If you’re a nonprofit or social enterprise leader, it’s not too early to begin to anticipate what’s in store for 2018. The organizations that grow consistently are those that are looking through the windshield and not the rearview mirror.
By this point, you are aware that technology and social media are developing and changing at a rate that is exceedingly fast. I also think that by now you understand that it’s essential for sustainability to maintain a relentless focus on what is developing in the digital age because it does indeed impact how we work.
So, what are some of the trends you should keep an eye out for in 2018 that can help you stay ahead of the competition for all-important brand awareness and fundraising dollars?
- Growth Hacking: Every business leader, including nonprofit executives, understand that it’s essential to the lifeblood of an organization to convert and drive revenue. It increasingly means that it is essential for you to be where your donors and prospective supporters are congregating. Meaning, you have to be across the online and offline worlds, and you have to ensure everything is coordinated. You have to create content that keeps supporters and others looking back where you need them to pay attention, such as your website. It also means that you have to ensure that you have SEO experts on hand to make sure that the people who are looking at your cause or organization are going to your website. In other words, if you’re not investing in SEO expertise, you’re behind the eight-ball.
- Social Listening: Social listening extends beyond just tracking your mentions and comments in the digital world. Social listening means that you understand the context of engagements with your followers and the public and that you are also digging deeper than providing automated or canned responses to them. It’s important to have someone on your team–live people–who understands the “whole” of the organization, and when someone reaches out to you, you treat them as you would in the non-digital world. The easiest way to view social listening is to treat everyone as if they were standing right in front of you in your office. It doesn’t matter where or how they engage with you and your organization
- Artificial Intelligence: Keeping my previous point in mind about having humans involved in marketing who can understand the context that can be happening with your supporters between the digital and real worlds, artificial intelligence (AI) is going to drive more of your marketing efforts. Although we are at the dawn of the AI age, we already have AI that is infinitely more powerful and can do more than whole teams of marketers. AI will be helping as you segment or customize your content delivery. In other words, one group of your supporters will be viewing Content A while another group will be viewing Content B, depending on criteria that you set out. AI will power all of this, and you will have to know its presence so you can take advantage of it and use it effectively.
- Video Content: You are aware that video content is essential to today’s marketing content strategy. As AI improves across digital platforms, preference will be given to content that includes video. One of the easiest things you can do to begin to drive up your engagement is creating live streams and incorporating video into your content. You can track and compare your engagement, for instance, on your Facebook page on posts that contain video versus only photo and text copy. More than likely, you’ll see the same data that 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 help drive revenue. If you get an influencer to support your cause or organization, that’s golden. But there’s also an area you shouldn’t miss, and that’s 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 such as Instagram:
- Instagram users with fewer than 1,000 followers generated likes 8% of the time
- Users with 1,000-10,000 followers earned likes at a 4% rate
- Users with 10,000-100,000 followers achieved a 2.4% like rate
- Users with 1-10 million followers earned likes only 1.7% of the time.
As you begin to consider your planning for 2018, stay ahead of the curve so you can ensure that you’re marketing in the most efficient way possible. I know some of these elements take money (as well as time). Many nonprofit organizations are in need of financial resources, and that’s why if I were still the CEO of a nonprofit, I would consider asking for a major gift or institutional capacity building grant. Marketing is essential for brand awareness and success, and activities like SEO expertise take money. If you don’t have a good budget allocated to marketing, consider asking for a restricted gift to get you where your group needs to be in the digital age.