Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 31 seconds

user-generated1You probably have a website. You likely have a Facebook page. You may be on Twitter and LinkedIn and all the other social media sites. If you’re really good, you may even be blogging. These are all great tools that nonprofits can use to communicate with their constituents, build brand identity, and get the word out about their missions.

But, they’re a lot of work. A lot. Someone has to keep the web site content fresh, compose status updates and Tweets, and write blog posts. And they have to do all of it in addition to their “regular” job, because we all know that’s how it works in nonprofits.

One way to lessen this burden while possibly expanding your reach is to start soliciting user-generated content. This means that the people who visit your site, “like” you on Facebook, or read your blog can have the opportunity to become more involved while helping you to create more content to drive search engine results and spur the imagination of those who visit you online.

User-generated content is just what it sounds like. The people who read your blog or follow your Twitter account have the opportunity to make their own contributions. There are several ways to do this.

  • Add forums to your web site where volunteers or clients can discuss relevant issues. They can pose and answer questions for one another or keep tabs on what still needs to be done for an upcoming event.
  • Solicit for guest posts. People love to share their knowledge, and if you put out the call for guest posts on your blog, you will likely be amazed at the range of replies and topic ideas you get.
  • Publish First-person accounts on your web site. This could be a volunteer talking about his experience working on a recent food drive or a client explaining how your services helped her family.
  • Create a photo gallery. Let people know in advance of your next fundraiser that you will be accepting their best photos from the event and then place them on your site with an attribution to the photographer.
There are a lot of advantages to user-generated content, and the fact that it makes life a little easier for those within the nonprofit is only one. Of course, there still has to be someone to review content and ensure that it is appropriate for posting, but the amount of time for content creation can be significantly reduced.

Perhaps even better, however, is the buy-in and exposure it can give your organization. When you publish a story or blog post that’s been submitted, you are offering recognition to the person who has written it, and he or she will likely do the same for you, turning to his or her web site, blog, and social media friends with a link to say, “Look what I did!” It gets your name out to a wider audience and makes the author/photographer/etc.feel like an important part of your organization.

Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2013
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