How can you use the web to engage your members, supporters or the public, and move them towards a specific action?

That’s a common question from nonprofits who are diving into social media. Whether you’re looking for your online visitors to contribute photos, forward your issue alerts, make a donation, or contact policy-makers, social media can be a powerful way of engaging your audience and driving them towards action.

But it’s often hard for nonprofits to figure out how they can engage people effectively online. It’s hard enough to get visitors to your site or social media presence, let alone drive them effectively towards action. In our session at NetSquared today, we used Social Actions as a case study in engaging online community participation, and shared two strategy tools that can help you make your nonprofit site more engaging. Today, we’re releasing those tools to the nonprofit community under a Creative Commons attribution/noncommercial license.

  1. User profiles

    “Nonprofits”, “seniors” or “businesses” don’t visit your web site, log into your online community or post photos; individual people do. Sarah, the communications director of that nonprofit across town, logs into your web site. Kim, a grandmother living in Oregon, posts photos of the pothole in front of her house. Luisa, who owns a small deli, leaves a comment on your blog post. When you’re trying to reach or engage an audience, you need to think in terms of the individual users who will be using your site, and look at your online presence from their perspective.

    Our user profile worksheet helps you get to know your target users. Download the worksheet, and complete at least one worksheet for each type of user you want to engage in your site. We find that getting inside the head of a typical user can help you identify the best ways of bringing them to your social media presence, and the content, tools or relationships you can offer to get them engaged.

  2. Engagement planning worksheet

    Engagement is a process, not a destination. It’s helpful to think of a ladder of engagement that begins with your target audience finding your organization or site, and then moves them to a higher level of interest until they are ready to act.

    Our engagement planning worksheet helps you identify the steps that move your target audience from casual site visit to active participation. Complete a worksheet for each of the users you’ve profiled in the user profile worksheets. Each “rung” on the ladder should specify 1-3 content features, tools or activities that will appeal to the user you’re targeting.

Together, the user profile exercise and engagement planning worksheet help you see your social media presence from your users’ perspective. By offering the content, tools or relationships that your audience members care about, you can move them towards the actions and results you need.