I recently did some volunteer work for a national charity and provided counsel on their social media strategy. The PR Agency started the meeting by listing all of the “messaging” being developed to support a major fund-raising push in 2012. The list looked something like this:

  • Press releases
  • Podcast
  • Promotional video
  • Slideshow
  • Photos and videos from local events
  • Clips from local TV stations

They’re off to a good start because there is the potential for a lot of interesting content here. But ultimately the effort will fail as merely a blip on the radar because nobody in the organization is working on the network strategy. Developing content for the social web is a waste of time if it just sits there like a bump on a Heinz dill pickle. It has to go some place if it is to attract attention and eventually compel people to do something.

To ignite a social strategy, you must ignite your content.

So to be successful, you must aggressively develop the “human pathways” that will carry your content to the world … not just write press releases that you HOPE will be buried on a community events calendar somewhere. And the larger — and more engaged — the network, the better the chances for success, so get started NOW!

Here is an action plan I provided to this charity that would result in long-term success … and it can ONLY be long-term success because it takes TIME and CONSISTENT EFFORT to build a relevant and engaged network that will share your stuff!

1) Identify all the passionate advocates of the charity. They are a powerful and critical first step in building an engaged network.

2) Explain to them why you need their help and the benefits of helping — you’re connecting many small networks to create an enormous network.

3) Teach them how to proactively and aggressively build a targeted network and a social media presence so that you have hundreds of “beacons” for your brand.

4) Give this group tips on how to effectively share, connect, and network on their favorite social platforms.

5) Assign a central resource to “corral” real, passionate stories, videos, photos from the field to share across the ENTIRE network. Unleash the content! This will provide a constant drip-drip-drip of interesting content every week.

6) Make the content easy to share. Have easy-to-find social sharing options. Use Linked Within (like I do at the bottom of each post) to highlight similar stories of interest (this increases my page views by about 8 percent). Highlight other content of interest on the site.

7) Institute free, simple monitoring tools like Google Alerts and saved Twitter searches to measure the effort and identify the most successful networks and content. “Buzz” is a leading indicator of donations. If the buzz is going, up, up, up, the donations will eventually follow.

I care about this cause so I’m going to try to shepherd this as best I can. Hopefully it will work. Does this make sense to you? What other advice would you give this worthy cause?

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