What’s ‘Like’ Got to Do with It? 5 Ways to Inspire Nonprofit Engagement Through Social Media

I like you, casually.

I like you, casually.

Stop counting likes and follows. If your work plan has “increase FB likes from X to Y or increase Twitter follows from Y to Z” as an objective, delete, delete, delete!  Your objective must relate to your “why;” it can’t just be a “what.”

Who cares how many “friends” you have if none of them are engaging with you?  Liking is passive.  Engaging is active. What do you want folks to feel/think/do?  You simply won’t get there by wishing and hoping.  You get there by inspiring.

As Ted Rubin writes in Step aside, Aspiration… INSPIRATION is the way to go, you’ve got to stop thinking of folks as numbers towards your goals. You’ve got to get them to want to engage with you and your services and programs. You’ve got to energize them!

Have we grabbed your attention?

Have we grabbed your attention?

It’s not easy these days to engage with folks in what’s a very ‘noisy’ digital environment. There’s lots of competition for attention.  How do you grab it? This is where differentiation comes in.  What is unique about you? What can you do that no one else does better? Does your personality shine through, and does it seem authentic?  Can the folks you’re trying to reach relate to you?

Your new work plan engagement objectives? INSPIRE X% more to share  your blog posts. INSPIRE X number to join your advocacy initiative. INSPIRE X to visit your website and/or donation landing page. INSPIRE X to attend your event. INSPIRE X to volunteer. Inspiration becomes your social media marketing objective.


Might helping us be something you care about?

Might helping us be something you care about?

5 Ways to INSPIRE the Actions You Desire:

  1. Be customer-centered. You can’t inspire people if you don’t make it about them. You have to offer something they value.  That’s not the same thing as something you think they should value. No matter how great and essential you think your programs and services are, it matters very little if no one else agrees with you.
  2.  Be authentic. This requires knowing your values and understanding your own brand and unique personality.  It’s not always the same as what it was five years ago, so you’ve got to give some attention to clarifying values and brand as well.  Just like a 25-year-old will not come off as authentic speaking in the voice of a child, neither will you come off as authentic speaking in the voice of your past.  Who are you today?
  3. Master the art of persuasion. Remember, this is not about ‘selling’ or ‘convincing.’ Inspiration is about persuasion. Persuasion is what motivates aspirational action. Persuasion is what will keep your constituents loyal for the long haul. You can’t persuade if you don’t listen and hear. You can’t persuade if you don’t empathize with and put yourself in the shoes of your consumer. As Seth Godin writes in Persuade vs. convince, you’re wasting your time if you’re merely trying to convince folks how great you are.
  4. Focus on the relationship.  This requires a shift from outbound to inbound marketing. Outbound is transactional. Inbound is relational; potentially transformational. Relationships are give and take.  Don’t just ask for stuff.  Give folks stuff they want. Help them be the change they want to see in the world.  Help them connect with others who share their values.  Give them the gift of  being part of something meaningful. Social media is, as described by Harvard Business Review blogger Mark Bonchek, a gift economy. Be attentive. Be nice. Be kind. Be generous. Be warm and genuine. Be human. If you’re not a good friend, you’ll get dumped.  There are plenty of other potential good friends in the sea.
  5. Build trust.  This is what builds loyalty.  Trust is when you do exactly what you say you’ll do, and exactly what your constituents expect you’ll do. Imagine if you went into Starbucks one day and they were out of coffee, were blasting rap music and all the chairs were mismatched and uncomfortable. This is not what you expect of them. It destroys your trust.
Please stick with me and help my friends get adopted too.

Please stick with me and help my friends get adopted too. They’re really kool kats.

One-time likes and followers are just something you tally. Social media can be a great point of entry; once you’ve got folks in the door you want to lead them inside. Your goal should be to persuade them to stick around for a while. Encourage these folks to take baby actions to begin with; then move them along to greater engagement.Your objective must be to convert them into relationships.  Provide folks with inspiration – generally through valuable content — on an ongoing basis and you’ll develop their loyalty. And loyalty is worth its weight in gold.

Over-time, inspired constituents make powerful ambassadors and advocates. Use social media to authentically engage folks. Use engagement to inspire loyalty.

Next Step?

You owe it to yourself to check out this special new E-Course, Social Media for Fundraisers: How to Deepen Relationships and Raise More Money. It’s convenient, affordable and jam-packed with actionable tips you can put to use immediately to raise more awareness and more money. And if you reserve before April 12th you’ll save $30!

Loyalty should be the return on engagement you seek. What’s your ROE?

Photos: Flickr, Cambodia4Kids.org; Sharon Schneider;Kurt Faler




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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.


  1. Welcome to the ‘Age of Influence,’ where anyone can build an audience and effect change, advocate brands, build relationships and make a difference. #RonR

  2. Indeed! Thanks so much Ted. I’m hoping more nonprofits will hop on board and learn how they can build relationships in this new era. Keep inspiring us!
    Claire recently posted…Clairity Click-it: Build Relationships; Online Content; Social MediaMy Profile

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