I see a lot of articles these days advising how to use social media. Here’s one by Stephanie Miller of online marketing agency Return Path that I particularly like.

Why? Because it draws interesting insights from successful email marketing, and those in turn reflect some fundamental principles of direct marketing.

I’ve extracted the basic thoughts, but you’ll get more value if you check out the entire article …

  1. It’s not free — no social media program will succeed without time, resources and expertise.
  2. Being present is not enough — tell no one about your page and it’s all but invisible.
  3. Be authentic — honesty, believability, integrity … these are the only things that create value and drive predictable response.
  4. Integrate, don’t imitate — replicating your website on Facebook does not a compelling and engaging destination make.
  5. Endorsements matter — social media empowers brand advocates.
  6. Measure well — all investments in social media must be linked to a business goal … Branding, retention, loyalty and share of wallet can be measured if the data is collected and trended over time, and by audience segment.
  7. Have something to say — don’t start talking until you have something valuable to say.

The best of these lists always come back to one most fundamental point — it’s not about technology … it’s about content.

A lot of stuff that winds up online — on websites, in email, on social net sites — is pretty average fare. I think that’s because the authors believe they’re dealing with a virtually free medium. And so they simply don’t take the same time and care to craft compelling content and copy that they would take if they were creating a direct mail package, or a print ad, or a TV commercial that might have hundreds of thousands — even millions — of dollars riding on it.

And because it only takes a "mere" click to pass along an online message, surely — they think — lots of their readers (donors) will do so.

So, too often, the underlying assumption of online marketing or fundraising amounts to "cheap and easy."

But as Stephanie observes: "Content is only forwarded because it speaks to the subscriber and s/he aspires to own the message."

How many online messages does your nonprofit send out where you honestly believe your reader might respond … "WOW! That’s so compelling I need to forward it to my best friend … they’ll want to know about this too."

Tom

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This article was posted in: Communications, Nonprofit management, Online fundraising and marketing, Social media.
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