If You Build it They Won’t Come – 10 Must-Do’s for Social Media in an Inbound World

Pyramid Chichen Itza with sun breaking through

The light won’t always dawn on it’s own

Just building it isn’t enough. Whatever it may be. A blog. A Facebook page. A Twitter profile. You name it.


They won’t call.  They won’t write.  They won’t wax on rhapsodically about your finer qualities. The most they might do is notice you out of the corner of their eye; then move on.

It’s on you.

To get real value from social media you must build it, get folks to come, get folks to talk and get folks to recommend you to others.

Here’s the kicker: You’re not 100% in control. Yeah, I know it kind of sucks.  Us control freaks just have to get over it.  Folks are going to be learning about you through others, and you won’t know about it. They’ll talk about you, and you won’t know what they’re saying.

Let me tell you a tale of two siblings, Outbound and Inbound. Outbound came first and is the older brother. Outbound could do no wrong until… the birth of his sister Inbound. Uh, oh. If you’re an older sibling like me you’re probably feeling a bit sorry for Outbound right now.  Yeah, change stinks.  But Outbound wasn’t perfect (though he certainly strove for perfection).

Outbound is controlling. A super achiever who strives to meet every challenge. Outbound is responsible, but doesn’t take many risks. He’s invested in status quo. Smart, yes. Some would say egocentric. Stuffy. Tunnel-visioned. Doesn’t play well with others. Always has to be right. Likes everything in its place. Outbound is a know-it-all who tries to consign his younger sister, Inbound, to her subordinate place.

Inbound lets it happen. She cannot be contained.  She’s sassy, ebullient and creative. She has her own mind and own ideals. She takes chances and makes mistakes. Most of all she’s tuned in. She’s open, she listens, she feels the pain of others and she cares. Inbound is a bit of a revolutionary and somewhat enjoys being disruptive. She’s also adaptable; she’ll sleep on the sofa. And she is self-taught.

My parents tell the story of me trying to teach my younger sister her colors.  I had a bunch of crayons and made her guess each hue.  When she said “that’s green,” I imperiously corrected her. “No,” I said (implying she knew nothing). “That’s chartreuse!”  Today, my sister could have learned her own colors on an Ipad or mobile app and could probably have taught me a thing or two.  The digital revolution has turned everything topsy-turvy.

Right now Inbound is beating the pants off her older sibling Outbound. Because of the digital revolution we’re all social businesses now, whether we accept it or not.  We must accept. We must adapt. There’s no choice. We must move beyond outbound “telling” marketing to “inbound” sharing marketing. We must source the wisdom of the crowd, and shift our focus from outcomes to value. As a marketer, Outbound hugely misses the mark, getting obsessed with counting things like ‘likes’ and ‘followers’. Outbound doesn’t engage much; just reports to his boss that lists are growing. Inbound measures things like sharing photos, videos and links. Inbound responds to comments and gets people talking about their experience. Inbound encourages a natural dialogue on social networks. Inbound understands the future is, more than ever before, all about building relationships.

In marketing, many qualities have merit and a place at the table. For purposes of our story, whether you buy into the birth order traits theory or not is of little matter.  It works as an analogy and cautionary tale.  Don’t get stuck in pre-ordained patterns. The more you can integrate the best traits, the better. Learn to play the game. Play nice. Play to win.

Don’t expect to become a passionate world-class player in a day. It begins with small moves. Each move builds on the next.( see 3 Essential Building Blocks to Kick-Start a Successful Nonprofit Social Media Strategy). Practice, practice, practice. Really get into it!


1.  Build awareness, credibility and authority through inbound marketing. That’s a huge part of its job. If you build a huge pyramid, but hide it behind a 30 foot wall, no one will see it no matter how stupendous it may be.  And you can’t sell tickets to see the pyramid if no one is looking. So that’s a key reason to focus on your promotion strategy once your awesome content is created.

2. Don’t get discouraged if people aren’t taking actions right and left, night and day. If it seems that only 10% of people do anything, that’s okay.  This is the norm according to recent Forrester research. Your job is to be thoughtful every step of the way so that you can reduce barriers to action. And keep playing the game. Practice makes perfect.

3. Improve on the percentage of people who respond to your Calls to Action (CTAs) by applying all 10 of the principles of CONTENT (C.P.A.) ENGAGEMENT (R.C.A) and PROMOTION (S.S.T.S) which I’ve discussed over the past two months on Clairification (you can find them all easily under past articles, blogging).


  1. Constituent-centered content
  2. Planful content posting
  3. Accessible content to inspire engagement
  4. Relatable, authentic and open-ended copy
  5. Conversational copy to engage the heart
  6. Actionable copy to drive your desired ROI
  7. Share posts so your blog gets a push out the door
  8. Shareable posts that are enabled by easy-to-use tools
  9. Talkable posts that inspire digital word-of-mouth
  10. Search-optimized posts so folks can find you

If you’d like to chat about any of these topics to learn how to derive something meaningful from a social media strategy for your nonprofit, please leave a comment below.

And please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.  If I can be helpful, I’d love to connect.

Photo: Flickr Tomasz Wagner

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About Claire

I’m Claire and I want to help you raise more money, reach more people and build long-lasting relationships with your supporters. Take a look in the archives.

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