7 Keys to Effective Branding in a Social Media World

by Nancy Schwartz

As the nonprofit landscape gets increasingly complex, money and attention are tougher than ever to get. And, because your org is discussed on infinite communications channels, it’s more important than ever to brand your organization, programs, and campaigns.

When you do so – conveying credibility and value in a way that’s easy to remember and repeat – you’ll build long-lasting relationships with donors, volunteers, members, the media, clients and more. But it’s more challenging than ever in our 2.0 world.

Here are seven keys to effective branding in a social media world:

1. What a nonprofit brand IS NOT

  • Not what your organization stands for in the mind of your network
  • Not your organization’s self-image, mission or logo

2. What’s a nonprofit brand?

  • The intersection of what’s unique about the way your organization does its work and its impact AND
  • The interests and needs of your network.
  • This must be real, or it will undermine everything your org is trying to do.  BS meters are very sensitive.

3. Branding is

  • …the art of creating a consistent, recognizable, and clear unified voice or personality that conveys your org’s focus, credibility and unique contributions

4. Why branding matters, now more than ever before

  • More nonprofits looking…+ To secure a piece of fewer contributions, volunteers, board members, clients, customers = Heated Competition
  • If you don’t participate, that space/airwaves will be filled with the wrong information

5. How branding works:

  • A strong brand makes a real difference in developing and maintaining strong relationships with your network.
  • Strengthen or design your brand to ensure you stand out, generating action and building loyalty.
  • Be consistent about it, to build recognition (so it can be remembered and repeated) and avoid confusion.

6. The challenge of branding in an open source world

  • When your network spreads their word to their network, the potential is huge.
  • Encourage them to do so, for exponential reach.
  • But throw away the illusion of control!

7. Putting your base to work

  • Don’t assume they’ll spread the word. Make it clear what needs to be done and ask for it. (But only after you’ve established relationships. You can’t do this with new “friends”. You have to get to know each other first.)
  • When someone picks up the flag and runs with it, showcase their efforts. This is much more effective than your org making the ask directly.
  • Make it easy for your network to spread the word correctly, avoiding confusion, misunderstandings, blow ups, etc. Provide graphics, widgets, whatever is going to make their viral marketing more effective.
  • Thank your base profusely, frequently, and personally for spreading the word!

Hear Nancy talk more about branding in Web2.0.

Nancy E. Schwartz helps nonprofits succeed through effective marketing and communications. You can get more nonprofit marketing guidance via her Getting Attention blog and e-updates. Nancy is also a board member of NTEN, Your Nonprofit technology community.