Branding + Messaging

Learnings from #TrendingNorth – January Event by Ad Fed MN


Last night, my coworker Annie (business developer at ArcStone) and I attended the #TrendingNorth event hosted at The Social Lights, sponsored by Ad Fed MN. In a nut shell, we received a fresh zest of social media inspiration that might help your nonprofit as well.

A common tendency of many of us is to log in to our social media accounts, post a few times in hopes our organization will sound awesome, check our follower count and then log out to pursue our lengthy to-do list.

Sadly, even if you take those 15 minutes each day, when you report on these efforts to your Board, you realize your time hasn’t made much of an impact. Your nonprofit’s voice was lost amongst the rest.

Seeing as there were hundreds of people in attendance the #TrendingNorth event last night, I think we can assume you’re not alone in this problem. We were hungry for some social media “umph” – not to mention literally hungry for burgers… shout out to My Burger.

And that’s just what we got – the room collectively rekindled our excitement for social media. With Peter Heidorn of Fair State Brewing Coop facilitating, we listened to six experienced and enthusiastic panelist. The audience was able to pick their brains on all things social media.

The major theme across all their answers was not in time-saving tools or growth hacks – which is what most social media content covers these days. Instead they all honed in on what inspires them and what our strategy should revolve around: authenticity. Read my favorite thoughts of the night from each panelist below…

1. Drew Gneiser, Social Media Strategist at The Social Lights put his advice like this: You don’t need to reach everyone. You need to reach the right people. Think about what they need, and help them out.

*This is a big one for nonprofits especially. Hone in on your audience, and reach out to them specifically rather than trying to reach everyone. Tell them meaningful stories about your nonprofit rather than asking for their money.

2. Spencer Barrett, Founder of Great Lakes Collection, really emphasized authenticity. He explained that as long as you do something you love and stay authentic in your social media strategy, it’ll come through to potential customers and they will want to be a part of it.

*This should be easier for nonprofits – you’re not trying to sell a product, you just have to show your love for your cause and illustrate to your audience why they should take part in it too.

3. “Stay human!” That was Katrina Wollet, Communication Strategist at General Mills, biggest assertion. She pointed out it’s not about getting more likes, but instead, you should focus on engaging.

*If your nonprofit’s goal is increasing your Facebook followers, maybe revisit it and focus on increasing the comments on your posts and the number of real conversations your team has over social. As much as you can show your organization’s people and write from a more personal place.

4. “If you haven’t found your community yet, build it.” Annie D’Souza, Founder of The Midwestival, reminded me that that’s really what social media is about – finding community.

*If your nonprofit is struggling to find an online following/community, you can build it yourself. Follow people and organizations that inspire you, reach out to people individually, and your community will start to grow.

5. Laura Rae Founder of Laura Rae Photography warned that people will know if you posted something just for the sake of posting it. Potential supporters will see when you’re merely trying to keep up with what’s trending rather than bringing your own thoughts to the table. Laura advised us to find a purpose. She brought it back to how everything stems from the simple question, “who are you?” and to use your answer to guide how you interact online.

6. “The more you are yourself, the more you are exactly where you need to be.” This was my favorite quote of the night, which came from Joseph Harris Co-Founder of Bodega Ltd. It goes beyond best practices for social media, however it resonated with me as I thought of how much of a struggle it can be to establish a voice and brand on social channels.

*If you simplify it down to remembering what your organization does and what you represent, your voice will eventually establish itself.

Image uploaded from iOS (2)
Another shoutout – The Great Lakes & their amazingly warm hats. Find yours!

Annie & I hope to see you at the next event! If you want to stay in the loop, check out our post on upcoming events in 2017.

For more help with social media take a look at these posts »