At HelpAttack!, many of the causes who sign up are, by comparison to big name celebrities or national organizations with a million followers, quite small. Most causes want to increase the size of their online communities. But how?
There’s no magic answer. People will join you and stick with you because of the community you build, and maintain. It takes work, and time. There’s a whole heap of text below, but we think it boils down like this:
If you want people to join you, join them.
If you want people to share your content, share theirs.
Listen, talk to people, and post neat things.
There are a lot of “top 10 tips” posts that speak in generalities and say things like “be engaging.” We linked to a ton of them at the bottom of this post, and listed some of the common ones down there too. But what WE like are simple, pragmatic tools and practices that help us do what we know we should be doing in the first place.
- (30 minutes a day) Make a DAILY calendar reminder that delivers an email alert. Have it arrive at a good time for you each day. In the body of the reminder
- Include links to your Twitter profile and Facebook page so they are easy to open.
- Include a few tasks like “search for new pages to like” or “check direct messages” so you don’t have to think about it.
- Update the reminder as your activities change to keep things fresh.
- Maybe create different reminders for each day of the week.
- Link to different search URLs for Twitter, Facebook, and any other networks so they are easier to open (for following and adding people).
- Don’t delete the email until you did what you were supposed to.
- Make a spreadsheet of some of your better blog posts and other links. Mix in a donation form link, and a few links to other resources (not yours) that you really like. To start, make 30 rows, one for each day of the month. At the end of the month, update 1/3 of them (the top third, middle, or bottom) with new content.
- With copy and paste, you can move around the scheduled times of these posts so they aren’t monotonous.
Ways to use HelpAttack! (…to grow)
- Ask 10 close supporters (call or email personally) to give a small amount when they Tweet or when they update Facebook and share this. When you’re small or unknown social proof goes a long way. If people see their friends supporting you publicly, they’ll be more inclined to do the same.
- Find a donor who is willing to match donations through HelpAttack! “Double your donation” messaging tends to increase sharing, and helps convince supporters who are on the fence. It doesn’t have to be a huge matching donation – even $100 can go a long way when you’re getting started.
- Once you start, call up your local news and radio stations about your campaign. Social media continues to be a hot topic, and media outlets find value in talking about a positive story like yours. Be sure the anchor or DJ mentions your Facebook or Twitter URL!
- Invite your HelpAttack! supporters to do guest posts, and talk about why they support you.
- When (not if!) you thank your HelpAttack! supporters, follow up with a personal note with your profile URLs and ask them to share another time.
Established (conventional wisdom) ways to grow
- Put links to your social media profiles on your website, in your email footer, thank you pages, landing pages, and even in your direct mail pieces. Some supporters love their mailbox, some love being online. Make sure they can get easily from one place to another.
- Network with other social media practitioners and professionals who maintain their own pages. Swap tips, and support one another’s campaigns. Don’t go it alone!
- Ask your supporters to share. ”Plz RT!” is 7 powerful characters on Twitter. ”Please share!” can work on Facebook. It helps people realize “Oh, I did like that content, and I should share it too.”
- Quality and consistency. Post different things from your blog and website AND interesting articles you read from other sources. Be consistent in your use of social media (at least every week, or every few days), but vary topics and styles of posts to see what works.
- Make your supporters special. #FF (follow friday) them on Twitter, mention them on Facebook, and maybe have a supporter of the week award. They’ll advocate for you in return.
- Share photos and videos, not just text.
- Take things that work well in one network, and try them in another. By the time you read this maybe we’ll all be using Google+, Pinterest, and MySpace II!
- Have a personality – don’t hide behind your logo, and be a person when possible. Find a “voice” that’s right for you and your audience, and stick with it.
- Use search. Find people and organizations who seem interesting. Follow them, and respond to them. Keep a list of search terms and keywords in a document and reference it.
- Participate in Twitter chats – they occur at regular times weekly or monthly and use a #hashtag search to unify. You can use a tool like TweetChat to keep up.
- Like other, similar pages (partners, other nonprofits, brands, celebrity supporters) and participate in their pages by tagging them and responding, using Facebook as your page. You can use Facebook search to find new ones.
- Tag other Facebook pages (that you have Liked) to post on their wall.
- Create a “Like Gate.” Set up a custom tab on your page, and make it the default. The content should be an image pointing at the Like button and enticing users to join you.
Lists of Ideas
- Five Ways to Grow Your Nonprofit Fanbase
- 10 Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page Following
- How to Grow and Engage Your Facebook Base (Audio)
- 26 Great Facebook landing page examples.
- How to Grow Your Page with Like Milestone Campaigns
- Understanding How Facebook Pages Grow
- 10 For Real Tips to Grow Your Twitter Followers