This guest post is from Janet Fouts, the founder and CEO of Tatu Digital Media, a San Jose digital marketing agency. Founded in 1996, Tatu Digital works with a range of clients from tiny nonprofits to Fortune 500 corporations to manage brand reputation, create effective social business strategies, and implement inbound marketing, search engine optimization, and pay-per-click campaigns.

A mindful social business strategy centers around a thoughtful focus on the needs of the market rather than the "spray and pray" approach we are all so used to seeing in "traditional" marketing. More and more, people, online and off, expect us to know what they want. If we don't, they look for someone who does. Still, many marketers continue to think of a "target market" as one or two large units and create everything directed outward to a broad spectrum of needs.

Communication is a two-way conversation!

Seems like a no-brainer thing to say, doesn't it? In fact, most of the time, businesses direct their conversations in only one direction: out. In addition, traditional advertising aside, social marketing content is often focused more on what the marketer thinks and wants, rather than on what their intended recipient thinks and needs. Gross assumptions are made, like:

  • Buy our product now, or you'll miss out
  • See how smart/powerful/good we are
  • Save the....
  • We're expensive but worth it

Whatever the message, it's not very conversational, is it? That's the problem. Social media is a conversation. Social conversations naturally flow back and forth so you leave an opening and create an opportunity for your market to talk back to you. Use what you learn to make your marketing better and more efficient at connecting with their real needs. Learn how to convert evangelists for your brand from simple conversations.

Non-profit or for-profit, it all works the same

We often think nonprofits are much better at reaching individuals who are interested in their cause. After all, many nonprofit causes create feelings of emotion in order to enact change. Does that make us outraged to action? Sure it can, but sometimes it just makes us look away in hopeless discontent, and we don't act.

That's why organizations like charitywater have become such poster children for new media strategies. They show us photos of volunteers successfully making a difference in the world, and then they show us how we can do it, too. We feel enabled, and even if we aren't going to take our family on a trip to see the well we helped to fund, we feel empowered by the ability to ask our friends to support them by making micro-donations instead of giving us birthday gifts, and then we all see the results.

Mindful social media strategy is the answer

Harvard Professor Dr. Ellen Langer Ph.D. wrote Mindfulness some 25 years ago, in which she contends the mindless following of routine and automation can lead to more errors in day-to-day life, undermine the intuitive flow of conversation, and limit creativity. She explains how we get locked into a focus on the outcome instead of how we are going to get there, and in social media in particular, that's a problem. Mindless repetition and automation take the life and heart out of our work. It shows when the responses to our appeals to buy a product or support a cause fall on deaf ears while other, more mindful approaches work so very well.

It's time for us to quit paying lip service to social media. You're either engaging and listening to people, or you're just using the same old boring tactics, probably to little effect. If you want to learn more about how to create a social media strategy that is mindful and effective, I'm leading a webinar, “Reaching Your Social Media Goals With Mindful Engagement” for the Foundation Center on September 10, 2014. Join me for use-cases in how to create a strategy, tips and tricks to do it efficiently, and even how you can use automation as a way to encourage deeper engagement and relationships.

This blog post first appeared in Philanthropy Front and Center San Francisco, our San Francisco regional office's blog. Bone up on using social media in nonprofits with these related items from GrantSpace:

* Nonprofit Social Media Policy: Tips From a Nonprofit Lawyer (video)

* How Social Media Has Changed Donor Behavior, and What Your Organization Can Do About It (podcast)

* Nonprofits and Social Media: A Conversation with John Kenyon (video)

* Using Your Social Networks to Create Impact: A Conversation with JD Lasica (video)

Looking for more items like this? Search GrantSpace for "social media".

How does effective use of social media help you become a better grantseeker? It's another (but not the only) way to build and maintain relationships with your audience, which includes past, present, and future supporters. If done well, your Facebook friend today might become your eager donor next year, and then your "evangelist" in a few years. Strong support leads to strong organizations and more viable grant applicants. Do you agree? Sound off in our Comments area.

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