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Your Supporters are Talking. Are You Listening?

Our ultimate guide shows how nonprofits can use social listening to engage their supporters.

Ever get the sense that people are talking about you? Well, it turns out they are.

For most organizations, your current supporters are talking about the issues that surround your work on social media. It’s critical that organizations understand how, and if, their supporters are talking about their campaigns and issue areas. It’s not only interesting to see the nature of the conversation, it also helps inform the content strategy while offering powerful opportunities to reply with real time, personalized multi-channel engagement.

By listening to what stakeholders are saying on social media, organizations can understand which issues and message resonates and why. You can literally see how people are talking about your campaigns and gauge when there’s excitement.

We partnered with Fission Strategy to bring you a first of it’s kind guide that flips the funnel and shows a powerful new tactic to dramatically increase engagement with this one idea — responding to people as they talk about your work on social media.

Your People Are Talking. Are You Listening? is a how-to guide written for nonprofits that covers a few ideas you’ll be able to put to use right away (which probably isn’t like anything you’re currently doing.) 

United to End Genocide Used Social Listening to Inform Campaign Timing

Before we dive into the why’s and how’s of social listening, let’s take a look a real life example from United to End Genocide. Given their organizational capacity and the lack of a clear advocacy ask regarding the Yemen conflict, United to End Genocide began monitoring the situation through social listening, but didn’t run any advocacy campaigns.

Once they saw a clear uptick in Yemen reladed mentions from their supporters, they knew when to launch their campaign. The first thing they did was create a page dedicated to Yemen related content to kick off their campaigning.

With limited outreach to social influencers, the campaign began paying off in the same week with thousands of mentions after a just a few of our social influencers who cared deeply about this issue retweeted one of the posts.


Social listening informed UEG of the spike in Yemen interest in their CRM.

SOCIAL LISTENING IS POWERFUL (and why you should care)

Social media listening, also referred to as social media monitoring, is the practice of monitoring digital channels to understand the conversations around relevant topics, a specific phrase, word, or organization so you can better engage those people driving the discussion and participating in it.

The reason why social listening is powerful is because it can be matched with specific data. This means it provides context to your campaigns and your people. For example, it’s possible to monitor how key stakeholders such as donors, activists, alumni, etc. talk about the issues that surround your work. What communications director wouldn’t want to know how their supporters talk about them online?

Social listening is a tactic is worth caring about because it allows nonprofits to engage their base in a way that only the largest brands could afford just a few years ago — in the moment, when your issue is top of mind.

Think about how hard you work to get folks to take action on email. Why not be ready for them on social when they actually talk or share content about your issues?



When creating your list of keywords to monitor, a common experience is to find the easy terms like campaign hashtags or the name of your organization. The trickier part is to find narrow terms that describe your programs, campaigns, or whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish.

It takes time to create and refine your list if you’re doing it right and here’s why: You need to find broad terms that capture enough mentions but specific enough to reflect your intent. The best terms open the door for you to reply with a call to action related to the term.

As for who you should listen to, it’s most effective when organizations connect their existing data (email list, database, current followers, etc.), with social listening tools because it provides focus and context to the terms being monitored.

It’s about smart segmentation so when your supporters talk about your work online, you’re able to reply in real-time, with the right call to action, on the right channel.


One of the greatest advantages of connecting social listening to social data like Klout scores is the ability to see the relative influence of the people who are talking about your campaigns or mission. We talk about three different types of influencers in the guide because it informs how best to approach influencers.

It’s key to know the difference of a VIP and Everyday influencers so you can spend your time wisely and get the most from each mention. While VIP’s can bring a ton of attention to your campaign, there won’t be as many hiding out in your CRM. The majority of your influencers will have modest reach and Klout score, but as a whole, have substantial network reach. In addition, these “average” supporters welcome opportunities to share your message. The key here is to find them and ask them — but don’t forget to also show your appreciation of them as your social media ambassadors!


Your People Are Talking. Are You Listening? is a how-to guide written for nonprofits that covers a few ideas you’ll be able to put to use right away (which probably isn’t like anything you’re currently doing).

jeanette.jpgThe preceding is a guest post by Jeanette Russell, Marketing Director, Jeanette is dedicated to scaling progressive change through technology. During her 20 years in nonprofit tech and organizing, she’s created extensive partner networks, coalitions, spearheaded innovative campaigns. You can find Jeanette on Twitter or by email at jnet[at]atentive[dot]ly.

Topics: Communications Social Media Content Marketing