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i-fund News: Social media tips your boss will "like"

March, 2011

Amergent I-Fund

What mail and email can teach us about social media

By Heather Fignar

When email was new and cool, we talked about feasibility, leadership buy-in, and ROI. Some said that the web “would never be a significant source of revenue.” Remember those days? The same was said about direct mail. Today, we understand that email and direct mail are both powerful ways to communicate with some segment of your support base.

Currently, social media discussions – and mobile are in the “new" phase – with all the same questions. Fortunately, your social media efforts and discussions can be informed by lessons learned with other channels.

Integrated Planning
ifund 3.2.11 social media
Your donors expect that your messages are integrated. They expect you to be talking about the most important programs and aspects of your mission regardless of the channel. The fastest and most efficient way to succeed with social media is to tie your efforts into your larger communications plan.

Choose your 3-6 largest campaigns. As you plan your postcards and mailings, also plan your email messages, FB status updates and Tweets. Showing a video at your annual function? Consider posting a version online, embedded on a page within your site. You can then control the supporting copy, call to action, donate button, etc. That landing page is where you can drive your social media. 


Writing for email is different than mail in that copy is shorter and bulleted. Likewise, the 140 characters of social media makes you tighten your message further. However, some content principles remain the same.

1. Every message needs a call to action. You may ask your reader to take a survey or give a donation or forward to a friend. Likewise, your social media posts and video uploads need to encourage conversation and a next action – Click through to the image. Watch this video. Sign up for the walk. Share this with your friends.
2. No matter what communication channel you use, remember that you are people talking to people. Tell the story of your work through pictures and people – not statistics. 


In direct mail, we measure everything. We establish measures of success for appeals vs. newsletters vs. acknowledgments. We also establish measures of success for email. Likewise, you must decide on measures of success for social media. Then track it and analyze the data.

When you see social media as one more option for maintaining and cultivating donor relationships, your Social Media Strategy becomes less about the channel and more about your conversation with the audience.


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