Top 10 Tips for How You Can Mobilize with Mobile

Who isn’t interested in doing a great job maximizing mobile for diverse demographics? It’s important! It’s still not easy reaching around the world, but we’ve taken a whack at it in 2014 and want to share some successes and lessons learned.

In NTEN’s September Connect, we shared recommendations on maximizing mobile. Now we’d like to give you an update and share what we learned about global mobile engagement — a sequel, if you will — from a major international campaign we ran together with the Varkey GEMS Foundation based in London. The Global Teacher Prize is a prestigious, new Nobel-style prize that seeks to celebrate innovative, world-class teaching by inviting K-12 teachers from around the world to share their stories and experience from their classrooms. You may have seen the featured piece in October, “The search for the million dollar teacher.”

Our task was to reach around the world digitally to find the best teachers and encourage them to apply for the $1 million prize. We sought to inspire their communities to nominate teachers and follow up with the teachers to apply for the prize. A large percentage of the world accesses the Internet via mobile, whether because they are on the go or because they don’t have a computer at home. So we worked with Varkey GEMS to ensure that the campaign was as mobile-friendly as possible. As a result, we attracted visitors from nearly every country in the world and received applications for the prize from 127 countries.

Now here’s what you’ve been waiting for: our top 10 tips for you based on what we’ve learned from this campaign.

  1. Make social media your top priority for promotion: Facebook posts were the most effective in getting and keeping audience attention. Facebook generated the most acquisition in terms of views and applications. Google Analytics showed that our top five referrals were from social media. Story-based content plus highlights on influencers or celebrities outperformed more generalized content on social media. Close-up images of people outperformed images framed farther; images are also more mobile-friendly close up. And shorter messages or messages broken into shorter paragraphs outperformed longer paragraphs. We adjusted to a lighter messaging tone and imagery over the course of the campaign, which made the content more approachable to teachers, who are often humble about their hard work in classrooms. Thirty percent of Facebook users only access the site via mobile, according to a recent study, and over 1 billion people access Facebook on their mobile phones each month. Knowing this, social media was key to our global outreach strategy.
  2. Speak in tongues: Multilingual outreach helps build trust and reach people in a language with which they are comfortable. We translated the website into six languages (English, Arabic, Spanish, French, Russian, and Chinese), created social visual content that’s optimal for mobile viewing by international audiences, created messaging that focused on diverse individuals, highlighted their success from around the world, and published Google Ads in other languages, such as Spanish.
  3. Create a budget for social ads: Facebook ads were our best friend because of the importance that Facebook now places on social ads in their algorithm to reach your Fans and Friends of Fans. 62% of Facebook’s revenues now come from mobile ads, so even at low dollar amounts, ads are now critical to any strategy. We were able to reach a highly targeted and low-cost teacher audience on Facebook using Power Editor.
  4. Develop mobile-friendly landing pages: We lowered the website bounce rate by improving mobile-friendliness. Every second counts because people interact differently from mobile than they would from a desktop. Headlines and copy should be short. Think minimal, with white space as your friend. The Call to Action should be immediately visible.
  5. Use mobile texting (SMS): brought our messages to teachers’ cell phones around the world at a reasonable cost in the last month of the campaign to send friendly reminders to complete the application. Sometimes nominees entered mobile phone information inconsistently (e.g., missing country or regional codes), making preparation for text messaging time-intensive. Your mobile phone field should guide people to enter their country code and leave out a zero in front.
  6. Don’t forget about email—it’s still relevant: People who searched on Google and who discovered the Global Teacher Prize through email tended to stay on the website longer than those who discovered the prize through social media. The number of returning visitors increased in frequency towards the end of the campaign, because of our coordinated email and SMS mobile texting efforts targeting partially completed applicants. As noted in the M+R and NTEN 2014 Nonprofit Benchmarks Study, nonprofit organization email lists still have strong growth—up 14% in 2013. Although key email metrics, including open rates and response rates, have declined while social media audiences have grown rapidly, for every 1,000 email subscribers nonprofits had just 199 Facebook fans and 110 Twitter followers. Your email list has great potential for reaching both mobile & desktop users—do you ever check your email while waiting in line or for a friend? Be sure to make those emails mobile-friendly.
  7. Test your keywords to find the winners: Via testing on Google Grant Ads, which give nonprofits $333 worth of ads per day free ($10,000 per month), we found that “maestro” (Spanish for teacher) was an important keyword in reaching new audience members and that “school teacher” kept our audience on the website longer than other keywords. What keywords work best for you? Google Grant Ads offer an important opportunity to reach new audiences, test messaging, and build a supporter base for free (except for the work involved!). Include a call-to-action phrase and use keywords that get the highest number of clicks or impressions, especially in the ad title. Ads on Facebook and Twitter are also an effective way to reach a large number of people quickly and test what words and imagery work best. Check the stats to see which ads are performing best and figure out why so you can replicate success.
  8. Check the metrics like a data lover: Be metrics-driven and data-informed to know what content and imagery are working best. Use tagged links (you can create them with the Google URL Builder tool) to track where your conversions are coming from (e.g. social media or email) and, more granularly, what type of content. We could see a diverse user group represented in our visitors, with lighthearted and humorous content outperforming other content. Learning that, we leaned in on the “fun stuff.” A week-by-week spreadsheet showed growth over time along the array of metrics that we cared most about. On a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis, take an in-depth overview of your metrics so you know what’s working best (and least) to optimize outreach.
  9. Create an editorial calendar: Celebrate special dates that matter to the audience you’re working to reach by planning ahead with a calendar and also checking news feeds to see what similar organizations are celebrating in the moment. You can tap into the wider cultural zeitgeist and reach more people more easily with events that unite the world. We incorporated large international events, such as the World Cup, to reach a broad global audience and generate buzz, and days like World Teachers’ Day to reach our primary target. Event-based images will likely outperform your posts that are not connected to wider events.
  10. Tap allies, partners, influencers, and bloggers: Who are the influencers your audience trusts and to whom do they look for advice and opportunities? When you reach out to these potential allies to support your work, do it with a friendly note that’s as short as possible. Consider including a ready-to-go tweet or two (sample text with shortened link and mention of your Twitter handle, or a link with tweet using something like The Global Teacher Prize gained invaluable support from big teacher-focused sites like Edutopia sharing the prize on their big list of grants and resources, and from enthusiastic teacher-bloggers with large followings.

Good luck! We hope this helps you mobilize with mobile.

Cheryl Contee
Fission Strategy
Cheryl Contee is a Partner at Fission Strategy, where she specializes in helping nonprofit organizations and foundations use social media to create social good. She is also the co-founder of Jack and Jill Politics writing as “Jill Tubman” on one of the top black blogs online. Cheryl was recently named as an Affiliate of Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. She has over 15 years of award-winning interactive expertise and previously served as Vice President and lead digital strategist for Fleishman-Hillard’s West Coast region in San Francisco. Cheryl is also proud to serve on several boards and advisory committees: Netroots Nation, BlogHer, Focus100/Digital Undivided, and Public Radio International. She received her B.A. from Yale University and has an International Executive M.B.A. from Georgetown University.