To get started, let’s make one thing very clear: Non-profit marketing is no different to for-profit marketing. Despite what you might think, the rules are the same whether marketing a product or service for a profit-seeking business or fundraising and promoting awareness for a not-for-profit. Audience communication is everything, whether posting a Facebook status or captioning your most recent Instagram video, the reasoning behind each piece of content is the same, gain the widest possible attention for your brand. No matter if you run a small not for profit, a multinational for-profit corporation or you’re running to be the next president of the US, understanding where your audience attention lies and storytelling in the correct context is vital to achieving the best possible results.
When it comes to any form of content marketing you have to remember that consumers are hearing a lot of noise. There are a bunch of organizations and businesses out there doing good and asking their audience for donations and contributions. To such an extent that each non-profit needs to show far greater respect for their audiences time and resources. The name of the game is value; it is all about the value exchange. It shouldn’t be about quilting your way into people feeling like they have to give; successful marketing is about creating a transparent conversation between you and your consumer. You need to respect your target audience.
Remember, you still need to be providing value to your audience in order to gain that leverage that gives you the audacity to make the ask when the time comes. When it comes to providing that consumer value, non-profits have the emotional edge which a lot of for-profits don’t. When your main goal is coming from doing something good in the world, it is a lot easier to garner that emotional connection with your audience. Although this may be the case, just like any for-profit campaign, thought needs to go into each piece of content you produce. Content needs to be in the right context, in particular if you are discussing heavy topics. For some reason a lot of not for profits waste their time thinking of ways they can make the issue fun or sociable, the answer is you don’t!
When it comes to not for profits, the content you produce needs to be providing your consumer with an education whilst not being overly complicated. If the issues your business is tackling are depressing or tragic, don’t try to sugarcoat it; instead, focus your attention on the nature of the issue. Base your content around telling stories and creating narratives in a meaningful and well thought out way. If you are going to create visual content ensure each aspect from the images to the backing music fits the topic and portrays the message you are looking to get across. Showing respect for your subject matter and ensuring you remain true to the context of the platform you are posting to holds much greater importance than trying to make your content “fun” or “cheerful”.
There is a range of platforms and mediums you can use to tell your story and get your message across from creating, white papers, blog posts, infographics, images and video content to educate your market. You can use social platforms like Twitter, in the same way for-profits do, as a listening tool where you can insert yourself into the relevant conversations and bring value to your consumer. With the recent emergence of video on a number of social platforms including, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram over the past twelve months, non-for-profits have been given a real boost in terms of their opportunity to story tell.
Influencer marketing on Instagram or Snapchat is another tool non-profits can be taking full advantage of to promote their cause and provide value. Not in a way that comes across as pushy with a “Please retweet” or “share this image”. When asking your audience to interact you should think about how the content can be integrated organically, this means you must take into account how your influencers would typically put out content that is native to their audience. A prime example of this is Boxed Water. These guys worked with influencers to spread the word about their campaign with the National Forest Foundation: The Retree Project. For every Instagram post using hashtag #Retree, they would plant two trees. A month following the launch of the project, there were over 2,600 Instagram posts with the #Retree.
No matter if you are posting a blog post to a website or making a video with Snapchat or Facebook, all content you produce needs to be truthful and match the context of the platform you are posting to. Any form of ask or sell needs to be well timed and show respect to your audience and resources. At the end of the day marketing is a value exchange; if you give value you will get value. Whether you are selling a product, service or asking for a charitable contribution, the same rules apply. So go out and start using social media to your advantage, tell your emotional and compelling story and spark interest in the right conversations and in the right context.