Getting Noticed on #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is a powerful swell of support for philanthropy across the world. With over 1.5 million gifts given last year, it’s clear donors are paying attention. Make sure your content helps your mission stand out on Giving Tuesday!

Check out our video below for three tips for outstanding #GivingTuesday content, even with the smallest of budgets.

Do you need help planning your biggest #GivingTuesday yet? …or launching your first? No one has planned and launched more online giving days that Groundwork Digital. Fill out your contact info below and we’ll get back to you with a free, 30-minute #GivingTuesday consultation.

HOW TO Make Content Go Viral with Great Headlines

The key to attracting viewers to your content is, well, mostly just producing good content. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few tricks to help drive eyeballs to your blog posts, videos, and photo galleries. And one of those tricks is all about ingenious headline writing.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Check out this awesome infographic on how Upworthy has become so successful in such a short amount of time. The infographic lays out the thought process behind what constitutes an engaging, eye-catching, traffic-driving headline.

Upworth Infograhic

Did you like that infograhic? There’s a lot more where that came from… Check out this list of the 10 best infographics of 2014. But fair warning, this top 10 list is an enormously awesome time suck (and worth every second!)

The Author of this post – Justin Ware is the Director of Interactive Communication at BWF_social where he helps clients develop online and social media strategies.

How the Dalai Lama Helped Santa Clara University Prove Social Media ROI

When you’re selling shoes, the metric to prove social media ROI is relatively easy. Ultimately, it boils down to …how many shoes you’ve sold. (A lot of quantifiable engagement metrics lead to that end result, but ultimately, shoe sales trump all else).

Using the #DalaiLamaSCU hashtag, Santa Clara's social media team arranged an amazing online event around His Holiness' visit to campus.

Using the #DalaiLamaSCU hashtag, Santa Clara’s social media team arranged an amazing online event around His Holiness’ visit to campus.

For many of us working in the nonprofit world – higher education, in particular – there is no sale-of-shoes metric that easily tells us what’s working and what’s not. Sure, there’s fundraising, event attendance, number of applicants, and other quantifiable objectives, but there’s also the far less tangible goals of improving the reputation of and sentiment toward your institution. At a very high level, those are the goals Santa Clara University’s marketing and communication pros are chasing and – thanks, in part, to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama – SCU (a BWF client) has an excellent case study on how to prove the value of a strong social media strategy.

“Santa Clara University is the Jesuit University in Silicon Valley and the theme of the talk ‘Business, Ethics and Compassion’ played into much of our key messaging,” said Marika Krause, Assistant Director of Media Relations at SCU.

On February 24, the Dalai Lama spoke to about 5,000 people on the Santa Clara campus, providing SCU with a daunting challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity.

Ultimately, SCU’s MarComm team is working to drive home the institution’s strategic priorities which include excellence in Jesuit education, the promotion of global understanding, justice, academic community, and engagement with Silicon Valley (where SCU is located). For nearly two years, Santa Clara’s communication pros have been building and implementing a strong social media strategy and presence. So when the Dalai Lama visit was announced for late winter, the SCU MarComm team knew they had an opportunity to make big things happen online.

“He is one of the biggest names to visit SCU,” said Stephanie Bravo, Assistant Director of Social Media. “His message of peace, compassion, and social justice naturally fit with SCU’s message.”

Bravo says, in addition to the strategic priorities, her team’s goals also include growing SCU’s online and social media communities. Then, using those communities to clearly communicate the message and priorities of the institution.

“Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and BuzzFeed. We also used Storify to pull it all together after the event. The key to tying it all together was one unifying hashtag the we put on all the programs, press releases – even banners outside the event.” said Krause.

SCU's timely and consistent conversation management helped ensure mostly positive online discourse around the Dalai Lama's visit.

SCU’s timely and consistent conversation management helped ensure mostly positive online discourse around the Dalai Lama’s visit.

“The hashtag was the main tool that kept us organized. It kept the public informed before the event and engaged during the event. It worked so well to generate content that we were able to create photo albums from hundreds of people’s photos from the event,” said Bravo. “A team of 5 student interns were instrumental in helping me post live at the event, which led to our trending on Twitter throughout the day.”

SCU's efforts placed their event on the international stage via Twitter's "trending topics" board.

SCU’s efforts placed their event on the international stage via Twitter’s “trending topics” board.

That’s right, the relatively tiny Santa Clara University was sharing space on Twitter’s nationally trending topics list with big hitters such as Netflix and the news of Hollywood comedic legend Harold Ramis’ passing.

Again, a large contributing factor to SCU’s success, was the work put towards strategic planning since mid 2012.

“We had less than two months to pull off more than a year’s worth of logistical planning for the Dalai Lama’s visit. I’m pretty glad we’re all still standing!” said Krause. “I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise that we did so well on social media, because I think we had the groundwork in place for it to happen, but I’m grateful. Social Media is far from an exact science.”

As for advice on managing an event like this? Santa Clara Communications Director Deepa Arora offers the following…

“Be adventurous, try new things, be prepared for the unexpected. On the Live Twitter Feed during the event, some of the tweets were considered inappropriate,” said Arora. “Some students who tweeted the Dalai Lama were inviting him for a drink or asking about rumors, such as if Beyonce was in the audience. We monitored the Twitter feed, but did not delete any tweets. We had to do some hand holding to prepare senior administrators for the tone of the feed, but reminded everyone that SCU is a college campus and sometimes students say silly things. There’s no reason to turn off the Twitter feed for that.”

In the end, Santa Clara’s savviness with regards to managing internal and external forces, led to an amazingly well orchestrated event. And it wasn’t an accident. It’s the product of dedicating staff and resources to creating a sound social media strategy that’s ready for anything or, in this case, anyone.

Justin Ware is the Director of Interactive Communication at Bentz Whaley Flessner. Justin has been working with Santa Clara University since fall 2012. To learn more about Justin and his work, click here.

Facebook Ads Strategy for 2014

Facebook Ads LogoOnline communicators tend to harbor love/hate relationships with Facebook Ads. On one hand, no other form of online advertising – quite possibly no other form of advertising, period – allows a marketer to hyper target their message to the precise audience they’re looking to reach for such a small investment. In other words, Facebook Ads are efficient.

On the other hand, Facebook has changed its News Feed algorithm so that posts you make from your page that aren’t “promoted” (read: Ads you pay for) have very little chance of being seen by your fans. In other words, if you don’t have cash to spend, Facebook may no longer be a worthwhile investment of resources.

The latter, more negative, “hate” view of Facebook brought about by its recent focus on selling Ads is a gut reaction by many of us. But to ignore Facebook and its more than 1 billion users is a recipe for disaster. If you want to grow your nonprofit base while staying connected with your current supporters, Facebook is a must. So, knowing that, here are two things you can do in 2014 to make the most of the world’s leading social network:

Unlike this Facebook News Feed Ad, your Ads should be image driven and look like content a person's friend would ordinarily share.

Unlike this Facebook News Feed Ad, your Ads should be image driven and look like content a person’s friend would ordinarily share.

Content is (still) King: Facebook Ads are most effective when they’re set up to appear in a user’s News Feed. To optimize clicks and impressions, you should create content that looks like it belongs in the News Feed…

  • Images and/or video are a must.
  • Something that hooks into pop culture and the news of the day is very helpful.
  • Donor-centric is always best.

Really, all the rules that apply to good content also apply to Facebook Ads, because Facebook Ads are set up to look like content people share on a daily basis.

Leverage Online Ambassadors: As we’ve written about in the past, there is a way around Facebook’s increasingly restrictive algorithms – don’t rely solely on your page to share content about your organization. Instead, work with your online ambassadors to deliver content to their networks. Content means more when it comes from a trusted peer …which online ambassadors are to a large number of people. More importantly, Facebook’s page algorithms don’t apply to individuals. So, when online ambassadors share your content, far more people will see it. Use ambassadors to either directly post content from their profiles or share content posted on your org’s page.

Facebook is too intertwined in the daily lives of your donors to be ignored and Facebook Ads too effective to forego. Be sure when you’re making the investment in Ads, you’re doing so in a strategic, content-driven fashion to help ensure your dollars are well spent.

Justin Ware helps nonprofits develop online and social media strategies for fundraising. To connect with Justin, click here.

Instagram Metrics – Statigram Offers a Quality, Free Option

Measure, measure, measure. No social media strategy is complete without the ability to test your activity. To do so, requires access to useful and meaningful metrics. For Instagram users, a good and affordable (free) option is Statigram.

Tracking content for engagement is key to future content planning. In its simplest form, that means counting the number of likes, comments, and shares something receives. Statigram does that… (Sidenote: my dog is FAR more popular on social media than I am)

Statigram tells you which of your Instagram photos have received the most likes.

Statigram tells you which of your Instagram photos have received the most likes.

If it’s discussion you’re after, Statigram gives you that data, too…

Number of comments signal more engaging content than number of likes.

Number of comments signal more engaging content than number of likes.

Beyond the basics, Statigram digs deeper into the modifications you make to your photos. Filters are one of the reasons Instagram is so popular. Statigram organizes engagement data around your photos to paint an easy-to-read picture of which filters correlate with the most likes…

You might consider using different filters based on which ones garner the most attention.

You might consider using different filters based on which ones garner the most attention.

Similar info is available to help you understand which tags attract the most Instagram eyes…

Statigram tells you which tags are most popular overall and for your specific pictures.

Statigram tells you which tags are most popular overall and for your specific pictures.

You might also want to use Statigram for account maintenance and remove the dead beats who aren’t following you back. No reason to clog up your feed with an Instagrammer who’s not interested in what your posting (unless you REALLY like their stuff, of course)…

See who you follow, but doesn't follow you back and more...

See who you follow, but doesn’t follow you back and more…

Those are some of the most valuable data sets I’ve discovered using Statigram. I’d be curious to know …what do you find most useful in measuring Instagram activity? Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on LinkedIn by clicking here.

Learn more about how BWF helps its clients raise more money and acquire more donors by clicking here.

Twitter’s Analytics Help Guide Your Content Strategy

Twitter has now made its analytics platform open and free for all users. This is great news for nonprofit conversation managers who are trying to learn more about which content resonates with their followers.

Using Twitter’s analytics is about as simple as reading your own name. The dashboard lists each tweet and tells you how many times that tweet has been favorited, retweeted, or replied to. Most importantly, Twitter’s analytics shows a user the number of times a link they’ve posted was clicked on – whether that action happend directly from your tweet or when someone else shared the tweet doesn’t matter, the action follows the link.


There is more than one way to leverage the information from Twitter’s analytics, but one of the most obvious applications is tracking the popularity of your content. We recommend that a component of any online and social media strategy is a content sub-strategy. And that content sub-strategy should be dynamic and constantly changing based on what your audience(s) is telling you. Twitter’s analytics help show which content is most appealing to your audience …and that should directly impact your future content plans.

Wanna learn more about tracking online and social media analytics? Click here to connect with Director of Interactive Communication Justin Ware.

Smart, High-quality Content Leads to More Engaged Supporters

For years I’ve been preaching to audiences far and wide that “quality counts!” when producing online video. And for years, audiences have been pointing me toward videos that are grainy, hard to see, and even more difficult to comprehend …and those videos often earn tens of millions of YouTube views. Case in point, is the following viral sensation “Charlie Schmidt’s Keyboard Cat”:

Yes, quirky videos sometimes find their way to Internet stardom. But that doesn’t mean you should forego any investment in developing good online content – that includes written and photographic content, along with video. Because first of all, we are an increasingly savvy group of Internet content viewers who expect more thanks to several years worth of high definition videos on sites like Vimeo and YouTube, plus countless slide shows and photo galleries with breathtakingly beautiful imagery.

Beyond the allure of pretty or cool images, is the point that well-produced, high-quality content does an amazing job of telling the story of your organization and its culture …AND has the potential of going viral while accomplishing those goals. Case in point #2 is this wonderful piece from the Cleveland Clinic that (gently) leads viewers to associate empathy with the Cleveland Clinic. Take a few minutes and watch the video below. Be sure you grab a tissue or two first…

Consistently producing powerful, moving, funny, endearing, and high-quality content connects you on an emotional level to your biggest supporters. Your biggest supporters then share that content with their networks, enlisting new supporters and new donors for your organization. That’s not opinion, it’s a fact. Thanks to this amazing study from Georgetown University and Waggener Edstrom, we now know that social media is by far the #1 way supporters find out about and support new causes if those supporters are even remotely engaged online. And since more than half of America is on Facebook alone, people who are engaged online make up a strong majority of the public.

YouTube_LogoThe moral of the story? Invest in good content. Ideally, you’re able to hire someone who can lead the charge in managing daily online and social media conversation, in addition to producing quality, visual content. The best case scenario is that person can also build and lead an online and social media strategy for your organization. With how much we’re starting to learn about the value of a strong online and social media presence, having a good, well-rounded communicator on board who is also a content producer is one the best investments your organization can make when it comes to building for the future.

Justin Ware is a fundraising consultant who specializes in online and social media engagement at Bentz Whaley Flessner. To contact Justin, click here.

3 Tips for Producing Visual Facebook Content for Your Nonprofit’s Page

With the new Facebook News Feed, not having an image associated with your post means not being seen. Not being seen, means not being clicked on, and not being clicked on means EdgeRank will make it so few eyes other than your own ever experience the content you post to your organization’s Facebook page.

So, long story short, it’s important to ALWAYS include images when posting from your org’s Facebook page. The following are some tips to be sure that happens…

The new Facebook News Feed puts a major emphasis on visual content.

The new Facebook News Feed puts a major emphasis on visual content.

When blogging, include a picture – For the sake of your blog you should be doing this anyway, but it’s especially important with Facebook. For every blog post you type, include an image that’s relevant to the post. Why? When you post a link to Facebook, Facebook will search that link for images it can place as a thumbnail in the News Feed. If Facebook doesn’t find an image, then your post appears in News Feeds with only a link (if at all). At best, this creates a bland post that looks about as interesting as a status update about a person’s choice of food for lunch. Worst case scenario, the post gets discarded by EdgeRank and is never heard from again. This is true of all content – whether a blog post, web page, or otherwise – include relevant, attractive images in whatever it is you produce.

Use your phone’s camera! – Where ever you are, if you see something that’s even marginally interesting and in any way related to your organization’s mission, take a picture of it. Thanks to smart phones, we now have a camera attached to our person at all times. Use those increasingly high-quality camera phones to capture images that can be added to posts or simply uploaded to your timeline. You can always delete a photo if you don’t like it, but you can’t create one if you never snapped the picture in the first place. Communicate this message across your staff – if they see something cool happening, and it’s even remotely related to your organization’s mission, take a picture of it! Then decide later if it qualifies as good content. The point is, you need more image-driven content and nearly all of us are capable of producing that content with the phones we carry in our pockets. Provide basic photography training if resources allow, but bottom line is – help everyone who cares about your mission understand that they can all be valuable content producers, regardless of their other roles.

Share photos from other users and organizations – Don’t put all the content pressure on your team. Use the image-driven content your fans, followers, and other organizations are posting by sharing that content on your Facebook page. First things first – ALWAYS GIVE CREDIT WHEN SHARING. Now that we have that established, make sharing a common content generation practice. If you see someone in your personal networks post something that works for your organization, ask them to post it to your org’s wall. If another nonprofit posts something you think your community might appreciate, click the “share” button and add it to your wall. If you see something on Instagram, ask the user if they’d be OK with you sharing it from your org’s Facebook page. Not only does this approach give you more content, but it will help strengthen your relationship with that follower. Asking to use their photo is a an enormous pat on the back and point of pride for many online and social media users. So you’re sharing great content with your Facebook fans AND strengthening a relationship with the original producer of the content. Win-win!

Justin Ware is a fundraising consultant who specializes in online and social media engagement at Bentz Whaley Flessner. To contact Justin, click here.

3 Tips to Boost Online Fundraising – WEBINAR

On Thursday, March 14 BWF conducted a webinar that offered expanded details and advice behind what we believe are three things your nonprofit organization can do to dramatically increase your online and social media fundraising. (Yes, you CAN raise money through social media …quite a bit, if you do it right) Below is the full-length webinar that we’ve posted to the BWF YouTube channel. Below that, are the three tips. Below that is a link that leads to my LinkedIn profile, in case you’d like to talk more about increasing your online fundraising…

Three Tips for Improving Your Nonprofit’s Online Fundraising

  1. Improve your online infrastructure.
  2. Develop a comprehensive online ambassador program.
  3. Invest in (experienced) social media personnel.

Justin Ware is a fundraising consultant who specializes in online and social media engagement at Bentz Whaley Flessner. To contact Justin, click here.

Knowing Your Audience is (Still) the Key to Good Content

To produce online content that gets shared, commented on, liked, retweeted, pinned and what ever else requires knowing what your core audience likes to share, comment on, like, retweet, pin, and whatever else. This is nothing new. Producing content your audience enjoys has always required knowing a thing or two about your audience. The difference communicators now face in the modern world is this – as soon as your audience is unhappy, literally more than a billion other options are just a mouse click away. To keep eyes on your organization requires knowing exactly what your audience wants before even they know it. Your content should answer the question “what is your audience about to Google?”

SpotOn logoThe following link will take you to a guest post I did for SpotOn – an effort towards helping science educators deliver their message to a larger audience. The focus of the piece is on identifying and connecting with your audience and includes tips toward the bottom of the post…

SpotOn NYC: Telling Stories – Teaching Science Through Valuable Content

Below is the video that led to the blog post and a number of other accolades. I was part of the award-winning team that produced the video, which still stands as one of the most highly-viewed higher ed videos in the world, four years after it was produced. (1.78 million views as of 2/19/13) Above all else, I believe the success came from knowing what our audience would be looking for at exactly the time we released the video. In this case, it was scenes from an upcoming sci-fi movie …with some scientific learning baked in, of course.

For the full piece in SpotOn, click here.

Justin Ware is a fundraising consultant who specializes in online and social media engagement at Bentz Whaley Flessner. To contact Justin, click here.