5 Tips for Creating Compelling Online Content that Attracts Volunteers
Posted Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 by Sterling Volunteers Staff
For many nonprofit groups, the world of online content, blogging, and social media is a bit of an enigma. Sometimes content that seems highly relevant and interesting falls flat, while the most unlikely content goes viral. It can be tough to know why certain content is so successful. This is a growing issue for nonprofit organizations, who aspire to create eye-catching and noteworthy online and social media campaigns to aid with fundraising and recruiting/engaging volunteers.
Let’s take a step back. What is “content” in the first place? When we talk about content here, we are referring to anything that can be shared with your audience – current and potential volunteers and donors – via your blog or social media, and then re-shared. This could include written content (such as articles or blogs), images, sounds and even videos. Online content drives traffic to your website, helps engage and inspire readers, and leads to further interactions with your organization.
Here’s the million dollar question: Exactly what kind of content resonates and inspires? It might seem like a mystery, but Jonah Berger, professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania, explains that “there is a science behind why people share [content]. It’s not chance, and it’s not random.” One commonality when it comes to shareable content is storytelling. If your content has meaning for and tells a story to the people you are trying to reach, you are on the right track. A good example of a nonprofit group that found success with viral social media content is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which spread awareness for a cause and generated more than 115 million dollars in donations.
It’s easy to tell you to tell a meaningful story. But it’s probably not quite enough. You really need to invest some time into understanding why some content is more effective in engaging an online audience. In this Entrepreneur article, Berger notes that “if you understand the underlying science of human behavior, you can predict what people are going to pass on, and you can craft your own contagious content.” If you don’t know where to start, you are not alone, so we thought we’d pass along this BuzzSumo and OkDork study, published in April 2014, that analyzes the types of content that reach the widest audience via social media. We compiled their five tips here. These will help you and your nonprofit organization start to create more engaging content and generate a stronger online presence.
Tips to Help Nonprofit Organizations Create More Engaging Content
1. Brevity isn’t always the way to go
While a short and concise paragraph might share a terrific message or connect with an individual effectively, research shows that it is the longer articles and blog postings that are more commonly shared via social media. When it comes to educational content, more detail seems to be preferred. Experts recommend averaging around 1,000 words for content.
2. A Picture Paints 1,000 Words
If you’re aiming for 1,000 words for your article, an image says 1,000 more! A compelling and related graphic is important for online content when it comes to viral sharing, as most social media platforms will display a icon or image alongside any content shared on platforms like Facebook. A simple block of text is unlikely to attract mouse clicks.
3. Bring Human Emotions into Play
No matter which way you twist it, engaging content always tells a story. Your content needs to have life to it, a voice, a message – something that speaks to a reader and compels them to tell others about it. Fortunately for nonprofit groups, content with a narrative or emotion is not typically hard to come by. Whether your reader is laughing, crying, amused or angered by your words, they need to feel in order to share.
4. Keep it Simple with Lists and Infographics
We’ve all seen the high-end video productions manufactured to go viral, but according to the data compiled by BuzzSumo and OkDork, content displayed in lists perform the best on social media platforms. Readers can quickly identify a key piece of information, and may be encouraged to read more. How many times have you caught yourself clicking through all ten slides of “Celebrity Lookalikes” or “Top 17 Cutest Kittens of all Time”? As readers, we like organized content that is easy to digest. Consider ‘tips and tricks’ posts – not unlike this one – to help engage readers and encourage content sharing (hint, hint).
If you’ve got a capable graphic designer on your team, infographics can be a great way to communicate information visually. The content is pleasing to look at, and the information is presented in a reader-friendly way.
5. Time your Content
Timing is everything in the marketing world. For instance, it’s pretty obvious that you shouldn’t air a children’s TV show at 11PM on a school night. It’s important to publish your content at a time when more users are cruising social media. Data shows that Tuesdays are the best day of the week to post new content to platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. In order to maximize the reach of your content, be sure to measure the success of any campaign and make adjustments for your organization.
We hope you’ll try some of the above tips. After all, creating great online content that gets shared can help your nonprofit organization attract and recruit volunteers, and help you build a stronger volunteer program.