How to DIY a digital strategy that actually works

Published by Beate Sorum on

digital_strategyWouldn’t you like to relax and have a digital strategy that works, rather than chase the latest new social media channel and always wonder if you’re spending your time in the wrong place?

You can have that! Luckily, there’s a really simple framework for getting some zen and peace of mind. Rather than start with each individual channel and consider them separately, we’ll move up a level and look at the bigger picture. We are going to create something that is durable, and a usable – something that will not end up in a desk drawer. Something that will not change with the winds of social media.

A digital strategy should at its core consist of four simple elements:

  • Goals
  • Target audiences
  • Voice / Tone / Personality
  • Channel strategy

Always start with your organisations overall business goals. Look to strategy documents you already have, annual reports, letters from the board or management – talk to your management. What is your organisation trying to achieve in the world? Let’s say that Hypothetic Org want to:

  1. Eradicate poverty
  2. Give advice and support to the poor

Once you have your business goals, you can find out how digital channels can help achieve them. These will be the goals for your digital strategy. They must be prioritised. Let’s say that the number one thing Hypothetic Org can achieve online, is reach out to those in need. Secondly, they can raise money for their work, third digital channels can help raise awareness and finally we believe that digital channels can help Hypothetic make their brand more known. Our digital goals are then:

  1. Help those in need
  2. Raise money
  3. Raise awareness
  4. Strengthen our brand

Target audiences
Next we need to know who we want to talk to and again, prioritise them! We are looking for what these people have in common – what situation they are in that means you are talking to them, rather than pure demographic data (“women over 60”). Hypothetic Org want to reach

  1. People under the poverty level
  2. Potential donors
  3. Existing donors

Voice, tone and personality
I know exactly how to be me. I have 34 years of experience being me. I know what humour I use, I know when I swear and not, I know what topics interest me and I know what I like and what upsets me. I know how to sound like me.

When we are speaking on behalf of an organisation however, we don’t know these things. And so we tend to put on our very formal hat, we start writing in complicated sentences, with stripped, lifeless and boring language. Or even worse; it is the personality of the people behind the computer that is coming through rather than the organisation! One of the worst examples I’ve seen was a major INGO in the Nepal earthquake (they have since become very good at this). They were clearly testing Snapchat, but had not decided on a voice. I remember getting snaps like “Finally on the ground in Nepal :)”. Which is something a traveling person would say, but nothing something an organisation on their way to a major disaster area should say.

So we have to define who we are. Make a list of personal traits your organisation should have. And you can use pairs of words to make it even more clear. We are brave, but not provocative. We have self-irony, but we are not flippant. Serious, but not boring. Keep on until you have a clear picture of what this means. Come up with examples of how you write, and how you do not write.

Channel strategy
Finally we will obviously have to chose some channels. Now that you know what you want, and who you want to reach, you are ready to make that choice. Look at what channels your target audiences use, and where it is likely that you can get the job done. List all of the channels you currently have or would like, and list them in prioritised order based on importance to goals and target audiences.

For each channel, define a set of partial goals. They all need to be related to the main goals you have decided. If you find you have channels that do not support your goals and are not used by your target audience, then you should cut them. A prioritized list also means that you know what to cut if you don’t have all the necessary resources.

Find appropriate KPI’s for each target. Remember that these KPI’s have to relate to your goals – not to whatever numbers the channels can give you. The number of likes on Facebook posts should never be a goal in and of itself – but it may well be a good indication on whether or not you are succeeding in creating good content.

I have made a template to create your channel strategy, with all the information in one place. You can view it in Google Drive, and if you would like to work with the template, you can copy it to your own disk. I’ve put some of Hypothetic Orgs strategy in there for reference.

Congratulations – you now have a working strategy!
With this document you have just created, you now have a live working strategy to start working by. Set up an action plan and start doing the job! Since you now have KPI’s that relate to what your organisation is trying to achieve, you can easily evaluate whether what you are doing is working or not.

Your goals, your target audiences and your personality does not change with the latest internet fad – so your strategy shouldn’t have to. If new channels come along, you can evaluate them against your targets and audiences, set appropriate KPI’s and start working.

Beate Sorum

Beate Sorum

Beate is a well known international public speaker. She runs fundraising consultancy b.bold out of Norway, but works globally. Beates particular passion is everything digital - she loves to design a donation form just right and watch the money roll in. Before starting b.bold, Beate worked on fundraising and digital communication for the Norwegian Cancer Society.


Clairese Yuhasz Austin · April 20, 2016 at 07:39

As a 61 y.o. jilted Executive Director of an ALL volunteer NPO forced to become a geek by firehose, the Alphabet soup language I’m expected to know makes me crazy. KPI? I see in on the template but again, what if this was the Board? Wouldn’t it be grand if like many attorney’s doing so many pro bono cases annually, all geeks took no less than 3 NPO’S under contract for free each year? Sadly for me, very few of my followers are my peers. A majority of these contacts are cold calls for me to buy services, especially the aggravating auto MD’s. All these gurus fighting to do their very best in sharing their wares in 140 spaces, and since I don’t know the lingo, I’m in the dark. Left out. Now, to go spend half a day tomorrow trying to learn SEO when it’s not my cup of tea. What a pity.

    Rebecca Davies · April 20, 2016 at 13:00

    This is fantastic. Like slam poetry!

    Beate Sørum · April 20, 2016 at 22:08

    I’ll do my best to at least explain MY bit of the confusion! KPI simply stands for Key Performance Indicators. It’s a pretty common term across disciplines, so I didn’t think to expand it. Which, of course, I should have! Sorry for contributing to the illegible alphabet soup :)

    KPI is simply the things that you measure to make sure you are headed in the right direction. And it is an important one to think through in advance. Far too often, people just measure the things that the different channel tells you; number of likes, number of comments etc – but that really says nothing about wether or not you are getting anywhere. If your goal is to recruit more donors, measuring success by likes on Facebook tells you nothing. A *real* KPI then would be the number of new donors, conversion rate on your landing pages, the number of views on your landing pages etc.

    Hope that clears things up :)

      Clairese Yuhasz Austin · April 22, 2016 at 06:05

      Thank you, that was a great reply. It’s impossible for me to be a specialist in anything when I am expected to know so much about running an NPO, rescue horses, therapeutic riding, etc. I am a generalist but trying my best to stay up to date (UTD) and a great service to my charity and donors.

Fundraising Friday | April 21, 2016 | Pamela Grow · April 22, 2016 at 12:33

[…] How to DIY a digital strategy that actually works. Wasn’t it Einstein who said something about the power of simplicity? The always marvelous Beate Sørum. […]

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