With a new year less than a month away, it’s a good time to check in on trends in communications and how they might affect your social change organization.
Here are three developments nonprofit leaders need to watch in 2015 and our ideas about how you can respond.
Social Sharing Vs. Search Engines
For years bloggers chased search engine rankings to attract an online audience. Popping up on Google’s search page will always matter, but it’s no longer the only game in town as social sharing plays a bigger and bigger role in helping your audiences find you.
News sites like BuzzFeed, which have skillfully used social media to attract more than a 150 million readers a month, show the power of social sharing.
2015 is the time to step up your game. Create or update a social media plan. Be clear about who you want to reach, the action you want them to take, and the content you will provide. Focus on growing the one or two social media accounts that matter most to your audience. Don’t neglect basic tactics like social sharing buttons.
Beware of Online Echo Chambers
Most people are comfortable with others who share their views, especially on social media. In fact, people who don’t see eye to eye about passionate topics avoid each other online. Twitter exploded with messages after the Ferguson grand jury announced its decision, though there were few tweets between people who disagreed.
In order to cut through those silos, it will become increasingly important to understand audiences beyond your network that may require persuasion. In 2015, carefully define who you want to influence (the general public is not an audience), invest in research to understand their beliefs and behavior, and test and refine messages in a careful, genuine way that address people’s concerns.
Beliefs Trump Facts
You can’t rely on just the facts to persuade others on contentious issues like climate change, the Middle East, or fluoridation. Academics like Brendan Nyhan say that you need to acknowledge and address people’s values and ideals, too.
What can your nonprofit do to move others toward a point of view that may conflict with beliefs?
According to Dan Kahan at Yale, tapping influential ambassadors that reach your target audiences, especially at the local level, can make a difference. Andy Hoffman, who teaches at the University of Michigan’s business school, has found that highlighting the Pentagon’s concerns about climate change can allow people to consider the issue from a different perspective.
How have you addressed these trends? Share your ideas in the comments below.