How nonprofits can benefit from real-time marketing

Utilizing real-time marketing on social media can help a nonprofit look active and in touch.
Date Published
05/04/2015

As nonprofits move promotional strategies toward social media, it is essential they take advantage of the speed that online communication can provide. The Internet allows organizations to connect to their donors, volunteers and other interested parties instantly. Making sure timely information is being shared is an effective strategy to maximum viewer impact.

Real-time marketing allows nonprofits to make use of current news and popular trends to reach their audience. Here are some best practices when incorporating real-time marketing into an organization’s promotional materials:

1. Utilize young volunteers
Many young people are willing to volunteer, but not all organizations know how to use them effectively. Youthful volunteers may not have the skills or talents of more experienced workers, but they tend to be active on social media and aware of popular trends.

Business 2 Community featured a story about how the Philadelphia Police Department used the animated film “Frozen” to prepare citizens for an upcoming snow storm. They used images and slogans from the film to raise awareness of parking policies during heavy snow build up. This type of messaging could catch the eye of younger drivers and parents with small children.

Real-time strategies are a chance for youthful volunteers to speak for their age group. A nonprofit  should listen to input on marketing strategies and encourage them to participate in personal promotion on their social media pages. 

2. Prepare for the future
It may seem like a difficult task to have promotional material ready for a trend or event that suddenly becomes popular overnight. An organization may fear that if they embrace real-time marketing, they will just be playing catch up with what everybody else is already talking about.

Keep in mind most popular events are announced beforehand. An organization can prepare materials for holidays, popular summer films, political elections or any other scheduled events before they happen.

It is important for a nonprofit to have the tools necessary to plan and release marketing material in accordance with these popular happenings. Nonprofit software can schedule a marketing plan around important dates. It can also help track the effectiveness of real-time strategies used for particular events so an organizations knows which events and strategies brought the most attention to its cause.

3. Be relevant to the message
Business News Daily Assistant Editor Nicole Fallon warned against organizations using non-relevant popular events to promote their cause. Fallon suggested jumping on a trend that doesn’t relate to a nonprofit’s message wouldn’t do much to benefit the organization’s goals and could alienate potential audiences.

When news breaks that everybody is talking about, it may be tempting for an organization to try to get their name associated with the story. If a nonprofit forces itself into a trend it has no place in, it could end up appearing disingenuous.

Be patient. With the advances in communication speed and information sharing, new trends and stories are popping up all the time. By keeping a watchful eye on current media, a nonprofit is sure to find a news story or event that influences and supports its message.

4. Show how to organization participates in the world
A nonprofit’s cause should be relevant to the modern world. The mission statement for an organization should be one that is constantly being affected by developing news. Many government decisions or world events will likely have some bearing on a nonprofit, and the nonprofit’s audience could and should be kept up to date on this information.

Marketing Sherpa recorded a case study about an organization’s success in utilizing real-time marketing strategies. Cheryl Bailes, Director of Direct Mail Fundraising for World Jewish Congress, stated she had begun sending out direct email fundraising requests that referenced recent news stories. Before she had just sent general calls to action. Bailes said she found the real-time strategies were more effective.

“As we learned when testing emails with accompanying online petitions, when we sent an email with a purpose or particular topic in recent news that affected world Jewry, with a sense of urgency to act or respond, we saw much better results (donations),” Bailes told Marketing Sherpa.

Real-time marketing will prevent a nonprofit from looking stagnant. It is a way to show an organization is aware of the world around it and is taking steps to participate in current events. 

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