WHAT THE FUNDRAISING
115: Magnetic Fundraising: Mastering Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Management with Julia Campbell
“This might be the first thing that a donor sees as a Facebook post or a TikTok video or an Instagram reel that piques their curiosity and gets them interested and grabs their attention and helps them want to learn more.”
– Julia Campbell
In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…
Feeling overwhelmed, lost, or perfectionistic when it comes to managing your social media? Not sure if your Instagram or Facebook posts are giving you a good ROI? This episode is for you! Today’s guest will certainly ease your mind with her tips and strategies for creating an amazing social media management strategy.
Julia Campbell, Founder of J Campbell Social Marketing, has helped hundreds of nonprofits make the shift to digital thinking. What does that mean? Julia enables nonprofits to build communities and fundraise online, all while creating engaging social media platforms for their donors to connect through. Her consulting team provides social media audits, customized recommendations and reports, helps you build your own social media team, and learn how to use storytelling to grow an audience and spread your message online.
In this episode, Julia teaches you how to manage your nonprofit’s social media like a master. You’ll learn strategies for onboarding a social media manager, creating magnetic content to attract and engage donors, dealing with negative comments, telling client stories ethically, and much more.
- Listen to Julia’s Nonprofit Nation podcast
- The Night Ministry
- Plummer Youth Promise
- Amirah, Inc.
- Many thanks to our sponsor, Givebutter for making this episode possible. Our friends at Givebutter really understand what it takes to be a magnetic fundraiser. Their fundraising platform empowers millions of changemakers to raise more, pay less, and give better every single day. To learn more about them, head on over to givebutter.com/mallory.
- If you haven’t already, please visit our new What the Fundraising community forum. Check it out and join the conversation at this link.
TIPS AND TOOLS TO IMPLEMENT TODAY
Get to know Julia:
Named as a top thought leader and one to follow by Forbes and LinkedIn for Nonprofits, Julia Campbell is a nonprofit digital consultant, speaker, and author on a mission to make the digital world a better place. Host of the acclaimed Nonprofit Nation podcast, she’s written two books for nonprofits on social media and storytelling, and her online courses, webinars, and talks have helped hundreds of nonprofits make the shift to digital thinking.
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I teach nonprofit fundraisers to bring in more gifts from the RIGHT donors… so they can stop hounding people for money. Fundraising doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.
00:01:24 – Mallory Erickson
Welcome, everyone. I am so excited to be here today with Julia Campbell. Julia. Welcome to what? The fundraising.
00:01:32 – Julia Campbell
I am thrilled to be here. Thanks, Mallory.
00:01:35 – Mallory Erickson
Well, I feel like you are someone who needs no introduction, but I’m going to have you introduce yourself anyways, so tell everyone a little bit about you and what brings you to our conversation today.
00:01:45 – Julia Campbell
Yes, well, I’m not a household name yet, but that’s very nice of you. So I have been running my own business since 2010. Previous to that, I studied journalism. I served in the US. Peace Corps. I was in Senegal, a country in West Africa, for two and a half years. And then I came home and I was a director of development and often a director of development and marketing and often other things all duties as assigned. So I cut my teeth in nonprofits and really discovered a love for fundraising, a love for storytelling and marketing and writing. I mean, that’s really kind of my passion. So right now, I work one on one with some clients. We do a lot of digital marketing strategy and campaigns. We do social media audits, recommendations and reports. I’ve actually just started a new service that people have been asking me for onboarding a new marketing manager. Onboarding a new social media manager or intern, helping them get their feet wet, figure out where to best prioritize their time, and then also for their supervisor or their team members to help them understand the real work of digital marketing or social media digital fundraising. I speak at a lot of conferences. I know that’s how we met Mallory at the industry conferences. And I run several online courses a year where I teach nonprofits, the best digital strategies. So I’m just really excited. I love podcasting. I think it’s a fantastic medium to really get to know someone because you’re in their earbuds, they can hear you speaking, they can tell if you have lots of energy, if you’re really passionate about the topic. So I also have a podcast, Nonprofit Nation, and I know we have you scheduled Mallory beyond there. So really excited for that conversation too.
00:03:42 – Mallory Erickson
Thank you. And thanks for sharing all of your background. And I love what you just said about your new offering in terms of helping people on board, social media managers. And a lot has changed since I was inside an organization and social media was quite different then. I’m curious so that I don’t make any assumptions too. What are some of the biggest misunderstandings about nonprofit social media?
00:04:08 – Julia Campbell
A lot of organizations, I think it’s a little similar to fundraising. They think they can just hire someone and kind of put them away in a corner and never speak to them again and they’re going to make magic on social media, which is not the case at all. You really need the buy in. I was going to actually say this interesting boots on the ground. But then I just read an article that that’s one of the phrases of the year that you’re not supposed to say because it evokes like military context and things like that. So it’s interesting how language has changed as well, but it’s actually the people that are doing the work, delivering the services, and whether you’re an academic institution or arts organization or whether you are actually serving meals and helping people experiencing homelessness. So as a social media or a marketing person or fundraising person, often all the same person, you need that context and those stories, not necessarily with names and faces and identifying details. And it’s not like you’re taking your phone out and videotaping a support group, but you do need the buy in from other staff. And I think the myth comes that you’re going to hire someone and they’re going to take all of this off your plate for you. But it really needs to be baked into the strategic plan of the organization. It needs to be baked into the marketing and communications plan. It needs to be baked into the fundraising plan because this is your face out into the world. This might be the first thing that a donor sees as a Facebook post or a TikTok video or an Instagram reel that piques their curiosity and gets them interested and grabs their attention and helps them want to learn more. You have to be sure that everyone is on the same page and that the social media content you’re putting out there and creating and working so hard on is helping you advance your goals strategically. So I think that’s the first myth is that it can be done in a vacuum. It can be done in a silo, it can be you hire someone, an intern, and never speak to them again. And I see this often when clients come to me and they’ve worked with an outside agency. And there’s nothing wrong with working with an outside agency, but you can’t expect them to have their finger on the pulse of your cause. Or if you’re a little local community organization, you can’t expect an agency that you’re outsourcing content to, to understand necessarily your community, your donors, your clients, your particular stakeholders. So you really need to be working in a partnership with this kind of agency. And I think another myth is people really bought the snake oil that was being sold in the early 2000s, mid 2000s. Set up a Facebook page and donations will roll in. Or set up the donate button or set up an Instagram account, set up a LinkedIn account, no matter what it is, YouTube. And you’ll get all this free traffic, you’ll get all this free attention and free reach and free engagement. And what we’re seeing now is that it really is functioning in this kind of pay to play environment. So if you have spent years building a community and engaging your community, it’s getting harder and harder to maintain that momentum that you had previously just simply because of numbers. There’s more people, there’s more pages, there are more ads, there’s more content on these platforms, but also because it is increasingly getting to be kind of pay to play. So I think that’s probably the second biggest myth is that you can hire a social media intern, put them off in the corner, don’t give them any budget or support, and then somehow you’re going to be getting 10,000 views on your YouTube videos. And as we know, that’s not the case.
00:07:57 – Mallory Erickson
Okay, there are so many questions I want to ask you about sort of channels and priorities and all those things. But before we go there, can we talk about the type of content that draws people in? Because what was really interesting about what you were saying is a lot of the assumptions we make around being able to be passive in our social media and that things are just going to start coming to us. But social media to me is like this weird thing where I think I’m personally getting a little bit better at engagement on social media in terms of.
00:08:30 – Julia Campbell
Like, oh, your real are great, you do a great job on Instagram, everyone follow Mallory.
00:08:38 – Mallory Erickson
But I mean, in terms of back and forth, even in the comments or things like that, for me, sometimes it felt uncomfortable just like feeling like communication was just going this one way into an abyss and I wasn’t sure. And so I’ve had to think a lot for my own business, okay, what type of content do I put out there that feels good to me and can also draw people in to create some of that back and forth so tell me, for nonprofits, what type of content is magnetic for donors?
00:09:07 – Julia Campbell
It really does depend on your particular cause and issue area and also your target audience and what you’re comfortable with. So I think an example I’ll give is PETA People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Now if you look at their social media content, it’s very provocative and polarizing and graphic. There are pictures of naked people pouring blood on themselves. They often get banned because that’s what excites and mobilizes and energizes their particular audience. But then you look at a different organization with a very similar mission, best Friends Animal Society. They do not share a single photo of an abused animal. They usually share photos of animals they’ve rescued, happy stories of animals being adopted. It’s just a different way to work on the same issue because they have a different audience, they have a different brand message, they have a different way of communicating and way of talking to their particular donors and their supporters. So it’s up to you. I mean, if you look at a lot of the advocacy organizations, it’s very provocative. It’s getting people angry. It’s getting people to understand that there is injustice and inequality and this is what we need to be doing about it. But then there are some organizations where it’s really just very dry, very academic, and that’s what their audience responds to. So you have to figure out, first of all, your brand voice. And then secondly, what type of content is resonating right now because it changes all the time. So if you think about even five years ago, used to be live video was the thing. And if you remember, even during the Pandemic, when we were in lockdown, 2020, 2021, live video on Facebook was exploding. Instagram live. YouTube live. LinkedIn live. Actually, LinkedIn Live is still kind of growing. That’s the only live video that I’ve seen that is maintaining its momentum since the Pandemic. But if you do a Facebook Live now, I don’t know if it’s because it’s not the shiny new tool that Facebook wants to promote anymore because now they’re all obsessed with stories and obsessed with Instagram reels. But if you post a live or you go live now, it’s not going to get nearly the engagement or it’s not going to beat the algorithm the way that it used to. So I can go over them really quickly, but I teach four pillars of social media management. First pillar, research and listening, which is understanding your audience, defining your brand voice, figuring out what kinds of content really resonates and what works, and then also just listening to other voices in the field, in your industry, in your community. The second pillar is that content creation and curation. So curating like you would if you were a museum curator, you’re not going to paint all of the Impressionist paintings, but you’re going to curate some of the best Impressionist paintings that you can find and then give it context and narrative. And then of course, content creation, which is definitely the biggest pillar. I mean, you’re going to spend the most time writing captions, creating graphics and videos. And then the third pillar is what you were talking about is community management. So you cannot just post and leave. You actually have to respond to questions and comments. Clean up all that spam and all that garbage that unfortunately will. If something goes viral or something gets popular, you’re going to get a lot of spam comments. But clean all of that up and just really show that you’re a human and you’re not a bot. Posting on these accounts. Like, answer these questions personally if something goes negative or kind of goes off the rails a little bit. Direct people to your DMs, give them your email, but don’t ignore something because it could definitely bubble up and go haywire before you recognize that it’s happening. But community management is where nonprofits get tripped up because they just want to post and leave. And then the fourth pillar is measurement and analysis. So this really could be half an hour, a week, depending on how many channels you are on, but making sure you’re just looking at what you’re doing and tweaking and improving and saying things like, oh, we used to do a milestone Monday, every Monday at noon, and it would get this much reach, but now it’s stagnating. Why is that? What could we do that could change it up? Or looking at how videos are doing or reels, looking at new channels that you’re on. Maybe you want to get rid of old channels. Maybe it’s time to leave Twitter. Maybe it’s time to explore LinkedIn, whatever it might be. So just really being analytical and intentional. And that’s the message that I want to convey with any kind of marketing, any kind of digital that you’re doing. Be proactive instead of just reactive and be intentional. And that’s really going to help you do this. Less is more quality over quantity mindset that I always try to teach because you’ll find it’s impossible to be everywhere at once, and it’s impossible to do every single channel really well without a team of ten people, which I know so many of us don’t have. The majority of nonprofits don’t even have one person working on this full time.
00:14:24 – Mallory Erickson
Wow, I love all of that advice. And that has been something that has been really helpful for me in my social media journey, was like being really clear from the beginning of where I was not going to be. And so even on Twitter, I have a Twitter profile, but it says at the very top, like, I don’t hang out here, go here, here.
00:14:44 – Julia Campbell
I had to leave. It was very sad to break up with Twitter. It was one of the saddest breakups I’ve had. But I had to break it off. This wasn’t a healthy relationship for me anymore.
00:14:56 – Mallory Erickson
Yeah. And what a smart way to put that for people to think about. Like, at one point was serving you, your organization felt good, but when it’s not working anymore, you don’t have to just stay committed to that lane, to that stream, to that area, because you’ve been there historically.
00:15:15 – Julia Campbell
Oh, this is always what happens is we have these sunk costs that we convince ourselves. We’ve been on Twitter. Gosh, I got on Twitter in 2006. I remember I was living in Virginia, and my husband and I just got married, so it must have been 2006. And I remember a friend texting me, and we both thought it was the dumbest thing ever, because at that point, you literally could just text. It wasn’t a whole what it is now. We just thought it was hilarious. And so we set up accounts and kind of the rest is history. And I’ve had met fabulous people on the platform and heard about fantastic things and really enjoyed it. But it is like you said, once you see maybe this is just not working anymore. Maybe we’re spending so much time and resources here, but it might be best to transition somewhere else. Or even if it’s just taking some time off, there’s no reason why you can’t just take some time off. It is harder to build momentum once you get back. But it’s like anything else. If you have an injury, if you have a medical diagnosis, you take some time off, you recuperate, and then you get back on as much as you can. So the stress that nonprofit communications people feel of constantly having to feed the beast and then create fun, fresh, new content and be on all the platforms, really just focusing on one or two platforms and doing them really well, that can serve you so much more than spreading yourself completely thin over ten different platforms.
00:16:44 – Mallory Erickson
Yeah. Okay. Such good advice. And I’m curious, how do you talk about or think about the intersection of how we manage our social media pages or accounts and how we deal with perfectionism?
00:16:58 – Julia Campbell
It’s completely linked. Now, I have worked with a client that would not post on Instagram. First of all, there was like, death by Committee, so it would be one Instagram post. Would have to go through about five people and have to have the logo in this perfect place and have to have all the colors. Now, there’s something to be said for branding and looking professional, but there’s also something to be said about just getting it done. Like, done is better than perfect. And I think perfectionism holds a lot of people in this industry up because we are ambitious, we take initiative. We want it to look the best that it can be. Because when you work at a nonprofit, a lot of times it’s a reflection of you and your values and what you stand for and what you believe in. Now, I don’t know if you watch Severance, but I was thinking of Severance. If you haven’t watched this on Apple TV, it’s amazing. I’m not done with it yet, so I just started it, actually. But there’s a procedure that you can get where you can sever your memories. So you’re a completely different person at home and a completely different person at work. So you’re like two people, and neither one of those people remembers the other person’s memories. And I was thinking that would never work in nonprofits, because your personality, your work life is so intertwined with who you are and what you stand for and what you believe in. So it absolutely would not work. And that leads into this perfectionism that we have on everything that we do. So for me, it took me a long time, but I really just had to get over perfectionism. I think it might just be getting older. It might be being a mom. I don’t know. It might be running my own business and realizing I cannot wait for everything to be perfect. Because first of all, we’ll obviously never be. But secondly, oftentimes when things are a little rough around the edges, they’re a little authentic, they’re a little raw, that’s the kind of content that really resonates. And I just think of the pandemic. I think of 2020, some of the best content that I saw, executive directors just talking from their living rooms. What’s next? What are we scared of? What are we hopeful for? What’s going on? Just being our real selves and talking about what scares us, talking about us, what keeps us up at night, but then talking about what’s inspiring and what’s hopeful. That kind of content is really perfect. And I think I know that perfectionism holds a lot of people back from that. And also probably imposter syndrome. So we talk about all of the things, and I’m not an expert. I just know I’ve gone through them all. And I don’t know if you look at jaya Kunzo is one of my favorite authors. He has an amazing podcast called Unthinkable, and he calls them Maker monsters. So you have these maker monsters whenever you’re creating or making something, and one is perfectionism, one is impostor syndrome. It’s not like you ever defeat them. You just have to look at them and recognize them and say, you’re not going to get me today.
00:20:00 – Mallory Erickson
I love that connection. I’ve never heard that before. But it makes perfect sense. And the perfectionism piece with social media, I mean, to your point, I feel like and I was reading an article I don’t do a lot of research on social media, but I read an article posted by somebody around the reason why TikTok started to explode was the more organic realness that people were feeling from those videos.
00:20:25 – Julia Campbell
Let’s not be fooled. Those influencers, they spend hours making the perfect TikTok video. Okay? Like, I have a friend who is technically influencer in the queer space. And she said she spends 2 hours every day making the perfect TikTok video. That’s what she does. That’s where she makes her money and that’s what she likes to do. And that’s great. So some of those videos, really, they do take a lot of time. But I agree with you. Now that trend of I’m not filtered, it’s not like this perfect filter. It’s just me. Maybe the lighting is not perfect. Maybe I’m outside and it’s really me. It’s not a bot, it’s not anything else. So I think the trend is there and it’s people in their house. But if you look at the other, like some of the social media apps that are coming up in popularity, one is called Be Real and Be Real. I’m on it. I don’t really it’s certainly not for me, for my age group, but my daughter was on it. Anytime she’s on something, I like to be on it. So you have two minutes. Your notification goes off. You’ve got two minutes to take a video or take a picture. And it used to be that you couldn’t take another one. Now you can, which is kind of disappointing. So it used to be that you just had to take whatever was happening, like whatever was around you, and post it, and then you could see your friend’s content. And I really like that because it was just very real. I mean, it’s obviously real. You can’t stage the perfect picture in two minutes and you never know when the notification is going to go off. So I do think things like that are going to increase in popularity because of this constant nature of us just thinking, oh my gosh, that looks so staged, or that looks fake. We really want that real content. And that’s where nonprofits can thrive. We can thrive in that off the cuff, raw, scrappy content that looks real because it is real.
00:22:19 – Mallory Erickson
Okay, so I love that we’re talking about this because it’s leading me to think a little bit around the challenge of visibility or the fears that come from visibility. And before I started my business, I knew I needed a coach. And I was really trying to think about what are my biggest fears or concerns, what do I feel like I need the most support around when it comes to starting this business? And for me, it was 100% visibility. I had spent my life in the nonprofit sector, being the number two, the managing director, or an executive director to a really strong board chair because I hated being the center of attention, I hated being the speaker, I hated being the face of things. And I felt so uncomfortable. I mean, the idea of me clicking record on my camera and sending it out to the virtual universe, it would have sent me like, hiding under my blanket.
00:23:12 – Julia Campbell
I think a lot of people can relate to that.
00:23:14 – Mallory Erickson
Yeah. And so I was like, okay, I know I need a visibility coach. Like, I need someone who can help me work through this fear of being visible and not just being visible, but then maybe having someone not like you or like your comments or getting a negative comment on your post. So how do you talk to organizations about that? Maybe if they’re going from not having posted a lot or having a situation where five people need to look through something so that maybe there’s some group bonding. If somebody writes something negative, how do you help them work through some of those fears?
00:23:47 – Julia Campbell
Well, I always say that if you’re not getting any negative feedback at all, then no one’s paying attention, and that’s just real. So if I send out an email actually, I haven’t really been very political lately, so that’s probably my fault. But if I send an email out, I can usually expect maybe like ten replies that are like, this is amazing, this is great, and then one or two that would be I’m unsubscribing immediately because of XYZ. And it’s always those people that you think about that literally keep you up at night. Not the 20 people that said, this was the best podcast episode ever, or this was the best email ever. You’re always going to think about that evaluation that you got on a speaking gig where the one person was like, this was not helpful, and everyone else gave you straight A’s. And that’s just the nature of putting yourself out there. So to my clients, you have to be true to your voice and your brand, but you also have to really be willing to take a stand for what you believe in and understand that no matter what it is, someone is opposed to it. Someone is opposed to giving children free lunch at school, as I found out, because I’m on the school committee. And you would be shocked that people were actually opposed to giving universal free lunch. Someone is opposed to your arts organization existing because the funding should go somewhere else. Someone is opposed to the local museum having their 100th anniversary because of Exponents. Someone’s going to be opposed to it. So we can’t take that personally. What we can do is look at it and acknowledge that you’re hearing this. But also you just can’t get completely wrapped up in the negative comments, especially if you’re dealing with something that’s polarizing or controversial. Like, I work with Nagley and that is the New England Gay and Lesbian Youth Association and of course they get a lot of, unfortunately, bigoted and offensive and just very ignorant remarks on their social media. You have to figure out your policy for what are we going to try to acknowledge? And then what is just completely not part of something we’re going to even deal with so offensive? A swear, harassment, bullying, targeting people. There’s like a list of things that you can come up with that you can say we are 100% not accepting acknowledging this, we’re going to delete and block. But then if there’s some legitimate questions that you see are coming in, creating policies and procedures for how you’re going to acknowledge them. So visibility is a really challenging thing. But if you’re in marketing, you’ve got to find someone in the organization that wants to be or is capable of being the face of your organization. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t need to be. You could be your executive director. Maybe it’s a board chair, maybe it’s a program director, maybe it’s a volunteer. But there has to be someone that is they don’t even have to be super comfortable on camera sometimes some of the best videos I’ve seen are people saying like, hey, I had to get this out here, I had to talk about this. It’s just something I had to talk about. Here’s my list of talking points. But people respond to people and your emails need to be from a person. I always say that rather than just love the organization because that’s not really going to make me feel very warm and fuzzy when I get that email. I need to think that someone is talking to me, someone understands me, someone is writing to me. The other thing is you just have to do it. I need to do more video personally. I know that I do it’s a problem because I do the hair and the makeup and all the stuff and look presentable and they have the lighting which actually I don’t even necessarily really do a lot of anymore because to the point where it’s a roadblock holding me up. It’s that perfectionism holding me up. But that is the kind of content that’s going to really help your audience connect with your organization and your cause. It’s video, it’s talking to people. Maybe if you’re uncomfortable, maybe podcasting, if you don’t want to be seen a podcast or clubhouse or some kind of audio feed. There’s Twitter rooms, there’s all sorts of audio that you can do. You can put audio on YouTube. So maybe just starting with that and then expanding out into being a little bit more visible with video. But I think getting a coach is a great idea. Or just reading a lot of books, listening to a lot of podcasts. When Instagram stories first started, I remember just watching them like hours or just watch them and I would kind of take notes and see like, oh, that worked, that doesn’t work. Or this is a good idea that I had and just learning and absorbing that information and then making it work for you and whatever style works for you.
00:28:38 – Mallory Erickson
Yeah, I love that. And I would say for me it’s been important as I’ve been growing around my relationship to social media to play, to see what felt good to me and then what felt good to. My folks, I don’t even really look at the likes. I look at the saves. My goal is that this content is valuable to you, and nothing tells me it was valuable. Like, you saving it, right? Like you thinking that you want to come back and revisit it later to remind you of something. And so I think it’s also like figuring out, okay, how can you play? How can you learn? And then when I have one that didn’t resonate with folks, I’m like, okay, that’s really good information.
00:29:18 – Julia Campbell
It’s learning why that is.
00:29:19 – Mallory Erickson
Yeah, totally. So I love all that advice.
00:29:23 – Julia Campbell
It’s sort of how you would do a fundraising appeal. You write however many emails for your end, hopefully more than one, maybe a series of year end emails, and you see what subject line works, what did people click on, what topics worked, what stories worked, what email raised the most money in one day, what got us the most new donors? We do such analytical work around fundraising, but we do not do this analytical work around social media because it’s so much harder to quantify. But still, if our goal is visibility and reach and attracting new audiences and being relevant to younger generations, which all of my clients have said, then the old ways, you can use the old ways, but you need to incorporate some of the newer ways. But you do need to do it in an intentional way. And I love that. I wouldn’t get hung up on the likes because who knows what was in the news that day? I mean, every day is an onslaught. As we’re filming this in the last three days, were there like three different mass shootings? It’s insane. So you have to take it kind of with a grain of salt. Like if you posted and then that headline happened, then there’s nothing you can do. There are forces beyond your control that you have to recognize. But if something really does resonate, then I would learn from it and adapt it and see what else you can create. Like that.
00:30:39 – Mallory Erickson
Okay, I have kind of a weird question, so I’m going to see if I can make my way to I.
00:30:44 – Julia Campbell
Bet it’s not weird.
00:30:45 – Mallory Erickson
No. Okay, well, here it comes. So what’s interesting, I remember when I first set up my Instagram for my business, I was like, I feel like I need one social media channel to sort of validate that I’m a real human. Because I found that when I was deciding if I wanted to work with people, I would try to find one social media channel to just see that, okay, they were real.
00:31:06 – Julia Campbell
And there was they’re an actual person.
00:31:08 – Mallory Erickson
They’re an actual person. Some people are following them and engaging with their content that their sort of identity on a social media platform matched what I saw on their website, basically. And so I was like, okay, I need social media as like one validation tool. And I remember saying to my husband, okay, I got this new system for tracking how people came into me to work with one on one. And I remember putting in Instagram and all these things, and I told my husband, I said, okay, I’m going to do this for a year. I’m going to find out how people come into my business. And if nobody is coming in through Instagram, I’m going to close social media because it doesn’t feel like, super good to me all the time. And I just was grappling with my relationship with social media. So year goes by, I look at the metrics, and 85% of my business for one on one work is coming in through social media. Now, what’s super interesting is there’s no way I would have known that based on the engagement. Like, it wasn’t happening in my DMs, it wasn’t happening directly after I posted certain things, but it was like in the back of the mind of folks who were then getting these other forms of communication. And it obviously played a huge role since that was how they even identified their relationship to me in making the decision to want to work with me one on one. So I feel like there’s a long story to ask. I feel like in nonprofit we have these expectations around the ROI of social media. Like we need to see it. We posted that thing, we have that campaign just in our bio, and we don’t see the traffic or the traction that we want. And so we’re like, oh, social media doesn’t help us fundraiser, social media doesn’t help us do blank, but it does, we just can’t see or touch it. So can you talk to me about that a little bit?
00:32:57 – Julia Campbell
Oh, absolutely. It’s part of Discoverability and what we’re seeing now is that social media, it’s less about connecting with people, you know, and it’s more about discovering things. So if you think about ways people use TikTok, yeah, you might follow some of your friends on TikTok, but the For You feed is going to serve you things that you have not heard about. It’s all about exploring new things and finding new people to follow Instagram as well. Instagram is basically a search engine at this point. You’re going to follow other people and then they’re going to lead you kind of down a rabbit hole for other people. If you look at YouTube, it’s the number two search engine owned by the number one search engine, LinkedIn. I’ve used LinkedIn as a search engine tool as well, and I don’t think I’ve connected with a single well, friends. Now we’re friends, obviously, but I mean, friends like a high school friend I wouldn’t connect with on LinkedIn. So we are seeing people using this much more in their professional capacities and also for exploring discovering new things and connecting with causes and brands and influencers that they care about, like social media when we talk about it. I still think nonprofits think it’s like a thing that’s like in a box, but it’s ubiquitous. It’s like electricity. I mean, it’s changed the way we communicate and the way we look for things and the way we express ourselves, and it’s changed our daily lives. I mean, we can have a whole discussion about for better or for worse because we know there are a lot of bad results that have come from the proliferation of social media tools, especially amongst teen girls. I have a 13 year old girl, so trying to be very cognizant of that. But we can’t deny the fact that it’s completely ubiquitous and in our daily life and the way that we do things, like just the way that we look for information and connect with things. And I love what you said about validation because I completely agree with that. And I know entire nonprofits I just had isha hess. She formed the Black Girl Collective in California, and she formed it on Instagram. It was an idea she had. She didn’t put any money behind it. She’s just going to test it. And I think it’s a great way to experiment and test out these kinds of ideas. And then it just kind of took off. And then she decided, okay, I’m going to get my 501 C three, I’m going to make this all official, because she’d built this amazing community on Instagram. Now, not a single person had donated at that point, but it validated her idea, and it really encouraged her to run a fundraiser and ask for money and run events. So if we think about the way people use the tools, it is part of that validation process. And if you look at your website now, your website might not be bringing in a ton of donations, but of course you’re going to have a website. Like, it might be email and events and appeal letters for you. You’re still going to have a website. It’s a way for people to think that you are a real live organization that’s legit. I say having at least one or two, depending on who your audience is and where they are, is very important for that validation process or very important for that top of mind. Because right now what we know is you need multiple touch points with people. I think about some of the coaches I’ve worked with or online courses I’ve taken or Masterminds I’ve invested in. I probably follow those people for a year, email, read their blog, listen to their podcast, would get email. I am not very impulsive with these big purchases because I just want to sort of get a feel for the person. And it’s all part of that ecosystem of getting to know your cause, getting to know your brand, getting to know that you are not necessarily legitimate, but getting a feel that you’re in the right place. I’m with like, minded people. I’m with a community of like minded people building a movement that I really believe in. So it’s all a piece of the puzzle. I think we can’t really separate out the pieces.
00:37:00 – Mallory Erickson
Okay, that’s such good advice, and it’s making me wonder. So we talked about the organization that has to go through four or five layers of appeal to get something on social media. But I also think about the organization where maybe there’s a lot more oversight in their email newsletter or in their events or in their appeals. And social media actually is one of the places they can sort of play and don’t have to go through that same process. How does an organization make sure that there is brand consistency when we talked about that perfectionist piece before, if they’re able to have their social media be more organic and human and transparent, how do they still maintain brand consistency with those other marketing fundraising elements that perhaps are more curated?
00:37:50 – Julia Campbell
Definitely having style guide in place, whether it’s two pages or 20 pages. And I’m not talking about pantone colors, although you can go that route. Pantone colors, fonts and all of that. I’m really talking about style. Like we talk in the first person on Instagram or we talk in the third person or these are our rules and regulations around sharing any kind of identifying information about our clients. Maybe we don’t share information about our staff. I know a couple of organizations that don’t because they work in domestic violence and they are concerned for their staff member safety. So some staff members don’t want to be identified online. So having those style guide. The other thing is that what we know now is a lot of this content can be created in an evergreen way. And you were just saying some of your most successful posts people have saved. Well, any nonprofit right now could go create probably a month’s worth of content that’s evergreen. You’re just answering frequently asked questions. You’re talking about statistics and data. You’re talking about a story that could have happened a few years ago, but it’s still very representative of you and what you represent and the impact that you’re having. So you do need some white space. I don’t recommend scheduling out all of your content for even two months because like I said before, something could happen in the news and you want to pull it out. Make sure that if it’s scheduled, make sure you’re checking on it every single day to make sure it’s appropriate for what’s going on in the world. But you can create these kinds of pieces of content that are evergreen and will never go stale. So have those pillar pieces of content that you’re creating and then have white space for the spontaneous the in the moment. Maybe there’s a snowstorm and you want to take a little Instagram story about the snow or the weather or whatever’s going on. So definitely have some room for that. Now, the whole thing about getting a piece of content approved by five people, there’s definitely a way to streamline this. And this is the challenge that social media managers have, is not only to get respect for the work that they do, it’s to get buy in from everyone else. So I think that whole thing is just there’s something broken in the organization in terms of a lack of trust, if every time you post on Instagram, it has to go through five people. So trying to figure out, how much content can I create ahead of time, get it approved, maybe have a once a month digital marketing meeting. We’re going to talk about the content for the month. We’re going to talk about our priorities. We’re going to talk about some of the things that we can create. We’re going to create as much of it as we can, and then we’re going to give the discretion to the social media manager to choose what’s going to work best, to create it and post it and then report back to us. So I think the email newsletter, that might be a little different depending on who is writing it. But still, I really don’t think that a lot of this should be taking ten people to approve it. Certainly, if you’ve got ten people creating content and sharing content, that’s fantastic. But the approval process, I think it’s just a lack of a lot of people understanding the work that’s entailed. And then the social media manager maybe not feeling like they have the authority to speak up for themselves and stick up for their work. And that’s a challenge, too.
00:41:09 – Mallory Erickson
Okay. That’s such good advice. And I’m curious. I know you talk a lot about ethical storytelling, and I work with a number of clients who have a number of organizations inside Power Partners, where they do need to protect the identity of all of the folks that they work with, both in terms of physical identification, so they could never have a video of someone full name as well. What are some ways that we can share stories that feel real and human and are still in that ethical storytelling space?
00:41:43 – Julia Campbell
There are a lot of examples. I like to share examples from two specific organizations. One is called Amira. Amirah. And on Instagram and Facebook, they do something called Milestone Monday, and it’s from the staff perspective. So we’re celebrating a client who is three months sober. We’re celebrating a client who just found a new apartment, and then it’s a little bit of the details about the story to give it that flavor and that emotional connection. I mean, they use stock photography, but they’re not using these cheesy stock photography. It’s like almost they must go out and have a photographer do these photos. They’re beautiful photos, and they don’t look like Google Images, but there’s no faces. There’s no images. And even if it is it’s not the client, it’s not the actual person that they’re featuring. So having someone tell a story third person is really effective. You could also have a person write a quote or give a quote and then not share the name. So we cannot escape the fact, like, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, that the most compelling kind of story is someone sharing their personal story on video. That’s just reality of humans. But the other reality is a lot of organizations can’t share those kinds of stories. So we do need to still get those elements of conflict and a character. And there doesn’t necessarily have to be a resolution, but there has to be some kind of connection to the work that you’re doing and demonstrating a need and showing impact. And I really don’t want anyone to think that the stories have to be wrapped in a bow, because what life is ever wrapped in a bow at the end of a story or suffering a trauma or going through a horrific experience? So even these little just mission moments, quotes and details. And I know another organization is called Plumber Youth Promise Plummer, and they serve children in foster care, so actual minors, and they cannot share any details, but it’s always from the desk of the executive director. And he’ll say, I overheard a great conversation in the support group the other day, and he won’t allude to any particular person saying it, but he just will talk about the conversation and what it meant and things that he’s seen. It’s sort of like, really from his perspective. And one more example. The Night Ministry in Chicago. Oh, my gosh, that email newsletter is one of my favorites. Same thing. It’s the executive director sharing stories from his perspective and talking about what he’s observed and talking about some of the amazing things his staff has done. So it’s incorporating storytelling, but it’s a newsletter that I actually really look forward to getting. He’s also a fantastic writer, but you can certainly preserve the integrity and dignity of your clients while sharing or maybe weaving together several different stories and presenting it that way. Just always being truthful in your storytelling and saying, this is what I observed, or this is what I thought, or this is what I heard. Not necessarily putting words into someone else’s mouth unless it is a direct quote.
00:44:55 – Mallory Erickson
Okay, thank you. Thank you for all of that. Before we wrap up, is there any question I haven’t asked you that you were hoping I was going to ask you?
00:45:05 – Julia Campbell
No, I don’t think so. No. I love these questions. They are really important. I usually get asked, what do you think is the biggest social media platform for nonprofits? But I always push back on that question because you have to understand where your audience is and what you’re trying to achieve. So TikTok might be right for you if you’re trying to reach a younger audience. If you have a lot of video content that you can share, LinkedIn might be right for you if you’re reaching foundations and grantors and major donors. So that’s usually a question that I do get, and I always push back on it, but I think these questions were fantastic.
00:45:42 – Mallory Erickson
Thank you. Okay. Where should people go to learn more about you, to connect with you, and to find out about the different services you brought up at the beginning?
00:45:51 – Julia Campbell
Yay. Well, if you’re listening to this podcast, just go wherever you’re listening. My podcast is called Nonprofitnation. It’s pod link nonprofitnation. You can find me there. My website with all of the information about courses, services, speaking, is jcsocialmarketing.com.
00:46:13 – Mallory Erickson
Amazing. Thank you so much for joining me for this conversation today.
00:46:17 – Julia Campbell
00:46:24 – Mallory Erickson
All right, there is so much inside this episode, but here are some of my top takeaways. Number one the type of content you create depends on your cause, your target audience, and what you’re comfortable with. Number two, there are four pillars of social media management research and listening, content creation and curation, community management, and measurement and analysis. Number three content doesn’t have to be perfect. Oftentimes the best content is the most raw, real, and authentic. Remember 2020, when founders were posting from their living rooms? The content should be about connecting your donors or prospective donors to you. Authentically. Number four if you’re not getting any negative feedback at all, then nobody’s paying attention when it comes to dealing with negative comments. Define your policy for which comments you will acknowledge and which you’ll ignore, delete, or block. Number five, regardless of whether social media gives you a good ROI or not, you need to have a social media presence because you need multiple touch points with people. And sometimes we can’t always know the actual ROI that certain social media platforms are providing. Number six you can’t hire a social media manager or agency and expect them to make magic without the nonprofit’s guidance and feedback. Social media managers need context stories and buy in from other staff to be successful. Okay, for additional takeaways and tips inside this episode, head on over to malloryerickson.com/podcast to grab the full show notes and resources now. You’ll also find more information there about Julia and our amazing sponsors. Givebutter thank you for spending this time with us today. If you enjoyed this episode, we would love it if you would give it a rating and review and share it with a friend. I’m so grateful for all of my listeners and the good, hard work you’re doing to make our world a better place. And if you miss me between episodes, stop by and say hello on Instagram. @whatthefundraising_ Have a great day, and I’ll see you tomorrow for the next episode in this amazing miniseries with Givebutter.