Julia Campbell Founder of J Campbell Social Marketing On Social Media Strategy
Your social media shouldn’t be stressful. As a key part of your digital strategy , your social channels are a great place to tell your story, connect with your audience and have fun! Julia Campbell has been helping nonprofit organizations for years, fine-tuning and teaching ways to simplify their social media strategy.
Julia Campbell is a consultant and author who specializes in online fundraising and communications. Her book How to Build and Mobilize a Social Media Community for your nonprofit in 90 days breaks down social media into three parts and guides organizations on how to plan, execute and track their social success.
In our podcast, Julia gives great advice on
How to begin your social media journey
How to measure success within your social media campaigns
What makes shareable content
If you're looking to fine-tune your social media strategy, learn how with today's guest, Julia Campbell.
Hello and welcome to the Fundraising Superheroes podcast. I'm your host, Sabrina Sciscente and today's podcast is brought to you by Donor Engine. An All-In-One nonprofit software built from the ground up to help you and your team organize and manage your association in one application.
So visit DonorEngine.com, to schedule a free demo.
Your social media may sometimes seem like a burden. If your nonprofit doesn't have a designated marketing or social media person, then your social strategy may be sitting at the bottom of your to-do list. But scheduling and marketing content on your social pages no longer has to feel like a struggle. With the help of Julia Campbell, she's going to break down social media marketing and make it manageable for even the busiest of nonprofits.
Julia is the president of J Campbell Social Marketing and a nonprofit digital marketing and online fundraising strategist.
She increases the clarity, confidence and capacity of nonprofits in the areas of social media marketing and online fundraising. Julia has written several books on the topic, including Storytelling in the Digital Age, A Guide for Nonprofits and How to Build and Mobilize a Social Media Community for your nonprofit in 90 days. Both those resources are linked in our description box. So thank you so much, Julia, for joining us on the show.
Thanks for having me. I'm happy to be here.
So as someone who's been working in the nonprofit industry for over 20 years, what is the biggest hurdle nonprofits face when creating a social media strategy?
The biggest hurdle the nonprofits face is that they think they don't need a strategy. So they think that they can start with the tools first.
So they go about it all wrong. So the questions that they're asking are almost five steps ahead from where they really should be.
So an example that I give is a typical client will come to me and say, Julia, where should I be on social media? What platforms should I be using? And I say, you know, asking me that is very similar to if we had just met. So we met in the grocery store masks and all, six feet away from each other. But we were talking and we didn't know each other and you said, where should I build a house?
And I would say, well, I have to ask you a few questions before I can tell you what is your budget? Do you like the beach? Do you like freezing cold? Do you want to be near schools? So that's really the equivalent. I know nonprofits start with the "should I be on TiKTok?" when there are probably 10 more questions that need to be answered before you figure out where you're kind of setting up shop. So that's really definitely the biggest hurdle is I think organizations get really hung up on the tools.
They feel like, you know, FOMO is so real, we should be on TikTok, we should be on Pinterest, we should be on Instagram, we should be on this when they really need to be kind of taking a step back and looking at the strategy first.
So each platform kind of has its own benefits, I guess, and they have to figure out what they want to utilize in their own strategy.
Yes, and this is another hurdle and a challenge that I see a lot is, well, it's not a challenge. It's more like a misconception.
Each platform you can't automate across platforms you can re-purpose. So if you have a great photo, if you have a great video, if you have a great story, you certainly can re-purpose it.
But you have to think about it like gold and you have to mold the gold depending on the channel that you're on. So what works on Instagram is very different from what works on TikTok and what works on LinkedIn and what works on Twitter.
So the challenge that I find is, first of all, organizations finding the time to manage all of these channels. But I say, you know, just whittle them down. Do two to that you really like maybe even just do one and then master it and build a community there and then move on to the next, because it is very hard to constantly be coming up with content that works specifically for Facebook, for instance, live video or content that works specifically for Instagram, for example, Instagram stories or short-form video for TikTok.
So the challenge becomes we have all this great content. We want to just kind of spread it out in a bunch of different channels.
But that's not going to work and you're not going to get the traction and the engagement and the reach that you would if you sat down and said, OK, this is how we're going to use Instagram, this is how we're going to use LinkedIn. So it's not enough to have a marketing plan. You have to have a digital marketing plan.
And it's not even enough to have a digital marketing plan. You have to have a plan for your website, a plan for your email, a plan for each social media platform that you use, because every single one of these channels is like a different country and it has a different language and etiquette and rules and best practices and different audiences.
So we have to start thinking about this as a collection of tools that we can use, but we can't just use them all in one way.
When you're creating content for the different social media channels, I know it's probably going to be different for each platform, but what makes content shareable? Why is this important to your strategy?
Content that is shareable is content that's designed specifically with your audience in mind, and it's actually designed to attract people as much it is as it is designed to repel people. So if you're creating content that is just vanilla and forgettable or very neutral or just really bland, you're not taking a stand on anything. You're not saying anything of importance. You're not energizing and inspiring people. They're just going to kind of pass over it.
So organizations that want to get more shares and want to really build a vibrant community on social media have to get over this pleasing everyone thing, because you first of all, you cannot please everyone. It's just not possible. But secondly, you're turning off the people that could be really excited by what you do because you're trying to water down your message. We can't water down our message and especially not anymore. But we really cannot continue to just kind of cast a wide net and hope that we're going to catch all these fish, we have to be very laser-focused on our audience.
So that's another piece of shareable content, knowing what your audience wants. And if you don't know, look at your social media analytics, send out a survey, talk to them, send out a postcard, call them on the phone.
However, it is that you need to be communicating with them to find out what they want to hear from you and what they want to learn. That's the way to do it. And shareable content also has to be something that's going to make me look good to my network. Is it going to make me look smart? Is it going to make me feel great that I shared it? Is it going to make me feel great because I've inspired my friends, my family, my network?
So we have to stop thinking about our agenda on social media and our promotions and all the stuff that we want people to click on or watch or read and think about what can we create for our donors and for our audience that they are going to like. So kind of flipping the content creation on its head in that way.
I know you touched on this a bit in the first question, but where do organizational leaders start with their strategy? Where should they begin?
You have to start with people and you have to start with goals. So, people, it's the strategy that I teach.
You can start with your goal. But I always think starting with people first is a little bit easier because sometimes we have fifty thousand different goals. But if you start with your target audience, who do you want to attract? Why do they love you? Why do they come to you? What are the top five reasons they give to you? What are you hoping they will do? What is your call to action for them and where do they congregate?
Because if you don't know who you're trying to attract or who you're trying to talk to, then you really can't move to the next step, which would be choosing platforms. But you also need to really think strategically about what you're trying to accomplish and what success looks like. And a lot of my clients, I have them fill out a questionnaire and I tell them in the very first question, do not write down, raise awareness, don't write it down.
You have to drill a little bit deeper. Awareness raised doesn't mean anything. Seth Godin has a famous quote that says, I'm very aware the turnips are a root vegetable, but that doesn't mean I'm going to buy them and make them for dinner. Awareness is the first step in the know, like and trust kind of funnel where we need people to go. They need to know about us, obviously, and then they can like us and then they can trust us.
But that's not enough. We can't have knowledge as the goal. So you could go streaking down the street with a billboard with a sandwich board and a lot of people would know about you, and a lot of people would pay attention and you'd probably get in the news.
But would those people actually convert into donors or advocates or ambassadors or whatever it is that you need? So figuring out your goal for social media and you might have several goals, but picking your overarching goal and then that's going to also help you whittle down your target audience that you then need to help you accomplish that goal.
When you're choosing goals and building up your social media accounts. How important is followers? Because I know for me, if I was just starting out, I'd be like, I need to get that follower count up. Does it matter if you have a huge amount of followers or is it more the quality of your following?
It's definitely the quality. So clearly you want to continue to build your following and you want those to be real accounts. And actually something that's been happening lately that I just saw in my Facebook group this morning that people have been talking about how it's been really hard to grow a Facebook following lately. Even if you have a thousand fans, it's been hard to get to that up to the two thousand mark. And the reason is that I think Facebook is removing fake and bought accounts.
So when my clients are freaking out about this, I say, look, you don't want these accounts following you anyway because they're driving down your reach and they're driving down your engagement because they're not real. It's sort of like email unsubscribes. Don't worry about them or don't worry about the cold subscribers on your list. Get rid of them because they're driving down engagement for other people. They're making it so fewer people can actually see what you want them to see.
So in terms of followers, I mean, it used to be you could buy followers. I would never obviously recommend that. But I know a lot of organizations would buy an email list, buy Twitter followers just so they would look great. But those aren't real people. So you could have an email list of three hundred people and one hundred of them could be donors, or you could have Facebook fans that are two hundred thousand Facebook fans and one percent of them actually engage with you.
So it's definitely the quality and the energy of your community that matters most and the consistency and the relationship that you have with them. So people do tend to get caught up on follower numbers. I think as long as they're not dropping dramatically or as long as they're going up, it's like pushing a boulder up a hill, going up and going up constantly. You're working on your content and you're giving them what they want and you're constantly engaging with them.
And I wouldn't worry about the numbers. I think for the small to mid-sized nonprofit, it's just really the quality of engagement and actually getting people to take action. Even if that's, you know, 10 percent of your following, if you have a really small following that can add up,.
You offer some incredible classes and books that are all available on your website, as we mentioned in the intro. But one of my favourites is how to build and mobilize a social media community in 90 days. So what are some of the topics you cover? What is the biggest takeaway for organizations?
So I wrote this book for several reasons, and I know that wasn't the question, but I will give you my takeaways.
But the problem that I was having was that organizations would come to me and say, hey, I need to double my Facebook followers, similar to what we just talked about. Or I need to raise five thousand dollars on Facebook or I need to get X, Y, Z number YouTube views just so the boss would be happy or the board would be happier or whatever for vanity sake.
And that just doesn't work. So there's short term, you know, I wouldn't call them silver bullets, but there are short term things you can do, like you can spend money on Facebook ads and get a bunch of video views.
But in the long term, it's all about building a community. And then when you build this community, it's like putting deposits in a bank. You keep putting deposits in and you invest and then it's going to yield a substantial benefit. So that's exactly the way nonprofits need to start looking at social media. It's not this quick fix and it's not this get rich quick scheme at all. So I set up this book because I wanted to frame it in a way that's very step by step so that a small organization, maybe a staff of one or even a volunteer could pick it up and say, OK, we're here in the journey, or maybe we're just starting out and here's where we're going to go forward.
So the first 30 days are spent clarifying, and that's all about clarifying your goals, clarifying your audience and clarifying what it is you're trying to accomplish and how much time do you have to accomplish it? What are your resources, what your budget. So really, clarification is the first 30 days. And of course, you can do it faster than that but I really wrote it in mind, the small nonprofit that has a lot of fires to put out every day. And then the next 30 days are captivate.
That's when you're going to start creating your content and your content calendar and the six pillars of fantastically engaging content over those in the book. So what kinds of content are you creating? What stories are you telling? Are you using video? It gets really into the fun, sexy part of social media and then cultivate is what are you going to do next? How are you going to keep up momentum utilizing social media ambassadors? Maybe it's a little bit more advanced utilizing contests.
How are you going to keep up all of this energy and keep this momentum going that you've built for these 90 days? And then what I'm hoping is that at the end of 90 days, you can then run an online fundraising campaign that is going to absolutely be so profitable because you've spent 90 days priming the pump. So we can't always go a full quarter without doing a fundraising ask. But the idea is that you're constantly planting seeds and selling them, planting seeds and selling them.
And it's a continuation. It's a system. It's not sort of what you wake up on Monday morning. Oh, my gosh, what am I going to post today? So it's all part of a strategy that helps enhance and augment your current fundraising system or your current marketing system. So actually, with the one take away, it's not easy. It takes time. It doesn't take a full time job, but it definitely takes understanding of strategy and consistency, whether that is two post a week, whatever it is that you can be consistent.
It definitely takes more planning to be successful than I think we we understand, but if you put the time in like anything else, it's like exercising. It's like eating healthy. It's meditation, any of that. It does take a while for it to become a habit. But once it becomes a habit, it becomes ingrained and you really start seeing how it's kind of feeding into all of the other things that you're doing. And it's not this little stand alone project in a silo.
Then you're going to start getting results.
Yeah, I don't think your social media, at least in my experience, should be a place that you don't experience a lot of anxiety. I know when I started out doing social media for others, I was so focused on posting every day and I realized coming in and have made me feel less stressed. I was the quality of post went up. The engagement went up. So I love the idea of planning and thought and really nurturing it and being patient with your success.
Quality over quantity any day of the week.
I always find that if I'm posting less, but I'm giving more thought and more attention to what I'm posting, then engagement doubles.
So absolutely, I don't feel like you have to post something just to post something, really figure out what's going on that day, what is timely, what's relevant, what's interesting, what is your audience going to really connect with. And the more that you can do that and I usually give the rule, I mean, it might be a little outdated, but I think it's a pretty good rule to follow is the 80 20 rule where 80 percent of what you're posting should just be value add for your audience, helping them, inspiring them, educating them, and then 20 percent can be actually taking those deposits out of the bank, asking them to do something.
So how can nonprofits use their social media channels as a way to connect with their donors while your donors are on there?
This is a question and push back that I do get pretty frequently. Well, our donors are older. Well. Seventy nine percent of Internet users are on YouTube. So they're definitely either watching YouTube videos.
We've all been there with our family where your mom comes over and she's like, did you see this YouTube video?
And older people are skewing towards Facebook. They're on Instagram. Baby boomers are the fastest growing demographic across social media sites. So they might not be doing monthly donations on Facebook. They might not be there yet. They might not be using the Instagram donation sticker. But they are definitely consuming content and watching a lot of video and reading a lot of stories.
Also a huge portion of the older demographic, for good or bad, gets their news and current events from social media and from groups and communities on social media. So I think to ignore these platforms, they represent a complete revolution in the way that human beings communicate and in the way that we talk to each other and in the way that we consume information and do research. They're not just these shiny new tools. I mean, it's a complete revolution in human behaviour and in the way that we are and the way we spend time.
So recognizing that then using this, using social media and the know, like and trust funnel, which is famous in fundraising circles, they have to know you and then they like you, but not liking on Facebook, but they have a genuine affection for you and they understand a little bit about what you do and then they trust you. And social media is great and all three of those journeys.
It's great for getting new people interested in your cause. It's great for solidifying that relationship because you're going to be telling stories. You're going to be showcasing your impact. You're going to be getting on Facebook live and telling them what's going on, how your work has changed, what can they expect, what's coming up, what's on the horizon? You can use it to be that go to resource that your donors are craving, because remember, you have the inside scoop on this cause that they care about.
And it's up to us to to provide these resources to our donors and then also just creating this shared identity.
I mean, if you think about why we share what we share on social media, it's because we're establishing our identity. You know, like if I look at my wall behind me, this a great example?
That's how I use my social media as well to express what I care about, what's important to me and to hopefully educate others about it. So I think nonprofits are completely poised to help their donors do that by giving them the great information and the stories and the content that the donors want and then deepening that relationship and really solidifying it and also just staying top of mind is is really important. So in terms of connecting with your donors, your donors are everywhere and your potential donors are everywhere.
And there's no linear journey anymore. Like they came to an event and they clicked on this and now they're a donor. I see it as sort of a web.
There's all these different touch points and you just never know what's going to actually kind of make them become a long term supporter. So I think it should all be working together holistically.
I think that's the perfect place to enter conversation today. So thank you, Julia, so much for joining us. All of Julia's resources find her books and sign up for course visit her website, jsocialmarketing.com. Her social media for social good academy is starting soon. Registration opens in September but you can join an early waitlist if you're interested in. Both of those links to the website and to the social, that academy is in our description box.
As always, thank you so much for listening, and we'll see you next time on Fundraising Superheroes.
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