Nielsen conducted a study to determine the types of advertising and promotion people trust most. Justin Ware summarizes key findings for Bentz Whaley Flessner in, “Nielsen Study Shows the Monumental Importance of Online Ambassadors” (January 2013).
“… if you want someone to know and trust your organization your best bet is having someone they know post something about your org online.”
Jenna Hanington notes for a corporate audience in Pardot, “The Importance of Customer Testimonials” (May 2013). “Word of mouth” is so important today, whether it be for business or nonprofit organizations.
“Think back to the last time you bought a pair of shoes, or researched the next book you wanted to read. Where did your search start? If you’re like any other consumer, it probably began with customer reviews. Why? Because reviews are candid. They’re not published by the company promoting the product; they’re not fluffed up with marketing lingo and meaningless buzzwords; and most importantly, they’re the words of people just like you.”
I always suggest nonprofits sign-up for GreatNonprofits, a nonprofit review platform that is allied with GuideStar. “These stories are submitted by people who know you best – your clients, donors, volunteers, and others – all those who have experienced the impact of nonprofit work up close!” To read testimonials about the effectiveness of GreatNonprofits, follow this link.
Do you have an online ambassador program?
My suggestion to nonprofit organizations is to include the role of “online ambassador” in the job descriptions for board and advisory board members who are active online. Can they set aside time once weekly, every few weeks, or monthly to share a positive experience, and to encourage their colleagues to support your nonprofit organization? This is a simple, but ultimately very helpful request to make – whether that be on Twitter, Facebook, GreatNonprofits, LinkedIn or other platform.
Certainly, you would expect leading volunteers and donors to be community advocates and to say positive things about your nonprofit’s work and accomplishments whenever and wherever appropriate. If your advocates are also active online, ask them to set aside time to share their opinions and experiences online.
Justin Ware suggests nonprofit organizations engage in:
- Ongoing identification of potential ambassadors for both awareness building and fundraising initiatives.
- Stewardship of those potential and approved ambassadors through good content and smart online conversation management.
- A plan for contacting potential ambassadors and officially bringing them into the program.
- A strategy for leveraging the support of your ambassadors.
I couldn’t agree more.
“Simply put, a robust ambassador program could be the most important thing your nonprofit can do from a communications standpoint.”
Geoff Livingston remarks in, ” 5 Ways to Engage Online Ambassadors” (2011),
“If someone is important to you online–as a passionate advocate or as an online influencer–then they are likely important to others. Give them shout outs and highlight their wares. This is authentic because you already think they are important. This is a demonstration of that value.”
You might enjoy reading an article I wrote a few years after posting the one you are now reading, “Social Media Stewardship is Essential for Your Development Program.” Somewhat surprisingly, nonprofits have not fully engaged with the concept, but it is a powerful way to recognize donors (who do not prefer to remain anonymous), and to show the world how valued your nonprofit and its mission are to them.
As I know first-hand from my volunteer work with NTEN: Nonprofit Technology Network, not everyone understands that older generations – and those inclined to make major gifts – are also interested and involved in social media, not just young people and the “general public.” See my blog article, “Baby Boomers and Seniors are Embracing Digital Media” and other discussions about older adults in the main menu of Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog.
MissionBox provides further insights in, “Why Social Media Matters to Nonprofits” (April 1, 2020).
“To be effective … your social media efforts can’t just be a side venture or a task randomly assigned to an intern. Your social media strategy should be integrated with your overall marketing strategy and aligned with your nonprofit’s goals and target audiences. Specific staff members, interns or volunteers should be dedicated to keeping up with social media. Frequent posts and interactions can promote visibility and community engagement.”
As social media becomes increasingly influential and essential in our world today, don’t let the cart come before the horse. Put social media to work for your organization in a thoughtful, concerted fashion.
You might also enjoy my article, “Mature Fundraisers Make Ideal Social Media Managers.”
Being “real” online matters more each and every day. Read more in Jim Nitura’s article and review, “The Instagram Aesthetic Is Over” (May 3, 2019).