If you are a nonprofit or social enterprise leader, it is not too early to start anticipating what awaits you in 2018. Organizations that are constantly growing are those that look through the windshield and not the rearview mirror.
At this point, you are aware that technology and social media are developing and changing at an extremely rapid rate. I also think that by now you understand that it is essential for sustainability to maintain a relentless focus on what is unfolding in the digital age because, in fact, it has an impact on the way we work.
So what are some trends to watch out for in 2018 that can help you stay ahead of the competition when it comes to brand awareness and major fundraising dollars?
- Growth hacking: All business leaders, including nonprofit executives, understand that converting and driving revenue is essential to the soul of an organization. Increasingly it means that it is essential for you to be where your donors and potential supporters congregate. That is, you need to be in the online and offline worlds, and you need to make sure everything is coordinated. You have to create content that keeps followers and other people looking back where you need them to pay attention, like your website. It also means that you need to make sure you have SEO experts available to ensure that people searching for your cause or organization come to your website. In other words, if you are not investing in SEO expertise, you are behind the eight ball.
- Social listening: Social listening extends beyond simply tracking your mentions and comments in the digital world. Social listening means that you understand the context of interactions with your followers and the public and that you are also investigating beyond providing automated or canned responses. It is important to have someone on your team, living people, who understands the “whole” of the organization, and when someone approaches you, they treat you as they would in the non-digital world. The easiest way to look at social listening is to treat everyone as if they are in front of you in your office. It doesn’t matter where or how they relate to you and your organization.
- Artificial intelligence: Considering my previous point about having humans involved in marketing who can understand the context that may be happening with their followers between the digital and the real world, artificial intelligence (AI) will further drive your marketing efforts. Although we are at the dawn of the AI era, we already have AI that is infinitely more powerful and can do more than full teams of marketers. AI will help you segment or personalize the delivery of your content. In other words, one group of your followers will see Content A while another group will see Content B, depending on the criteria you set. AI will drive all of this, and you will have to know its presence in order to harness it and use it effectively.
- Video content: You know that video content is essential to today’s content marketing strategy. As AI improves on digital platforms, preference will be given to content that includes video. One of the easiest things you can do to start growing your engagement is to create live streams and embed videos in your content. You can track and compare your engagement, for example on your Facebook page in posts that contain video versus just photo and text copy. You will most likely see the same data we see in our social marketing – video content gets more engagement and traction.
- Micro influencers: Influencer marketing is important to spread brand awareness and also to help generate income. If you find an influencer who supports your cause or organization, that’s gold. But there is also an area that you should not miss, and they are the micro influencers. Each micro-influencer has an audience of between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. As noted in this Hubspot article, this is the value of partnering with micro influencers on a platform like Instagram:
- Instagram users with less than 1000 followers generated likes 8% of the time
- Users with 1,000-10,000 followers were liked at a rate of 4%.
- Users with 10,000-100,000 followers achieved a 2.4% like rate
- Users with 1-10 million followers got Likes only 1.7% of the time.
As you begin to consider your planning for 2018, stay ahead to ensure that you are marketing as efficiently as possible. I know that some of these items require money (as well as time). Many nonprofits need financial resources, so if I were the CEO of a nonprofit, I would consider asking for a large donation or institutional capacity building grant. Marketing is essential to brand awareness and success, and activities like SEO expertise cost money. If you don’t have a good marketing budget, consider ordering a restricted gift to get where your group needs to be in the digital age.