What separates successful nonprofit marketing campaigns from unsuccessful ones isn’t ad budgets or audience size. And it certainly isn’t a viral video. It’s planning.
All successful marketing campaigns start with a written plan that serves to:
Inspire action – A solid plan inspires action. Partners, sponsors, fundraisers, and supporters all need to feel a sense of mission about their involvement. Rather than emphasizing your nonprofits goal, you should connect all stakeholders to the bigger goal of feeding more families, providing more clean water, saving more cats and dogs, etc.
Measure success – Your plan should have specific metrics that you can track before, during, and after the campaign. The most important metrics follow the actions you expect people to take. For example, walk-a-thon metrics might include visits to the registration page, the number of people who register, and the number of donors each registrant recruits.
Build relationships - Your plan should also serve to nurture the various relationships you’ve worked so hard to develop. Sponsors, major donors, and volunteers should play a meaningful role that makes sense over the long-term, and not just a one-off social media campaign.
What does a social media strategy look like?
In my experience working with hundreds of nonprofits, simple gets it done. Complex social media strategies usually die in a 3-ring binder, never to be acted upon.
The POST method (coined by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff in their book, Groundswell) is a proven framework for developing a social media strategy. It outlines the “order of operations” for any marketing plan: People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology.
P – People
You can’t achieve even a basic level of success on social media if you don’t understand your people. No one will like, retweet, or repin your blog post if you haven’t answered the only questions that really matter: What’s in it for them? What do they care about? What actions are they likely to take?
O – Objectives
Clear objectives help you determine success during and after any campaign. Long-term success on social media requires a lot of trial and error. But you have to know what’s a trial and what’s an error. Clear objectives help you discover what you’re doing right.
S – Strategy
Your strategy is more than just a plan. It’s a plan that will meet your objectives based on what you know about your people.
A smart strategy focuses on a value exchange between you and your supporter. What are you going to give in exchange for their email, money, time, influence, and attention?
Whether it’s a meaningful pledge or a sweepstake, write down exactly how you will offer enough value to encourage them to help you achieve your objective.
T – Technology
Once you understand your people, objective, and strategy, you can confidently select the tools and tactics you’ll use for your campaign. For example, if your strategy is to engage Millennials on Instagram, crowdsourcing content around a hashtag would be a tactic.
-John Haydon is one of the most sought-after digital marketing experts for nonprofits and charities. He has helped hundreds of nonprofits realize their best marketing and fundraising results. John has spoken at the Nonprofit Technology Conference, New England Federation of Human Societies, New Media Expo, BBCon, Social Media 4 Nonprofits, AFP New Jersey, and various regional conferences. He is the author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies and Facebook Marketing All-In-One (Wiley), and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, and npEngage.