Never assume people know what to do with your content. You have to ask for what you want — creatively, persuasively, and persistently.
When someone lands on your website, do you ask them to sign up for your email newsletter? When someone reads your blog, do you ask for a comment? When you want to grow your Facebook community, do you ask people to share your page? When you tweet about a cause, do you ask for an RT?
This is an update of a post I published two years ago after I heard from several “big names” in blogging and social media that you need to be explicit about what you want people to do with your content. Two years later, I’m in the middle of several campaigns for local nonprofits and I’m so glad I listened to them. Whether it’s getting a grant to feed hungry kids, selling tickets to an event to raise money for homeless shelters and services, or supporting a general fundraising campaign, my clients expect me to know how to motivate people. So I’m constantly thinking up new ways to politely, but persuasively, ask supporters to give, vote, like, retweet, forward, and share.
However, as I said in the previous version of this post, when you ask people to act, make sure it’s for an important cause, a useful piece of information, or a feel-good story. You also can’t ask the same way over and over on the same channels. This is a challenge for me now as I’m managing a Facebook voting campaign. Everyone can vote every day, and we need them to. But my team agrees that we can’t flood our social media channels with “Vote for Us!” messages. We’d lose a lot of fans very fast.
So, we’re spacing out our posts carefully and adding different kinds of content to them, such as videos. We’re also broadening the online channels to Twitter, Google+, the blog, the email newsletter, the website, and even Outlook calendar reminders to our staff. And we’re trying different “offline” channels such as signs on the agency doors and reception desk, flyers in the conference rooms, and inserting a mention in the volunteer orientation. I think my favorite is having the CEO stop the program at three recent events to explain the campaign and ask the audience to take out their smart phones and vote.
My hope is that at the end of the campaign, we will have left no stone unturned, and will have set a new standard for the breadth and depth of future campaigns.