Is your department ready for UCI Giving Day 2019?

With the 24-hour fundraiser in question fast approaching this April 24th, UCI faculty and staff congregated on April 15th for a Social Media Lunch, a catered presentation centered around sharing the most effective approaches to maximizing reach when using social media.

Social media is a phenomenal way to increase exposure. Yet sadly, it is often not used to its full potential. This Social Media Lunch, Ryan Foland, Communications Coordinator for the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (OVPTL), and Hai Truong, Marketing Strategist for UCI Summer Session, imparted a wealth of useful and practical approaches to using social media to the greatest effect. Here are the highlights.

1) Use the tools available to you.

Hashtagging ties your post to other posts with the same hashtag, increasing the number of people who see and ultimately engage with both. “All roads lead to the hashtag,” as Ryan put it. Be sure to hashtag #UCIGivingDay in all your posts.

Use your social medium’s live streaming platform. Because live streaming services are relatively new, social  mediums prioritize their algorithms. Put simply, more people will see your posts if you use livestreaming features on various platforms. On Giving Day, Ryan will himself be hosting an 8-hour livestream video on Periscope, starting at 8 am through his Twitter account, where he will interview interested faculty and staff about their on-campus departments.

Another useful instrument at your disposal is the UCI Giving Day toolkit, a collection of Giving Day photos, email templates, memes and more, all of which can be used to increase your department’s visibility. Another immensely useful tool is Buffer, a social media scheduling service that lets you plan when you want posts to appear, then posts them for you at the times you chose. You can set it and forget it!

2) Vary your posts.

Not every post should be an “ask,” and none of your “asks” should be aggressive. In fact, “You can really offend somebody if you are aggressive with the asking,” Ryan warned. One creative way to vary your posts is with a countdown. Countdowns get people excited, which is great way to build momentum before Giving Day.

3) Take an organic approach.

Social media is a close analog to socializing in real life, so it’s obvious if you aren’t genuine. For example, if you tag people endlessly you may appear desperate, deterring potential givers. Remember to Top-Of-Mind Tag (TOM Tag) rather than spam tagging. Tag only people who are relevant to your posts and who will naturally be interested in them, rather than tagging everyone you possibly can on the off chance that they will see your post and decide to give on a whim.

On Giving Day, you should be interacting with the people who are engaging with you and your posts, taking the time to genuinely connect with them. People appreciate human connection in any form, and it’s refreshing when they can connect with an actual person behind your department’s account.

Remember that even if you have never done this before, it’s okay to make mistakes. “Everybody can be nervous sometimes,” said Hai. “It’s not about perfection, it’s about practice.” You will learn as you go along, so don’t be afraid to try new things!

4) Use your metrics from last year!

Last Giving Day, which of your posts did the best? If you learn from last year, you should do even better this year. If you didn’t do Giving Day posts last year, this year is a great opportunity to start.

5) Join an engagement group.

An engagement group is a group of people who have decided to like each other’s posts in order to give each other an initial boost and get a leg up on the algorithm. When a large group of people all like and share a post soon after it is posted, not only will more people see it, but the social medium you are using will recognize the post is well-liked and will promote it further “It’s sort of a way to ‘grease the wheels,’” said Ryan.

6) Familiarize yourself with the process by giving yourself!

If someone wants to give, but doesn’t know exactly how, you should be able to authentically advise them how to do so. By making a small gift yourself, you can give first-hand advice to those who may need it, which will likely increase the total amount of gifts to the University.

In spite of all this advice, anything you can do to promote Giving Day 2019, regardless of how successful or strategic it may be, is better than doing nothing. Any kind of publicity is low-hanging fruit. As Ryan put it, “A successful Giving Day depends not on what everyone can’t do, but simply on what everyone can be doing.”

Contact Sydney Bertram, Director of Annual Giving, if you would like more information about UCI Giving Day.