Case Study: How KCUR Tripled its Newsletter Subscribers Using Paid Social Media Ads

Social/Mobile, social media, Facebook advertising

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Also in this series: “Case Study: How KWMU Generates Email Leads Using Paid Social Media

In 2017, my station, KCUR 89.3 in Kansas City, Mo., had a content-driven weekday email that highlighted important news of the day. The content was hand-curated and high-quality, and we knew it deserved a wider audience. My digital department allocated a small budget ($1,200) toward paid Facebook and Instagram ads aimed at generating email address leads. My colleagues in audience development also saw the newsletter as a major opportunity to get to know our audience as a result of the email addresses generated by their subscription to our list. Finally, we all believed we could convert many engaged readers into donors.

When the newsletter was a year old, it had 2,100 subscribers. We set this as our baseline; our goal was to grow the list by 100 percent. This felt ambitious but attainable for what was a first-time experiment. We didn’t have clear, in-house benchmarks, nor did we have easy access to paid-social metrics for our industry, so we referenced general Facebook benchmarks for success to help guide our goal. (At the time, internet research suggested $2/lead was phenomenal success for our industry.)

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Case Study: How KWMU Generates Email Leads Using Paid Social Media

social media, Social/Mobile, instagram, Facebook advertising

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In 2017, St. Louis Public Radio (KWMU) Digital Media Specialist Brendan Williams made a connection that led to the station’s most successful social media experiment to date.

The station was paying an agency to, among other things, deliver brand content for their social media channels like image carousels and animated video aimed at listening options. But the investment yielded little ROI. KWMU's digital team realized they were making tons of content in-house that could be repurposed. They could easily take a portion of money they were paying the agency and divert it toward in-house experimentation in paid social media ads.

The station had an appropriate target in mind for the leads: a daily content-based email that they were looking to grow. Williams’ team had experimented enough with paid Facebook ads to know they did a pretty good job generating email leads.

So, KWMU decided to reappropriate some of its agency budget to pay for Facebook and Instagram ads promoting the station’s daily content email.

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Your Email and Social Media Action Plan for #GivingTuesday

Membership, #GivingTuesday, calendar year-end, social media, Social/Mobile

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Launched by New York’s 92nd Street Y in 2012, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media. It always falls on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving; this year that's November 27, 2018.

It's essential to prepare in advance in order to execute a successful #GivingTuesday campaign. Start promoting on-air and online at least three weeks before the event. Make sure your landing page, email, and social media tactics are in place. And on November 27, here's what you should have in place in order to harness the growing levels of giving that occur on this day.


Send a minimum of two emails on #GivingTuesday that include a #GivingTuesday header graphic (600 x 200 pixels). The first email should be sent in the morning announcing “It’s #GivingTuesday!” and the second in the afternoon for announcing that your station has reached XX% of its fundraising goal. Also, in the morning, send an email your ambassadors to call them to action and to express gratitude for their participation.

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How National Geographic Builds Social Media Trust During the Facebook Apocalypse

PMDMC, social media, Social/Mobile, facebook, Membership, General Management

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Thanks to “fake news,” bots, and political polarization online, trust in social media is at an all-time low. But social platforms still offer a powerful way to connect with audiences and donors.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans regularly use social media (Pew Research Center, 2018) and 31% of online donors now say that social media is the communication tool that most often inspires them to give, surpassing email for the first time (Global Trends in Giving Report, 2018).

A PMDMC 2018 session entitled “Building Brand Trust and Engagement in the Facebook Apocalypse” explored how one superstar brand, National Geographic, has built and maintained its social media effectiveness in an era of social media mistrust.

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Creative New Ways to Engage Listeners During Your Next Drive

Membership, PMDMC, Social/Mobile, pledge drive

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Informed by recommendations and case studies from Paul Jacobs of Jacobs Media, and Frank Auer of WGBH.

On-air drives remain one of the biggest fundraising opportunities for public media and certainly the biggest driver of new donations to stations. But how can you keep listeners tuned in, engage them more effectively, and get more of them to give? Try experimenting with one of these ideas:

1. Connect with Millennials using relevant language and giving options.

Engaging Millennials is a buzz topic. While there is no single Millennial profile, Jacobs Media Strategies found several relevant takeaways about public radio listeners from this generation as part of their Millennial Project.

Non-commercial radio is a key concept for Millennials. They like that “it’s not trying to sell me anything.” The medium is viewed as trustworthy and credible. Also:

  • A connection to the world that offers lifelong learning.
  • Civil, not sensational.
  • Educational and challenges preconceived notions.
  • “The least partisan way of staying informed about things that matter.”
  • “Intellectual thinking with community-focused programming.”
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Why Your Station's LinkedIn Page May Be the Most Powerful Social Media Tool You're Not Using

Membership, General Management, Social/Mobile, linkedin

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Between 2011 and 2017, LinkedIn’s membership grew from 140 million to 500 million. In 2017 alone, LinkedIn grew by 100 million new members, most of whom are college-educated, advanced in their careers, and live in high-income households.

In fact, the demographics of LinkedIn members are nearly identical to the demographics of public media listeners and viewers (National Public Media).

But most of public media has failed to include LinkedIn in their marketing and fundraising strategies. Most stations focus on utilizing Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, all of which having declining organic reach. The opposite is true of LinkedIn.

Encourage your staff to cultivate personal LinkedIn Profiles. It's the first step toward cultivating an active LinkedIn presence that draws in audience members and donors. Consider including staff LinkedIn URLs in station bios and email signatures as well. Another powerful outreach tool is to cultivate your station's LinkedIn Page.

How to Connect With Your Audience and Donors Using a LinkedIn Page

LinkedIn Pages are the best-kept secret in social media marketing and fundraising. Engagement and click-through rates are generally higher than on other social media and LinkedIn members are enthusiastic and participatory followers. If your organization hasn’t yet experimented with LinkedIn Pages, now is the time to get on board. LinkedIn has recently redesigned Pages, improved analytics reporting, and changed the algorithm so that Page updates are prioritized in the home feed. LinkedIn is investing significant resources into the LinkedIn Page tool set and some exciting improvements are likely to be revealed in the coming years.

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The Best Ways to Use Text Messaging in Your Fundraising

Membership, Social/Mobile

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Think about how many unanswered emails you have. Now think about how many unanswered texts you have. SMS messages have tremendous power to reach your membership. Many in your audience are eager to connect with your content via mobile; cultivating your audience - and donor - relationships via this channel should be part of your membership strategy. Here's how to do it in the right way:

Start with the list you have. 

If you don't have a list of mobile numbersthere’s no better time than now to get started. Many stations have had success building a mobile list by offering exclusive content or services, like news alerts for a general audience, specialty content for specific programs (book reviews, recipes, or music), or advance notice of event tickets.

Remember to make use of old lists.

Perhaps you have a list of mobile numbers from a past text-to-give campaign that you haven’t used in a while. In that case, you might explore a text re-engagement campaign where you ask your list to opt-in to content that might interest them.

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Get Great at Converting App Users into Members

Social/Mobile, Membership, digital revenue, NPR One

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Recent estimates indicate that 60-80% of NPR One app users are not currently local station members. Many stations also have access to email leads generated from the users of their own station apps. Here are some proven techniques for engaging with these email leads to inspire app users to become station members.

Welcome users of your station app with an email reminding them of the many online services you offer, e.g., streaming, schedules, events, etc.

Even better, create a three-email “welcome series” that can be automated for new leads. The series should be service-oriented but contain a donate/join button. The last of the three messages should specifically ask for membership. (Don’t forget to add a challenge or match if you have one.)

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Six Things to Do to Tap the Growing #GivingTuesday Donor Base

Membership, #GivingTuesday, Social/Mobile

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Launched in 2011, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media; the event always falls on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. In 2016, more than 1.6 million people worldwide donated on #GivingTuesday, the highest number since its inception. In the future, #GivingTuesday is expected to raise more funds for organizations of all types all over the world as its popularity grows with donors.

For public media to be successful on #GivingTuesday, your station’s campaign should be ready for on-air and online promotion at least three weeks before #GivingTuesday.

1. Create a #GivingTuesday landing page.

The first step is to create a visually-compelling #GivingTuesday landing page on your website that you can promote in email and on social media. It should also have a URL that is easy to verbalize in on-air promotions, such as Be sure to prominently feature the date of #GivingTuesday (November 28 in 2017), the #GivingTuesday hashtag, and a “Donate” button on your landing page and if you’d like to have your #GivingTuesday campaign focus on growing your monthly donor base, then include a “Donate Monthly” button as well.

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What Your Station Needs to Know About the Future Donors of Generation Z

Generation Z, Membership, Corporate Support, Social/Mobile, General Management

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Reposted with permission from Nonprofit Tech for Good.

Youth belonging to Generation Z were born in and after 1998. The oldest of Gen Zs are currently entering college and finishing high school. Raised predominantly byGen Xers who were pummeled by the Great Recession, early research about those belonging to Gen Z indicates that they are cautious about spending money, are bargain shoppers, and more likely to save than to spend.

As future volunteers and donors, more than any generation previous, Gen Zs will want proof that their time and money is well spent.

Also, coming of age during political dysfunction, the rise of global terrorism, climate change, and increasing school violence/shootings, Gen Z is getting exposed to big issues at an early age. That said, here are 21 stats about Gen Z that nonprofits need to know:

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