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Nonprofit Marketing

What We Learned in 2015

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What We Learned in 2015

What We Learned in 2016 -- WhyWhisper Collective

2015 was an exciting year! We worked to expand access to integrative healthcare for communities in need, designed programs to support new mothers, expanded awareness of clean energy initiatives in New York, and so much more. We connected with inspiring individuals who are working to change the world every day. We made big internal changes (that we’re excited to share with you in 2016!). And, perhaps most importantly, we learned a lot.

Along the way, we’ve been sure to share many of our takeaways with you via our blog. As 2015 comes to a close and you’re kicking of 2016, be sure to check out the posts below to find insights on the subjects (both personal and professional) that are most relevant to you!

Start with Yourself

This year, we learned a lot about the importance of taking time for self-care and self-improvement. The positive effects of taking care of yourself extend to all areas of your life -- from mental health to workplace effectiveness. Self-improvement looks different for each individual, and can encompass anything from taking time off, to making more responsible purchasing decisions, to educating yourself about things that matter to you. To help you get started, here’s some of what we’ve learned:

 

Learn from the Experts

We believe one of the best ways to learn about social impact is by example. This year, we’ve been lucky enough to connect with and learn from innovative and effective leaders from nonprofits, social enterprises, and corporations. Here’s a bit of what we’ve learned:

 

Share Your Message

One of our focus areas at WhyWhisper is helping nonprofits and socially conscious businesses spread the word about their work. From developing voice and messaging guidelines to implementing an effective social media strategy and beyond, there are so many ways you can ensure that people know about the impact you’re making. If you’re looking for tips, start here:

 

Think About Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

The concept of building social impact into existing business models is on the rise, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. Businesses and corporations can make significant headway in addressing social issues, and we look forward to seeing (and helping) more of you follow suit next year. If you’re interested in learning more about CSR, here’s some of what we’ve shared this past year:

 

Increase Your Impact

We’re constantly exploring ways that organizations and businesses can make internal changes that have a positive effect on their workplaces and on the world. Here’s some of what we’ve learned:

 

Take Action

We’re also always looking for ways to help our community bridge the gap between caring about a particular issue and actually taking action. When you’re short on resources, or don’t really know where to get started, it can be tough to make moves. We’ve put together a number of posts about how you can take action around different issues – and some are as easy as talking about the issues online! Check them out:

 

Words of Wisdom for Freelancers

At WhyWhisper, we set out to build a different kind of work structure. As such, our team is comprised of consultants who work remotely and independently, taking on projects that are personally meaningful with teammates who support and inspire. But freelancing has its own challenges, and we’ve learned a lot along the way:

What’s your biggest learning from 2015? We’d love to hear about it, and share with our community. Here’s how to get in touch:

Happy New Year to our incredible community! We’re so lucky to learn from you every day, and can’t wait for all that we’ll do together this year. Feel free to connect with us anytime – we love to hear from you.

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5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game

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5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game

by Kate Vandeveld

Let’s talk about #hashtags. As many of us know, hashtags allow social media users to group key words and phrases so they are easily searchable. But these days, they are so much more; and coming up with a solid hashtag is a crucial element of most successful social media strategies.

5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game - via WhyWhisper

Here are some of the ways you can use hashtags take your social media strategy to the next level:

Promote an Event

You can use a hashtag to promote an upcoming event. Share event details using the hashtag, so potential and confirmed attendees can easily see what you’ll have to offer. Ask ticket purchasers to share that they’re attending using the event hashtag, so that their followers will take notice as well. Promote images of past events, when possible, to entice first-time attendees.

Then, use the same hashtag during the event itself so attendees can share their experiences, be it through quotes, anecdotes or photos. This is free (and sometimes even viral) publicity, plus it allows you to review the event from the perspective of your attendees after it’s over.

One great example is goods for goods#GalaforGood campaign. Leading up to their annual Gala for Good fundraiser, the organization uses the hashtag to share event details, encouraging their followers to join in the fun and promote the cause. Then, at the gala, attendees are encouraged to share their favorite parts of the evening using the hashtag, providing a fun overview for anyone interested (and fodder for the next year’s campaign!).

5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game - via WhyWhisper Collective

 

Launch a Campaign

Whether you’re launching a new product or fundraiser, you can rally people around your campaign with a great hashtag. Often, people first become interested in a product or an organization because they’re committed to the mission behind it. Hashtags give companies and organizations the opportunity to share their mission in one short, shareable statement that will engage their followers.

Standbuy, a crowdfunding platform for those who have been diagnosed with cancer, launched a fundraiser last year using the hashtag #StandbuyEachother. Not only did they encourage contributors to spread the word about the campaign, but they also used the hashtag to collect stories of gratitude for times that their followers received help in a time of need. Using the hashtag in this way built a positive conversation around the campaign, and strengthened and expanded Standbuy’s community of supporters.

5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game - via WhyWhisper

 

Increase Engagement

Hashtags can also be used to increase engagement with your target audience and expand your following. One tactic is to ask questions of your followers using a specific hashtag, and encourage them to share their answers using it as well. Another is to simply include your hashtag in posts about a relevant topic, and ask your followers to do the same.

For example, nonprofit organizations that are working to end human trafficking often use hashtags like #endhumantrafficking, #endtrafficking, and #endslavery to rally supporters on social media. Through these hashtags, those who are interested in the issue can engage with organizations that are doing work they believe in, that they may not have known about otherwise.  You can learn more about how to get involved in the fight against human trafficking here

5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game - via WhyWhisper

 

Participate in a Movement

Twitter has emerged as a platform for discussion around major global events and social issues, and those conversations are often centered around hashtags. Hashtags allow people from around the world to easily connect on these topics, sharing their thoughts and opinions.

One incredible example of how a hashtag contributed to such a movement started in summer of 2013, when George Zimmerman was acquitted of shooting Trayvon Martin. In response, hundreds of thousands of individuals participated in the #BlackLivesMatter movement on Twitter, voicing their anger and disappointment in the police force and judicial system. Today, the movement continues, and extends far beyond Twitter.

If you’re interested in using hashtags in this way, here are some other ways that you can spark global discourse through Twitter.

5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game - via WhyWhisper

 

Start or Join a Trending Topic

You can also use hashtags to attract new followers in your day-to-day strategy. The original purpose of hashtags was to organize certain words and phrases so that they are easily searchable to all users. That purpose is still relevant today, and is the basis for many meaningful connections.

If you’re tweeting about a topic that you think others might be talking about as well, do a little bit of research on the hashtags associated with the topic. If it’s something that is currently in the news, it may be an official trending topic – check the list on the left-hand side of your Twitter feed. If not, you can still include relevant hashtags in your tweets to engage others who might be searching for articles or conversation on the same topic. Some of our favorites are #socialimpact, #socent, and #changemakers. Share with us in the comments if you know of a hashtag you think we should follow!

5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game - via WhyWhisper

 

While Twitter and Instagram are the most popular platforms for using hashtags, they are also supported on Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and more. Be sure to consider which platforms you’ll be using and how you can integrate your hashtag into your campaign across all of them.

If you’re developing your own hashtag, make it simple, catchy, and unique to ensure effectiveness. A good hashtag is pure gold when it comes to engagement in the fast-paced world of social media, so take the time to be thoughtful about it.

What’s the best hashtag campaign you’ve seen recently? We want to know about it! Share with us in the comments below, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You?

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Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You?

by Kate Vandeveld

At WhyWhisper, we work to make sure that organizations and businesses that are changing the world are able to spread the word about their work as effectively as possible. And as a widely available, generally unrestricted, and low-cost communication channel, social media is an essential part of any marketing and communications strategy.

But in order to engage the right audiences and enhance your brand, it is crucial to choose the right social platforms. Too often, organizations opt to use too many platforms, and then neglect them or use them ineffectively; or choose the wrong platforms and miss important segments of their audience.

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? on WhyWhisper

Here’s what you need to consider in order to ensure that you’re utilizing the social media platforms that are best for you: 

Who are you trying to reach?  

What are the demographics of the people you’re talking to? Think in terms of age, gender, location, education, income level, etc. Also, are you hoping to reach individuals or businesses?  

What kind of content do you have to share?

Do you have a lot of original content to share with your followers? How often does your content feature images that you could share on social media?

How much time do you have to stay active?

Think about this in terms of how much time you’ll have to dedicate to social media on a daily or weekly basis.


Once you’ve identified your target audience, reviewed the amount of original content you have to share, and assessed how much time you have to remain active and engaged, you can start to determine which platforms you should be using. Here’s how it breaks down on some of the most widely used social media platforms:

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? - WhyWhisper
  • Audience: Facebook has the largest audience of all of the social media platforms, with little variance between age and gender, though it skews slightly female. Facebook can be used to reach any demographic.
  • Content: Consider using Facebook if you have access a good deal of original content. Ideally, you’ll want to use images as much as possible on Facebook, as posts that include images perform much more successfully than those without.
  • Time commitment: Facebook requires a lower time commitment, as most posts can be scheduled in advance through the Facebook platform itself, and you won’t need to engage as actively as you would on a more fast-paced platform like Twitter.
    • Recommended frequency: 1-2 posts each day (scheduled through Facebook)

 

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? - WhyWhisper
  • Audience: If you’re trying to reach a younger audience, especially those aged 18-49, consider using Twitter. While Twitter’s audience skews slightly male, you definitely shouldn’t discount it if you are looking to reach a more female audience. Because Twitter’s users are more active than those on other platforms, with 46% logging in on a daily basis, it is ideal for reaching highly engaged individuals who are looking for the latest and greatest information.
  • Content: If you are going to use Twitter, you should have access to a large amount of original content or the time and ability to remain consistently active with your followers on a daily basis. Twitter’s interface is such that new posts are only at the top of the queue momentarily, so you have to introduce new content frequently to stay on your audience’s radar.
  • Time commitment: As noted, Twitter requires more consistent time commitment for growth and engagement. Though the bulk of your posts can be scheduled in advance through a third party management tool, you will want to be engage with your followers live as much as possible as well.
    • Recommended frequency: 4+ posts each day (scheduled through a third party management tool), plus as much live interaction with followers as possible

 

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? - WhyWhisper
  • Audience: If you are trying to reach the 18-29 age bracket, consider using Instagram. The platform’s users skew slightly female (29% of all internet users versus 22% of men). Instagram’s audience has been steadily on the rise, with 26% of adult internet users now on the platform (up from 17% in 2013), so it’s definitely worth considering if you have access to compelling visual content.
  • Content: As Instagram is a primarily visual platform, you should definitely have access to shareable images if you’re considering using Instagram.  
  • Time commitment: Instagram requires frequent sharing and consistent use for growth and engagement, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding whether or not to use it. Posts can be scheduled in advance through a third party management tool, though on this platform it is more difficult to control the visual outcome of a scheduled post than it is to post live. Because of that, we recommend testing out the management tool to make sure that posts look the way that you want them to before scheduling a large number of them.
    • Recommended frequency: Posting 4-7x/week (live or scheduled through a third party management tool), plus as much live interaction with followers as possible

 

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? - WhyWhisper
  • Audience: If you are trying to reach females aged 18-29 and 50+, you should definitely consider Pinterest. Pinterest skews considerably more female, with 42% of women on the internet are using the platform compared with just 13% of men.
  • Content: Pinterest content is focused around images, so definitely consider this platform if your content is image heavy.
  • Time commitment: Pinterest requires active sharing and use in order to grow and maintain a following. Like with Instagram, Pinterest posts can be scheduled in advance through a third party management tool, but be sure to test it out to make sure that your posts look like you intend them to before scheduling a large number.
    • Recommended frequency: Posting 3-5x/week (live or scheduled through a third party management tool), plus as much live interaction with followers as possible

 

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  • Audience: If you are trying to reach employed college graduates aged 30-64, you should consider using LinkedIn. This platform is geared toward professionals, and those who are looking to network on a business level. Because of this, LinkedIn is ideal for B2B companies, and companies with a high level of need for new talent. It's also great for non-profits that are looking to find volunteers and engage with other similar organizations.
  • Content: LinkedIn users are looking for industry insights and news about your business or organization. If you have a good amount of that kind of information to share with a young professional audience, definitely consider using LinkedIn. LinkedIn is also a great place for finding volunteers, building professional connections, and finding new talent for your business.
  • Time commitment: LinkedIn requires less consistent sharing and use, so it is not nearly as time consuming as some of the more fast-paced platforms. As with Instagram and Pinterest, posts can be scheduled in advance through a third party management tool (like Hootsuite or Sprout Social), but we recommend that you test it out with LinkedIn as well.
    • Recommended frequency: Posting 1-2x/week (live or scheduled through a third party management tool), plus some interaction with groups that are relevant to you or your brand

Once you’ve narrowed your options down, we recommend that you get a bit more in-depth with your strategy. Consider the following:

Which platforms are your competitors using, and how are they using them?

Research where your competitors are on social media, and how successful they are on the platforms they’re using. You’ll likely want to be where your competitors are, and you can use their strategies as a starting point to determine what is working to engage similar audiences (as well as what isn’t!).

How do you or your brand stand out from competitors, and how can you use social media to showcase that?

Think about the things that make you or your brand unique from your competitors, and how you can accentuate that value through social media. For example, if your content features beautiful images, whereas your competitors’ does not, which platforms can you use to best showcase them? This way, you can draw in a different segment of your shared audience.


If used effectively, social media can make a huge difference in helping you achieve your goals, whether you want to increase web traffic, boost donations or revenue, or simply grow your following.

What are your favorite social media platforms, and why? Let us know in the comments below, or share with us on our own social platforms – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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8 Steps to a Powerful Nonprofit Case Study

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8 Steps to a Powerful Nonprofit Case Study

by Shanley Knox & Alexandra Ostrow

Time and time again, it's been said that individual stories are the single most powerful tool for increasing nonprofit donations. These stories, when coupled with key facts and statistics, make for a very powerful case study. 

It is therefore important to take note of one of the key difficulties encountered when including an individual's life in a case study: publishing personal stories can have ramifications on safety, reputation, confidence levels, and so much more. While you want to demonstrate your impact, you also want to handle a life with the utmost caution and respect. 

Below, we outline a step-by-step process for building a powerful, results-driven case study, while maintaining respect, and also being mindful of safety:

  1. The End Result
    It might sound counter-intuitive, but you need to begin at the end. What does “success” look like for your organization? What are you able to prove? What are donors looking for? Make sure you're being specific about what you’re measuring. 
     
  2. The Person Behind the Story
    Based on the impact you plan to illustrate, identify the person or people whose story would be best to tell. Make sure to think through the personal elements that donors will relate to most, as these will need to be incorporated. 
     
  3. The Written Elements of His or Her Story
    Create a list of questions you would like this person to answer that will help illustrate "The Before", as well as "The After."  
     
  4. The Process
    Where were funds spent? Who was brought in to help? Why were these specific measures taken? Provide clear, concise descriptions of the factors that led to success. 
     
  5. Rich Media Assets
    Think through what assets will best illustrate the story. Get creative... Photos? A video interview? An infographic? You should be prepared to illustrate "The Before", "The Process", and "The After".
     
  6. Consent
    Create a signed release/express permission form that explains exactly what information and assets will be shared. Find creative ways to shield personal details and/or identities for those who could be hurt or embarrassed were their identities or personal details to be revealed. If it's necessary, change their name, and use a small disclaimer such as, “I'll call her Joanne…,” or “John, a pseudonym...” Make sure you've secured explicit written permission before publishing stories or photographs, and when in doubt, don't hesitate to consult a lawyer.
     
  7. Assemble the Pieces
    Because your case study involves a personal story, it can be difficult to isolate the most important information to include. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself incorporating emotional, yet irrelevant, information, which subsequently detracts from key points. When pulling together your case study, make sure that you're still focusing on a single area, for which you're able to measure the results. 
     
  8. Distribute
    Once you’re finished (and you've circulated your case study for feedback), be sure to:
    • Incorporate into fundraising presentations
    • Include in grant proposals
    • Post to your website
    • Send out via e-newsletter
    • Share through your social channels

Don't forget to integrate Calls-to-Action. Readers/viewers have many pieces of content competing for their attention. If they've taken an interest in your case study, you want to convert their interest by telling them what to do next... Donate? Sign up? Contact us? Don't miss your opportunity.  

Is there something we missed? Or, do you have a particularly compelling case study to share? As always, our team would love to hear from you! Post in the comments below, or contact us via Facebook, Twitter or Email

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For further reading: 

  • Click here to hear from other organizations on protecting confidentiality
  • Click here to read Lizbeth Paulat's, "How Not to Be a Jerk While Visiting Africa," a piece about photographing children
  • Click here to hear from FamCare on how to best use case studies for fundraising

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Developing a Nonprofit Strategy to Drive Donations

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Developing a Nonprofit Strategy to Drive Donations

by Shanley Knox

At WhyWhisper, we see a common thread among the nonprofit organizations we work with. While driving awareness and consideration is a critical need for nonprofits, the main concern is whether this awareness will drive back to donations. 

That’s always the crux of the social media issue, isn’t it? Organizations want to see direct return on investment in order to feel that their time, energy, and budget is directly growing their capacity for positive impact.

While there is no magic formula for increasing donations, there are elements of social strategy that have been directly tied to increasing donor consideration. Below, we detail out some of our team's favorites:

Get Personal:
It’s been said that your best customer is the customer you already have. The same is true for donors. Every time a donor contributes, you have a direct opportunity to convince them to do it again — not to mention convincing their social followers to do the same. One powerful way to amplify this opportunity is by tweeting links to your donation landing page and letting individual donors know how their contribution has made a difference.

charity:water, a New York-based nonprofit committed to providing clean drinking water across the globe, takes this strategy to the next level by sending donors letters about how their donations have been used, with a link to encourage them to share the difference they’ve made via social media.

Tell a Story:

While Twitter is a powerful platform for sending short bits of information to donors, Facebook is the most effective way to tell a social story.

The more specific a story can be, the more emotionally moving it is for donors to see and relate to. This is evidenced by the success of Make A Wish Foundation's Facebook page , which features pictures, names, ages, and stories of the children whose wishes have been granted through donors' contributions. On these posts, fans regularly share their own stories, illustrating the lasting bond built by the organization. 

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Make a Game of it:

Blood donation shortages have been an issue for years. Red Cross Singapores response? Make a game out of it. 

In a recent effort to encourage blood donation, the organization created an iOS and Android application that uses social recognition, sharing, and donation push alerts to encourage donors to be actively involved in solving the organizations long-term donation shortage. 

Still not sure you want to get in on the fun? Here are 10 more examples of gamification playing a critical role in generating engagement and donations for social causes around the world.

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Include Digital Advertising: 

Digital advertising - and video advertisement in particular - is extremely successful when it comes to driving donations. According to a July 2013 Google study, 76% of donors research online less than one week after viewing an ad. Additionally, 57% of people make a donation after viewing a video online.

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Go Mobile:

Last, but certainly not least, it’s vital for nonprofits to include mobile optimization in their social strategy, as over 1/3 of people contact nonprofits via mobile devices and 25% complete their donations via their phones.  Additionally, 1 in 4 people find nonprofits of which they were not previously aware, via mobile searches and 40% compare reviews of causes they are interested in on their mobile devices.

Thinking of taking it a step further, and launching a mobile campaign? Here’s a great how-to guide to get you started.

Do you have a favorite social strategy element that you use to increase donations? Be sure to share with us below, or via Facebook and Twitter.

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How to Use Social Media for Nonprofit Fundraising and Engagement

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How to Use Social Media for Nonprofit Fundraising and Engagement

In 2012, the nonprofit charity: water raised $8 million through their online fundraising platform. They are, perhaps, one of the more telling examples of the power of digital platforms to grow nonprofit fundraising and engagement. By creating a strong digital story, targeted social content, and participating in regular engagement with fans and potential funders, nonprofit teams have more opportunity than ever before to promote their cause online. 

Here are several ways for your nonprofit to get started: 

Use a virtual help desk

Platforms such as Help Scout provide access to multiple team members, thereby allowing for prompt responses to donor emails. Features include: email integration that allows you to respond from your own inbox; the ability to leave private notes for your team; actionable reporting providing insight on response times and team performance; and real time monitoring that lets you know when someone has accessed or already responded to an email.  

Create advocates out of your donors

Your online platform should give members of your network the ability to engage with your cause and share it with their friends, family and networks. This type of relationship creates efficient opportunities for fan advocacy, and often occurs by giving fans the ability to create their own visual and written content to share with their networks. Here’s a helpful blog explaining several specific ways to encourage brand advocacy. 

Leverage social proof 

Many donors express that their chief concern is that their money is going to nonprofit overhead, rather than projects and individuals being served. One way to increase trust and comfortability is to leverage social proof. Social proof can be described as “informational social influence,” or the positive influence created when one person finds out that someone else they know or relate to is taking part in a campaign. As you provide ways for your donors to publicly share that they have donated to your cause, you will subsequently gain the trust of your donors networks. 

Identify brand evangelists

Is there a leader within your company that has a strong presence on social networks? Their wide reach can be used to elevate and tell the story of your cause. By posting their own unique story of passion for your nonprofit’s mission, perhaps with the history of how they arrived at their commitment, this individual (or several individuals!) can create a corresponding story that communicates the power of your mission and vision, while expanding your reach amongst their networks.

Use powerful storytelling 

Storytelling is perhaps the most effective way to utilize social media. Your organization should seek to tell one overarching story of your mission and cause. Within it, you can present the facets of several different ongoing stories, such as the individual success stories, the fans who donate and volunteer, and the connection between the two. The more personal you can make the story, the more powerful it will become. 

Are there other ways you have used digital media to grow your nonprofit reach? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below! 

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Are You Effectively Supporting Your Nonprofit Event via Social Media?

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Are You Effectively Supporting Your Nonprofit Event via Social Media?

Social media has the power to sell tickets, reach new audiences, and generate conversation. That being said, it involves more than just sharing an update. Here are a few ways to effectively use your channels before, during, and after an event: 

Create a Twitter Hashtag
Creating a unique Twitter hashtag is a great way to get fans to recognize and take part in conversation that pertains specifically to your event. It also provides an efficient way to access an organized feed of all relevant visual and written content, alongside the users who posted it.

Provide Branded Activation
Many event planners are now using tech-savvy ID wristbands for general admission and/or VIP access to their events. These wristbands can be customized for admission, ticketing, social sharing, and more -- all through RFID technology that uses radio waves to automatically identify people and/or objects. If you’re not feeling that tech-savvy just yet, you can create your own version of a branded photo booth. By placing signs or logos in photo backdrops and decorations, you establish a way for attendees to inadvertently promote your brand throughout the night. 

Use an Amplifier
An amplifier is a tool that allows fans to tweet all together at the start of an event. Some examples include Thunderclap, JustCoz and Gaggleamp. Thunderclap, for example, creates an impact through "the power of people speaking together”. If enough people in your network sign up, it blasts out a Facebook Post or Tweet from all your supporters at the exact same time, thereby creating a wave of social media attention. 

Create a TwitterWall
A Twitter wall serves as an ongoing visual reminder for attendees to live tweet throughout your event. Twitterfall and Visible Tweets are excellent for this purpose. People feel validation when seeing their tweets projected live. Meanwhile, your nonprofit gains visibility amongst attendees' online audiences. We've even seen people take online conversations offline after recognizing another's avatar! 

After Story
Once your event is over, follow up with digital participants to ensure that you effectively convert them into fans and donors. One way to continue the conversation is to collect photos with the event hashtag and post them to Facebook and flickr. Additionally, you can use an app like storify to curate tweets, photos, videos, and resources to share with attendees and fans.

Have other ways you like to promote your events? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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