little bit of research to uncover why is it that viewers are coming back to a post multiple times. That might be really useful. Another thing that is relevant to this area is something called engagement rate. The engagement rate is really a percentage of how many people interacted with your post versus how many people saw it. When we talk about engagements, we’re talking about things like likes, shares, and comments. What are the numbers of likes, shares, and comments over the number of people who saw your content?
The second set of metrics that we think about are really those return on investment metrics or ROI metrics. Those really tell us about the efficiency of our investment of time, and sometimes money, into our social media strategy. One of those metrics is a click-through rate. The click-through rates tells us how often people click a link in your post to access additional content. That really helps you think about how many people saw your content and how many people were really interested in knowing more.
Then finally, conversion rate measures how often your content starts the process to a conversion event. A call to action, really, like subscriptions, or downloads, event registrations, donations. This metric really shows the effectiveness of your content.
Siani: Following defining your social media goals, you want to begin identifying your target market or target markets. A target market is a specific group of people with shared characteristics who are likely to benefit from your organization’s offering. You might have multiple target market segments as a nonprofit. For many nonprofits, the target market segments include clients, corporate sponsors, volunteers, and donors. It’s important to identify what people represent these different segments. There are several ways that you can do this.
One option is to review your community’s database for trends and patterns such as a group who reads a particular magazine or typically gives during a certain time of the year. If your organization does not currently have an accurate or up-to-date database, you can survey your supporters to gather reliable data and this survey may look different for each separate group. You can also research affiliate and peer organizations’ target markets by analyzing the types of content they are posting. What posts and interactions are successful based on measurable metrics such as followers, likes, and shares.
In identifying your target market you also want to create audience or buyer persona, which is the combination of demographics, characteristics, or qualities, concerns, questions of the audience that you are trying to attract. Elements of a buyer persona can include demographics like location, age, gender, and income, lifestyle or occupation, behavioral patterns, interests, goals, pain points, what are the challenges they may face that could be resolved with the help of your product or service.
Lastly, in identifying your target markets, you want to prioritize. You need to prioritize so that you can make the best use of your limited marketing resources. You have to rank the different target market segments on criteria such as the market size, market attractiveness in which target market is the best fit for your organization. This process will help your organization establish its best chance of success in social media marketing. Here’s an example of an audience or buyer persona done by DonorPerfect’s data enrichment service called DP Insights that can generate donor personas to help you better reach and appeal to your donors.
In developing your organization’s social media strategy. You want to choose what social media platforms are best fit for your organization based on the social media platforms that your target audience uses and create content specifically targeted for each channel you choose. Here are some tips. Facebook is great for connecting with community, event invites, sharing news and information while Instagram is best used for connecting with community and storytelling. It’s great for nonprofits with strong visual media content, such as art museums or animal organizations.
Twitter is commonly used for industry networking to share news and information. It’s a great way to get press mentions because most journalists are on Twitter. LinkedIn is best for hiring talent, finding volunteers recruiting board members, and is overall great for networking and professional development. TikTok is best for if you want to reach a young audience with fun video-based content. It’s not a social media platform that you want to be overly self-promotional on. Snapchat, similar to Instagram, is great for storytelling and is good for nonprofits with great visuals, but it engages a much younger target audience than Instagram.
Other platforms include YouTube that I would recommend if your audience is below the age of 50 and consumes video content as a means of either education or entertainment. Other platforms could include Pinterest or Reddit. Implementing a content calendar as a part of your digital marketing strategy helps you save time so more time and energy can be spent on increasing the creativity and effectiveness of your marketing strategy. According to HubSpot, 44% of nonprofits have only one person managing their social media presence.
Having a content calendar reduces the chance of making mistakes like posting repetitive content or posting inaccurate information. Content calendars enable sharing accessibility to the marketing team or others who may need to view or edit future content without having to contact people individually. Having a content calendar also prevents you from posting infrequently and helps you to identify content gaps, which is particularly important because consistent posting drives engagement.
What are important elements of a content calendar? First, it’s important to determine what social media platforms you’ll be using to post your content. This can help you at a later date when analyzing analytics to see where the content performed best. You can also highlight the content type. Content can include blog posts, videos, images, planned promotional events, updates to old content, and so much more. This can help you determine what content your audience responds to the most and identify gaps in the types of content your organization is sharing.
What about what you will be saying to your audience. Captions are important for accessibility. It allows individuals with hearing impairments to engage with the posts, as well as, those who may be in a sound-sensitive environment like in a coffee shop or a bus and can’t necessarily listen to your video right now. Captions also help your audience retain the information more easily. On the next slide, you’ll see an example of a content calendar.
Here’s an example of a content calendar done in Google Sheets. I personally like and recommend using Google Sheets to build your content calendar because it is easy to share with people inside and outside of your organization. You can track changes, as well as, view live changes. You could also use other platforms like Excel, Canva, or social media management platforms like Hootsuite or Zoho Social. You could also repurpose DonorPerfect’s fundraising calendar to be used as a content calendar. This could also be an effective way to sync your fundraising efforts with your social media marketing efforts.
Engagement is a common metric used for evaluating social media performance and is measured by the quantity of like, shares, comments, and other interactions with your post. To boost engagement, your post should be consistent and original, include a call to action, and use visuals. Original content is important because it establishes authority and thought leadership by showing your organization’s expertise and ability to think creatively. It also drives more activity and engagement, unique and entertaining content with valuable information is more likely to be shared and engaged with on social media.
70% of consumers prefer learning about a company through custom and original content than through paid advertisements according to Content Plus. According to Demand Metrics, 78% of chief marketing officers believe that custom content is the future of marketing. Custom content could provide you with the opportunity to have top positioning on search engines. Having a call to action that is prompt to get your audience to do something specific, will invite the reader to take action whether that is to visit your website, donate, or interact with the post.
Consistency is key because it establishes your credibility. It builds trust with your audience and it strengthens your reputation. Posting consistently but also ensuring your content is consistent in style and tone is vital. People remember images more than text and they will be more likely to retain the information if it’s in the form of a picture or a graph. Now looking at the graph on the left, you can see that posts with images have the highest rate of engagement.
Meghan: Why does consistency matter? Posting consistently means your audience is going to see more of you? It really helps to improve knowledge of your audience and by posting regularly, you can gain further insights into what kinds of posts work and what kinds of posts don’t work. Some of your community will prefer to communicate and engage with your organization through social media. When you post regularly, it shows you are active and ready to help. Here’s some an example style guide. La Salle University has this as sort of public information so we’re sharing it here and the example of style guide really helps you ensure sort of consistency and uniformity across all of your organizations, branding and marketing. It helps you think about grammar tool, logo use, colors, visuals, word usage, and a lot of other things. You can see here on this slide that there’s some visual examples of some style guide elements and another really great example of a style guide conference. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but throughout the conference, each presenter had to follow a style guide in the creation of their slides. You’ll notice that there is a constant use of a particular color scheme. You’re going to see the same fonts, you’re going to see the same layouts all throughout yesterday’s presentations and today’s presentations, and that really creates this uniformity and cohesive look across all the presentations across the entirety of the conference, but also for everything that’s connected to DonorPerfect and SofterWear. Having a style guide will really help prevent branding fails, maybe it makes us avoid those inconsistencies and mitigate some of those miscommunications in your marketing overall.
Highly engaging content. How to create highly engaging content. We’re going to have that call to action, which you all really know about it’s that quick short to the point is often focused on making the reader take one single action, donate now. On the right side of this slide here, what you see here is an example social media post and Siani has dissected the elements of the social media post here. In this example, Coral Acres Food Pantry is prompting the reader to give using a link. The call to action tells them the action to take and ideally how to take that action. The other thing that this post includes is mention and mentions help us lead to added exposure of your brand.
You’re mentioning other organizations, they might then mention you back and it invites others on social media to join in a conversation and possibly increase the reach of your post. You might be expanding your audience to other audiences when you’re mentioning other organizations and partners. You really only want to mention accounts that are relevant to the subject of your post because that guarantees that the people mentioned in your post are going to see your post and are also more likely to engage. Then another element that you’re going to notice here in the social media post is a hashtag, which is a label used on social media platforms that makes it easier to find information on a particular topic. Mastering the art of a hashtag is challenging.
When you do that, it gives you a really powerful way to engage your audience and increase your social impact. It really has no monetary costs so that’s a really nice thing. Other than the time that it takes to do some research and pay attention to trends. Contrary to what you might think, you really don’t want to use too many hashtags. What research shows is that the more hashtags that people use, actually, the less engagement that you get, and that’s really counterintuitive. You might think, okay, the more hashtags I put, the more times I’m going to show up in all of these different searches that people are doing or across different organizations, and I’m going to be increasing my reach, but really it muddies the waters. We want to be really mindful of which hashtags we use and the number of hashtags we use.
In most cases, one to three hashtags will have a lot more impact than using several hashtags. We want to keep those short and memorable and not have too many of them.
We also don’t want to be too clever or obscure with our hashtags, because if you choose a tag that no one is going to search for, it’s really not benefiting your marketing strategy. We also don’t need to force them into every post. Only use them when they add value and are likely to stimulate engagement and interaction. As I think Amanda alluded to and it’s one of the things that Siani already talked about is that on social platforms, visual media really does perform a lot better than text.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, images earn 2.3 times more engagement on Facebook than posts with text only. Those images really help grow more traffic and grab users’ attention. One of the things that we know in terms of a principle of psychology when we’re having the use of images that links up with words that that’s dual in coding process. When the caption that you use and the words that you choose aligns with the image that you have, it’s more likely that people are going to remember that content. Our brain really only needs a 10th of a second to understand an image, but of course, when we’re reading, it takes a little bit more time, more like a minute to process that information. We’re really going to be remembering that visual information much better than information that’s read or heard.
Then on this last slide Siani offers some of her work from the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. She’s again, dissecting some of those elements that we see in social media posts. A mention of another organization, again, increasing the possible audience or reach of your post, specific call to action, a hashtag, but not too many hashtags, and an original image. We’re now going to move on to the question and answer section of the presentation. I very much appreciate the time and attention that you’ve paid thus far to Amanda and Siani’s really great insights and we look forward to answering your questions.
Lori: All right. Thank you, ladies, for all of that great information. We had a lot of questions come in. I’m going to start from some of the first ones that came in. Amanda, a lot of this may pertain to you. The first question from Jesse is, could I get information about this Google Ad Grant certification? Jesse, would it be, I don’t know if others want to know this or where you went, but we may be able to have you reach out directly to this person to give them that information, but if you just want to quickly give us an idea of how that works.
Amanda: Yes. I’ve just found it doing a little bit of research so if you just Google Ad Grant for nonprofits, it should be the first thing that pops up. I looked into it a little bit more. They really explained well how it works. I have had a lot of experience in paid search so it’s basically like having a business and putting your own money towards that business so it does populate to the top of a Google search except Google is doing that for you for free so definitely utilize that if you can.
Meghan: Amanda, I hate to interrupt, but I think the question was about how you get Google AdWords certified or Google Analytics certified [crosstalk] about that process.
Amanda: Yes, sure. Sorry. It’s actually really simple you can take a couple of different courses, a lot of what I did was through the classroom. I learned a lot about Google Ads and Analytics through my classwork. I actually didn’t have to go through the whole process of learning it necessarily on my own. Google offers a variety of videos to teach you through and walk you through the different tools within Google Ads. There’s multiple certifications within Google Ads and also Google Analytics. You can pick some that are most relevant to you or do all of them if you’d like, I think there’s five or six for each and there’s videos and then there’s just a test that you take at the end. I think it’s an hour-long and I think 60 questions I can’t really remember, but it’s pretty simple to do.
Lori: Okay. Rachel is asking, where is the crossover between marketing plans and donor engagement or management?
Meghan: Oh, that’s a really good question. Really, the marketing plan is a subset of your longer strategic planning. It’s one component of your strategic vision and your strategic plan. Within the marketing plan, there can be lots of different components of that marketing plan depending on your goals, and donor engagement is most often a goal in a marketing plan for nonprofit organizations. Part of that marketing plan is again, to identify what are those goals, the specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals. If it’s about donor engagement, if they’re about donor engagement, then we’re then going to think about, okay, who are my relevant target audiences? How am I going to slice and dice my donor data thinking about perhaps donor characteristics, thinking about frequency of donations, thinking about amount of donations? We often think about the size of a segment. We often think about the amount of giving or the amount of influence that each donor segment might be giving and that is going to be addressed within your marketing plan.
You’re going to have to think about what are my relevant target audiences, who do I want to prioritize? I would say selecting three target audiences is an ambitious start and you might have 15, 20 different target audiences, but you can’t tackle them all at once. We have to select a couple of target audiences to really focus in on and we’re often going to do that based on the size of the audience, the substance, perhaps of their gift, or the level of influence. A marketing plan is really crucial in considering donor engagement in terms of building new donors, but also retaining the donors that you already have.
Lori: Next question. Molly’s asking, can you do anything to up the SEO on your blogs? We try to publish two blogs a week and want to make sure it is working to boost our SEO.
Amanda: Yes, that’s a really great question, actually yes. It’s great that you’re already posting so much, like twice a week is amazing. Congrats on that. Again, with Children’s Health was an account that I worked on during my internship with Sierra Interactive. I can share this information because they’re all about knowledge sharing, so it’s really awesome that I can explain this a little bit but we actually optimized all of their blog posts. They had specific landing pages, not just one landing page with multiple blogs within it, but multiple pages full of blogs. I would say thousands of them and we optimized every single one of them.
We structured them a specific way based on how competitors were structuring their website blog pages, and we were also including similar words that competitors were using. Drawing from similar organizations can be very helpful. Again, you’re not really competing really too much in the nonprofit world in that sense, but there are ways to really up those blog posts using the word how to X, Y, and Z is also a really great term that pushes your blog post forward through Google. You should be optimizing all of your blog posts, yes.
Lori: Now, Margaret F asked, when you say to use relevant keywords, is there a way you’re tagging these or just including them in the copy on your website?
Amanda: Yes, you can actually use a variety of tools if you have access to them. Sometimes they’re free trials, but usually, digital marketing agencies have access to them. If you have a little bit of budget, I would suggest hiring someone or someone in freelance that has access to those tools to gather analytics on what keywords could be relevant. Tools like Semrush, you can actually type in your website or competitor’s website and see what types of keywords that you are ranking for as well as doing the reverse of that and seeing what keywords people are searching and then including those in your text. That’s something that I would really look into.
There isn’t necessarily a way to track those keywords within that particular page or anything like that, but definitely using tools like that for analytics to better write those pages for optimization is really important.
Lori: That was some great information. Angela is asking, we are a separate entity from our university, and sometimes it isn’t easy to relay our message. Many people think that we are part of our university when we are not. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions in order for us to stand out more when getting our story out?
Meghan: Oh, goodness. I think that we have a lot of this going on at La Salle as well, and maybe it’s perhaps the opposite problem. For example, I mentioned the Nonprofit Center at La Salle, the Nonprofit Center is it within the umbrella of the university but is often recognized as a separate entity rather than the problem that you’re talking about where it’s really thinking that you’re part of the university but you’re really not. I think a lot of that comes down to branding and the Nonprofit Center has its own unique branding, and they prioritize the word, the Nonprofit Center and then at La Salle University is the secondary piece of it in terms of their name and within their branding.
I think that’s a key thing and putting a little bit of separation there, even though it is one entity in terms of being connected to the university. Branding work can really do a lot to create this separation if you are hoping to have that separation or it can also do a lot to connect organizations if you want to demonstrate that they’re more aligned.
Lori: Okay, we’ve had a lot of requests to hear more about alt text. Can anybody expand on that?
Amanda: I do use alt text on social media especially I haven’t used it within search engine optimization on websites before but for example, on Instagram, if you have an account, when you’re tagging people or tagging a location, you can actually also go scroll down and you’ll see, write alternative texts and I’ll include some information about what the picture is showing, that’s where my search engine optimization kicks in where I use keywords that I think that other people may be interested in seeing. That way it does show up on the Explorer page of someone that isn’t looking at their following or people that they know, but the people that are just out there and your post will automatically pop up in their Explorer page.
If you have a picture of the Nonprofit Center at La Salle, I would include La Salle Nonprofit Center. I would include words like conference. I would include, depending on what the event is, just really expanding on what keyword there they have. It’s almost like hashtags, I would say. It doesn’t have to make a lot of sense, I just use specific keywords in that sense.
Lori: This is from Margaret, again, can more than one person claim to own the business. Do you have to provide any credentials?
Amanda: Actually, you do not need to. If you haven’t claimed it, go claim it today. There is a way to if someone does claim your account before you do, you can work that out with Google you can message them about that. It’s really simple to do, to claim your account today, just make sure you have a Google account and click on it, include all the pictures, website, everything that you want, and it’s a great tool. I would get on it if you haven’t gotten on it yet.
Meghan: I’ll just underscore that because I think that this particularly in this time of a pandemic, it’s been really important for organizations to own that landing page because a lot of things changed with organizations they’re facing beneficiaries. Hours changed or the way that things are interacting, all of those things changed and that was the place where you could showcase to your beneficiaries or your clients that some of the services were changing or that they weren’t changing. I would just say, especially now, it’s really important to claim that.
Lori: I think we have time for one more quick question, which is from Donald and he’s asking are the free Google Ads really effective?
Amanda: Yes. Back to what I was saying in the first question, but it’s extremely important if you have the money, spend it. With any business that is spending money on Google Ads, they’re doing extremely well. The amount of people that click the number one option on Google is drastically different than the number two and number three options. Again, with the St. Jude example that I was explaining, St. Jude pays for that first link and their website also comes up first organically, but it’s still the second link on the Google search. Even that is a really big difference in the amount of people that click it, even though they’re the same exact link.
It’s really important to use Google Ad spend if you have the ability to, and the budget to. Again, with Google Ad Grants it’s 10,000 free dollars where you can use it on different campaigns and different bids. You can bid for different types of consumers or people that are going to be researching. It could be a donor or someone in need of a service. You could create ads for either of those target audiences.
Meghan: I think that the functionality of the Google Ads is the same, whether it is this free ad spend or your paid spend. I think that maybe that also helps to answer the question that they’re really no different than other paid search. It’s just that you’re given a grant.
Amanda: Yes, exactly.
Lori: Okay. All right. We are out of time, so I do want to thank you for attending our session. Thank you ladies for taking the time to present for us today. We do have another power session right after this. DP forms, and a presentation on volunteer local. Everything’s recorded so you shouldn’t miss any content. You want to hop over there now. They’re most likely getting started and thank you again for attending.
Meghan: Thank you, everyone.
Amanda: Thanks.Read Less