Most of us who have been in the communications business for a while were taught to be push communicators — we pushed as much information as we could out to audiences, and hoped they connected. We were engaging in a shouting match for audiences' attentions, and usually the product, or company, or cause that yelled the loudest got the most attention.
Then came social media and everything changed. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter and others, came pull communication, changing our orientation from shouters to listeners. Instead of pushing messages, we are now in a position of receiving and responding to messages, and using that exchange to build a relationship.
If you are thinking, "I am posting things to Facebook all the time and no one is responding, I wonder why?" Well, you are being a push communicator in a pull medium. By being good pull communicators, we can tap into our supporters' thoughts and needs. When we use social media to learn what is important to them, we can then respond.
So how can you become a pull communicator, while still getting the messages out?
1. Think, "How can I be of service today?"
When browsing tweets or posts, think of ways you can respond. Are followers or fans complaining, questioning, complimenting? Be there to meet their agenda first, not yours. Once that relationship is started, then you can start to share what you want them to know.
2. Be open and honest.
In social media, the more authentic you can be, the better. This is no place to be too slick and polished. You will come across as inauthentic. Openness and honesty build trust in audiences.
3. Lose a little control.
What if your front-line folks were posting and tweeting for you? Your social workers, teachers, case managers? What if they were empowered to share their love of what they do? Imagine how powerful and interesting that would be. Nonprofits miss out on relationship-building opportunities because they fear losing control of the message. Social media gives you an opportunity to be available to build relationships, answer questions, field complaints and solve problems, you just have to be willing to give people the autonomy to do that.
4. Give them what they want.
Consumers want information on demand. We want to learn about an organization or cause when we are ready. Your job is to be there when they want information.
5. If you have to push, do this.
If you need to push a message, start your post with a question and an example. Say your organization helps kids with learning disabilities, and you want to share information on homework techniques. Try this: "Do you think having a dedicated space for homework is important? What else is important for getting homework done? Share your tips, and read these techniques." We are saying something to start conversation, asking for input, and telling our audience to get more information. This allows us to share what we know while allowing others to be engaged with us. We are pushing and pulling at the same time!
Contact us to continue the conversation!