Yesterday we talked about creating content on your business’s or nonprofit’s website that will bring new readers to your site, deepen the loyalty of those already in contact with it, and turn more of them into customers, volunteers, and donors. The creation of such content requires some investment. Staff – at least some staff hours – have to be dedicated to research and writing. The technological side of blogging is not like programming anymore, thanks to all the great platforms (think: WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, TypePad…), but it takes some time to get comfortable with the features and quirks of your chosen platform. When your blog reaches out to those beyond your office, you need to budget for unscheduled delays or time to allow your subject to review the interview.
But then what? If you build it, will they come? No.
Just as Ray Kinsella had to listen to the voice, strive to understand what the voice was saying, and act on the voice, so a blog must listen to the audience, strive to understand what is being commented upon, and act to engage what it audience is saying/asking/demanding. Which is not to say that a nonprofit’s blog needs to please all the people all the time. But it shouldn’t plough on with its own agenda when readers are asking other (kinds of) questions.
- Effective listening through social media channels means that individuals and organizations need to identify why they are listening and how they will apply what they hear.
- The value of listening is not in the act of listening in and of itself, but when an organization or individual uses the information to improve programs or marketing. This requires engaging in a conversation.
The strategies for listening should be drawn up as the strategies for creating content are thought out: What will be the foci of the blog? What keywords best align with our stories? Who else is discussing these keywords? How will we monitor the use of these keywords by our commentators and guest bloggers? Etc. How extensive your lists are to these kinds of questions will also help guide the investment your organization will need to make.
The flowchart on the right serves as a great example of how a listening strategy can be drawn up. It was launched by the Air Force to steer servicepeople as they dealt with social media in their work.
What will be the return on that investment? Do not expect a one-to-one return (say, one new reader for each post or one new customer coming to the site with each tweet), as often the return will seem much larger at the site though donations might not grow right away. We look forward to discussing the ROI for content creation and for listening with you over the upcoming months.