How can a business or a non-profit organisation make better use of social media? Can it become a consistent source of sales leads, donations and business wins - rather than just something that raises awareness?
The answer is a resounding yes!
I was recently invited by Hugh Ballou to join him on a live stream to address these topics and more. My thanks for both the invitation to present and the effort that went into producing the recording of the session. I hope the following video and transcript help you in getting to grips with using social media more effectively.
Hugh Ballou: Hey, it’s Hugh Ballou. Here we are for another episode of The Nonprofit Exchange. We have great guests every week, but it just gets better all the time. We have a topic today that a lot of people know about, but very few people know about it. They know what it’s called, but the thing about social media is most people don’t have a plan or protocol or methodology. For the most part, it’s not very social.
My guest today is beaming in from England. You’ll have to tell us about where you are. Tony Restell, you’re from England with a unique specialty. Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you’re doing this. What is your passion?
Tony Restell: Firstly, thanks for having me. I’m joining you from one of the oldest houses in the UK. Everything you see in the background dates back to 1538. I’m Tony Restell; feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.
In terms of my background, I came to the States during my college summer vacation, and I sold books door to door. I worked in Ohio and Wisconsin. I did my sales training in Nashville, Tennessee. I had a lot of exposure to the good folks of the States during that time. That was a door-to-door, cold-calling, get lots of rejection in order to make one sale kind of life experience. I started out with a corporate career after I left Cambridge University. I always wanted to set up my own business.
I set up an Internet business that I sold to a newspaper group here in the UK. But that brought me to setting up Social Hire. What we do as a business is help companies, organizations to leverage social media to get tangible business results. For a lot of organizations, that actually means getting client leads and generating new inquiries and interest through social media. The reason I relate that back to my beginnings is ever since I’ve had my own businesses, I have wanted to create businesses that generate a flood of inquiries of people booking in to my calendar, of people who want to buy our services rather than having to go out and cold-call for that kind of business.
That is what we do for our clients. Through social media, we help them turn on a new stream of interest for their business instead of having to go out and cold call. In the case of a business trying to make a profit, customers. In the case of nonprofits, you might be going after corporate sponsors or donors. It’s always nicer to do that work if you’re speaking all day to a load of people who want to have a call with you rather than you having to go out and chase business from people who have never heard of you. I am passionate about helping small businesses, helping people find success and make their dream come true, their reality. A lot of our customers come to us with one to three people in their business, and we help them scale and get to that next size of business. That’s a little bit about me. Hope that’s helpful.
Hugh: Yes, it’s very helpful. You suggested a title, and I left the word “business” in there. Our duty and delight at SynerVision is to teach those running a nonprofit or a religious organization that they are in fact a tax-exempt business. We have business leaders on here that help people learn business principles. We as a nonprofit sector think in scarcity terms. It probably starts with that bad word we use, “nonprofit.” We think in terms of profit. We need to think of clients. Our clients are our supporters. They don’t buy from us; they support us with their time, talent, and money. There is a remarkable similarity in the request for each one of those. People’s time is a worth whole lot more than their money. People want to share their talent without charging for it.
Tony Restell has wrestled with this, and it’s fascinating. Winston Churchill said that England and America are two countries separated by a common language. It’s fascinating to see how we choose some different words. Even in the spelling of words like “organization” with an “s.” There are these subtleties that make life so interesting.
How do we take the subtleties of communication and put it into a social media context? It is in fact, social, but it’s a process that I find a lot of nonprofits don’t have a plan for, don’t have a strategy, and don’t know how to post. Let’s dig into the root of this. What are the biggest differences between organizations getting strong results from their social media campaigns and those who are not? It’s not just about funding; it could be a lot of things. Some people get good results, and some get none at all. What is the gap?
Tony: it’s a great question and an important distinction to make. I will start by saying what people typically ask me when they first meet me or jump on a call. I’ll get quizzed, “What should I be posting on LinkedIn? How often should I be posting? Should I be posting video?” It’s all about the posting. For me, that is the completely wrong place to start. You can master posting on any of the platforms. You can get what you’re putting out there seen a lot. Is that going to bring you results? For most people, the answer is no. When I think about all of the businesses we work with, the posting activity is almost a necessary evil. That is what gets your business seen. That is what gets you personally seen. Generally speaking, it’s not what causes the phone to ring endlessly with people wanting to give you their money. That is achieved by taking a step back and actually thinking through what is it you want to achieve with social media, and what do you therefore need to be doing?
Let me give you an example. If a consulting company or nonprofit said to us, “Our main way of winning business, our main way of fundraising is to get people to business breakfasts each quarter.” Or getting them on a phone call with us. Or joining a webinar. Whatever works for your organization. Then your starting point with social media is very different.
If we need to get our ideal donors or customers along to a business breakfast, then what are the components that will make that happen with social media? It’s not posting every day that you’re hosting a business breakfast this month and asking people to join. The components of achieving that outcome are two things.
Firstly, what is the audience that you’ve got of your ideal donors, customers, etc.? The first thing you need to be focused on is how to grow that audience of those specific donors as quickly as possible. On each social site, there are different things you can do as a business or individual that allow you to grow that audience quickly. That is the first element of success. Clearly, if I as a business have 200 of my ideal clients connected to me on social media, and someone has 10,000 of those same people connected, that other person is in a much stronger position to get stronger results from social media than I am because I don’t have enough reach to the right people to move the needle. That is the first thing I would draw attention to.
But that on its own isn’t enough. If you have every one of your ideal donors following your social media, it’s still not necessarily going to result in a flood of donations every day. To do that, we need also to focus on conversion. You need those two elements. You need to build an audience, and you need to figure out how to convert that audience into doing what you need them to do in order for your business or nonprofit to achieve its desired outcomes from social media.
If you take that approach, you question everything you’re doing on social media. Should I be joining groups? Should I be producing videos? Should I be writing blogs? When people approach and ask me to be a guest on a chat or webinar, should I do that? Does it help you grow your audience with the right kinds of people, or does it help you convert your audience? If it doesn’t do either of those things, it doesn’t mean you can’t do them, but you are always conscious of if you are really putting your time into those things that will move the needle and make a difference for your organization.
Whenever people talk to me about posting and what I should be posting and how often I should be posting, I always stop the conversation at that point and say, “Why are we getting so fixated on the posting side of things?” Unless you are someone who is a massive celebrity, just what you post probably isn’t going to achieve what you want as an organization. I hope that provides some food for thought.
Hugh: You and I were connected on social media. Either you noticed me for some reason because I did something right, or you took pity on me because I was doing everything wrong. Be nice, here. I can’t remember. I think it was LinkedIn. You suggested we jump on a Zoom after connecting. We did. I invited you to be on the show because I was really impressed with your knowledge. You’re obviously practicing what you preach; you’re using your tools. How did we get connected?
Tony: That was actually something benevolent we’d been doing since the pandemic struck. We organized a series of webinars to help business owners who were struggling to figure out some things they could do with not just social media but broader digital marketing to help you claw back some of the clients you lost and find some new clients, but equally, help you avoid investing time as a small business owner in things that won’t produce results quickly enough for you. That is the sad reality. There are certain things in digital marketing and social media that produce results quickly; there are other things that will take nine months, 12 months to start producing results. We have all this knowledge, and we can help a load of small business owners avoid going to the wall by investing this time they have now in the wrong things. I reached out to you and said, “We’re running this series of webinars. If it could be helpful to people in your network, we’d love to get your help in spreading the word.” Because that resonated with what you yourself are doing with nonprofits, we decided to have a conversation.
Hugh: Social media is in fact social. We actually had a conversation. I do find a lot of people, like today, someone says, “I can help drive traffic to your website.” I politely sent back a message, “I’m getting 20,000 visitors a month. How many more do I need right now?” That is more than I can manage and convert. I am working on the conversion piece now. They had no knowledge or background or relationship with me. We had had no conversation. Boom. This is what it said to me, “I’m desperate for business. Would you talk to me?”
What you did is say, “I want to help you in these troubling times get traction.” That stood out to me in contrast to all the bad practices I see out there. I guess it was this gradual awareness of marketing as a whole, and you narrowed down to social media. Talk about how you gained the knowledge you got. Go more into depth into how you start it. What is it if it’s not just posting?
Tony: As with a lot of digital marketing, what works comes through testing and cracking results. Over the years, we’ve experimented with lots of different approaches on social media. We found certain things work really well, and other things don’t. Over time, it starts to become natural like, “Well, if I’m writing a LinkedIn message to get people to call me, this works and this doesn’t.” It becomes instinctual what you should be doing.
If I could give everyone on the call one takeaway from today’s session, it would be focus on doing the things that start conversations. Conversations are where business deals or donors or whatever it may be originate.
Let’s rewind to pre-COVID and say we’re all going to a business expo or conference. Would you rather hand a paper flyer out to everyone attending the conference that describes your offers with a phone number? Or would you rather talk to each person during the lunch breaks and coffee breaks and drinks in the evening? Which would you feel is more likely to bring you business? Hands down, it’s talking to people individually that will bring you the results from attending that event.
Social media is no different. When you’re posting, if you’re just posting what your organization does, asking people to go to a website to buy something or donate, there is very small percentage of people who will see that and act on it and do what you ultimately want them to do. Every conversation you have opens doors. Either that person is a potential client or donor themselves, or they learn about what you do and put you in contact with other people. The biggest mistake that organizations make with social media is forgetting the social in social media. I would say anything you will invest your time in over the next months, if you can clearly see how this is going to encourage people to have conversations with you, that is a great starting point.
Hugh: There is an investment in this. Somebody has to be the manager of communications, internal and external. It might be public relations, which isn’t marketing. Probably social media is partially that. It’s relationship-building. Underneath, we help people become better leaders and build a culture of high-functioning leaders. Leaders are philanthropists. We focus on what we do for other people. We focus on how we influence other people. My coaching clients, I help them define their position of influence. People gravitate to me because I am the conductor that teaches leadership. They may not even know my name although it’s hard to forget Hugh Ballou. There is a distinctive piece of my branding.
As a sector, we are the third largest in the United States. $10 billion worth of assets. We are still only 2% of the GDP in giving. This is a time when I call us for-purpose leaders. We have a purposeful mission. We impact people’s lives. Tony, what you’re highlighting is we need to invest in ourselves and our capabilities so we can do a better job of relating the good work that we already do to other people who could be our supporters. Part of it is investing and understanding what you’re trying to teach us here.
There are a lot of elements to this. Underneath leadership, underneath communication, underneath funding is relationship-building. What you’re outlining here is—and we’re not doing too well in our country here in having civil conversations—is how to have dialogue with people about things that really matter. I have been in numerous groups in the last four weeks in person having conversations on things. Nobody is talking about politics. That is revealing to me because they are talking about things that matter. They are talking about how we do things together that make an impact.
You’re coming into this series we have been doing for six years at a really important time, helping people rethink their communication strategy. We attract people through SEO. People will look for certain keywords. If we guess the right ones, maybe they will find us. We attract people through Google Ads. Nonprofits can get free Ads, which brings traffic that may or may not be helpful. Social media, people might look at what you’re doing. There is an information piece here about relationship and conversations. Where do you start in thinking about how I create a strategy around this communication area? How do we develop a strategy for social media today, which is a have-to part of your marketing, isn’t it?
Tony: I see two elements of social media. One is the long-term, how people perceive us. What do they think of our organization? Are they going to turn to us when they next want to donate? That is the long-term brand awareness piece. Quite distinct from that is using social media to achieve much shorter-term aims where you create repeatable processes that then bring those business results into your company or your nonprofit. I primarily focus on the former because we unfortunately have lots of charities going bankrupt in the UK because a lot of the events and things they rely on have ceased to happen because of COVID. Now more than ever, they can’t afford to be doing things that only pay off in a number of years’ time. They need to be doing things that will generate interest for them quickly.
My starting point with social media with any new client is to figure out what has worked for you historically. I don’t mean on social media. I am just talking more generally. If you are a consulting business and you have typically won new clients by having a face-to-face meeting with them or by offering a three-day workshop or by getting them to a business breakfast when you can present to them, whatever has worked for your business in the past, make social media plug into that. We know we’re plugging into something that works. I would take the same approach with a nonprofit. How have you historically gone about getting donations, getting corporate sponsors? All you use social media for is to fill the top of the funnel. If getting people to say they would like a three-day workshop from your business or to attend a business breakfast or to have a free consultation call, if that has always worked for your organization before, don’t do something different with social media because then you could say social media doesn’t work for your organization. The thing you were trying to drive people to do is unproven. If we drive people to do things that you already know in the organization work, then you have taken a lot of the unknowns out of the equation.
Whatever kind of business you choose, I’ll talk about consulting because that’s an industry I know very well. A small consulting business will know if we can get 50 business decision-makers along to a business breakfast each quarter. That is highly successful for the year. We will have follow-up phone calls and meetings with 200 of our ideal clients over the course of a year. That will bring us as much business as we can handle. At that point, if social media can be a significant contributor to getting those 50 people to a business breakfast each quarter, you have just made social media A) a very tangible contributor to your business success and B) justifiable. Each quarter, yes, you’re building a long-term brand and visibility for the organization, but you’re also bringing in results that turn into dollars. We have spent this much on social media, but it will bring us this much in terms of new business.
Going back to what you were saying, I don’t think nonprofits and profit-oriented businesses are that different on social media. How much time and money are putting into your social media? Are you getting out more money as a result of what you’re doing? It’s almost identical. The only difference is are you doing this for profit reasons or benevolent reasons?
Hugh: We’re doing this for cash flow. We have some money left over to pay the bills. We have to deliver our goods and services. We have to pay decent salaries. We have to have a place to work from. There is a direct correlation to those business breakfasts, like galas or luncheons where nonprofits gather people together. You know darn well when you dress up for this that there will be a card at your table asking you to give to the annual campaign. That is part of the gig. They will make an ask. But first, they will wine you, dine you, tell you about the things they have accomplished since the last time you sat there. We don’t always do them as well as we could. We don’t always know how to promote them. Some that have happened here in Lynchburg recently have been very well produced. They have maxed out with participants and gotten some good donations.
Is there a way we can have virtual coffee, virtual celebrations where we can do a program and bring people in with social media? It’s a sharing opportunity. Maybe we don’t have to do one a year. Maybe we don’t have to spend money on a big gala. Maybe there is an opportunity to reinvent something that is radically different in this era. Let’s take a particular example. Suppose we are going to do a breakfast event. Our customers are donors who we know love us and care about what we’re doing. They don’t know about the specific needs that we have they could write a check for. How would we do that model for business breakfasts as a donor information coffee? You bring yours, and I’ll bring mine, and we will have coffee on Zoom. Give me an example of not just posting it but creating an information campaign around it to generate interest.
Tony: I come back to conversations. It’s not about posting about this; it’s about building relationships with individuals and personally inviting them to attend something. That could be a business breakfast. It could just as easily be a Zoom coffee. If you look at what a lot of the business training conference providers have been doing over the last few months, they have moved from their physical training events in a hotel or conference center to now running the same sessions on Zoom.
There are pluses and minuses to that. Certainly, on the plus side, you can invite people from a far bigger geographical limit to a virtual event. It’s not such a competitive event to attend if it’s not in person, but the flip side of that is you have a much bigger audience you can now market to. The principles of it don’t change.
Who do we want to attend that event? Let’s make sure we are getting as many of those people connected to us on social media as possible. Don’t just post and wait for people to sign up. Reach out to those people individually on social media and personally invite them. That becomes a numbers game. Because you have interacted with people, better if you can ask for input. If in that message you can say, “We’re thinking of including the agenda A, B, C, D, and E. Out of those, which two would you be most interested in hearing about?” That’s no longer you promoting an event; that’s you having a conversation with someone. “I’d really be interested in C and D. I’m pleased to know when you finalize the agenda; I’d be interested in attending.”
Hugh: That’s different than using HootSuite to post to all of your platforms. It’s you being out there and typing in the words. Or if it’s a similar message, you could cut and paste and add a note at the end. “Hey, George, this is what I’m about. What do you think of A, B, and C?”
I’m in the middle of doing a series of webinars. If I want to promote a webinar, and this particular series is for people who are out there thinking about starting a nonprofit. Most people are thinking, “We can’t do it now. Nonprofits are closing.” It’s a good chance for someone to start out fresh with no baggage, with no debt, with no overhead, and start from scratch and do something different. We need something different. We need our nonprofits. We don’t need to lose any of them. By golly, you don’t have to do things everyone else did before if you have a new idea. It’s not the new normal; it’s the new radical. Now is the time to do something radically different.
If I am going to promote a webinar, first I have 13,000 nonprofit leaders on LinkedIn. I would say, “Hey, Tony, I am hosting a webinar. I want to talk to people who are starting up a nonprofit. Have you ever thought about starting up a nonprofit? If so, what’s holding you back?” Is that a reasonable example of a conversation starter? Am I a good student or not?
Tony: That is good. Ask a question instead of pushing something you want people to sign up to. Take that example. If you posted every day on LinkedIn in the hope that it’s seen by your 13,000 connections, you would be lucky if over the space of a couple of months, you had a very small number, single digits, maybe low 10s or 20s, sign up for your webinar from all of that activity. If you reach out individually to those people and send them a text message or voicemail or video message, which is now possible on LinkedIn, personally inviting them to give you some input on what they’d like to see covered in that agenda of that event, you will get 90% of your sign-ups from those personal touchpoints and trying to have conversations with people versus posting about it endlessly.
Hugh: Love it. Social media is part of an information system. We have emails. We have direct mail. We have other forms of reaching out to people. We have SEO and Google Ads. It’s part of a big media plan with outreach. Social media, as you pointed out, is distinctively different. We are reaching people who have connected with us for some reason. There is already a connection, some level of resonance, maybe not much. We want to build on that. How does that piece fit in with texting or emailing or direct mail or Google Ads? Does all of it need to be orchestrated together so we can have brand-consistent messaging? How do we build out social media in light of all the other stuff we’re doing so we’re not being counter-productive?
Tony: There are a couple of points I’d make there. The first is the biggest lesson from social media would be conversational. Focus on starting conversations rather than promoting. That works well across media. Email marketing for example. If you send out a whole load of emails that are trying to get people on a sales call with you telling them about your latest promotion, you will have pitiful results. You will spam thousands of people before you get any interest whatsoever in what you’re doing. If you reach out to people through email and you’re conversational, you get a massively high return rate.
The lessons you learn from social media actually have broader applicability. We see the same on websites with chat functionality and chatbots. Because that piece of technology on the website tries to start a conversation with people, you end up with more leads coming through your website traffic because people interact with that bot or live person and more conversations are started. More leads are connected. More people are sent to the pages on your website you want them to go to and act upon. That would be my big learning for other forms of marketing as well.
Yes, obviously, you get to a certain size of business where you’re doing all of those things pretty intensively. At that point, you do need some kind of coordination between them so there is coherence in message and what you’re saying in the market. For a lot of the organizations we work with, they’re small enough that they’re not doing all of those things.
That would be another lesson I would share for nonprofits. If you’re quite small, then focus on doing one or two things really well rather than trying to do everything and being mediocre at all of them. if you’re not doing social media well, you could spend the next couple of years getting fantastic results from social media and devoting your resources into doing that well. Or do that and email marketing well. Don’t try to do absolutely everything. It’s when you get sucked into trying to do an amazing website launch and Google SEO and direct mail and, and, and. That is when you end up being a jack of all trades and a master of none. Does that saying translate?
Hugh: It does. I have been accused of that many times. You can find Tony at Social-Hire.com. Tony, some folks have some questions; would you like to hear questions from our audience?
Hugh: Bob Hopkins is in Dallas, Texas. He is the author of Philanthropy Misunderstood. Bob, do you have a question or comment? I know you’ve said to me many times that social media is probably not your strong suit.
Bob Hopkins: Because I’m older than you. That’s why it’s not. When I was young, as is our speaker today, Tony, I could be your grandfather. So could Hugh. It’s relatively new to me, this kind of thing. I started out with a newspaper. I published a magazine. Then I got onto TV because it was invented in the ‘50s. Now, we’re in this computer age. That’s all we talk about: social media. I am a member of all of it, but I don’t use any of it except Facebook. I get a lot out of Facebook.
What is interesting to me is sending out to lists of people the same message to try to get a response doesn’t always work. If I give them a telephone call, I can call 20 people and get 20 responses. I can send out 2,000 messages and get none. Back to the old business of relationship-building. I have to keep going back to phone calls. People are still people. They’re not on the media plane always. I have not been real successful in getting any real response unless I pick up the phone and call people. What do you think about that?
Tony: To me, that would say you’re not doing social media right. I have just turned off all of our proactive efforts to generate call interest for our business because I looked at our calendar. We’re absolutely rammed with calls booked in from our ideal clients through the middle of October; it’s early September now. If we do anything more to generate interest in having a call with us, we don’t have the bandwidth. That has come about from starting conversations with our ideal prospects on social media and that turning into them wanting a call with us.
It’s encouraging that you are enjoying using Facebook and perhaps seeing some results from that. But I think what you need is to figure out how to make it a repeatable process. For some people, that’s being active in relevant Facebook groups and turning those conversations into private messaging exchanges. It’s all about talking to people one on one. Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, the same principle applies. On all of them, you can post. Everyone gets fixated on posting. But on all of them, you can also private message people you’re connected with.
It’s a bit like going to a conference or expo that has thousands of your ideal prospects. Imagine you are able to get a business card from every single one of those people and that you ask them to give you a call after the expo is finished. The next month of your business life is a raft of calls where people want to have the conversation with you.
Social media, you’re really using to prime the pump. I totally agree with you. No one buys our services by seeing us on social media, going to our website, and putting their credit card in. It doesn’t happen. People want to talk to us. They want to get to know us as a business. They want to get to know the people they will work with. They want to understand how it will work for their business. We win all of our business by having phone calls with people who are interested in finding out what we could do for their business. It’s about figuring out what social media can and can’t do and getting expert on things it can do. What it can do is get loads of the right people saying they want to have a phone call with you or getting them to sign up for an event you’re hosting. Does that help at all, Bob?
Hugh: You’re ultimately saying the same thing, both of you. It’s based on the one-to-one conversation. Bob, did he address your question?
Bob: Yeah, he was giving me hope that the relationship between people is still an important aspect of selling and doing things. There are so many people who just send out grant requests for instance. They will send out 100 requests and think they have done their job, but they have gotten no response. Well, they chalk it up to the pandemic. But they have never talked to anybody. They never followed up with a phone call or an email to try to get ahold of these people. There are ways to do all of that. We used to do a fax machine for a while. I would follow up phone calls with faxes. Then the computer. We followed up with a computer. Now we’re following it up with Facebook or with mass media. I still read the newspaper every day and get a lot of continued connections the old-fashioned way, which makes me happy that I can still do that.
Hugh: Even though I am catching up to you, you and I are old enough to remember when the newspaper was pretty much it. We have added email. We have added social media. We have added texting. We didn’t take anything away. We added on top. Out in Bedford, Virginia, we have Sheikh Rashid.
Sheikh Rashid: I wanted to thank Tony for what he said. I have more of a comment. I totally agree. In our organization, which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit international NGO, during the COVID crisis, we were able to expand on what we have been doing for eight or nine years in terms of social media. We have been able to build viable communities online through Zoom webinars and trainings using LMS, learning management systems.
What has impressed me the most is we’re working with young people between the ages of 14-40 mostly on Department of State grants, some philanthropic grants, some UK organizations. The younger people in our organization, that is to say our staff between the ages of 21-40, are very facile as some techies are, but they are more so than I am in using social media. One of the things that we have been able to accomplish is to build online community through personal stories and narratives in our webinars or Global Viewpoints Forum. I really support what your points are about personal narratives and stories and contact. I find that facileness in the young people because they are digital natives as opposed to some of us who are not. They are able to establish those relationships and sustain them.
The issue is of course converting Those are the people who serve. Converting impact and angel investors to understand that even though they want to do social good, either because they really believe in it or because it’s a thing you say you want to do in the world we’re living in, to understand the capability of social media to invest during this crisis. Young people who are entrepreneurs and social innovators. To create impact in society using social media in good ways that I think we are able to do, but we see that in some cases, some exceptions that people who are of the next generation beyond that, and I am probably older than most people on here today, is it’s hard to get people to understand what they’re investing in. Would you like to comment on the narrative to those people?
Tony: I hear a lot that our audience on social media. I would always challenge that. The days when the old generations aren’t on social media are gone. Obviously some pockets of the population don’t have the Internet access to be on social media. The idea that just because someone is a grandparent so they’re not on social is completely wrong. They’re all over social media. They’re staying in touch with all their old friends. They’re keeping up with their family on the other side of the world. They’re swapping holiday photos. The idea of the certain age demographic that can be reached through social media is just wrong. I would caution against it.
I also hear a lot with different professions, people will say to me, “We’re only interested in talking to investment bankers and venture capitalists. They’re not on social media.” Well, actually, yes, they are. They may have more hectic work lives than some other people, but in the taxi on the way home at night, they still look at Facebook and chat with their family. I always challenge any notion that says sizable portions of people aren’t on social media. In the Western world, that’s just not correct.
Sheikh Rashid: I totally agree with you. The question is the approach seems to be different. Yes, they have facility and are using social media in exactly the way you’ve described. But I’m not so sure that they don’t get it out of the silo of putting it into their business model and understanding how to find the people as an angel investor to invest in. We have thousands of young people all over the world who are entrepreneurs and social innovators. But to get them in front of investors is difficult because they’re not meeting in the same virtual space. They’re sharing that space, but they’re not meeting intentionally in that space. I don’t know if that makes sense.
Hugh: I am going to pull it back. I think we are creating a virtual space that everyone can participate in now. Tony, what I’m hearing from you is there is an education piece to this. We are educating people on what we’re doing, but we’re also having a conversation about what you think about this as an angel investor, as an impact investor. There is a way that everybody can create value for everybody else if we approach it the way you’re teaching us here. Do you want to comment on that?
Tony: I think Bob talked about sending off 100 grant requests, and we have talked about getting in front of angel investors. I would say don’t pitch them for something. Instead, approach them to have a conversation. For example, if you send off 100 grant requests to people, you’re pitching for money effectively. If you contacted those same 100 people and said, “I’m doing a bit of research for a blog I’m going to write about the challenges with getting access to grants at the moment. Any chance I could grab a few minutes on the phone with you this coming week?” you will have a 10-20% chance success rate of people saying, “Yeah, I’d be happy to talk to you about that, Tony. Here is my phone number. Give me a try next week.” Lo and behold, when you have the call, “Let me tell you about our business.”
The same with getting in front of job seekers. If you approach people and say, “I desperately need a job. Can I send you a resume? Can I get some help?” They get pitched by that all day long. Don’t approach them with that. Approach them with something conversational. “I’m doing some preparatory work before I go out to try to get investment. I’d love to get input from you on XYZ. Any chance we could have a call?” That kind of approach, we do this for clients day in day out. I can say that with absolute certainty. It all starts with thinking about being conversational rather than posting and promoting.
Hugh: That’s the secret to this. That is the summary of everything you have shared with us. *Sponsored by the “How to Launch a Nonprofit” Webinar*
Tony, what would you like to leave people with today?
Tony: What I’d love to share is what we ask new clients on a kick-off call because that is what we need to have figured out with them in order for their social media to be successful. If you transpose that to yourself, this is what you need to figure out in order to be successful.
There are two key questions. What is the demographic you need to reach? Get as detailed about that as you possibly can. If you are a charity, what is the profile of your typical donor? Or corporate sponsor? As much detail as you can around that. Job titles, companies, locations.
Next, what is it that we want those people to do that will mean social media has been successful? The caveat there is we want them to do something that you already know works. If you have never done a business breakfast before, that is risky because you don’t know you can turn business breakfast attendees into the results your nonprofit needs.
I’d encourage you to think about those two things. Get the demographics nailed down and what you need those people to do that would mean social media has been successful for you three or four months later. You have the building blocks to determine everything else on social media. Does it help you grow your audience? Does it help you convert your audience? If the answer to both questions is no, you can question whether that is a good use of your time on social media.
Hugh: Thank you so much for a very good session, Tony. Social-Hire.com.
Tony: Thank you for having me, Hugh. Bye for now.
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