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Surprising, easy ideas for content

David: This is episode 16 of Nonprofit Video Comms, the show to help your nonprofit be seen, get funded and be more helpful to people. My name is David.


If you're a small nonprofit and you're in a communications or marketing role, or you're not but you have to do that stuff anyway, it's tough to keep up with content ideas. Even if you've managed to fill out that content calendar, at some point you might have just put it off for a while and then you've kind of reached this sort of ceiling and then it kind of becomes everyday staring at a blank post, wondering what to write. If you are like me and you've taken a few workshops, you've looked up ways to come up with content, then you are familiar with the usual stuff: how to hook people in, [...] how to be compelling, how to be entertaining, how to do something emotional or a little more thoughtful.

But I want to say that just as often you can not do those things. You can opt for just being plain useful, and you'll be surprised. You'll start just coming up with stuff. And what do I mean by useful? I mean, whatever you probably would never consider good social media stuff, like telling us about common misconceptions about your work, why membership costs, what it costs to join your association, why is there a bad review about you on Google Maps, how do I get there, just simply how do I get to your office, how do I get to your program, How do I get to your campsite. You don't have to be entertaining. You can just be useful.

Here are a few sources to find that content, and after those examples of sources, I'm going to tell you why this works.

Check your emails

The first place to check is in your emails. If you have a lot of inquiries or even a few inquiries about some very normal things, like somebody writing to you and saying they're looking forward to bringing their aging parent to your adult day program but they're concerned about a couple of things: they're concerned about the program staff's training and background, or maybe they're concerned about how to get from the parking lot safely to the front door. These are inquiries that you are happy to help people with. And if someone asks you that, you can bet other people want to know the same information, probably people that have never inquired before or people who have researched and found your organization and that's just the last bit of information they're looking for but they've kind of put it off. Well, here's your chance to use that as a content topic. Make it a post on whatever social platform you're using. Call it “our parking lot: how to get safely from the car to our front door.”

To you, this is boring. To you, this might be “nobody wants to see this on social media” however, more people do than you think. There are about 1000 reasons why people go to social media and not all of them are just for entertainment. And if previously, they never expected this kind of stuff from you, you might surprise them.

Check your reviews and comments

Another place to look for content ideas might be if you have good or bad reviews on Glassdoor, Google Maps, Yelp, whatever it is. Let's say somebody complained about your front desk staff being rude or ignored them. Your content idea might be “sometimes we drop the ball at our front desk, but here's what's really happening” and you can just walk them through what a typical hour looks like at the front desk and how you're doing your best or how you're understaffed or whatever it is. This is a topic. An opportunity to let them know that you're a person, but you'll never forget that you're there to serve them.

Another topic idea is … is there a question that people constantly ask you and you just never quite have the answer? Here's a common one. You're at a conference, you're at a networking event, you're at a booth at a street festival and people go, “so what does your organization do?” I am amazed how many people are unable to answer that question. Well, maybe this would be a good topic idea for you to finally fix that. Just ask yourself, “what the hell do I do?” and try to say it in the least words possible. Let's call that a content idea. So the title will be “X-Y-Z nonprofit: what do we actually do?” in plain English. It will be kind of funny.

So you're starting to see the pattern here. You can look through your emails, reviews, repetitive questions, and the comments in your social media. There's always something there that is totally not entertaining, but totally useful and helpful.

People hand you the topics

The reason why this all works is simply the people are demonstrating to you literally in front of you on your screen the stuff they want to know — and you answer it. That's it. It's not magical. Instead of trying to come up with content ideas or “which quote should I post?”, “What angle can I put on the upcoming holiday?”, “Which volunteer story can I try to pull off at the last minute?”, the ideas are there from the actual person that you're actually trying to talk to.

Go make your work easier. Go and use your inquiries, comments, emails, reviews as topic titles.

That was episode 16. Thank you for listening. As always, my name is David Phu, P-H-U. I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn and be sure to check out my website, and you will see services ranging from free stuff, all the way to strategy and video production.

See you next time. Bye.

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