So your local giving day is tomorrow.
I hope you've spent at least some time on your social media strategy over at least the last few weeks, but no matter what the circumstance, these last-minute tips and tricks are for you.
So what specific tactics can your organization employ *immediately* to get the most out of your giving day?
Here's exactly what I would recommend:
1) Prepare an email blast.
If your audience isn't properly conditioned to connect with you on social media, they can at the very least check out what you're doing in real-time. I'm (obviously) a huge proponent of social media, but your email list is still statistically the most effective and straightforward way to reach your crew. Of course, you'll want to alert them that tomorrow is the big day, but you'll be better off alerting them to the value you'll be delivering on social media. Try your best to get this email sent by 4 p.m. local time at the very latest, so that recipients see it before they head home from work.
2) Customize your cover photos.
After your email goes out in the morning, there's a good likelihood that your supporters will be visiting your social media profiles tomorrow, so you should take a bit of time to 'dress up' for the occasion. Sure, you can change your profile pictures as well, but your cover photos provide much more real estate to add some impactful text and, perhaps, the logo of the giving day, so if you only have time to swap out one, go with the cover photo. Not a graphic designer? Don't you worry. Download the Canva app on your phone -- it's free -- and you can design/modify an image in seconds.
3) Post an Instagram Story.
I'm very bullish on the value of Instagram Stories, and I'd make the case that if you do *not* use Instagram Stories, there's no better time than right now to begin. I've put together a course, available at LearnIGStories.com, that will walk you through the most valuable aspects of Instagram Stories, headed up by the (relatively) new Highlights feature. This allows you to 'pin' a Story to your Instagram profile, and in fact, that Story is pinned *above* your Instagram grid -- directly below your profile. To post a Story, simply open Instagram, go to your feed (the main screen, where you see content from other people), and swipe to the right. This will bring up a front-facing camera (surprise!!!), and to record, all you need to do is hold down the button at the bottom of the screen. If this is your first experience with Instagram Stories, don't overthink it! Your audience will be thrilled to see you in a new place, and will surely be understanding that you are sharing this learning experience with them. Authenticity is everything on social media, and the good news is, you'll have a 365-day head start on using Instagram Stories strategically to build toward next year's giving day.
4) Go Live on Facebook.
I could inundate you for months with materials on how to improve your live-streaming prowess, from costly hardware, to various third-party websites, to detailed strategy concepts, and so on. (Check out my course, 'Livestreaming for Nonprofits, here.) But absolutely none of it matters if you don't have the courage to, as Brian Fanzo would say, 'Press the Damn Button.' The best time to start your live-streaming strategy towards the giving day was probably about six months ago. But without the luxury of a time machine, the second-best time to start is immediately. Don't overthink it! Take your cell phone, place it at eye level -- steady it on a water bottle, or up against your desktop computer tower, or atop a stack of textbooks -- type in a simple description -- "The Giving Day is here!" -- and just talk for a few minutes.
Your audience LOVES you. Your supporters are actively looking for ways to help you. You've been waiting all year for this giving day to arrive. NOW is the time to put yourself out there and make that ask. And just as I mentioned with your first Instagram Story, if this is your first time broadcasting live on Facebook, I guarantee your audience will absolutely love that you're giving your time to them to tell them about the value that they can provide to you.
There are infinity ways to build out a successful live-streaming strategy, and there are infinity ways to make your broadcasts look, sound and feel better. Now is not the time to think about all those things. Your responsibility is to your organization and the people it helps year-round, and now is your chance to make the ask.
Ideally, though, you'll at least be able to plan out what time you want to broadcast live on your giving day. I would recommend either the morning -- so that replay viewers can see the broadcast all day long -- and/or the evening, after work hours, so that people are able to watch without taking themselves away from their own work responsibilities. Both is much better than neither. But if you can plan out a time to go live -- let's say, 9:30 a.m. -- mention it in your email blast that goes out, so that people can plan on joining you for the broadcast.
5) Tweet using the official event hashtag.
You might have to dig a little deeper to find your organization's Twitter password, but trust me, on your community's giving day, it's well worth the trouble. Even if you've never Tweeted before, your giving day is the right time to jump in and join the conversation on Twitter. And why is that?
Of all the social media networks we've talked about to this point, Twitter provides the most shared visibility for your content. That's not to say it's the most popular platform -- Facebook and Instagram both far outweigh Twitter's cumulative punching power -- but when a community comes together to amplify the event's hashtag, great things can happen.
In fact, I was really impressed to see Minnesota's #GTMD18 -- Give to the Max Day -- trending nationally, from here in Greenville, South Carolina. (Yes, Twitter trends can be impacted by both your location and your own personal network's contributions to the trend.)
You might say to me, "Chris, our organization only has seven Twitter followers. Why should I spend time on Twitter today?"
The answer is threefold:
1) The cumulative voice of the community will be most well-represented on Twitter. Applications like Tagboard allow organizations like the Community Foundation of Louisville to display all of the collective contributions to their hashtag together, in one place. So even if your organization has a handful of followers, its Tweets using the hashtag will show up alongside those who've spent many years building an engaged audience on Twitter.
2) The lifespan of a Tweet is infinite, and as it relates to an event like a giving day, its long-term discoverability isn't as poor as you might think. In fact, if your giving day uses the same hashtag year after year -- like #GiveForGoodLou -- there's an excellent chance that supporters will be looking through that hashtag in years to come, and even during the rest of the year as they learn about the giving day for the first time. The same thought process applies to posts on other social networks, too, but the effect is most apparent on Twitter.
3) Don't undervalue those seven Twitter followers. If you don't Tweet at all, and yet someone has gone out of their way to find you on Twitter, there's an excellent chance they are just aching to contribute to you in some form or fashion on your giving day. One of your seven followers could be the President of a local corporation, with the deep pockets to support you heartily. Or it could be a major local social media influencer with a huge, engaged audience, who can retweet you and help you grow your audience incrementally on your giving day.
I can -- and will -- write a full blog about how to best utilize Twitter during your giving day. But for now -- just do it. Send out a few Tweets, preferably periodically throughout the day. (Infinity bonus points if you use video, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.) The only thing you really need to know for the time being? DON'T FORGET THE HASHTAG.
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Without a long-term strategy, it's likely that your organization will miss out on its true potential on social media during your giving day. Stay tuned to GivingDayGuy.com for more giving day ideas and analysis.
Chris Strub is The Giving Day Guy. Get a copy of '50 States, 100 Days: The Book' here.