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Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

Four Ideas To Increase Engagement On Social Media

March 31st, 2015 by Karen Climer

There’s an old vaudeville joke that goes like this:

Woman 1: My husband wants to have sex every single night.

Woman 2: Yes?

Woman 1: Well, that’s a pain in the neck.

Woman 2: Then you’re doing it wrong.

If you are using social media as a way to push content out to your friends, you are doing it wrong. Social media is not about pushing out content. It’s about being social. If you want to push information out to people, use a postcard, e-newsletter, print newsletter, or similar format. If you want to engage your audience in a back-and-forth conversation, use social media. How do you do that?

Most importantly, allow people to engage. If you are a pet shelter that euthanizes animals, and someone posts something on your Facebook about what a terrible organization you are for killing animal, don’t delete it. Instead respond to it and say that you humanely euthanize animals, or whatever your standard line is, but don’t delete it just because you disagree with it. Let the dialogue happen. Your supporters already know you euthanize animals.  This isn’t news to them. Many of your supporters will even defend you.

Create opportunities for people to engage. Hint: asking them to like something on Facebook is not engaging. It takes more effort for me to throw away your postcard than it does for me to like a photo on Facebook. So what can you do?

Ask them to come up with a caption for a photo. If you are a science museum, post an unusual photo of the universe. The best caption wins the Galileo Award (or some other silly award). If you are an affordable housing organization, post a photo of someone walking into their new home for the first time. If you are a university, post a photo of the graduating class throwing their caps in the air. You get the idea.

Have another type of contest. If you are an art museum, show a photo of a close up of one small part of a painting and ask people to identify it. If you are a historical society, ask a history trivia question. If you are a pet shelter, ask people to name the new animal that just came in without a name. Offer a prize to the winner. The prize does not need to be a new iPad, or even anything of value. The prize can be bragging rights, but you have to declare a winner. For example: “The correct answer to the trivia question was Abraham Lincoln. Congratulations to Smithers who was the first person to answer correctly and is this week’s trivia champion.”

If you want your supporters to engage with your organization on social media, you have to give them opportunities to engage beyond liking your latest post. Try one these ideas. Try it at least a few times before you decide it doesn’t work. (That’s good advice for anything, not just social media.)

Posted in Social Media

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