Nonprofit and the All-Powerful Blog
At the heart of every great website is its content. For years now, blogs have become the central location on websites where the voice of the website’s owners can be heart. Some write a few paragraphs. Others write several pages. Some post photos. No matter the medium, these are all expressions of the writer’s knowledge and curiosity, and create an impromptu dialogue with anyone who happens to stumble upon the page. For this exact reason, blogging has become an incredible online marketing tool in recent years. Nonprofits can also make use of blogging to speak directly to their audience, informing them of the nonprofit’s causes.
Benefits of Blogging
- Gain massive visibility
- Enhance your credibility and reputation
- Educate and involve your supporters
- Blog serve as 24/7 billboards. It’s always on, it’s always there.
- Reverse the donor chase
Attaining visibility should remain a significant priority in your social media campaign. Staying consistent with your blogging keeps you in the spotlight. Think of your blog as the core of your business communication; it is where your organization can effectively express its mission, ideas, thoughts, and insights. This is the #1 place on your site where you can communicate with potential donors and followers. In other words, visibility equals increased traffic!
Credibility and Reputation
Develop your credibility by blogging about your organization and mission often. Maintain educational and informative posts. Your blog content should leave your supporters feeling secure in your knowledge. From here, the power lies in your hands to build a great reputation. Remain a credible source of information and well rounded in your online presence.
Reverse the Donor Chase
Here’s an important fact for you: you only have 10 seconds to engage your audience. Blogs act as a beacon for attracting potential donors, volunteers, or supporters. Consider your blog a powerful magnet on this refrigerator called the internet. Your blog can attract donors from other magnetic sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. As your audience grows, the pull from your magnetic force can reach and draw in others. Keep your blog content fresh and informative so donors will flock to you.
So Then What?
Use a social media approach to blog production:
- Instant Rapport & Eliciting a Response
- Elicit a Response
- Promise of More
Building rapport with your audience is hard work. NOT! When you blog, all eyes are on your organization and all ears are open to your message. Remember, be clear and direct with your audience. People appreciate honest and open posts. Engage your audience in a universal manner. Start discussions and try to respond to all comments. Show your supporters they genuinely matter to you!
Keep your blog on task! Focusing on the matter at hand will give your blog purpose and save your audience from confusion. Blogging about your cause compels your audience to get more involved. Follow these guidelines to writing a successful blog post:
- Provide entertainment. Begin by writing an appealing story based on the subject you wish to discuss.
- Educate the audience. This is the meat of your blog post. Give details and information on why the situation panned out the way it did.
- Empower, Empower, Empower! End your post with a favorable lesson to tie everything together. Let your followers know they have the power to create change!
Give your audience tangible tools based on the lesson of your post. Consistently focus your posts on the audience to show your blog is meant exclusively for them.
Elicit a Response
More is not always better! At least when it comes to blogging it’s not. Remember, consistency is your best friend. To elicit a response from your blogging, you must first become laser-focused. Choose your topic and stick with it. Encourage your audience to join your mission by creating a call to action. Having trouble fitting all of your ideas into one post? Consider doing a blog series! You only have mere seconds to catch donor’s attention. Don’t spoil it!
Can It Be Shared?
Yes it can! Here’s how:
- Facebook Like button on WordPress: Allows folks to like your post.
- Facebook Like box on WordPress: Allows folks to like your fanpage.
- Facebook Share button
- LinkedIn Share button
- Google+ Share button
- Pin it Button: Add compelling images to your Pinterest board
- LinkedIn WP App: Auto post blogs to a LinkedIn profile
- Facebook Comments Plug-in: Readers can leave a comment as their Facebook profile or any Facebook page they administer
- Sexy Bookmarks WP Plug-in: Adds a collection of social buttons at the bottom of your post.
- DiggDigg WP plug-in: Adds a collection of social buttons to display next to your post. Offers a static version or a floating sidebar.
- Print Friendly & PDF WP plug-in: An awesome tool that allows you to easily print your post, turn it into a clean PDF, or email it.
Compel Your Audience to Become Involved
Think about your favorite book series. What makes it so alluring? Now think about how to incorporate that allure into your blog. Before you say you’re not that type of writer, hear us out. Writers make the big bucks by stretching a story over a few books. When possible serialize your organization’s blog posts for the same effect! Keep the posts short and easily consumable. People have been known to click the “Back” button when they read a post all the way to the bottom and see there’s a page 2 or 3. Remember, it’s all in the ending. Give your followers a conclusion ignite a passion for your mission and compel them to make a difference.
Empowering Your Blog Empowers Your Readers
Even though all successful blogs follow the same recipe, no two are alike. Show your followers what makes your nonprofit organization different from the rest. Begin by introducing your mission. Follow these guidelines to guarantee your organization’s blog gains the attention you’ve worked tirelessly for:
- What are your blogging goals? Write them down to formulate a plan of action.
- How would you describe your audience? Rapt and hungry for your posts! Right?
- How’s your content? This includes the what, how, and logistics of your posts.
- Do you plan on blogging often? Decide and a schedule and stick to it.
- Have an option for comments? Add one to allow your followers to cue in.
- Do your measure the amount of visits your blog receives?
- How often do you engage your audience? Your attention is vital to your success!
There’s no sense in setting off on a journey if you don’t know where you’d like to end up, or at least a few places you’d like to see along the way. For that reason, it’s essential to give yourself direction by setting goals. There are an infinite number of reasons to blog, so choose the ones that benefit you. Some people blog to give advice to others, establishing themselves as an expert in their field and creating a tight-knit group of followers with whom they can build their relationships. Others blog to become the number one, go-to source of information in their industry, drawing in as many readers as possible. Either way, whether small or large, both approaches aim to draw attention to your brand. With more attention comes more visitors. And with the right steps, those visitors can be converted to leads. By regularly writing appealing blogs concerning your organization, the likelihood of supporters and donors coming back to your blog again and again is improved. Below is a list of goals nonprofit organizations should strive for:
- Create an online community
- Focus on engaging your followers
- Be the go-to source for your cause in the nonprofit industry
- Locate and build relationships with other nonprofits
- Spread your message
- Inspire decision makers
- Communicate with donors
- Hold a strong online presence
Successful blogging begins with knowing who you’d like to speak to. Write for a particular type of person, or one with a certain set of interests. By knowing your desired audience, it then becomes much easier to create your content. Avoid being too general when coming up with your desired audience. After your content is read, a member of your audience should feel it was written just for them. Expand upon this by putting yourself into the shoes of your audience; what would you want to read? What would keep you coming back to read more? Also, keep track of where they spend their time online—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.—and spend some time reading what they and their like-minded discuss. Even though you have a diverse audience, take time to correspond with them. This is a great way to get into the mind of your current or potential supporters and determine what will motivate them to become involved in your cause.
A regularly updated blog is absolutely critical to your efforts. Infrequently updated blogs are infrequently read, simple as that. How many blogs do you read that are updated two or three times a year? Probably none. So it stands to reason that you should personally update your blog often, and on a regular basis. Post your organization’s blogs with consistency and your audience will start to recognize the pattern, coming back regularly to see what’s new. Blogging 2-4 times per week is considered the “sweet spot.” Once a week isn’t enough, and more than four offers diminishing returns.
Creating an editorial calendar is a great way to stay on track with your blogs. Set aside time dedicated to writing and promoting your blogs. For instance, you could set aside 4 hours each Sunday: 3 hours to write two or three blogs, and 1 hour to promote them. Also set a schedule when you’d like your nonprofit’s blogs to actually be published. Distribute them evenly across the week rather than posting them all on the same day. So if you write 3 blogs per week, publishing them on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is a great idea. Any days are fine, but it’s recommended to have at least one day between posts to increase the odds being read.
Read Other Blogs
Occasionally, we all run out of ideas for blog posts, which is why it’s a good idea to visit other blogs every now and then. Visit fellow nonprofit’s websites and take note of what is being discussed. This helps us leave our own blog’s “bubble” and be exposed to new ideas, trends, and hot topics. See which blogs inspire you and feel free to write your own blog giving your personal view on those subjects. As long as your content is unique, there’s nothing wrong with reading another blog to get your creative juices flowing. If you’ve gained inspiration from another nonprofit’s blog, show respect by linking to their blog post through your social media platforms. This is a way of promoting influencers within your niche while promoting yourself and your cause simultaneously.
Measuring your nonprofit’s efforts is necessary to see what’s working and what’s not, and there are a multitude of tools available for getting feedback. The most comprehensive of all is, without a doubt, Google Analytics. Available completely free, Analytics allows a dizzying number of statistics to be tracked. Conversion rate, sales, lead generation, page views, file downloads, referrers, and more. Better yet, these statistics are all presented in an online dashboard that makes it simple to keep track of your efforts. There are even WordPress plugins which can integrate Analytics with your website, such as Google Analytics for WordPress, Google Analyticator, and Google Analytics Dashboard. For those looking for a simpler approach, Bitly allows the tracking of links. After signing up, your organization can turn lengthy URLs into short ones for easy sharing on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Through Bitly, you can learn how many people clicked a particular link, when they clicked, their country of origin, how they found the link, and more. While less in-depth than Google Analytics, Bitly strikes a fantastic balance of features and ease of use.
The Hero Blog Journey
Taking a blog all the way from thought to finished product can be broken down into a few key stages:
- Planning – Thinking ahead is essential in this stage, and actually saves time and effort in the long run. Think about what you will write, when you’ll write it, who will read it, when it will be published, and how it will be promoted.
- Keywords – For purposes of SEO, integrating keywords into your content is extremely important. It allows your content to be easily found when others perform organic searches. Carefully select your desired keywords and use them appropriately throughout your blog.
- Publishing – Plan your desired blog release schedule. If you’re looking to publish multiple blogs per week (which you should!), space them out by a day or two to maximize readership.
- Marketing – Now that your blog has been published, it’s time to promote it. Select the social networks where most of your audience resides and start your efforts there. If you have a regular email newsletter, use that to announce your blogs and provide a brief excerpt.
- Analysis – Measure your efforts by looking at key information. How many views did your blog receive? Was it shared? How many times and on what networks?