If you’re the leader of a nonprofit or social enterprise, it’s not too early to start anticipating what’s ahead for 2018. The organizations that are constantly growing are those that are looking through the windshield, not the rearview mirror.

At this point, you are aware that technology and social media are developing and changing at an extremely fast pace. I also think you now understand that it’s essential for sustainability to keep a relentless focus on what’s unfolding in the digital age because it does, in fact, affect the way we work.

So, what are some of the trends to watch out for in 2018 that can help you stay ahead of the competition in what matters most for brand awareness and fundraising dollars?

  1. Growth Hack: All business leaders, including nonprofit executives, understand that converting and driving revenue is essential to the lifeblood of an organization. It increasingly means that it is essential for you to be where your donors and potential supporters congregate. That is, you have to be in the online and offline worlds, and you have to make sure that everything is coordinated. You have to create content that keeps followers and other people looking back where you need them to pay attention, like your website. It also means that you need to make sure you have SEO experts on hand to make sure that people who are searching for your cause or organization come to your website. In other words, if you’re not investing in SEO expertise, you’re behind on the eight ball.
  2. social listening: Social listening extends beyond simply tracking your mentions and comments in the digital world. Social listening means that you understand the context of engagements with your followers and audiences and that you’re also digging deeper than providing them with automated or canned responses. It’s important to have someone on your team (living people) who “totally” understands the organization, and when someone approaches you, you treat them as you would in the non-digital world. The easiest way to see social listening is to treat everyone like they are standing in front of you in your office. No matter where or how they interact with you and your organization
  3. artificial intelligence: Bearing in mind my earlier point about having humans involved in marketing who can understand the context that may be happening with their followers between the digital and real worlds, artificial intelligence (AI) will further boost your marketing efforts. Although we are at the dawn of the AI ​​era, we already have AI that is infinitely more powerful and can do more than entire teams of marketers. AI will help you segment or personalize your content delivery. In other words, one group of your followers will see Content A while another group will see Content B, depending on the criteria you set. AI will drive all of this, and it will need to be aware of your presence in order to harness and use it effectively.
  4. video content: You are aware that video content is essential to today’s content marketing strategy. As AI improves on digital platforms, preference will be given to content that includes video. One of the easiest things you can do to start increasing your engagement is to create live streams and incorporate video into your content. You can track and compare your engagement, for example, on your Facebook page in posts that contain video versus just photo and text copy. You’ll most likely see the same data we see in our social marketing: video content gets more engagement and traction.
  5. Micro-influencers: Influencer marketing is important to spread brand awareness and also help generate revenue. If you get leverage to support your cause or organization, that’s gold. But there is also an area that you should not miss: micro-influencers. Each micro-influencer has an audience of between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. As pointed out in this Hubspot article, this is the value of partnering with micro-influencers on a platform like Instagram:

  • Instagram users with less than 1,000 followers generated likes 8% of the time
  • Users with 1,000-10,000 followers got likes at a rate of 4%
  • Users with 10,000-100,000 followers achieved a 2.4% like rate
  • Users with 1-10 million followers got likes only 1.7% of the time.

As you begin to consider your planning for 2018, stay ahead to ensure you’re marketing as efficiently as possible. I know some of these items require money (as well as time). Many nonprofits need financial resources, which is why if you were still the CEO of a nonprofit organization, you would consider applying for a major gift or institutional capacity building grant. Marketing is essential to brand recognition and success, and activities like SEO expertise require money. If you don’t have a good marketing budget, consider requesting a restricted gift to get you where your group needs to be in the digital age.