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How Many Ways Do You Engage Your Supporters?

December 13th, 2010

The more one knows about your cause, the more likely they are to support it and/or tell others about you, possibly recruiting them. Volunteering is an excellent way to bring them into the fold, but there are other ways to educate . . . now more than ever.

Social media offers the opportunity to tell your story in a greater number of ways than were possible before; however, instead of only talking at them, an additional way is to engage them in the story by letting them participate.

Many organizations have accomplished this by inviting others to share essays, photos and videos of their own testimonies or stories, related to ongoing campaigns.

The more people are included and made to feel special, the more interested they will become in the organization and its mission – or the company, since this strategy is not unique to non profits.  For profit companies have been successfully reaching out to their customers, using social media as a way of letting them see what’s behind the curtain with a great deal of success.

Creating a buzz and getting people talking about a campaign can begin with various catch phrases or means of online engagement, such as the breast cancer awareness promotion of having women change their Facebook status to announce purse location with a cryptic, “I like it on the . . . ” or the recent attempt to have people change their avatar to cartoon characters for child abuse awareness.

While they both created a buzz for a while and got differing levels of participation, there were some responses to each that were critical, saying that instead of helping to fight breast cancer or combat child abuse, neither of these actions did what they intended, but merely instigated chatter instead.

A counter argument could be made that the fact that press was devoted to both sides of the debate shows that attention was given to the issue and consciousness was raised – although it is good to keep in mind that while promoting your cause, you never want to lose sight of having a call to action (donate, petition, volunteer) readily available, so that once people are moved by your message, they can easily act upon their motivation.

Of course, one of the most popular means of people engaging online is games.  This is an area that is growing so quickly, non profits would be wise to join in an area where constituents are obviously congregating.

One of the largest online gaming companies, Zynga, has over 45 million daily online users, and this figure only looks to increase.  Clearly, people enjoy participating in these types of activities, so why not create simulations related to your organization’s mission that will keep them involved, learning and participating?

This is what Enercities has done on Facebook already, to teach people more about energy conservation as they build their own metropolis while attempting to “balance people, planet and profit.”  Games For Change is a non profit devoted to educating participants about issues of the day through online gaming.

What would you like to educate people about as you keep them interested enough to stay on your site for several extra minutes a day?  How will you go about this?

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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