Guest post by Christina Relacion, Communications Manager at the Scleroderma Foundation’s National Office. Her primary interests include website production and social media. Christina has presented across the country about topics including social media, multichannel marketing, and website management, most recently at Blackbaud’s Conference for Nonprofits.
Content’s role in nonprofit marketing grows by the hour. Not only does valuable and unique content increase the visibility of your organization and its mission, but (if done right) it encourages engagement among your supporters and echoes in a familiar voice the emotional core of your organization’s purpose.
As your organization works to create content that invites and inspires, it’s important to ensure everything is created with your audience in mind.
Here are three tips to help your organization create more donor-driven content:
1. Tap into Supporter’s Valuable Stories and Experiences
Take the opportunity to ask your followers to share their own stories and experiences – in words, photos or videos. This will help your content marketing efforts paint a better picture of how your organization helps to meet your constituents’ needs.
We find that it is highly valuable to utilize every channel in which we engage with supporters so that we can have a variety of stories to select. For instance, the Scleroderma Foundation sends out a weekly email newsletter, or eLetter, to more than 10,000 subscribers. Several times a year, we take the opportunity to ask our readers to submit their own stories about how our organization has met their needs – it could be through a support group, a patient education event, or through a simple phone call to our office. Additionally, we reach out to people on our social networks or through our network of chapters and support groups.
This outreach to our followers solidifies our goal to listen and engage with individuals. It also emphasizes how significant your supporters’ stories are when telling your organization’s own story.
2. Have a Brain-Dumping Session
We love having “brain dumps” in our office. Often times, if we’re struggling with a project, we’ll all get together with a dry erase board, some markers and our imaginations. No idea is off the table with content marketing and everything can be revisited as a viable option later in the planning process.
We’re a small team of 12 people so it’s essential that we utilize each person’s creativity so we can best deliver our message and work toward our goal. Frequently, the ideas that arise during these brainstorming sessions are off-the-wall; but that’s a good thing!
Don’t be afraid to tap into those innovative concepts because they could present an incredible opportunity to reach out to your own community to find new ways to generate user-driven content. The great thing about a team is that everyone brings a different perspective and voice to the table. Take advantage of all of the unique qualities that encompass your team.
3. Think Outside the Box
Each June, we celebrate “Scleroderma Awareness Month” and work with our supporters to spread the word about this rare, autoimmune illness.
In 2012, we struggled to find a way to keep the campaign fresh and exciting. Thanks to a brainstorming session, we came up with our highly successful “Sclerodoodle” artwork contest, an opportunity for supporters to create artwork around a theme (I.AM.SCLERODERMA.) Then, our website visitors were prompted to vote on the winner. To motivate people further into participation, we offered a trip to our National Patient Education Conference in Dallas as incentive to the winner. Here’s an example:
Sclerodoodle entry from 2012 by Erin Thomas, of New Mexico.
As you can see, we received some fabulous artwork and stories, many by patients who struggle to live with scleroderma. We were ecstatic by the reception of the contest and astounded by the numbers of votes cast. In the 5 days that voting was open, we had more than 140,000 website visitors with nearly 360,000 votes cast. (On most days, we average about 8,000 visitors.) Most importantly, the contest now provided us with pretty some fabulous user-created content that we could utilize on various communication channels.
When crafting user-driven content marketing, you want to engage as much as possible with your audience and listen to the stories they share. Be sure you reach out to them through all the various channels, including email, social media and one-on-one interactions. When you’re stuck on an idea, depend internally on the creative power of your team.
Each person you work with brings a valuable voice to the table and a different view of the world. Finally, offer opportunities for supporters to share their own stories and experiences. You can try to promote more activity by offering an incentive to participate
Download the 7 Essentials of Great Content Marketing for Healthcare Nonprofits if you want to learn more about how to use content like The Scleroderma Foundation.