Listening is key to nonprofit digital marketer’s success: Allie Axel [profile]
You might recognize Allie Axel as a contributor to the Nonprofit MarCommunity blog. She has been supporting our community of learning regularly since 2013 by sharing the knowledge and experience that comes from her work as the Media Director at The Caregiver Space.
The Caregiver Space provides an online community for family caregivers to connect with and learn from others in similar circumstances. The organization is focused on the emotional and physical health of the caregiver and they offer programs centered on nutrition, exercise, relationships, stress, writing and self-care.
Allie’s role is twofold. She creates, curates and plans the organization’s digital media. And she is the online community manager, which means immersing herself in the discussions happening in social channels, as well as the larger conversation the organization has as a whole. Allie, who took part in establishing The Caregiver Space in 2012, built the marketing communications plans from scratch.
‘Listening’ to successful brands
“One of the most helpful things I did in the beginning, before having any kind of plan, was to find brands I wanted to emulate and I just watched and ‘listened’ to what they were doing well,” explains Allie. “Buffer is one of these brands. I love how transparent they are as an organization. When we make a mistake, I think ‘What would Buffer do?’ Buffer would publicly recognize the mistake, apologize, and use it as an opportunity for community feedback. Brands like this have helped me evolve our marcomm program.”
‘Listening’ to the community
According to Allie, caregivers struggle with stress and isolation and just a few minutes of talking to someone in the same circumstance – even online – alleviates a lot of the feelings of guilt, resentment and hopelessness. The role of The Caregiver Space blog, social media channels and community portal is to hold space for that discussion as well as to educate, motivate and inspire caregivers. The organization has also found social media channels like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to be great platforms for micro-content, or ‘bite-sized self-care.’
“We began our marketing and communications strategy by listening to what our audience wanted to see and hear. And we still do that today,” says Allie. “The only difference is that we have developed better practices to solicit that kind of engagement. When I don’t know, I ask our community. When I’m somewhat sure, I ask our community. When I’m absolutely positive, I ask our community. The ‘ask’ is where I get creative. It can be a direct question or a more subtle approach, like sharing a new series of videos and seeing what kind of engagement we get. Either way, the pulse of the community breathes life into our marcomm strategy.”
Guideposts for building strong communities
Asked to share her advice with fellow nonprofit communicators looking to build and strengthen their communities of online supporters, Allie points to her success with finding brands she admires and emulating them. And she explains that taking cues from her organization’s consistent and strong set values has paved the way for a consistent and strong community.
Allie also recommends finding blogs by and about your audience, reading them and creating content in response to them. And one more piece of advice from Allie to fellow digital marketers and community managers: “Be transparent. Be human. You are the voice of your organization. Keep it real.”
To continue the conversation with Allie, connect with her on Twitter: @AllieAxel.