Share Your Office Love
Today’s blog post is written by Alex Pagano, Data Specialist, Patron Technology.
You work hard for your non-profit every day – preparing donor mailings, planning your season, and reading blogs like this one. But how many of your supporters know exactly what your day-to-day schedule looks like? You, and your entire organization, could benefit greatly by examining how you communicate the inner workings of your office with your “sphere of influencers” – that is, your artists, your board, your patrons, and your coworkers. If you do this, you’ll join many others organizations who have found that when they present themselves in a personal manner, they get more support.
Of course, you’ll need to take disparate messaging approaches to communicate with each of these groups. As the first part of a periodic series of posts I’ll be writing on this topic, today I’d like to focus how to bring your office life to your patrons.
This Time, It’s Personal – or at least, it should be
We all want to be successful when communicating with our patrons. The difference between good and great messaging might mean the difference between empty seats and a sold out show, and can create a buzz of excitement around your organization.
The channel and the voice of impactful communications, however, are constantly changing. In the past, a hard mailing, a website announcement, and maybe some e-blasts would have been effective.
However, a May 2015 study at the University of Illinois suggests this is no longer the case. In the study, investors were significantly more likely to invest in a company when information came from a human source – in this case, directly from the CEO, and on Twitter. The professor overseeing the experiment explains, “frequent updates feel like a personal connection with the CEO”, helping investors “develop an enduring relational trust”. In a separate study by Boston Consulting Group, members of both the Millennial and the Baby Boomer generations listed “being authentic” as one of the top three ways brands can engage and interest them.
The conclusion? Whether in the theatre lobby or on social media, it’s time to shift communication – both the channels we choose, and the message we send – to a more personal approach. We need to build a human connection.
A Slice of Life through social media
This is where the communicating your day-to-day office life comes in handy, as nothing is more human than, well, human life. For a closer, more cozy look into your organization, try taking to social media such as Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. I’d describe how to create the perfect post, but it would be far easier and more effective to point to Amy Wratchford’s (American Shakespeare Center) Instagram post from February.
In one picture, one sentence, and a handful of hashtags, Amy has given her patrons an inside scoop, and has brought them closer to American Shakespeare Center. By making her post brief and about a personal aspect of her work day, Amy made sure she wouldn’t a) bore her followers, or b) feel unauthentic. Hats off, Amy!
You can’t talk about social media, of course, without talking about Millennials. Growing your audience demands you engage younger potential patrons, and all signs point to these mediums as the best way to do so. In the BCG study I mentioned above, over 50% of Millennials reported they were willingness to share brand preferences over social media or online. Combine this with a recent Forrester Consulting survey showing that Millennials discover content primarily through social media, and you have a recipe for reaching a new audience. If an entire new generation of patrons is most likely to find you on social media, and then share their new discovery with their friends over the same platforms – why leave them wanting?
Finding the Time is knowing where to look
But one question remains – how are you supposed to fit perfect social media posts into your schedule, when your time and resources are already stretched thin?
The answer is three-fold. First, let’s look back to Amy’s post. Notice that the post was a picture of something she was already doing, and that the text in the post was brief. The reward to effort in posts like these is very high. The fact of the matter is that tweeting a 140-character update like “Dropping season tickets in the mail! Can’t wait for [your favorite event of next season] #soexcited #yourorghere” should take fewer than five minutes. The problems come when you start looking at your feed, other people’s posts, etc. Decide you’re going to spend five minutes on your post, and be done with it.
Second, evaluate how frequently you’re hitting up your patrons’ email inbox. This excellent September blog post dives deep into research surrounding effective email marketing frequency. The main takeaway, though, is that patrons want less fewer e-blasts. If you’re sending more than two per week, you should consider replacing one of those with a couple more personal (and less time consuming) Twitter posts.
Third, spread the responsibility around your office. If you’re lucky enough to have more than one employee, or a volunteer you can really trust, ask them to read this. If you can have multiple people committed to just two social media posts per week, you’ll be building a more personal connection with your patrons in no time.
Talk, Talk, Talk
That’s it for today, but my next post will expand our scope and let our artists in on the office party!