Note: You can generally substitute the term "Fundraising Campaign" anywhere I write "Pledge Drive."
I recently Tweeted "Pledge Drive on Facebook? Yes! @KAWC reach up 500% & engagement up 300% during recent pledge drive. #PublicRadio #NPR"
To translate the Twitter-speak, I was saying. "Yes, it's a good idea for Public Radio Stations to include their Pledge Drive activities in their social media activity. One of our clients is KAWC Colorado River Public Media. When we evaluated KAWC's Facebook analytics for the period of their recent Pledge Drive, we saw their "Total Reach" increase by 500% and their community engagement increase by 300%."
That Tweet generated considerable feedback from both the nonprofit and public broadcasting sectors. Common themes were: What did you do differently? What seems to be working? To what degree did you have success turning these followers into donors?"
The short answer to those questions is that a small percentage of KAWC's Social Media followers are donors. But the numbers are comparable to successful direct mail "acquisition rates." Gifts tracked to social media are about 1.0% of followers. An added benefit is that some of those gifts came from friends outside our listening area. They gave to support the team they feel connected to via Social Media. They are a part of our extended community.
What excited me most about the increase in reach and engagement is that it proves that Pledge Drive activity is NOT a turn-off to our social media audience. Last year I presented at both the Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC) and National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) conferences. I heard many stations argue that pledge drive is forbidden from being included in their social media communication. I think that is tragically myopic. They believe that pledge drive will drive away online fans, like so many people in Public Radio believe Pledge Drive drives away listeners. Oh, it's true that if ALL you're doing is pitching and/or begging for donations you will drive away listeners and online fans. But if you're creating "good" content and not just constantly asking for support, you can engage your audiences with your appeals.
When Alice Ferris, ACFRE is training new team members at one of our Public Radio clients, she always reminds them that "Pledge Drive IS programming." It should inform, educate and entertain. We're making a case for support that is logical, compelling, personal and genuine. We're frequently greeted by listeners during or after a Pledge Drive who tell us they "love Pledge Drive." They share that it gives them a chance to really get to know the team and hear from other supporters in the community. It's personal to them and it reinforces their connection to the station.
The key to effective online engagement isn't that different from your other traditional messaging. Your social media communication should do one or more of three things:
Inform: Provide relevant, meaningful information about your organization, your team, your events, your service and your goals. Be genuine. Communicate in a personal, authentic voice.
Entertain: Provide "Rich content" of interest such as photos, graphics, video, audio, articles, etc. Give them lots of links to click.
Provide Opportunity: Tell them about things they can do, places they can go, how they can learn more and how they can help. Give them lot's of ways to take action. Provide them ways to get involved that don't require giving money. Of course make it easy for them to give money if they're ready to.
How do you measure success? That depends on your goals. Social Media serves different audiences in unique ways. If all you do is increase reach and engagement, that's a good thing. I always say, "Cash follows contact." Social Media gives us a few new ways to keep making meaningful contact and building or deepening relationships with our communities of support.
A note: Don't be discouraged if your Social Media is slow to take off. You may be doing better than you think. Here's a great infographic regarding the reach of various kinds of Facebook pages.