10 Ways to Build Loyalty Among Your Online Community Members

10 Ways to Build Loyalty Among Your Online Community Members

Julia Claire Campbell Nonprofits, Social Media, Strategy 42 Comments

10 Ways to Build Loyalty Among Your Online Community Members

photo credit: Pawstruck.com via photopin cc

It seems to me that nonprofit social media campaigns are still focused on the numbers game – collecting the most Likes on Facebook, the most Twitter and Pinterest followers and the most views on YouTube.

Building up sheer numbers of Likes and views, without motivating people to take action, is misguided.

I always say that quality beats quantity any day of the week, in any contest.

Sure there are shady online services where you can purchase thousands of Facebook fans and Twitter followers. You can hold exciting (but irrelevant) online contests to lure complete strangers who have no connection to your cause into clicking “Like” on your Facebook Page.

Purchased followers and fans may boost your numbers and look impressive to your boss, but they do nothing for your bottom line.

At the end of the day, how many of these fans will ever look at your website, sign up for your email list or make a donation?

My guess is – very, very few if any.

Instead of focusing on growing your social media numbers, how about focusing on building loyalty – retaining engaging the fans/followers that you do have?

Here are 10 ways to build loyalty among your online community members through celebration and acknowledgement!

1)     Plan ahead. Start by taking some time to plan out an acknowledgement and celebration strategy for your online community members. Who will do what, when? Is there a budget required? What are some of the pie-in-the-sky ideas, and what is more realistic? Will this be a specific campaign within a defined time period, or will this be built in to our existing social media efforts?

2)     Change the conversation. Nonprofits need to change the conversation we are having online, dramatically. Instead of always thinking about the information we want to relay and making all marketing campaigns about us and our agenda, why not make it about our online community? Who are they? What inspires them? What are they passionate about? (Sure, they are interested in your nonprofit, but I’m willing to bet there are about 10000 other things that excite, anger and motivate them.)

3)     Schedule time. Like any other task on your To Do list, you need to schedule adequate time to acknowledge and celebrate your online community. Will it be 15 minutes at the start of each day? Will it be every Thursday (#ThankfulThursday)? Going back to planning, is there a specific campaign or is this something you want to do every single day (you should)?

4)     Budget some resources. Will you have a specific budget for celebrating community members? You don’t need to make elaborate, expensive print materials or send out swag, but you could explore paid advertising on social media platforms. Read John Haydon’s post about targeting donors with Facebook Ads – you could easily do this for the people who already know and love you on that platform!

5)     Show the love. When was the last time you posted “We have the absolute best Facebook fans on the planet“? Create a graphic using Canva to thank community members and post it on Instagram and Pinterest. Shoot a 6 second video using Vine, thanking people for being there. Try it! Even a simple acknowledgement will be well received. Try posting this message on all your social networks and see the love grow!

6)     Respond and reply promptly. Answer all questions, comments and mentions in a very timely fashion (within 3-4 hours). This shows that your organization is responsive and that you are paying attention to what your online community is saying.

7)     Say the two little words – Thank You! Organize a “Thank You” campaign and promote it everywhere. Heather Mansfield of the blog Nonprofit Tech 2.0 lays out ideas for creating “Thank You” videos for your 2012 fundraising campaigns. Participate in Diane Darling’s “The Thank You Project”, where you hand write at least four personalized thank you notes per week. Blog about your Thank You campaign, post on Facebook and Twitter, share your Thank You process on LinkedIn.

8)     Partner with a local business to provide exclusive discounts/offers. Nonprofits can team up with local or national businesses to offer exclusive discounts – for example, the local business may donate a certain amount to the nonprofit and offer a discount of 15% to all of the nonprofit’s Facebook and Twitter fans. This way, the nonprofit and business will mutually benefit through cooperative marketing, and the fans will benefit by getting the discount. Win-win!

9)     Pick a Fan of the Week. This is a simple, easy-to-use Facebook application to add to your nonprofit’s Page. It automatically highlights the person who interacts with your Page the most within a given week. Make this honor extra special and offer to highlight that Fan’s business or favorite cause for one week on your page, create a gallery of Fans of the Week on your website or make a special phone call to the Fan of the Week (if you have their information) to thank them for their engagement. You can also send them items such as a t-shirt, pen, coffee mug or other memento.

10)  Showcase them! With their permission of course, showcase your online community using all the marketing tools available for you – their photos, stories of why they care, brief interviews, a quote, a testimonial. So simple and yet so powerful. They are individuals after all.  Muttville Senior Dog Rescue regularly shares the happy and the sad stories of their dog owner community – for example, they publicly send condolences out to the owner on their Facebook page if a dog dies.

Building loyalty is vital to the success of nonprofit organizations and applies to all donors, stakeholders, volunteers, staff members, members, and the like – and your online community.

After all, current online community members form the best foundation from which to grow and sustain your online goals in the coming months. Make sure the loyal know that they are appreciated!

How do you build loyalty among your online community? 

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Comments 42

  1. Diana Altobelli

    I believe changing the conversation is what social media marketing is all about. With more and more businesses creating social pages and publishing content daily it is hard to be noticed with all of the white noise. You have to stand out from the rest in order to create real traction. So yes quality over quantity any day. This is a great basis for any SMO marketing model. Great post thanks for sharing.

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