Look over here and ‘like’ me already!

By Katie Reynolds

How do we really gain the attention of our nonprofit’s audience?

Beth’s Blog recently featured a post on Ben Parr’s book, CaptivologyThe book delves into the realm of our mind and why it pays attention to certain events, ideas, and people, and others not.

As communications professionals having been to school for social media strategy and marketing, it is frustrating when, in practice, perhaps we don’t reach the audience we intended for. Or maybe we haven’t reached an audience at all. We don’t understand! We’ve run online contests, given away free stuff, posted funny videos, gotten media coverage, and enacted strategic social media plans–why are our follower bases still lacking in number?

Captivology discusses 7 ‘triggers’ of our attention– things that appeal to basic aspects of humanity. Kanter speaks into the trigger of acknowledgement.

All of us want to be recognized (we nonprofits certainly want our audience to recognize us!!) and validated by others. Think about it. Why do so many people post 5 times a day on Facebook, tweet about their stresses on Twitter, or post a National Geographic wannabee picture on Instagram with 3 filters over the top of it? This type of social media usage proves the human desire to be empathized with, to be ‘liked’ (pun intended), and to be noticed.

Look at me

How can we utilize human nature to reach our audience more effectively? We can start by playing with the aspects and emotions of acknowledgement. If we start wrapping up empathy, recognition, and validation we may begin to see success. Here is a short list of practical steps to take in order to use the human acknowledgement trigger to gain your audience’s attention:

  • Tell the story of a client who is in need. Give the audience a glimpse into his/her daily life and family–people respond well with empathy and compassion to those that can’t help themselves.
  • Give shout outs to your most loyal followers and donors.
  • Let your audience know how much they are appreciated in a way that can be easily seen.

At the end of the day no matter how many contests, giveaways, or polls you take in order to reach an audience, you may come up with few results. However, as humans it is crucial to remember what makes us ACTUALLY respond–our innate tendencies to care.

Katie Reynolds is a Junior at the University of Iowa studying a major in Journalism and Mass Communications and a certificate in Entrepreneurial Arts Management, as well as a minor in International Studies. She works diligently at SCOPE Productions as the Assistant General Manager.


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