How to use social media to give your supporters a voice

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Supporters are the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization. From donors to volunteers, the people who choose to support you are the fuel that helps propel your mission. 

Social media, combined with rich content opportunities, allows you to ask for and receive feedback in many ways. This deepens supporter engagement, helping people connect with your cause in the process.

Why give supporters a voice?

Let’s start by first taking a look at why it’s useful to offer supporters a voice and then discuss some of the ways we can use social media to do just that.

Giving supporters a way to voice their opinions, preferences, desires and hopes shows that you care. And when people feel cared about, they’re much more likely to take an action to help your cause – whether that is volunteering, making a donation, or recruiting other supporters. We’ve all heard the adage, ‘sharing is caring’. In this case, caring drives sharing and increases participation.

Giving supporters an avenue to express their opinion provides you with real-time feedback. Imagine a new trending topic emerges that is near and dear to your cause. Taking the temperature of supporter opinion on the topic as it evolves – like in this poll on legalizing marijuana below – gives you a unique insight into what your supporters are feeling. This could tell you if your message is resonating, or if there are additional angles to the topic you haven’t thought of. Importantly, this feedback can also shed light on strategies that may not be working and provide meaningful support for those that are.

marijuana poll

Real-time feedback in social also allows you to gather important data that will help you personalize emails and follow up communications, differentiating responses depending how various people answered your questions. For example, if the conservation nonprofit Audubon were to poll supporters about the most important issue to them and had respondents with answers of: negating the impact of climate change; education; and the need for more government protection, they would be able to personalize email outreach to each of these groups, appealing to what is most important to them.

Use social media to give your supporters a voice

People may not always feel comfortable leaving a comment on a post or replying to a tweet, but they can be inspired to participate in a poll or survey. These types of actions give people a safe, private, easy way to share their voice with your nonprofit and no one else. This can be especially important for sensitive subjects. Nonprofits successfully engaging with supporters in this way use the following tactics:

  • Voting: ask supporters to vote for their most important issue, where they would like to see funds spent, etc. Voting helps gain an understanding of how your supporters prioritize issues.
  • Asking for feedback: requesting feedback in a simple, straight-forward way – such as ‘do you prefer option A or B?’ This can provide clear insight into which way supporters are leaning.
  • Asking for opinions: ask supporters what they think about a given topic, issue, or cause. Often used with trending topics, opinion polls can help gather real-time feedback from supporters in a very meaningful way.

Nonprofits have used strategies like these for everything from helping to choose a new name in a rebrand or selecting a winning t-shirt design, to getting a pre-election pulse for candidates and/or bills. Unleash your creativity in applying these strategies to your cause. You’ll get to know your supporters better and make them feel valued by your organization.

I recommend that you create your own flowchart, such as the one pictured below, to ensure you maximize the impact and results from giving supporters a voice. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but should ensure that every branch of the tree leads to a desired outcome.

workflow

Social media is a terrific place to engage supporters beyond liking and commenting on posts. With the use of polls, votes and other feedback mechanisms, you can capture your supporters’ voice, gain opt-ins for future communications, and collect critical data at the same time – all in a way that increases supporter engagement with your cause. Giving supporters a voice is a powerful way to segment and qualify them even further, helping you to personalize and maximize the output of your efforts.

Want to learn how to use social media to build an engaged online community? Sign up for our free webinar:

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Shawn Kemp is co-founder of ActionSprout, where he helps power people’s ability to create lasting change by connecting organizations with their supporters. Follow him on Twitter @shawnkemp