We are still working to get nonprofit organizations online and to move websites from ‘electronic brochures’ to a more modern presence, but the main bulk of organizations are there but struggling to get to the next level. They have a website that’s more than a carbon copy of an event handout, they have members who want to subscribe to something and funders who expect them to be resources to the sector. How do they do meet those expectations?
Quality content drives traffic, increases value and in turn can increase the number or engagement of members, visitors, potential donors. So, how do they create the quality content, then?
- Hear It: There are a lot of ways to listen to your members and your field. Subscribe to RSS feeds from organizations working in the same field, funders, members’ blogs, etc. Listen for topics of interest, questions that come up and conversations that are ongoing for tips as to what people are looking for more information about. You can use Twitter to listen to your community as well and pinpoint conversations that are important to focus on. Don’t feel bad about asking, either, because your community is probably waiting for an opportunity to tell you what they want/need.
- Write It: Blogs are expected to be updated often but everyone has experienced the strain of either too much work to do or nothing to write about. If you are listening to your community, your list of topics should be more than you have time to cover. If you have too much other work pulling at your time, enlist another team member or two to share the blogging responsibilities. The best thing to do, especially when starting out, is to create a blog schedule so you can work it into your larger work schedule and not push it down the list. But, blogs aren’t the only things that should stay fresh—your website should stay up-to-date and pertinent as well!
- Aggregate It: An easy way of ensuring that your website has new information is to create a page, or parts of pages that are fed by content from an RSS feed. This could be a feed from a Del.icio.us tag that you and your organization uses, or it could be from a news website, a funder’s site, or a sector-specific site. Pulling information in from other places on the web means there is more information available for your website visitors and with less work by you or strain on your time.
- Share It: Be sure that you are allowing people to subscribe to your information, on your website and your blog, with RSS. Just because your website is the (if you’re doing everything right) go-to spot for news, information, and resources in your field, doesn’t mean people want to visit your URL to get that information. More and more people are using RSS and will expect to be able to use it with your website, too. Be sure to include your information in other outlets as well, so people who may not know it’s there can find out: include links and highlights in your e-newsletter, alert people to new content via any social media outlets you use (such as Twitter, Facebook, other blogs, etc.).
Remember, too, that these four steps aren’t a one way process! Continued listening means a constant stream of conversations and topics that your community cares about and wants to see reflected in content from your organization. Consistently updated content shows your engagement and commitment to being a quality resource.
No one knows that you do wonderful work unless you tell them! Quality content across your organization’s web presence can turn your run-of-the-mill website into the go-to place for the sector or community. I can’t stress it enough: Remember to listen and ask, because sometimes people know just what they want!
Do you have any strategies or tips for organizations looking to ramp up the quality of content online? What has your organization done to become a hot spot for your field?
Amy Sample Ward’s passion for nonprofit technology has lead her to involvement with NTEN, NetSquared, and a host of other organizations. She shares many of her thoughts on nonprofit technology news and evolutions on her blog.