This is #5 in a series on trust-building in content marketing. The series is also being published on LinkedIn.
I hope you will follow me/ message me there!
I’ve been developing 13 behaviors of leaders that build trust (see here) into a set of “trust tags” to be applied to nonprofit content strategy.
Today I’m addressing #4 and #5 of Stephen M.R Covey’s list of 13.
Behavior four is “right wrongs” and number five, “show loyalty.”
I began to see how rich this area of “righting wrongs” is when it comes to nonprofit content development.
For one thing, the core mission of many nonprofit organizations is to right wrongs. (Social justice and voting rights organizations are two types, of many, that come to mind).
Righting wrongs is built into the content of these organizations when they talk about their mission, vision and values.
Your for-impact organization also has the opportunity and the responsibility to right wrongs in communicating with your audiences who follow, participate with, or financially support your work.
Your content strategy is built for your specific chosen audience, and, if you’ve done it right, you have great intel and insights on this audience.
If something occurs that is troublesome to them, you will know it.
Because it is probably something that is troublesome to you, also.
These “wrongs” – large or small, may not occur or come up very often.
Using a lens of customer service can help you address righting the wrongs and build trust and loyalty.
Trust tag #4 – righting wrongs
Righting wrongs: incidents and accidents
Did your organization make an operational or planning mistake, or experience a technical glitch that affected others?
Something like a hiccup in your ticketing system, or not anticipating the possible crowd at an event on a hot day, and queues growing to 30 minutes long.
This is a good opportunity to say… “we failed to give you the kind of experience we had intended, and we want to make it up to you.”
Then do that – provide relief consistent with the pain people experienced. Ask for their ideas as to how you can do better next time.
Here’s a chance to practice a basic tenant of quality content marketing and overdeliver to your customer/audience.
If something wasn’t handled correctly on your end, or if you delivered an event, program or service that wasn’t up to par, being open about it can build understanding and trust.
But don’t beat yourself. Overcompensating into people-pleasing will undermine your credibility and the trust of your audience.
They want to trust you – and if you get yourself out of all alignment with the level of the original wrong, then you might expect they will wonder if you are controlling the minor problem or if the problem is controlling you.
In lieu of a hand-wringing apology, make a clear and succinct statement of how you felt you did not deliver as expected, and what you learned that will help you improve the experience for your audience in the future.
A clear statement and a re-statement of the promise you aspire to should land well.
Maybe you’ve been wrong about something.
Maybe your organization made significant changes to a program or service, and things didn’t turn out how you’d hoped. Talking about the consequences of this is a way of being transparent about your work and what it takes to deliver quality programs.
In my article on transparency, I referred to Simon Sinek’s suggestion that transparency is keeping people in the loop.
To disclose when a shift in strategies did not yield the results you had hoped for is a topic of transparency and can help your audience empathize with the challenges you face in your for-impact work.
Of course, you don’t have to go into a lot of detail. But sharing where something you tried didn’t quite work out as planned is a way to show up as authentic, and transparent, which further builds trust.
Righting wrongs: facts and data
Addressing disinformation and misinformation might be important for your organization, particularly if, without the facts, the people or places you serve are put at risk.
This may not be a space you feel comfortable in, and when you’ve tried this, you may have been met with hostility.
Righting wrongs with facts and data can be done without calling anyone wrong or ill-informed.
In many cases it is appropriate and desirable for your organization to be a go-to source for your people – so be sure to give them a reason to come to you and trust you.
Any response to disinformation or misinformation that you post should be developed with your core audience top of mind. What is best for them?
If you worry that social posting will rev up a ton of ugly comments and not be as effective as you hoped for, consider making your leadership or in-house experts available in a conference call Q&A to answer questions from your community.
This entire topic of disinformation and misinformation, and how to handle it, is well covered by others. But it is worth mentioning in the context of content strategy and content governance in small organizations.
Content types for trust tag #4 – righting wrongs
- “We didn’t do our best” post (and what we learned)
- The point-by-point to counter misinformation (be sure to cite the source of the facts/data)
- Conference calls with experts to counter dis/misinformation*
- Posts on org values – w/ stories of acting on those values
Trust tag #5 – show loyalty
Loyalty feels good
It seems loyalty is no longer a boy and his dog – it’s loyalty programs, loyalty points. Loyalty has been monetized!
This is too bad because, at the heart of it, loyalty, according to Seth Godin, just plain makes us happy.
Godin says some teams, products and people attract a greater percentage of loyal fans not because they’re bigger or better but because they reinforce the good feeling some people get when they’re being loyal.
Shower your readers/subscribers/community with care and loyalty can grow.
Let them know that you care for and value the physical and mental health of your staff and volunteers.
Provide basic information about how your organization operates, including what donations and grants mean to your ability to extend caring help to others.
Through these various ways of expressing loyalty, weave a story that your organization is here to have an impact – a positive impact.
That you listen, you are thoughtful in the work you do, and you show up authentically to talk about the work you do.
It might seem in this time of growing skepticism and cynicism that expressing positive impact can be problematic.
While people are witnessing the fraying of societal norms, let them see your norm.
Your norm is that you partner with other organizations in your community – not just those that have the resources to be your donors. You partner to have a greater impact in helping people.
Your norm is that you go the extra mile to live up to your mission and vision.
In these stories, you model cooperation for the higher purpose of serving people and the planet.
You are loyal, above all, to your organizational values and to the promise of your organization’s vision and mission.
People can feel good about supporting that.
With the right engagement strategies, you allow for others to be part of the good things your organization is doing in the community and in the world.
They come away with a good feeling.
From this, over time, you can construct mutual loyalty.
Content types for trust tag #5 – show loyalty
- Recognize lead volunteers -in their own words
- Profile donors and staff
- Recognize clients and celebrate their victories – in their own words
- Celebrate mission accomplishments
- Provide program updates- the wins and the struggles
- Support other community nonprofits
P.S. I support nonprofit organizations to develop a content strategy that eases the pressure on their small teams and draws people to their mission. Schedule a call with me and let’s talk about where you are, and where you’d like to be.
P.P.S. – Art to lift the nonprofit executive spirit! Travel today from your desk.