Art + Business

Post by Jany Xu

I went to Madrone Lounge last Thursday for the Art+Business event.  Really, I’d been wanting to go, since I first heard of it over a year ago. This was the perfect excuse opportunity. 🙂

Carrie, a friend who works at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, SF, met me for drinks along with some of the board members.  They’re having a party on November 13 celebrating the new Yves Saint Laurent show.  Over drinks, we discussed marketing, specifically social media strategies for promoting the event and the organization.  What struck me is that social marketing allows nonprofits to have a huge reach to their member/volunteer base, to spread knowledge and expertise and to help raise money for their cause, but not many organizations seem to be taking advantage of it.

Here are a few ways that nonprofits can brand themselves online:

  • Create a Facebook page, a MySpace profile or a blog badge:  Allow your members and fans to show their support, while helping you market the organization. We’ve done this in the past with bumper stickers, tote bags and other gifts.  This one’s free and easy to pass on.
  • Make sure you publicize your events through all channels available to you: This means making an event page on Facebook, so it’s easy to export to people’s calendars and it’ll show up on people’s newsfeeds.  Put it on upcoming, local event sites like sfstation, going, yelp, etc.  Let people know what’s happening, and make it easy to share and redistribute that information.
  • Start blogging? Yes, everyone and their mother is blogging, but as a nonprofit, you probably already have a reader base.  Give them a reason to keep giving each year.  You don’t have to post every day.  Instead, just post about a recent event or upcoming events.  If you’re a museum, write a short blurb about an artist opening (with pictures on Flickr or videos on vimeo or YouTube) or how curators set up the newest installation.  I think people get really scared when they hear the word blogging.  Yes, there are lots of blogs that are thoughtful and time-consuming to write.  But yours can focus on snippets of fun information.  Take a couple of shots and slap a few captions on them.  Write a one paragraph intro.  Obviously, feel free to contribute more, but it doesn’t need to be a daunting task.
  • Tap your members: people want to contribute and feel great that they’re helping a cause.  So give them a way to do that.  Write a newsletter and include ways members and interested parties can help.  Ask your local PR/creative agencies to help or an ambitious marketing/PR professional (pick me!) to put together a social media plan and execute.  Whatever the member’s profession, social circle or hobby, make sure you allow them to contribute in the way they want.  For example, I don’t mind folding T-shirts or handing out water at a marathon, but my time is probably better used in helping you redesign the website, design a new logo, put up postings on Facebook or blogging about the organization.

If you dedicate half a day to establish and a few hours a week to keep up with all the things listed above, I firmly believe that you can build a strong following.  You can supporting and tout your current members and find and engage new ones.  Just remember, a genuine interest in making a difference matters, whether it’s online or in your organization.

FYI, if you’re in SF and want to get tickets to the Ives Saint Laurent show, click here.

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