I recently attended an informative webinar titled “The Volunteer in the New Digital Age” hosted by Salesforce with guests Tori O’Neal and Trovon Williams from the NAACP – and while I learned more about how to galvanize a volunteer army, I walked away with valuable pointers for leveraging digital technology, as both guests stated, to “amplify” your narrative to engage new supporters, shift their behavior and keep them involved.
I’ve boiled their brilliance down into 8 tips for you. Call me if you want to think through how these tips can support your goals – there’s not necessarily anything new here, but in my opinion, they framed the information in a clear and energizing way.
Granted, the NAACP was working back in 2019 to lay the groundwork for a digital media blitz to support their Get Out the Vote project and other initiatives. But when our nation was struck by the dual pandemics of COVID and escalating racism, they had to innovate in real time and leverage digital media to galvanize their volunteer force (of over two million volunteers!!!), share their message, and keep an innundated audience focused on their vital work.
As a large national organization, the NAACP does have some resources your organization may not, however, they shared great ideas any nonprofit can use to amplify their message:
- Develop a narrative that you’re sharing digitally. You Tweet in only 280 characters and you likely Tweet multiple times each week (or perhaps each day). Those Tweets should be telling a larger story bit by bit. Your Tweets or Instagram or Facebook posts should all be part of an overarching narrative that continually reveals to your audience who you are and what you do.
- Tap into the emotions of the moment. Film video of what’s happening right now and post while the emotions are real and connect your audience to the context of what is happening. Post Tweets, etc. that connect people’s feelings to the current situation and what you’re doing to make change or help. Don’t wait until it’s perfectly edited, the lighting is right, you’ve overthought the use of commas. Get it out while people are emotionally connected to your work or can feel the emotional experience of the moment your organization is living.
- Be authentic and really tell your story. Social media shouldn’t be overproduced. And it should always tie back to that overarching narrative. Each small bit combines to build and reinforce your story. Not all posts will go viral, but an authentic, compelling one can catch hold and engage people to keep watching to see where your story goes.
- Repurpose content or pieces of your narrative for different platforms. Leverage the same content and keep the continuity of your narrative across your platforms by changing the delivery or format to suit the social media platform. The same message should not be delivered the same way on every platform.
- Consistency of messaging is important. Post regularly to your social media platforms and with consistent development of your story across platforms and over time. In other words, tell the same story in different ways across the platforms, but keep the story going on all of them. Keep people engaged with your story and coming back for more. Don’t stop telling the story after the first few chapters.
- Select the right platforms for your organization. Not all social media platforms are right for you. Pick the 2-4 that reach your intended audience and fit your organization’s brand. Stick to the quantity of platforms you can keep fresh on a consistent basis. If you can’t keep it updated, you can’t tell your story and keep people engaged. Stick with the platforms you can maintain.
- Track the data. Be sure you know what is working and what is not. If you’re putting energy into social media posts that aren’t growing your audience or keeping people coming back, then you need to shift your strategy.
- Change people’s behavior with quick, immediate actions they can take to join you. You’ve captured their attention, now engage them in your story. Make it easy. Make sure they will feel inspired to take action right now. And then keep them engaged by continuing to share your story and repeatedly giving them a way to support your mission.
Tori and Trovon made it clear that they have innovated and iterated a lot in the past seven months or so – they tried a lot of things that didn’t work. But it was inspiring to hear them share what has worked and how you can implement these same tactics to share your story, get people involved in your work and keep people actively engaged in supporting your mission.