Many nonprofits tend to be behind the trend when it comes to marketing and outreach strategy. Whether it’s because of a lack of resources or because they’re focused on other priorities, it often falls by the wayside. However in recent years, social media and content marketing have shifted from a luxury to a necessity.
While this may create more work, this trend is actually a good thing for nonprofits. Unlike many other companies in the for-profit sector, there is a deeper motivation for your audience to support you. There’s an intrinsic emotional tie that just isn’t there in many other industries. Whether your nonprofit focuses on education, religion, arts and culture, healthcare, human services, or anything else, people support your cause for a reason. Content marketing enables you to connect with your donors on what that reason is and exactly what it is that you do. Content marketing may seem like a daunting task, and you may even feel as if you don’t have the budget for it. However, these simple tips will set you on the right path toward an awesome content marketing strategy that’s attainable for any budget.
What is content marketing?
Truth be told, content marketing is a lot less intimidating than it sounds. Content can be anything—news, videos, eBooks, infographics, email newsletters, podcasts, how to guides, Q&A articles, photos, blog posts, etc. Essentially, content is the media you create, share, and publish. The marketing aspect is simply using this content to gain and retain customers.
The key to successful content marketing is to generate content that is valuable, relevant, and consistent. As mentioned by the Content Marketing Institute, “The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”
One of the main differences between a nonprofit and a traditional business is that typically, people give you money without receiving a good or service in return. Usually, your donors will not see first-hand where their money is going because it is not going to be delivered in a box on their doorstep. It is therefore up to you to show them exactly what it is that you do with their donations, and how that plays into their initial desire to give money to you. Interview people that your organization has helped. Take photographs of your team-members at work. Write stories about a person or event that was particularly moving. Remember that you, like any other business, have a product. And that product will likely make your donors feel good, proud, inspired, or touched that they have supported your cause. Sell that product with good content!
So what can you do to improve your organization’s content marketing? Take a look at these tips:
1. Make your writing interesting and intriguing.
If you wouldn’t want to read your own article, how can you expect your audience to read it? Don’t be afraid to use your personal voice or to be funny. Like I mentioned before, think about why people donate to your organization in the first place and use that motivation to generate content ideas. If you are an educational institution you might consider writing about a student who has come a long way or a teacher who has had great success with their students. Get creative!
2. Answer questions.
Answer questions that your organization is commonly asked or even basic questions about your industry. Strive to make yourself a recognized expert in your field so that people turn to you for information and trust what you have to say.
3. Use employee-generated content.
Coming up with consistent content ideas may seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to your workmates as sources of information and content. You can even see if any of your volunteers have a knack for writing. Many hands make for light writing and the additional insights will give your content greater depth and meaning.
4. Invest in the visuals.
Researchers found that colorful visuals increased readership by 80%. That’s a huge difference! Pairing a visual with your content will boost the probability that it will be read and shared. Build your own media library by taking photos of your program’s events and field work.
5. Learn to curate and repurpose content.
Keep in mind that while you should strive to create lots of your own quality content, it doesn’t hurt to share content from other sources as well, particularly on your social media channels. Sharing content from other sources can boost your own credibility as a source for quality information and spread the word about other good causes.
Also, learn to repurpose your own content so that it works well with multiple platforms. You can take snippets from an article and turn them into tweets, or pair them with a photo for an Instagram or Facebook post. You can use the same piece of content multiple ways, which will make your job easier and will increase the likelihood of your message being spread.
6. Connect to the world around you.
Connect with your audience by showing them that you’re engaged with what’s happening in the world. Comment on current events or big changes in your industry. You can even throw in references to pop culture and favorite television shows. Connect with people on a personal level. Keeping this mindset will make your content more relatable and interesting to read. Just because you’re a nonprofit doesn’t mean you need to be dull.
7. Be transparent.
Don’t use content to pretend to be something you’re not. Use content as an opportunity to show people the awesome things your organization is doing. Be upfront and honest about your programs, photos, sponsored content, and partnerships. Build trust with your audience by committing to honest, transparent content that accurately reflects your organization’s goals and objectives.
Hopefully these tips will set your nonprofit on the track to success. While it may take a little extra time, it’s worth the investment to develop long-term relationships with donors both old and new.