You don’t have to be a tech journalist to see that the digital landscape underwent some significant changes throughout 2016.

In order to remain relevant and competitive in 2017, innovative nonprofit organizations must take advantage of the advancements that have recently upended the digital world in order to strengthen their brand position in a crowded field. The following digital branding trends offer insight into how you can engage with your audience more consistently in 2017, and bring the ROI of your marketing campaign to new heights.

Authentic content wins the day. 

“Content marketing” has become such a buzz-worthy term that just about every organization, whether for-profit or nonprofit, has implemented some strategy aimed at taking advantage of it. This has led to many marketing professionals haphazardly investing in automated content generation platforms that offer little value to their audience.

Yet content isn’t effective in a vacuum. It has to be relevant to the specific audience, and contemporary consumers are digitally savvy enough that they can spot inauthentic content from a continent away. Nonprofits have an opportunity and a responsibility to commit to a strategy of generating content that speaks to their audience’s needs and delivers real value.

Hyper-locality can connect you to your audience.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but the digital revolution is actually shrinking the world and increasing the importance of locality at the same time. Because omnipresent mobile broadband has resulted in information overload, many people are now more interested than ever in connecting with organizations on a local level.

Charities and nonprofits can use this trend toward hyper-locality in several ways in order to reach their audience in their home turf: For instance, they can incorporate localized data into marketing campaigns, such as a car donation program communicating how many underprivileged families need transportation to work in a particular area. Additionally, nonprofits can partner with popular local influencers to plan local events that will generate PR and community buzz.

Live streaming and video open a path to engagement.

Although video content has been a cornerstone of the web since YouTube’s arrival in 2005, 2016 saw an explosion in the use of video by content marketers that is poised to continue unabated. The newest factor in this trend is the introduction of live streaming video content, which allows marketers to stream via a social media platform, and even send notifications to their followers when a broadcast is about to begin.

Facebook, in particular, has made a significant push into this arena in the past few months. In response to heated competition from rivals such as Snapchat, the social world’s largest social site introduced a new Facebook live video feature, and recently rolled out a live streaming option to its sister platform, Instagram.

Personalized content helps separate you from the pack.

If you want your organization to connect with users in 2017, personalized marketing is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity. Just like massive corporations, nonprofits have to know whom they’re speaking to in order to craft a compelling message. Audience knowledge is the basis of effecting marketing personalization: Once you know who makes up your audience, what they desire, and how you can connect with them, you can begin to design a message that speaks directly to these aspects of their humanity.

There’s no end to big data.

Which leads us directly to big data: There’s no getting around it, data is now inseparable from the branding and marketing processes in 2017. Nonprofits must employ innovative technological tools to collect and analyze information about their audience. The breadth and specificity of digital data in the current environment are what make it such a powerful force. When utilized correctly, robust data analysis not only tells you exactly what your audience wants to hear from your messaging, but it enables you to turn your nonprofit into a value-added partner that they will return to over and over again.


About The Author:

Jeremy Silverstein is Vice President of Operations and Vehicle Dispatching at Goodwill Car Donations. During the five years Silverstein has been with the organization, he has handled tens of thousands of donated vehicles.