Originally published in CharityVillage.com on May 29, 2012
By Claire Kerr
Originally published in CharityVillage.com on May 29, 2012
Think back ... Can you ever remember a time when you were excited to read a blog post titled: "A quarterly report from the Executive Director"? Yeah, neither can I.
If the most recent item on your nonprofit organization's blog is a media release or a link to your downloadable 2011-2010 financials, maybe it's time to shake things up a little.
You already know how important it is to produce content that tells your supporters and sponsors about the critical work you're doing and how the services you provide affect your community. Have you considered deliberately balancing that "meat and potatoes" content with more "shareable" items?
Think about the kinds of articles your friends post on Facebook or Twitter. Which headlines catch your eye? Which words or topics motivate you to click through?
When searching for blogging inspiration this summer, pull yourself out of the charitable sector headspace and remember that your audience are consumers of traditional media. The things that interest you personally in your off-hours will likely interest your supporters, community members and donors too.
Here's three inspiration themes to get you thinking creatively.
Pop culture trends
The rise of accessible internet and the popularity of social media has made it easier than ever to share pop culture moments online. When something is "big", it's hard to avoid hearing about it!
This works to your advantage. For instance, when everybody is familiar with Harry Potter, it's easy to talk about volunteerism using comparisons to the students of Hogwarts like Youth Service America did in "Harry Potter and the Spirit of Service".
If Harry Potter seems too 2011 for you, there's nothing more 2012 than The Hunger Gamesphenomenon!
"Here are some items that we would give Katniss, if we were her sponsor. Toque - This Canadian fashion staple will keep Katniss warm at night. Your head can lose up to 20 per cent of the body's heat, so the quickest and simplest thing to do to stay warm is wear a hat."
Your audience will want to know about upcoming movies books or television shows related to your organization's cause. Consider about how many television shows feature plotlines that are "ripped from the headlines".
Does your charity promote sustainable energy use, battle workplace discrimination, or campaign to stop bullying? Do you know which popular books, video games or movies discuss these themes too?
If you noticed something in The Avengers or Mad Men this month that relates to your cause, go ahead and blog about it! If you can also include associated images or video clips, all the better.
Lady Gaga, Jack Palance and Justin Bieber seem like a diverse group, but they have something in common ... They've all been name-dropped for the greater good on nonprofit sector blogs!
WWF-Canada cheekily tied together Justin Bieber and freshwater ecosystems in "What do water risks, Twitter and Justin Bieber have in common?":
"A quick Google trends search shows that prior to 2007, these terms were practically non-existent in the lexicon of internet searches - people simply weren't talking about them. Fast forward to today and we have a different story altogether. Who hasn't heard of Twitter, the Biebs and water risks?
Ok, maybe water risks still have a way to go to reach Bieber heights, but given its growing relevance I'd wager that we'll be talking about water risks long after the latest teen heartthrob has retired his dancing shoes."
The Nonprofit Quarterly tickled my ribs with this piece on actor Jack Palance from the City Slickersmovies. In "Jack Palance, a Beach Metaphor and the Secret of Nonprofit Success", cause-marketing specialist Joe Waters shared his favourite scene from the movie and explained how nonprofit organizations can be inspired to stay focused on their priorities.
Celebrities don't have to be your official spokesperson to become a blog-worthy topic. "9 things Lady Gaga can teach us about community management" filtered social media content strategies through a Gaga-esque lens:
"There are no holds barred with Gaga. What you see is what you get, she's the one doing the talking. You can tell this by the candid images and videos, to the way she talks online. She's the one running the show.
Though it's unlikely that a CEO could ever be the one to actually be the community manager for a company, there's a way around this. A community manager can take the day-to-day role, with regular interaction with the CEO that's managed by that person."
Politicans, sport stars, and actors are all fair game. Who's on your radar right now?
Timely events and special occasions
Last year's Royal Wedding inspired a flurry of creative tie-ins by companies, consultants and charities alike.
From the London Olympics in July, to the end of the Mayan calendar, it's certain that 2012 will have just as much opportunity for your organization to craft timely, original blog content.
Does your content management system allow your staff members to create new articles and publish them quickly? The faster you can react to an event, the more likely your posts will be read and shared while the topic is still relevant to readers.
"Movies can be a powerful tool for raising awareness about an issue, or even inspiring people to take action. In our death penalty abolition work, we have tried to promote movies we think will do that.
Some of our favorites include The Green Mile, Dead Man Walking, In Cold Blood, The Exonerated, and of course the 1957 classic 12 Angry Men."
Unusual or rare events tend to inspire a lot of online traffic. It's not a surprise that the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic generated so much media interest.
"Three lessons for nonprofits on the centennial of the Titanic Disaster" included these thoughts on leadership:
"Leadership comes from above and below. While the threats to your nonprofit don't match Titanic's, I bet you too have a lot of talent below deck that isn't being tapped. The good news is you don't have to wait for a crisis to let them show their mettle. Give them a chance and you'll be surprised how competent, committed and downright heroic they can be."
If you think that choice of topic is a little strange, it's only one of many blog posts in the nonprofit sector about Titanic. When something's in the news, everyone's talking about it!
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) even blogged about the pets on the Titanic to highlight the issues facing animals during disasters like Hurricane Katrina. PETA is a good example of an organization that is quick to tie news-worthy items to their cause.
Have you thought about how the content you post on your organization's website affects your traffic statistics? When you associate your organization to relevant and popular topics you can boost your SEO (search engine optimization) and "shareability" online.
Not every news-worthy event, famous personality or popular trend makes for a great blog post. Think carefully about what truly applies to your organization and suits your cause, mission and values.
Some bloggers attempting to self-promote their expertise in relation to recent tragedies like Amy Winehouse's death have experienced justifiable criticism. Similarly, the ill-considered "Bin Laden was crap at social media" post by a Social Media Today blogger provoked outrage from more sensible marketing professionals. Writing with credibility, clarity and sensitivity is key.
What do you think? Are some of these items a stretch (Titanic, really?!) or a smart blogging strategy? Comment below and give us your feedback. One thing's for sure, if you're hoping to increase your social media referral metrics, making your content more "shareable" is a step towards success.
After all, intriguing headlines like "What We Can Learn From My Cousin Vinny About The Death Penalty" tempt us to click through ... Did you?