Most, if not all cause-based organisations recognise the need to promote their services and engage with stakeholders via the internet. Admittedly, some are more enthusiastic than others but inevitably they all realise that they have to plunge into the social media ocean.
Having either dived or been thrown in, however, it is surprising how many think mission accomplished and give up swimming soon after hitting the water – sometimes with quite unfortunate results. Let me illustrate.
Had a call from my aunt Clara who is living alone in country town about 4 hours away. She had been doing great but realised that the time was coming when she would need to sell up and move into an aged care facility and ask if I could help find a suitable place.
I suggested we drive up one weekend and check out what was available together and take it from there. We set a date and I said I would do some homework on the providers in her district and asked whether she had any preferences. She reeled off three names of providers but didn’t have strong feelings one way or the other.
I thought we would get a flying start and decided to look up the three names Clara gave me on the net. All three had websites – they all had dived into social marketing, but only one seemed to be swimming!
Provider A – Had a static website which was no more than an online brochure. It was difficult to determine the currency of the information and from the images it looked as if the content was about 10 years old. The site carried no links to any other information. I wasn’t even sure they were still around!
Provider B – Also had a static site. It had some interesting blog posts but these seemed to quit for no apparent reason in September 2010. It carries images of the opening of a new wing in May 2009. There are no news items to suggest anything had happened after that date. There is a link to an Annual Report for 2009/10. Strangely, I seemed to be more concerned about what may have happened towards the end of 2010 than the services they may still be offering.
Provider C – Also has some interesting blog posts, the most recent being the day before I logged onto their site. It carried images of residents enjoying an outing the previous weekend. There was a link to an Annual Report for 2011/12. The site carried links to recent research papers on geriatric care and supporting the emotional well-being of aged citizens. The CEO’s Tweets,along with those of some of their residents were posted on the home page! And, they were holding an information afternoon tea on one of the days we were intending to visit – and, wait for it, they set aside a special batch of fresh baked scones if we pre-booked now. We were in!
Fast forward to today. Clara is now happily ensconced in a self-care unit within Provider C’s complex. Even though I suggested we also talk with A & B, Clara was sold on her first visit and saw no need.
Now the point here is that A & B are quite possibly very good Aged Care providers, it is just that having dived into the social marketing pool they, for whatever reason, decided to stop swimming. And the really regrettable thing here is that it is not difficult to prove your organisation is alive and kicking.
Kivi Leroux Miller points out in a recent article that there are a number of simple steps that can be followed to make your communications feel more real time and current. In other words, tell people we are still swimming and haven’t given up and drowned. Kivi’s suggestions are:
Twitter has become of the real-time news network and the place where people often share what’s new first. Tweet regularly (at least once a day) and pull your Twitter stream on to your website home page to add a more timely feel to your website.
2. Share Photos as You Take Them
Get in the habit of taking lots of photos and share the best one or two from the day on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or whatever social media sites you use the most. You don’t need to include an article with it, just a nice short caption. Again, you can pull your stream on to your home page or other high-traffic pages to give them a boost of “now.”
3. Riff off Something New from Someone Else
Link your content to something new created by someone else, as in “Did you see the new blog post by Jack? Here’s our take on this issue . . .” which allows you to link to something you may have written some time ago. You could also start with something more like “Did you hear what Jane said in this interview?” and link back to your writing.
4. Reintroduce Evergreen Content with Recent Anecdotes
Let’s say you’ve invested a bunch of time into creating solid, timeless, evergreen content on your website. How can you make that core content feel fresher? Add a recent anecdote as the lead paragraph when you reshare that content in your newsletter or blog. “Last week, three people called our office about how to prevent squirrell attacks. Here are our top five tips . . . ”
5. Use Words like “Today,” “Now” and “Urgent” in Headlines
If you are telling a story, what part of that story is happening right now? Pull that aspect of the story out into the headline.
6. Connect Your Content to News Headlines or Memes
What is everyone talking about already? Connect the dots between your content and the latest national or local news headlines or a social media meme.
7. Connect Your Content to the Calendar
Go beyond the usual holidays and special months that everyone uses and look for some of the more obscure or fun opportunities.”
What else do you do to introduce a vibrant feel to your content?
About the author: Chris Gandy is a Director of Cause and Effective (www.caueandeffective.info ) a provider of Coaching and consultation services to cause-based organisations.