10 Twitter Marketing Tips for Your Non-Profit

Twitter can be a valuable marketing tool for your business, but the sheer enormity of the Twitter network can be a bit overwhelming.  If you have just joined Twitter, you may find yourself fielding follower requests.  You may also feel the need to tweet your every move, but it is important to put some sanity back into your Twitter-enabled life.

There are a number of things to keep in mind when you are just getting started with Twitter.  These rules apply whether you are using Twitter for business or for personal reasons, but they can be even more critical when it comes to business Twitter sites.

  1. Avoid the temptation to read every tweet from your followers. It can be tempting to try to keep up with what all of your followers are doing, but the enormous size of the Twitter network makes this impossible.
  2. You do not need to apply to every tweet you receive, even if that tweet is directed only at you. It is important to review each tweet you receive and choose the ones you want to respond to.
  3. Be sure to use the one on one communication feature of Twitter for private conversations. There is no need for all your followers to participate in a conversation directed at only a single person.
  4. Use the Twitter search feature to look for mentions of your organization. Twitter is a great way to keep track of what others are saying about you and how your business is perceived in the wider world.  Join the conversation about your cause when it makes sense to do so.
  5. Use third party programs to manage your Twitter life. Twitter can be a complicated place, and applications like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck can make it a lot easier to manage your tweets and your follower community. You can even set tweets to go out at specified times in the future – awesomesauce!
  6. Ask a few trusted employees to tweet on your organization’s behalf, but be sure those workers are getting their regular work done as well. Having more than one person tweeting on behalf of the organization is a great way to give an individual voice to your company while providing a varied point of view.
  7. Post links to interesting news articles or blog posts, but always use a link shortening tool like Bit.ly to make those posts manageable.
  8. Use Twitter as a marketing tool, but also use it for fun. Using Twitter to share fun or interesting stories will get you more followers and make you a more interesting Twitter user.
  9. Be sure to comment on other people’s tweets on a regular basis. Commenting on what others are talking about is a great way to build a community of like minded people
  10. Make your tweets interesting and useful. Whether you are working with your website or your Twitter account, it is still important to provide your readers with interesting and engaging content.  Twitter is a powerful tool for communication and marketing, but it is important to use this powerful tool the right way.

5 Advantages of Outsourced Marketing

In the non-profit world, “outsourcing” is sometimes regarded as a dirty word, but that has nothing to do with outsourcing your marketing, which is actually a very smart move for your organization.  With tight budgets and a lingering recession, now is the time to make the most of your resources, whether talent or money.  But that’s not the only reason to outsource marketing functions.

With an explosion of new media and social marketing opportunities, now is the time to take advantage of these exciting technologies or risk being left behind.  In a sense, your cause is at a crossroads, and seizing all of the new marketing tools can propel you to the top of your niche.  But the only way to do so is by having experts in the field guiding your marketing strategy, rather than struggling to understand and implement the technology yourself.

  1. Even tech-savvy firms or personnel with diverse backgrounds can use outside expertise.  Outsourcing marketing functions will allow you to take advantage of the skills and experience of professional advertising and brand management specialists. These individuals are immersed in the world of marketing every day and can use successful techniques from other campaigns to benefit your organization.
  2. Additionally, outsourcing your marketing to a professional firm can help you gain a broader perspective and identify any potential blind spots or biases in your marketing.
  3. Another important advantage of outsourcing marketing functions is the insight and data that professional marketing firms possess.  Marketing firms have a wealth of research at their disposal and have the resources to perform evaluative analysis on target markets and the effectiveness of outreach techniques.
  4. Experience and specialized knowledge aren’t the only ways in which outsourcing your marketing can benefit your organization, though.  Leaving marketing functions to the experts gives you and your employees the freedom to concentrate on what you do best.  Without the distraction of trying to tackle marketing, your organization will instantly be more focused on running your cause, not promoting it.  Because of this, you can pay more attention to your core competencies and put your resources into internal improvements, rather than worrying about your image.  This will give you a chance to streamline your operations, which in turn will give your marketing firm another thing to share with your audience.
  5. In addition to freeing up your personnel, you can free up more money by reducing overhead.  Outsourcing marketing functions means you don’t have to worry about recruiting and training new employees or finding workspace to put together complex projects.  Marketing can be quite expensive, and there are a lot of fixed costs – between graphic design programs and subscriptions to research databases, the cost required to run one successful campaign on your own can reverberate for many quarters to come. Also, advertising and promotion professionals and “creative” minds often expect higher salaries, so outsourcing marketing can cut down on your costs as well.

In this new age of communications, the importance of marketing can’t be ignored.  With so many new methods for reaching supporters, a mass marketing campaign just isn’t effective any more.  Audiences are diverse and there are an astonishing number of channels of communication to consider.  Instead of diverting valuable resources to such a complicated area, why not reap the benefits of outsourcing marketing functions?

Guerilla Marketing Slides

We had the pleasure of presenting at the Opportunity Green conference this year about Guerilla Marketing. Given our stance and emphasis on making sure that all good causes don’t spend their time, energy, and budgets wastefully – we put together a pretty comprehensive workshop that defines Guerilla Marketing, outlines its ingredients, provides real-world examples.

We’ve provided the slide below and you can also download an example marketing plan if you would like.

Feel free to follow me (@schutzsmith) or Mark & Phil (@markandphil) or send me a quick email (daniel@markandphil.com) if you have any questions or would like us to present a workshop like this in detail for your organization. (We’re willing to do it for travel expenses and beer! Not kidding!)

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Budgeting Your Non-profits Marketing & Fundraising

As the new year approaches, we cannot stress enough about the importance for making sure you have a proper budget figured out for your marketing and fundraising needs in the coming year. All too often we hear these budgets being thrown around and put together as guess-work, but the reality is that they need to be handled with some care and precision to ensure that your organization can make a significant impact with its followers moving forward.

One tool we suggest to clients is to put together a marketing plan and start pricing out some of the marketing tools that they are going to need in the coming year. Then whatever number they come up with, double it. Seriously. We’re not telling you all of this because we want your money. Quite on the contrary, we won’t see most of your money because it will actually go towards vendors and goods that will be used to execute your plans. Its very important that you take the time to plan this properly otherwise you’ll find your organization struggling all year to make any real progress in its marketing and fundraising efforts.

Feel free to download our example Marketing Plan and let us know what you think!

Image courtesy of Toban Black on Flickr.

How to Secure In-Kind Donations in a Tough Economy

Especially in this uncertain economic climate charitable non-profit organizations need to think outside the box for their donation request strategies. When it comes to in-kind donations (items or services donated to events or campaigns by companies or sponsors), a fundraising plan of action needs to happen before non-profits can expect donations to fall into their laps. When planning large-scale gala events or golf tournaments that involve auctions, these tips will put you way ahead of the fundraising game.

Strategy #1
Compile a database list of in-kind donations and prioritize items. Set deadlines for items and write effective (and short) donation request letters. Mail donation request letters eight months to one year in advance of events/campaigns. Do not expect in-kind donations overnight. Follow up with every contact on your master in-kind donation list. Divide companies and/or items between staff and/or volunteers (so it’s not as overwhelming).

Strategy #2
Target companies and sponsors that have the funding/resources to underwrite or donate items. Don’t lock companies into large versus small ticket items. Brainstorm and utilize resources from volunteers, staff and vendors.

Strategy #3
Ask for discounts from large vendors (such as rental or tent companies). Most vendors will give non-profit organizations partial discounts. Generous vendors will sometimes offer an in-kind donation of rental fees/tent usage. Create an in-kind sponsor level for vendors who waive fees and donate services.

Strategy #4
Take what you can get in this tough economy – don’t be picky. If a company can donate 200 flashlights (as opposed to 2,000), accept that amount. Approach other companies and ask them to match Company XYZ’s donation of “200 flashlights.” Company XYZ may be able to donate the rest of the items or similar items.

Strategy #5
Always follow up with phone calls and thank you letters after securing in-kind donations. Create a donor agreement letter and ask companies to sign (so they don’t forget that they agreed to donate and you have it in writing). If a company wants “acknowledgement,” offer a link to their website or a sponsor thank-you in the program. An in-kind donation is just as valuable, and should always be recognized along with monetary sponsors/donations.

Is it Really Possible to Manufacture ‘Viral’ Growth?

Over the last five years, the expansive world of social media has made viral marketing a reality. The days of massive advertising budgets and endless organization appear to be nearing an end, replaced by a marketing world where anyone can generate thousands, hundreds-of-thousands, or potentially millions of page-views in a matter of days using YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook’s ‘like’ feature.

But alongside the truly huge potential for viral growth is a very familiar situation – despite there now being the networks and technology for marketing messages to rapidly spread, most generate little attention and end up ignored. Some have blamed technology for the failure of manufactured ‘viral’ marketing efforts, but more experienced marketers have human behavior to look towards.

There’s a reason most manufactured viral marketing campaigns fail: most just aren’t good. Growth in marketing, particularly in an uncontrolled online world, is incredibly difficult to create. With the power of rapid growth resting entirely in the hands of users, delivering a marketing message that people aren’t interested in hearing is an impossibility. Simply put, manufacturing ‘viralness’ is hard.

There are examples to the contrary – Old Spice’s incredibly successful YouTube message campaign being one of the most obvious. But they’ve been less the result of specialist marketing and more the end product of great content. Most people would share the Old Spice videos regardless of their commercial affiliation, while few people would opt to share a video designed to create leads.

For marketers, it’s important to realize that viral growth is largely random and almost completely uncontrollable. Rick Astley’s ongoing comeback tour can be attributed almost entirely to his video gaining cult status amongst internet users and randomly spreading. Could another artist engineer a similar phenomenon? Unlikely. There’s an element of randomness to viral growth that’s organic.

So should a viral marketing campaign fail to catch on, don’t fret. The only way to control a random phenomenon is to create as many opportunities as possible. Old Spice didn’t win over YouTube with a single video – they posted several similar videos before one finally hit the mark. Let the random nature of internet growth control your success, and don’t try to ‘create’ something that’s organic.

Image courtesy of Microbes on Think Geek

A Must Read: The Social Media Probook

Our awesome friends at Jess3 and Eloqua have put together The Social Media Probook.

The Probook shares interviews and insights with some of social media’s most knowledgable professionals in the marketing industry. Its an excellent read to gain some perspective on where social media is currently and where they think the future is going for this still very young medium. Its exciting to see so many folks sharing their knowledge like this and offering it up for free as well!

Download and share it around!

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Marketing Your Organization With Facebook

With over 600 million active users and growing by the day, Facebook is simply too powerful for any serious Internet entrepreneur to ignore. It is far more than just a way for friends to keep in touch with each other. For those just starting out with an online business venture, it is essential to understand how Facebook works and what it can do for your business. There are various different ways of driving traffic to your website by using Facebook. There are both free methods as well as paid ones. The following outlines the main methods in which you can use Facebook for marketing your online business.

Establishing a Facebook Fan Page
Establishing a Facebook fan page for your website is a great way to increase the exposure of your business. You can use your fan page to keep the visitors to your site updated on the latest content or products. It is free to establish a fan page for your business.

Using Facebook Groups
Similar to Facebook fan pages, you can also establish groups for others with whom you and your business share a common interest. When you have a large enough group, you can start posting links to new content on your site. All of the members of your group will be able to see these links.

You should also join other groups which are relevant to your niche. There are groups for just about every conceivable topic on Facebook, so you should easily be able to find a wide variety of groups to join. Join as many as you can. To market your website in these groups, simply post links to your website in the group wall. If you can find a group with several tens of thousands of members, you will have plenty of people to share your links with.

Unfortunately, due to the ease of joining many Facebook groups and the fact that they are a free place for online marketing, there is also a lot of spam. When you post links, do so sparingly and try to provide something genuinely useful to people so that you can build up a good reputation, setting you apart from the spammers.

Using Facebook Social Bookmarking
Social bookmarking is one of the most effective forms of Internet marketing. There are many social bookmarking sites which you should also take advantage of, but Facebook happens to be one of the biggest. Visitors to your website should be able to share pages they like with their friends on Facebook. To make this as easy as possible, you should install some social bookmarking scripts on each page of your site. This will display a series of buttons, one for each of the main social networking sites including Facebook. If a visitor likes a particular article, they can share it simply by clicking the button of their favorite social networking site.

Using Pay-Per-Click Advertising
One paid method of online marketing which Facebook provides is a pay-per-click advertising service (PPP). This is a great way to get your advertisements displayed on a wide variety of pages with maximum exposure. Every time someone clicks on one of your advertisements and visits your site, you will pay a few cents. While it may seem that this can get very expensive, you can also set a daily PPP advertising budget. Once this budget is reached, your advertisements will stop being displayed for the remainder of that day. This makes PPP advertising on Facebook a very viable and affordable form of advertising for many online businesses. Google AdSense works in exactly the same way.

If Social Media Sites Were Superheroes…

I ran into this quite hysterical infographic explaining what kind of social media sites are out there. Its quite true that each of these social networks is great in its own right, but when put into the context of using all of these, you can see right away which ones end up becoming the leaders (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn). Even though its a funny piece, there is some truth to it that our readers could benefit from. If you’re unfamiliar with any of these sites then we suggest you get to know them and try them out. At the very least, you need to understand the who and why of these social networks to make sure you’re not alienating any of your supporters by not being represented on there.

Hope you enjoy and be sure to check out the original link because it also has other links to great infographics that are just as informative!

StumbleUpon Launches Program to Help Nonprofits

Its pretty cool to see that Stumble Upon has launched the Stumbling for Good program to help nonprofits! StumbleUpon, a discovery engine that recommends web and mobile content for its more than 15 million users, will help nonprofits reach users most likely to respond to their messages and engage with them via its new Paid Discovery social media brand ad platform. The program was started in early 2011 in a closed beta but has now opened up the program to more organizations.

Their first campaign has been to help the World Food Programme. Here is what they have to say about it.

East Africa is experiencing its worst drought in 60 years. Over 440,000 desperate Somalis have flooded into the refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, making it the largest in the world. News coverage and donations for aid have been slow to trickle in, leading President Obama to urge for more public awareness.

When the disaster hit, the World Food Programme turned to StumbleUpon to help drive greater awareness of the situation and feed starving people in Dadaab. The WFP created a site that calls stumblers to either complete a quiz to feed a child or donate directly to feed people affected by this catastrophe.

StumbleUpon donated credit in our Paid Discovery marketing platform to the WFP that brought these donation sites directly to members of our community. By stumbling, sharing, and engaging with the WFP sites, you, our amazing Stumblers, helped feed over 5,000 starving people in urgent need of help.

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If your nonprofit would like to be considered for the Stumbling for Good program then email good@stumbleupon.com.

Also, feel free to follow us on StumbleUpon!

Image courtesy of RigasPapas on DeviantArt.