Keeping up with the Joneses is never easy — especially if the Joneses can outwork you, outspend you, and shout louder than you can. And if you’re vying for attention in a crowded online market, things aren’t getting any easier.
Craig Newmark (who’s best known as the founder of Craigslist) and his CraigConnects staff recently completed a survey of the social media habits of nonprofits. They compiled their findings into a comprehensive (and colorful) infographic.
One of their observations in particular really jumped out at us:
Out of 21 organizations we spoke with, only 1 does not have a designated social media person — neither part- nor full-time.
This means 20 of the 21 top nonprofits in the social media realm are paying at least one person to work part-time on their inbound marketing efforts. Some employ more than one person. Some employ those people full-time. And all of them want to ensure that their investments lead to results, so they’re willing to spend more money and allocate more resources toward reaching their organization’s goals.
If not, here are five off-the-wall tips for maximizing the usefulness of your own inbound marketing — whether you’re competing against the social efforts of part-timers, full-timers, or an army of rabid devotees…
1. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Does your competition have a robust online presence? Engage with them wherever they are. Comment on their media. Exchange ideas. Leverage their investments. There’s no rule that say you can’t play nice together — especially if you share a common goal.
2. Take a stand. Perhaps you’re afraid you might alienate some of your audience by speaking out in favor of — or against — a certain issue. But while you could potentially drive some supporters away by leaning in one direction, the audience that does agree with you is likely to become even more vocal — and loyal — to your brand because they’ll realize you have even more in common than they thought.
3. Set something free. Sure, you want to protect your brand, your logo, your intellectual property, your secret recipes and your client mailing list. But we bet there’s also some other, less vital aspect of your company, your expertise, or your collective media library that your supporters — or even complete strangers who could become supporters — would love to have access to (and make use of). Are you familiar with Creative Commons? Is there any part of your vast media empire which you could release to the public under a Creative Commons license? The resulting goodwill and media buzz may buy you the kind of karma and publicity that you can’t normally afford otherwise.
4. Break something. The inbound marketing world is filled with best practices and case studies that could trap you into believing there’s only one “best” way to do something. A best time of day to tweet… an optimal length for YouTube videos… a preferred salutation in your email newsletters… Our advice? Sometimes, you need to ignore all that. Completely. In fact, do the exact opposite. Because the only way to innovate — and to get people talking about you — is to not do what everyone else is doing.
5. Get vital. Life is short, and not everyone can afford to spend an hour of their time being pitched by you. Some can’t even afford two minutes. So boil down your value proposition.
If you only had three seconds to get someone’s attention and drive them to take action on your behalf, what’s the one thing they would need to know in order to make a decision? Start with that piece of information and build out from there. Everything else, as beautiful as it may be, is incidental. But by connecting with your audience on a basic, primal level, you can short-circuit the need to convince them of your value and you can immediately begin fulfilling their needs — and your own.