Now more than ever, communications are increasingly social, and blogging is an essential part of an organization’s marketing strategy. After all, blogging was the start of the social web, giving people the chance to comment and share ideas freely. Starting and maintaining a conversation with your community is a great way to tell your organization’s story and create a mutual understanding of your goals (whether they be mission-based or fundraising-based). We attended the NonProfit Tech for Good webinar “10 Blogging Best Practices for NGOs” to share tips with you on how to how to write, implement, and maintain a nonprofit-specific blogging strategy.
- Integrate blogging into your content strategy
To be effective in your online communications and fundraising campaigns, particularly on social media and in email communications, you must have a consistent source of fresh content.
Tip from TGS: Make sure that updates to your blog coincide with major events, fundraising campaigns, and mission moments. Using an editorial calendar is a useful tool for keeping track of all the pieces of communication that need updating.
- Host your blog within your website
Hosting your blog inside your website will maximize SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Search engines (especially Google) LOVE original content, so the more frequently you appear to be updating your site (even if through a blog) the better your rankings.
Tip from TGS: Hosting your site on an easy-to-manage CMS like WordPress.org allows you to easily integrate a blog into your site. There are hundreds of responsively designed, low cost WordPress.org templates designed specifically for nonprofits.
- Ensure that your blog is mobile compatible
Experience the site the way your average constituent would. The majority of your blog content will be viewed on tablets and smartphones, thus you must ensure that your blog is designed responsively. You should also prioritize images and large tappable donate buttons to make it easy for users to donate.
Tip from TGS: Whenever you have an event or a major meeting, be sure you snap a quick photo; adding visual interest always makes a read more interesting.
- Ensure that your blog is easy to read
Select a two-column template with a white background and black text. Body font should be a minimum of 13 point and headlines should be a minimum of 18 point. Blog posts can be as short as two paragraphs. Any blog longer than 6 paragraphs should be extremely well-written or in bullet point form.
Tip from TGS: Always have an action in mind you’d like your reader to take after reading your blog post. Do you want them to Donate? Volunteer? Attend an Event? Be specific and be sure your CTA (Call to Action) is highly visible.
- Invest in good graphic design
Invest time and/or money in designing a header for your blog that makes a good first impression and prominently features social network icons, e-newsletter and mobile alert opt-ins (if applicable). If people like your content, they are more likely to want to follow your other communication channels for more frequent updates and custom designed social network icons get more clicks.
Tip from TGS: Make sure your “Donate” button is always easy to find, even on your blog. You never know when people will be inspired to give.
- Rotate promotional graphics on your blog
Create promotional graphics for your blog for events, donations, mission moments, etc. If you’ve hooked them on an article within your blog, you don’t want to make them search for how to get further involved with your organization. Be sure that your user can see your CTA in two seconds or less.
Tip from TGS: Make sure your CTAs make sense with your content. If talking about an upcoming event, allow readers to easily purchase tickets or sign up to volunteer. If talking about the need for funds to support mission activity, make sure readers can easily donate.
- Enable readers to easily comment
Respond to comments posted on your blog when necessary. Delete comments that you think are rude and inconsiderate, but allow those that disagree respectfully to remain visible. You can implement a service like Disqus that signs in users with their Facebook profiles, to keep people accountable for what they say.
Tip from TGS: Commentary on your blog is good. Encourage conversation instead of only responding outright. The more communication readers have with your brand, the more connected they will be to your mission.
- Blog at least once a week
The idea that you are supposed to blog everyday is a myth. At minimum, blog once or twice a week. That said, the more often you blog, the higher the ROI. Allow guest/multiple bloggers to share their experiences with your organization or their subject matter expertise and keep it diversified.
Tip from TGS: Every blog post doesn’t have to be a novel. Short posts about news/current events related to your mission along with a point of view from your organization are just as powerful. In reality shorter posts get read more thoroughly. Writing your posts shouldn’t be a chore.
- Title blogs to optimize SEO and social sharing
Consistently use keywords in your blog posts that are relevant to your mission; strong keywords help grab the attention of readers and search engines. Create blog title images (with image names) to grab reader’s attention and to maximize image searching. Once engaged with your content, you need to make it easy for readers to share your blog content on social media networks, using a plugin such as Shareaholic.
Tip from TGS: Don’t make it hard for people to love you and share their passion for your mission. Whenever possible allow readers opportunities to quickly and easily share your blog posts and become evangelists for your cause.
- Diversify your blog content
The idea that blogs must be editorial, written in first person and only about your mission is an antiquated idea. There are so many great ideas and angles you can take, like summarizing a breaking news story or making a statement about the news story. You can also ask readers to donate, sign a petition, share your nonprofit’s page on Facebook, follow you on Instagram, become a volunteer, buy a t-shirt, etc.
Tip from TGS: People love statistics, especially images of statistics. Creating visually impactful statistics that surprise or delight your readers is a great way to get them talking about your cause.
The overall most important thing to remember when setting out to develop a blog strategy, is to not overthink it. Your readers are interested in what is happening in your organization and your opinion on issues surrounding your cause. Think of your blog as a great way to start a conversation with people you want involved in creating change.