Want to grow your fraternity/sorority/community’s online presence? Want fewer people to hate Greek Life? Want your communications to result in passionate supporters? Neat, I want that for you too!
I studied Communications for my first couple years of college, and have no formal certification, but writing and media have always been a passion of mine. Without much more than the Keynote program (like PowerPoint for Macs), I would design novice-level graphics for my chapter’s events, for my meetings with my executive team, and later for my work at the Fraternity headquarters.
During my final years working at Delta Sigma Phi I co-managed our Twitter, LinkedIn, wrote regularly for our magazine, spearheaded a communication campaign around our new assessment, our off-Convention-year award announcements, the proposal materials we sent to potential campus partners, and much of went out to students, alumni members and campus professionals.
Given the restrictive budget of a collegiate chapter and a non-profit headquarters, I’ve come across many tips and tricks to get the most bang for my brothers’ buck while building the potency of an online brand.
Marketing & Public Relations
Marketing and Public Relations (PR) typically refer to different things. Marketing is usually outwardly focused to promote a product while PR is typically associated with two-way communication between an organization and the outside world.
Social media has, in my opinion, blurred the lines between the two.
Great Public Relations is great marketing. Open, two-way communication is what fans and customers have come to expect of their favorite brands and public figures. You can tweet directly at the CEO of Twitter and expect that he could very likely reply. Social media has opened up new opportunities to build conversations and relationships – both of which offer statistical and immeasurable benefits to your brand.
So, a one-off service event with a charity? Not ideal public relations. A relationship with a children’s hospital which has lasted for years and which features cross promotion of members as a key element of the hospital’s fundraising campaigns? Good public relations: It’s all about relationships.
Free/Mostly Free Ways To Boost Your Communications
[None of these are paid promotions. I’ve used them all and like them. Some I learned from Beth Z (Your Nerdy Best Friend) at a conference]
1. IFTTT – IFFFT is a free service you can use to link actions between a variety of platforms. Want to share an Instagram photo on Twitter as a native Twitter photo instead of half of a caption with a link to Instagram? IFFT can be set to automatically re-share your Instagram pics on Twitter in just that way (believe me, too many national fraternities need this advice). Beyond social, IFFT will sync with your email, Google Drive, Contacts and more!
2. Digitize Magazines – The centerpiece of most Fraternities’ communication is often a magazine. That’s fine – but the internet has happened, and we should no longer be limited by publishing schedules and costs. After publishing a newsletter or magazine, upload the stories to your website all at once or trickle them out until the next issue arrives. This gets your stories more exposure, allows them to be shared individually, and draws more attention to your website and organization as a whole. While you’re at it, consider a blog either built in to your website or through a service like Blogspot or WordPress for regular, quick, or “behind-the-scenes” messaging.
3. Fiverr – Visit fiverr.com and you’ll find a slew of people with a variety of skills willing to help you for five bucks! If you need a quick and simple logo, someone with a great voice to produce an audio version of a story/blog post, or someone to find the 10 best options for a fraternity sweater online, Fiverr is the place to do it. It’s affordable and saves you time, which saves you even more money!
4. Share Relevant Articles – There aren’t things to share every day for most national fraternities, let alone most chapters or alumni groups. I had a lot of success with Delta Sig’s platforms when I would share TED Talks or articles which appealed to our members, even if they weren’t about our fraternity. Sharing relevant content provides value to your audience/followers and can occasionally result in additional “shares” or discussions – all of which boost your channel to the top of other’s social news feeds. Don’t just brag about you. Let your audience know they can count on your organization to share interesting content.
5. Pixlr – Use Pixlr like you would PhotoShop, but without paying for PhotoShop. Pixlr is an online image editing tool and it’s free to use. Not only that, it’s pretty robust. I’ve used it to edit and touch up photos, but would love to hear from anyone with a deep understanding of PhotoShop and Pixlr who could provide a better comparison. Still, for the majority of us, Pixlr will help. [Even still, if I can build a semi-stylish set of logos and images on PowerPoint then you can too!]
6. Piktochart – Piktochart is a simple and mostly free tool you can use to create infographics. It has got templates to build off of and will certainly be of use to those without graphic design experience and who are working with a limited communication team (or by yourself!). Plus, infographics are a great way to communicate lots of information in a visually appealing way. It’s great for a year-end summary, for example.
7. Reply & Start Conversations – Engage with your audience when they engage with you or seek out opportunities to connect with your audience by commenting on something they’ve shared, re-sharing what they’ve shared, or messaging them to start a discussion/thank them. Just like when recruiting members – Only as many people can join your organization as you’ve talked to. So don’t just wait for people to like what you post. Meet them where they’re at.
8. Contxts – Contxts is great if you present regularly, are a chapter consultant, or are ever in a position where there are too many people and not enough business cards. Create an online business card – include a photo, your websites, your social links, and more. Anyone who texts your username to the Contxts number will receive a contact card via text message, and you’ll be notified of which numbers (sometimes with names) requested your contact information. You can then thank those people for their time once they’ve requested whatever information you put in to your Contxts account. Two-way communication. . . how easy is that?
9. Archives – Fraternity men and women love vintage photos. On Wednesday, while working for Delta Sig, I’d ask our Twitter followers to determine which chapters would be featured in our #ThrowbackThursday post the following day. After seeing which 2-3 chapters got the most support I’d head into our physical and digital archives, find excellent photos or stories, and then share them for all to see. They were often our more engaging, popular posts because we sought out engagement and because they build on the story of our organization in a way which connects directly to many followers.
Consistency is key, so try out different tools or techniques and stick with what works for you. Nothing may be a runaway success overnight. Build relationships and keep them healthy – it’ll create a potent force of supporters around whatever you choose to promote (assuming they like what you’re promoting).
Have any more free or mostly free tools or tips to get the most out of your communication needs? Tweet @FraternityNik with your ideas :D.