Under normal circumstances there are very few times in a person’s life when they’re open to changing brand loyalty: New parents transitioning from life without kids are typically the most open to changing their brand loyalty and shopping habits. But in recent months, demand for certain products (like hand sanitizer and toilet paper) surged, leaving some household name brands missing from the grocery shelves. Things aren’t exactly normal right now. And brands who have made even modest efforts to adapt and communicate during these unprecedented times have a unique opportunity to shift customer shopping habits—building brand loyalty that will likely pay off for years to come.
Forming New Attachments
Most people don't go into their wedding planning process thinking about brand loyalty—and I certainly didn't go into my wedding planning process anticipating a pandemic. But as I worked to adapt our May wedding for these unique times, I started to reflect on brand loyalty.
About two weeks before the wedding, I received a package of makeup products from Arch, a local beauty boutique. I had reached out to them (via their Instagram channel) after realizing all of my wedding day and pre-wedding hair and makeup appointments were cancelled, to see if they'd be willing to help me figure out what makeup I needed for my special day. They did me one (or two) better! They took the time to help me figure out what products would help me achieve the look I was going for; they sent some nice gifts including a handwritten note and "tissues for happy tears;" and they provided a video tutorial for me so that I was all set for my big day.
It should be noted that - prior to my wedding - I had never been to Arch before; but from now on, I'll be going to go to them for all of my makeup needs. And I've stopped considering my current salon for those types of services.
No E-commerce Site? Don’t Despair.
Businesses, large and small, that have made efforts to communicate and adapt to doing at least a small part of their business online are likely to gain new customers and build their loyalty. Small efforts can yield significant results.
Some businesses, like a local gift shop, don't have a full ecommerce site built out, but were able to do live videos or Instagram posts showcasing their products, and invited their customers to do "personal shopping" via Facetime, as well as contactless pickup.
In branding, feelings play a big role in the development of brand equity. Think about how television advertising works: When you're first getting to know a company or product, heart-strings and humor can play a big role in whether a certain product or company first grabs your attention. Positive feelings matter in the attachments that we form, and the loyalty we develop, to brands.
I'd walk through fire for our minster (and our faith community), who promised me we'd figure out a way to get married on time, even if we had to adapt what our ceremony looked like. We drove out of our way to do curbside pickup from a wine shop that helped us, via a quick email exchange, pick out budget-friendly sparkling wine from France, where our honeymoon was supposed to take place.
Communicate, Even When Things Aren’t Perfect
My husband's already-purchased-wedding-day suit is still stuck in a locked down men's suit chain, and communication never happened. Despite the fact that many retail shops have re-opened, we still (in mid-June) don’t know when we’ll see that suit.
And while some customers are always going to be unhappy about external factors that are beyond a business’s control, for many others a sincere apology and basic explanation of the circumstances goes a long way. That suit shop has lost our business for good, and likely the business of our friends and family as well.
My husband's wedding ring, which we found out also wasn't going to be done on time, was another matter. The small business making the ring communicated at each step in the process about what was happening—what stage of production the ring was in, whether there was a chance they could get it to us, and then, as stay-at-home orders were extended, a kind offer to send an in-stock replacement ring in case they couldn’t get it to us on time. (The original ring magically appeared in our mailbox on our way out the door to the church).
For our clients, we invite them to consider the opportunities presented at this unique moment in time to foster relationships with customers that will pay off for many years to come. It's not about being perfect, it's about being present.
Some faith communities who offer online services and programs have reported an increase in viewership and participation in online programming since “stay at home” orders were put in place. In times of crisis, people often naturally turn to faith communities for comfort, strength, and hope.
But along the convenience of watching a service online comes the threat that members are also “shopping around.” Maybe they’re virtually visiting their hometown church or temple. But they may also be taking some time to experience other communities in your area to see what’s the best fit for their, or their families’, needs.
While you shouldn’t panic, this presents an opportunity to reflect on how well you’re meeting your congregants’ needs and gather feedback from them using a temple or church survey.
What to Ask
Here are some ideas of questions that you might ask:
Reflecting on feedback, you will be able to identify gaps in programming more successfully, identify misperceptions that might need to be corrected, address difficulties that are creating barriers to participation, or program ideas that better speak to your congregation’s needs during this time.
This might include shifting fundraising events online, holding faith services via Zoom, or finding ways to offer formerly in-person programs via a virtual format. For example, you might get the feedback that people miss socializing with each other and offer something beyond services that is fun and interactive—like a family-friendly sing-a-long or all-ages bingo game on Facebook Live. You might discover that folks are seeking reflective time, such as a meditation group, or are looking for ways to continue social justice work while social distancing.
Keep in mind that the needs of different members will vary, so you might choose to talk to a sample of members across age groups. The needs of young families, for example, may be different than the needs of teens in a youth group, or seniors.
How to Ask – Temple or Church Survey
Here are a few simple ways to gather feedback on how people are feeling about your community’s mission and programming.
#1 Make a Few Phone Calls
A phone call or video chat can be an effective way to quickly reach out to select members to gather some feedback. When gathering feedback, consider reaching out to people across a few generations.
It’s also to stay in touch with congregants who are less tech savvy and perhaps feeling isolated at this time. For example, Interfaith Volunteers, a faith-based nonprofit located in Minnesota, has pulled in additional people to offer phone all check-ins for local seniors who may be feeling particularly lonely or scared during the COVID-19 pandemic.
#2 Email a Survey
Surveys can be a great way to collect both qualitative and quantitative data that assesses the needs of your community members.
SurveyMonkey is a free and easy-to-use online tool that lets you create, send, and analyze questions. Other popular tools include Google Forms, Survey Gizmo, and SoGoSurvey.
Of course, a survey is only as good as its response rates, so here are some tips for getting congregants complete your survey:
#3 Social Media Check-Ins
Another way to check in with congregants is to ask questions on social media. This enables followers to respond to your post and to each other, which can help you gain insight while also encouraging community engagement.
Ben Vorspan, the Creative/Communications Director for Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, CA, wrote about his experience shifting everything from services to website copy to be 100% accessible via phone. From their Facebook page, he has helped the temple host Bat Mitzvahs on Facebook Live, conducted check-ins with daily “Sundown Shares,” and promoted community events like virtual bonfires and streamed music from temple musicians.
In Boulder City, CO, Christian Center Church and other faith organizations are using social media not only to provide programming to congregants, but also to check-in via social media to assess how church members are handling social distancing and if there are specific supports they may need.
The nonprofit Hi, How Are You Project is using the month of May to improve awareness of mental health and encourage interaction by encouraging members to take a pledge to ask those in their community “Hi, how are you?” via social media as a way of checking-in and acknowledging the importance of mental wellbeing.
We Can Help - Sign Up for Faith Community Office Hours
If you’re unsure how to adjust your messaging on your social media channels or feel like you could use a little assistance strategizing how best to use your social platforms (or just get some support keeping things running smoothly), feel free to reach out to us for help.
Also - keep in mind that we offer free, 30-minute consultation slots weekly for nonprofits and faith organizations, where you can ask questions about marketing, Zoom, SEO and more. Nonprofit organizations can sign up here. Faith organizations can sign up here.
'Tis the season for event planning, but how do you plan an event when donors are sheltering in place? Crossroads Fund is a public foundation that supports nonprofits and groups in the Chicagoland area working on social, economic and racial justice.
The transformation of their popular annual "Seeds of Change" spring gala into a vibrant online celebration--complete with DJs and awards--offers a great example of how to pivot from a traditional offering to an online format that is still full of celebration (and still meets fundraising goals).
Here are our 5 top tips for moving events online.
#1: Cross-Promote the Event Across Platforms
Crossroads Fund decided to move their one-night event into a weeklong Zoom celebration with an online silent auction, live DJ sets, and dance party--and were successful in raising $135,000 (and counting).
âTheir online event captured the joy of their annual in-person event, which is both a fundraiser and a social gathering, bringing the feel of a venue-based party to a digital space.
The foundation took advantage of many social media platforms in their communication about the event, including Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, your Facebook and Instagram news feeds, and Facebook event pages.
#2: Elevate People Who Honor Your Mission
Facebook Live gave Crossroads Fund a way to celebrate award-winners in real time. Awardees help attendees get fired up to carry on the fight for social justice, and to open their wallet to support this important work.
Award-winners are often a key driver of connection for the event and can help motivate a decision to give.
#3: Create an Easy-to-Remember Landing Page URL & Use a Virtual Hashtag on Every Post
Crossroads Fund's easy-to-remember landing page URL was a key for driving action off of the social posts related to the gala. By driving all event-related activity to one landing page, they made it simpler for their audience to respond to their main call to action: Donate.
They also created a hashtag for their virtual event, #virtualseeds, which empowered all participants to spread the word. This type of tagging builds brand recognition and creates a ripple effect that can hook new viewers into learning more, or participating.
#4: Deploy Consistent Visual Branding Across Social Media Channels
Crossroads Fund did an excellent job keeping its eye-catching images consistent across the many social media channels it utilized for the event. Their decision to choose bold colors and use consistent fonts, images, and messaging that were clear helped donors quickly and easily identify their event and stay alert to new information.
#5: Tap Into Staff, Board, and Others to Create Compelling Appeals
One of the most compelling opportunities that social media presents us with is the opportunity to speak in a direct and personal way about the causes that are so important to us, and to make personal requests to give.
Crossroads Fund's staff, board, and host committee made compelling, direct appeals through pre-recorded video and participation in the nightly Zoom celebration. Their stories helped attendees feel more engaged and put familiar faces front and center.
What We're Reading
Not sure how to adapt or promote your spring fundraiser? We can provide remote consulting--and help you strategize how to work remotely with staff and volunteers.
Crossroads Fund is offering a Virtual Fundraising Grassroots Webinar, scheduled for May 5, 2020, where they'll share what they learned from their Seeds for Change event.
Here are some of our favorite resources you can peruse for ideas on moving your event online:
Learn more about our services on our website. Nonprofits and faith organizations can also sign up for a free 30-minutes consultation to get help with marketing, Zoom, SEO and more. Nonprofit organizations can sign up here. Faith organizations can sign up here.
Google recently released a new update to search algorithms, which features improved AI with a greater ability to read and understand more content. Having a clear sense of how your customers search (and what they search for) can enable you to use SEO and empathy to connect in a way that meets their needs.
This BERT update, which impacts both Google’s software and hardware, provides greater clarity on two things that are essential for creating useful and effective content: What people are thinking about and how they’re living their lives. In a nutshell, it means Google’s search feature will enable users to find more useful information based on their queries, more quickly and easily:
“In fact, when it comes to ranking results, BERT will help Search better understand one in 10 searches in the U.S. in English, and we’ll bring this to more languages and locales over time.”
As a firm, we’ve been saying for a while that with improvements in artificial intelligence and voice-based search, Google will be able to read more of the internet and to understand more of it. To date, Google has been skimming the internet and looking for keywords in places a human would look to understand an article at a glance - in headlines, in the first paragraph, etc.
For that reason, we’ve always suggested having content that follows SEO best practices, but more importantly that puts the core needs, struggles, and desires of your customers first. To understand those needs, struggles, and desires, we must use empathy in conjunction with data, which helps us understand how customers are searching for our products and services in different scenarios.
Putting Our Customers First In Our Copy
While some of the focus of Google’s update is simply clarifying search intent in basic ways:
“Particularly for longer, more conversational queries, or searches where prepositions like “for” and “to” matter a lot to the meaning, Search will be able to understand the context of the words in your query. You can search in a way that feels natural for you.”
It’s also easy for there to be a mismatch between how you present your products and services, and what customers are actually searching for. A common mistake businesses make is to focus their copywriting on their own business goals and personal passions. Sometimes, we do this at the expense of connecting effectively with our customers and their problems, aspirations, and goals.
For example, looking at the websites for two farms in the New York area, the first example focuses on traits like how big the farm is, and how it is family-owned.
In this second example, this farm focuses on the desires of their customers (for delicious, nutritious, farm-fresh food, for people who want their purchase to make an impact) as well as on things that might be difficult for their customers (emphasis on ease of sign-up and pick-up, and ability to pause CSA subscription at any time.)
Design Tools for Understanding Our Customers
There are a few tools that we regularly use as marketers to help us understand our customers:
A great example of this in action can be seen in our work with Easterseals of DuPage & Fox Valley. With Easterseals, we asked parents of children with disabilities to explain what search terms they'd use in different scenarios, and one of the discoveries we made is that parents were searching for toddlers with [name of condition], rather than for services. This knowledge allowed us to write and implement new condition-focused landing pages—such landing pages for families seeking ADHD therapies or Down syndrome therapies—to reflect how parents were actually searching for services.
Strategies for “Listening” More Closely to Your Audience
So how do we improve our search terms to be better aligned with our customer’s needs? Here are two of our favorite tools for improving our “listening skills” in the digital sphere within a search context:
Here are some examples of businesses who responded to this trending inquiry in a paid advertising context, using offers to drive urgency to sign up:
Photo credit: Acorn TV
Photo credit: Barre3 Madison
Even though these examples are from a paid advertising context, good content, optimized for search queries can fulfill this need as well. Which brings us to….
Identifying Opportunities for Adaptation, Based on Empathy
Listening to your audience “in real time” means you can respond with empathy, provide relevant information, and adapt in ways that can immediately fill a need. In some cases, this may mean using language or emphasizing elements in your content that match how your audience is thinking and making choices.
It may also mean adapting what you offer and how you interact with your audience to fit their needs. That could mean holding events online, building ecommerce platforms, or finding ways to offer services remotely. Adaptation is key—and you won’t know how to adapt if you haven’t first “listened.”
Here are some ways organizations have adapted to the current reality of social distancing, while meeting people’s needs with empathy:
Learn more about our services on our website, and if you’re a nonprofit or faith organization, you can sign up for a free 30-minutes consultation to get help with marketing, Zoom, SEO and more. Nonprofit organizations can sign up here. Faith organizations can sign up here.
Faith communities can play an important role in troubling times and both video streaming technology and social media are playing an important role in helping people stay connected.
This week, I’ve been impressed about how my own community, First Unitarian Society of Madison, WI adapted quickly to not only do collaborative “streaming” services with other Madison-area UUs, but to also offer meditation groups via Zoom, bedtime stories, parent check-ins, singing, “knit ins”, children’s music time and spiritual education, virtual campus ministry, and even virtual coffee hours.
Taking Small Groups Online, Not Just Services
Here's an example from the events calendar of Mishkan Chicago, a Synagogue that has a vibrant online community:
Not Connected? Band Together, Or Use Hybrid Internet-Phone Tools like Zoom
Banding together with other local faith communities can help less-connected meetings, synagogues, and congregations stay connected even where Wi-Fi is a bit sparse.
Tools like Zoom offer phone dial-in options as well for folks who can’t get connected via a computer.
So what about "lifecyle" events? Weddings, b'mitzvahs, and the like?
I can speak from personal experience: My fiancé and I, who were planning a wedding and honeymoon for mid-May, have also had to adapt and we're glad that our faith community has as well.
We did our pre-marital counseling and ceremony planning with our minister online last weekend, and moving our cancelled wedding shower online – with the added bonus of enabling us to invite friends and family from all over the country.
Here are some of the other resources for faith communities that we’ve come across this week:
Faith Community Office Hours
Feeling stuck? We offer free faith community office hours on a first-come first-served basis every week.
Ask us anything about marketing, the logistics of using Zoom, social media, or Google search. No sales, just advice. Sign up on our faith landing page.
A recent case study about REI's Opt Outside campaign shared by Sprout Social has some interesting takeaways I want to share with you. Hopefully these successful tactics, and some insights about each, can help you in your work.
Here are our three top takeaways from the study (quoted in bold)... and a little something extra from me to help put it into context:
1. “Don’t shy away from changing your goals as your campaign grows up.”
This is a critical and often overlooked component when planning a campaign. Learning to evolve the way you think about engagement and call to action campaigns requires being more responsive to how your audience participates—and being ready to adjust as needed.
This dovetails with a question we often ask during Same Page Content Planning Sessions and in our content planning meetings with social media management clients: "What's happening in our audience’s lives this month?"
Staying front-of-mind means keeping current with what is most important to your audience, moment by moment. For example, the case study makes the point that "Opt Outside" originally was done as a reaction to Black Friday, but has evolved in 2020 to respond to climate change.
This speaks both to the alignment between business strategy and digital strategy, as well as to how important it is to ask questions about relevance to consumers. (When we talk about engagement in social media, this is an important component of planning for engagement.)
2. "Have a lot of partners."
It’s important to recognize the many partners you likely already have, as well as identify strategies for developing new relationships that can be mutually beneficial. A partnership, quite simply, is a way to bring two audiences together. It can present new opportunities for activating your brand, building new social media partnerships, and deepening existing partnership relationships.
Partnerships can take a lot of forms - from tagging your customers in a post to paid campaigns, to brand activations that bridge the online and offline worlds. For example, REI partnered with nonprofits, including the National Park Service, to highlight outdoor activities their audiences could engage in as part of the #OptOutside campaign. The partnerships offered audiences a way to connect offline, built lasting relationships with other organizations, and created PR opportunities to highlight environmental efforts that reinforced REI’s brand identity.
3. "It's simple to ask employees to advocate on your brand's behalf, but the real power lies in giving them...intrinsic motivation to do so."
These days, many brands are not just seeking to define themselves, but to inspire people to join a movement that aligns with their mission. This sense of being part of something larger can not only motivate target audiences, but also employees.
Stakeholders who are aware of and invested in your organization’s “movement” may also be more motivated to participate in engagement campaigns because they know what’s exciting, or what brings people back, or what inspires the community.
It’s worth the time and energy to build a compelling vision statement for your social media program, because it can help align your brand with your call to action and ultimately place your campaign within the context of a broader movement that people are eager to join.
If you’re still feeling stuck or daunted, don’t panic. We offer consulting and training services for nonprofits, for-profit organizations, and faith communities so that you can empower your in-house teams, collaborate and schedule your social media more effectively, and reach new audiences with just the right message. Learn more about our services and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for monthly tips, strategies and shares.
In December of 2018, Sarah Best was a speaker at my Rotaract Club meeting, a student organization that I co-founded on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. She delivered an inspiring presentation about her path that lead to her founding and CEO of Sarah Best Strategy. What stuck with me the most was that she emphasized the potency of always asking questions and forming connections with others, so I did just that. I reached out to Sarah the following day and was fortunate to be offered an internship with Sarah Best Strategy the following semester.
My name is Elise Goldstein, and I had the pleasure of interning at Sarah Best Strategy for the spring and fall of 2019 (my sophomore and junior year). I am a student in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at UW-Madison, and I learned a great amount about working in a digital marketing agency. The unique aspect about my internship at SBS is that I had the opportunity to work hands-on with the CEO and founder.
Sarah has taught me the importance of being detail-oriented, mission-driven and loving what you do each day. When I would come into the Industrious Office and meet with Sarah, I truly admired her organization and ability to run the company while maintaining strong relationships with her clients.
Beyond this, being the only intern at the company allowed me to explore a variety of positions within an agency and figure out my strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. From day one, Sarah and I compiled a list of my interests and I was able to exhibit all angles of the company. On a daily basis, I helped to create, post and boost social media content for clients such as Clergy for a New Drug Policy while utilizing Sprout Social and Facebook Business, which are social media management tools. I conducted research on TikTok's impact on brands, which was used in Sarah’s consulting session. I sat in on meetings and consulting sessions with clients. I pitched and designed social graphics for Forward Community Investments to use to promote the Nan Cheney March for Justice Award Ceremony. I analyzed and synthesized data into a report for the YMCA based off of their competitors. I also was in communication with the rest of the Sarah Best Strategy team, and they were extremely warm and welcoming towards me.
All of these roles in my internship have strengthened my strategic communication background and given me tools that I believe will be useful for any future aspiration of mine.
Fall is in the air. As I sit at my gate at the Dane County Airport heading off to the first of two conferences we’ll be covering this month with live social media support, I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by.
I founded Sarah Best Strategy in October 2014, and as we celebrate our 5th birthday, there are a lot of personal and company milestones to celebrate—including being selected for the prestigious Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program at Babson College and graduating with a certificate in entrepreneurship; being selected for the Female Founders Collective; getting a new logo; moving into a new office; and adding some new members to our team, including our Senior Strategist, Kyle Freund, writer Lisa Applegate, social media account manager Elise Schmike, and our 2019 interns David Jiang and Elise Goldstein.
Building Culture on Remote Teams
One of the major takeaways that I had from my time in the Goldman Sachs program was the importance of building a culture right from the start. So we’ve spent some time this year working to define our shared values, beliefs and assumptions; create common practices; and use that information to express our company culture through cultural artifacts, standard operating procedures, measuring our community impact, and even through the new art in our office.
We are creating a culture that centers CARING for each other, for our clients, for our client’s customers, which is built on a foundation of empathy and respect for each other; and a culture of PURPOSE, recognizing that if we do our jobs well, our clients will be able to better touch the lives of their customers and serve their communities.
Culture in a 100% Remote Workplace
You may not know that our team is 100% remote. That means we live in different cities! Even Kyle and I, who are both based in Madison, work out of different co-working spaces (although we get together for a tête-à-tête every Wednesday afternoon). So how do we build camaraderie?
Creating a Cultural Artifact
As part of my time in the Goldman Sachs program, I worked with my amazing team to create a cultural artifact that represents our commitment to building this culture.
Implementing a Cultural Artifact
So how did we end up using this image? This image, along with our vision statement informed the creation of our new logo: the ripples being reflected in the rays of light generated by our lantern and in our sunny color palette.
“We help companies shine in the digital space in the service of creating happier, healthier, and more inclusive communities.
We also used the artifact when selecting artwork for SBS HQ in Madison:
Artwork credits: The print on the left was created by Cathy Charles and is available on Etsy. The paintings on the right are by Chicago painter James Jankowiak. You can view his paintings here.
We’re also working on cozy and fun swag for both our team and for our clients.
Tracking Our Impact on the Community
This is the first year that we also decided to start tracking the contributions that we’re making, both as individuals and as a company, to organizations and people in our community. I want to take a minute to thank and celebrate the hours and money that my team has donated and volunteered.
This year, our volunteer work took us everywhere from our local school districts to Guatemala to our local Girl Scout Camp. We helped farmers abroad who go hungry because of unfair wages, and farmers here at home who were impacted by devastating flooding.
We donated time to nonprofit boards and racial equity committees in our towns and schools, and gave to numerous friends and family who needed an extra leg up because they’re teachers shelling out for their own art supplies; friends in need of heart surgery or whose homes had burned down; people heading off to Puerto Rico and Ethiopia on service and relief trips; and college students on the West Side of Chicago heading off to college for the first time without dorm supplies.
We participated in backpack drives. We designed colorful ‘80s graphics for PTA fundraisers. We organized cocktail parties for chamber musicians, supported Rotary in their quest to end Polio, and served on LGBTQ+ grantmaking committees.
We gave to RAICES, Freedom for Immigrants, Ronald McDonald House, St. Jude’s, American Family Children’s Hospital, our school PTAs, rainforest organizations, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Crossroads Fund, our local public radio and NPR stations, theater companies, MS walks, and families moving into homes for the first time. We randomly found Euros in the street and gave it away to women’s causes!
Finally, some of the recipients of our Nonprofit Office Hours and free Sip & Social tickets this year, included the College for Social Innovation, Aptiv, Chicago Gateway Green, Chicago Legal Aid, Rochelle Zell Jewish High School, Goodman Community Center, Alzheimer’s Association, Madison Public Library Foundation, and Box of Balloons. We offer Nonprofit Office Hours on a first-come, first-served basis every week.
Many States, One Team
I think that as business throughout the world continues to evolve, we’re all going to be moving towards more flexible, dispersed teams. Learning to build culture on remote teams is something that, as business leaders, we need to continue to innovate around and provide leadership on. We need to continue to outline a vision that reflects and serves the needs of our workforce. I am so grateful for the team we are building and can’t wait to see how it continues to evolve in our next five years!
A well-crafted annual report can be a powerful vehicle for sharing your message and accomplishments. Once finished, organizations often step back and strategize how to convert the full-breath of the report into engaging social posts. But what if you approach the annual report from a social media-first perspective at the very outset?
It's common knowledge that attention spans are getting shorter. We're bombarded by news, videos, and images every day, every where. It's estimated that Generation Z's attention span clocks in at roughly eight seconds, with 98 percent of them owning a smartphone. A report from Deloitte, the average American consumer now checks their phone 52 times per day.
That means your audiences are likely interacting with your annual report in ways you never planned for. Taking a social media-first perspective will do more than make your social media manager happy, it'll bring in more readers and drive fresh traffic to last year's content, keeping key stakeholders engaged throughout the year.
As you approach the year's end, take an inventory of all your blog posts, stories, photos, press releases and other materials over the past year. As you sort through it all, think about which stories qualify as the most compelling and keep in mind where you can utilize dynamic visuals. As you keep a social-first focus, consider using the following strategies to highlight the necessary facts, figures and images while opening the door to greater interest (and engagement):
Less Text, More Context
With many annual reports, there's a tendency to create drafty long stories and standard letters from the leaders. With a social media-first perspective, consider where you can use visuals instead of text--and gather together facts, figures, images and examples that can demonstrate your work and vision in a more succinct way.
Nonprofit Annual Report Example - Taking a Social Media-First Approach
For example, in developing last year's annual report for Food 4 Farmers, we spread a conventional story arc across three pieces:
The Pieces of a Story
When you build your story with different elements rather than a self-contained narrative, you'll make it easier to break your annual report down into posts that you can share over weeks and months as you roll it out.
In any of the narratives we used for Food 4 Farmers, we gathered common elements that easily convert into social media posts:
Extra Credit Considerations
For those of you eager to go above and beyond this year, we've got two more tips to share:
For ideas on boosting your content planning strategy, check out our Same-Page Content Planning Case Study. And if you're looking for help promoting your Annual Report or other accomplishments on social, we offer Social Media Management for nonprofits of any size.
Sarah Best, CEO/Chief Strategist of Sarah Best Strategy (SBS), has recently been selected for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at Babson College in Wellesley, MA. The highly competitive program focuses on mastering financials and planning growth strategy for business. Ms. Best will join a national cohort of 150 small business owners via a combination of online and in-person learning. Curriculum topics include financials, marketing, leadership, activating growth and a tailored independent growth plan.
“I launched my business when I moved to Madison from Chicago in 2014,” said Ms. Best. “I would credit a wealth of local entrepreneurial resources, including MERLIN Mentors, Doyenne Group, and the Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for my early success. I am delighted to join the national cohort for Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses to take our business to the next level.” In its first four years, SBS has increased its revenue by 145% and grown from a solo practice into a team of 8 people.
Ms. Best’s work, which in 2010 included negotiating $1.5 in in-kind services from Foursquare as one the platform’s first content partners, has garnered eight awards, including best use of a social media platform from Travel + Leisure. Her work has been featured in Mashable, TechCrunch, Crain's Chicago Business, National Geographic Traveler, Chicago Tribune, and other publications. She was tapped to speak at Social Media Week for the MacArthur Foundation, selected twice for SXSW, and has served a US Travel Association conference speaker and lead judge. She is an alumna of New York University and the University of Chicago, a Madison Downtown Rotarian, and is on the board of several local nonprofits.
Sarah Best Strategy (SBS) is an award-winning digital marketing agency that focuses on social media and Google search. The agency’s mission to give all companies the tools and strategies they need to succeed, within each organization's unique vision and constraints. SBS works nationally with companies in a variety of sectors, including Fortune 100 companies, global and regional nonprofits, and small- to mid-sized businesses. The company is a Founding Agency Partner of Sprout Social, is a MailChimp Partner Agency, and is nationally certified as a Women's Business Enterprise (WBE), Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB), and Small Business Enterprise (SBE).