Social Media Success Series: Take Advantage of Selfishness

How we all secretly feel we ought to be treated

How we all secretly feel we ought to be treated

This post is part of a series.  Catch up on other secrets to social media success here.

People are selfish.

Even the amazingly generous people who give their time and treasure to help support your cause are fundamentally selfish.

You and I?  Absolutely selfish.

Ironically, this constant in human nature can actually help you and your organization attract more attention online and ultimately create more good in the world–you just have to know how to harness it.

The trick is to overcome your own tendency to focus solely on what you want, and figure out what your supporters want.  Then, just find a way to get the organization’s needs met by fulfilling the needs of your supporters.  Here is what you do.

Identify potential supporters

Before you can figure out what your supporters want, you must know who they are.  I cannot over-state how important this step is, nor how often it gets skipped.  Until you develop a crystal clear picture of who you want to reach and what is important to them, you won’t be able to create a strong connection between what you have and what they want.  To that end, I developed this  free worksheet to help you identify your perfect supporter–right down to her favorite pair of shoes.

Need a bit more guidance?  Checkout the additional resources shared in this month’s newsletter.

Shift your focus

Next, instead of focusing on why your organization wants supporters to make a donation (or volunteer, or whatever it is you want them to do), focus on what motivates people to take that action.  This can be tricky, not only because of the effort required to shift your paradigm, but also  because humans tend to hide selfish motives–sometimes even from themselves.  Luckily, there are ways to uncover them.

Ask current supporters how giving makes them feel

If you know why your current donors support your organization, you can use that information to attract future donors.  The trick is to get to the core reason for giving.  If you simply ask donors why they give, the answers may be shallow–“to support a good cause” or even, “because you asked me.”  By asking how supporting your nonprofit made the donor feel, you are more likely to get past the rationalizations down to the core benefit the donor receives for giving.

Examine your own giving motives

Do you give to organizations other than the one for which you work?  If so, you can be your own guinea pig.  How does giving make you feel?  Why do you give to one organization and not another?  How does giving influence how you see yourself?  If your organization’s supporters are similar to you, then your experience is likely to be close to theirs.  Need more data?  Ask your friends or other people inside your organization to answer the same questions.

Talk about the benefits

Now that you know what personal benefit your supporters will reap from giving to your nonprofit, stop talking about what you get and start talking about what they get.

For example, if you want readers to “like” your Facebook page, instead of saying:

“We need 5 more fans to reach 500–tell your friends about us”

try saying:

“We share daily tips on how you can fight childhood hunger in your neighborhood on our Facebook page.  “Like” us today to make sure you don’t miss anything.”

By making this small shift, you stop sounding like just another voice begging for attention, and start to sound like someone who can actually help.  Now, instead of chasing after potential supporters, you’ve created a situation where they will come looking for you.

Your Turn

Want some help?  Leave a comment that includes a organization-centric request as well as some information about the people most likely to support your cause and your fellow readers and I will help you brainstorm a donor-centric alternative.

3 thoughts on “Social Media Success Series: Take Advantage of Selfishness

  1. I love your advice for shifting from “we just need 5 more likes” to describing why liking you will benefit someone. I have never been motivated to help someone get “just 5 more.” It seems pointless. You’ve explained that so clearly – thanks!

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