One of SMBMad’s most popular events has always been this social media audit. On hiatus since 2019, we brought it back in 2023 to bring value not only to the two organizations chosen to audit, but anyone with a website and social media presence.
While the panelists (some of the best digital marketers in Madison) had a month to go over the web presence of the nonprofits, they showed up live and in person on November 15 to walk through two non-profits’ websites and social media channels and offer real, tangible advice and tactics these non-profits (and the audience) could take and implement immediately.
All of this came along with a Oatmeal and Yogurt Parfait Bar with all of the fixings courtesy of our food sponsor, Salvatore’s!
Who was on the panel?
Tana Elias – Digital Services & Marketing Manager, Madison Public Library
Tana Elias coordinates Madison Public Library’s online presence through multiple web sites, social media, and online outreach with the library’s diverse array of community partners. She manages the library’s Digital Services and Marketing department, oversees media communications and library-wide communications technology, and assists with coordination of strategic planning, grants and large events for the library. Tana presents frequently on areas of marketing and communications, library technology, and general library topics for Madison Public Library. As a past instructor for UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies (now iSchool) Continuing Education office, she has taught classes on reference and business reference for practicing librarians and regularly presents on marketing topics to iSchool classes.
Tana has 30 years experience in public and corporate libraries. In addition to her career path at Madison Public Library – from reference librarian to web designer to digital services and media manager – she’s worked in corporate libraries in the engineering and health care industries and freelanced as a researcher and indexer.
Tana earned her Bachelor of Arts from Hamline University and a Master of Arts in Library Studies from the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies.
Ashley Storck – President & Founder, Marketini Media
Ashley Storck is the President & Founder of Marketini Media, a marketing firm committed to working with small businesses and non-profits in Wisconsin. As a Gen-Z marketing maven, she brings a unique blend of fresh insights and time-tested expertise to the table. Leveraging her distinct generational perspective, Ashley excels at understanding and addressing the evolving challenges faced by non-profits in the digital age. With a heart for community engagement and a mind sharp with strategic marketing acumen, Ashley has fostered meaningful brand-audience connections for nearly a decade. When she’s not girl-bossing, she enjoys exploring Madison with her partner and their two corgis.
Meg Golz – Digital Marketing Manager, Sound Productions
Meg Golz is currently the Digital Marketing Manager for Sound Productions, a leading audio, video and lighting equipment distributor. She is an expert in all things digital marketing, but loves working with e-commerce brands. When she’s not creating digital marketing content…. actually she still is – for her indie rock band, Seasaw.
Which Nonprofits went under the microscope?
These two nonprofits were selected from many applicants because the SMBMad board members felt that they would benefit the most from input from our panelists. Kudos to the representatives from the organizations who showed up in person! It’s not an easy thing to have this much scrutiny on your work.
Wisconsin Agriculture in the Classroom
The goal of Wisconsin Agriculture in the Classroom is to support educators and increase student learning by providing lessons, resources, and development opportunities through the context of agriculture. Their vision is to be THE authority on food, fiber and agriculture information. They are a state program of the United States Department of Agriculture and operate as a non-profit through the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation.
Ice Age Trail Alliance
The Ice Age Trail Alliance staff works to conserve, create, maintain, and promote the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Their goals are to promote Alliance events and Ice Age Trail activities, support and celebrate volunteers and the Alliance’s 19 volunteer chapters, increase membership, and promote fundraising campaigns.
And here’s what the panelists had to say about each:
The Ice Age Trail Alliance went first. In their application, they’d specified particular strengths, challenges, and goals they had for their online efforts:
- Large social media following
- Regular engagement
- Plenty of content
- Keeping up with trends and which ones make sense for the organization
- Understanding what is/isn’t working
- Engaging new and diverse audiences
- Website – generate more donations
- Social Media – convert followers to Alliance members and/or active event participants
- Social Media – attract and engage new and diverse audiences
Did the panelists agree? Here’s what each of them noticed when they looked over the website and social media accounts:
Ashley Storck started with some accomplishments::
- Tons of information organized in a clear and concise manner w/ clear calls-to-action
- Strong branding and good use of colors, spacing and imagery
- Variety of interactive tools & information
- Mobile Optimized (with one caveat listed below)
But she also itemized some opportunities for the organization:
- Donate CTA in sticky header (that remained at the top when people scrolled
- Ensure social media links are up to date
- Focus Hero Image slides on the organization’s goals
- The Hero Image slides on homepage aren’t mobile optimized
- Donation section similar to the Volunteer section on the homepage
- Page load speed performance below average. She recommended they export the images to Webp format.
Meg Golz also was very positive about parts of the site:
- Clear navigation paths and call to action
- Socials are linked in multiple places
- “So much wonderful information and resources!”
However, in addition to echoing Ashley’s recommendations for “sticky” navigation elements, she also felt that the Ice Age Alliance homepage had so much information, with “a lot of moving parts” which could confuse visitors trying to navigate. She suggested they look at streamlining information or using landing pages for ease of use.
Then it was Tana Elias’ turn:
- Wonderful, consistent branding and beautiful, high-quality photos
- So much useful information!
- It’s clear that many volunteers are engaged with the organization through chapters, events and more
And she agreed with Ashley and Meg about opportunities, adding a few more things she’d noticed:
- Some conflicts between wording on main slide show and embedded wording in graphics
- Create an experience for first-timers
- Share diverse testimonials & photos
- Incorporate donation language throughout the web site by showing value or sharing stories about what donations fund.
The panelists then turned their attention to the Facebook site:
- Consistently posting (a must on SM)
- Really strong audience engagement across all interactions
- Strong use of a variety of mediums*
- Community Management
- *Short-form video content
- Identify what audience(s) the organization wants to expand to
- Utilize paid advertising to promote fundraisers, events, and initiatives
- Using analytics (Hootsuite or Meta Business Suite) for strategic planning. She in particular was a fan of Meta’s Business Suite information, and gave some examples of what to look for.
Meg Golz complimented them on “… how much you share the community you’ve built – the people of your organization definitely make it special!” adding “Your posts are informative and do a great job tagging relevant accounts.”
That also meant there was an opportunity to expand their reach, and she agreed with Ashley: “Could try video on Facebook (looks like you experimented once with a Reel) that could offer some additional reach and engagement.”
Tana Elias focused on the good rhythm Ice Age Trail Alliance had established on their Facebook page, noting:
- Consistent engagement and high number of followers
- Good timing for posts; posts are regular and similar in tone
- Geographical partners and locations highlighted evenly
She expanded on the other two panelists’ suggestions for more video work, including other text and media elements.
- Photos should stand on their own (no, or fewer, words)
- Experiment with video for key moments (placing a final stone, trekking that last mile)
- Create more events; invite cohosts and members
- Alternate call to action posts with inspiration posts
- Finally she suggested they “…Offer less content on Facebook and drive more traffic to web site (with stronger call to donate).”
Instagram got its own section in the social media audit.
Ashley Storck applauded the overall look and strategy:
- Clear branding
- Good use of graphic design & real-life imagery
- Strong use of highlights
- Cross-posting (with some aspects that could be improved, see below)
- Strong reel performance
In spite of that last point, since Instagram gives such preference to video content, the first opportunity she found for them was to increase it: “More reels! And stories?” She followed up with three more ways to improve their impact with Instagram:
- Recommend shortening caption and removing links for cross-posted content
- 3-5 hashtags, better to be specific
- Opportunities for social media giveaway?
Meg Golz found even more to like about their Instagram page:
- Awesome use of carousel posts to share a full story
- Doing a great job of posting regularly
But even the best sites can find some room for improvement, and so she had some tweaks that could make it even better:
- Avoid putting links into captions
- Try less hashtags
She concurred with Ashley: “Video, video, video! This [organization] seems like an amazing org/opportunity to capture video – everyone loves nature!”
Tana Elias complimented the organization on their high number of followers/high level of likes, consistent posting, and “Great storytelling!” She pointed out that the in-depth features of volunteers and staff get best engagement on the platform.
She also pointed out the power of video and engagement, suggesting:
- Videos & reels could replace some photos with text – same info, more engaging delivery
- Ask questions or invite engagement/comments
- Tell donor stories (like volunteer stories)
- Highlight diversity
Ashley and Meg had some final thoughts about the Ice Age Trail’s Tik Tok Presence:
…starting with “You’re on the platform!” which got a laugh from the audience. She also thought it was great that they wer taking part in trends and showing off their office dogs. “Given your goal of attracting new audiences, TikTok is a great place to start!”
Ashley also felt that “Monty the Mammoth” was a great mascot, and they could leverage his presence much the way DuoLingo does with the owl. She recommended they follow nonprofits relevant to their efforts, or even just tangential, who are also excelling in the TikTokverse (such as the Milwaukee Public Library)
She also reminded them that their content doesn’t always need to be trending, given the richness of the ice age trail itself. She recommended posting one to four TikToks a day, which is a daunting challenge – but suggested that AI could help.
Meg echoed that challenge: “It’s hard to post regularly on TikTok, and it seems like a lot of posts you’ve shared are trend-heavy but not telling me much about your org. Again, this could be a great opportunity to share the beauty of the trail through simple hiking videos – and use the trends by selecting relevant trending audio, using relevant hashtags, etc.” She closed with a reminder that the regular cadence they’d established on the other platforms is important on TikTok as well.
Then it was Wisconsin Agriculture in the Classroom’s Turn
According to their application, here’s how they felt about their own site:
- Content creation and planning
- Flexibility and in-the-moment posting
- Changing target audience from rural volunteers to educators
- Finding the best platforms to engage the new audience on social media
- Currently transitioning website/lots of changes happening
- Website – create a fluid user experience
- Building target audience of Wisconsin teachers across platforms
- Get more followers and engagement from a newly launched Instagram account
Keeping these in mind, the panelists first began talking about their website.
Keeping in the pattern of Accomplishments and Opportunities, Ashley laid out some of the best qualities:
- Strong, up-to-date content organized in a meaningful manner
- Clean and consistent look and feel
- Mobile Optimized
There were several places she saw room for improvement, though, many of which were similar to the Ice Age Trail website:
- A more clear “Donate” CTA in header and on homepage
- Expanding the homepage to speak to their mission & attract a new target audience w/ CTAs
- She recommend veering away from current page template on new site
- Using more real-life images, specifically those relevant to educators. An attendee asked, after the panel, how to best find “real” people, and Tana Elias related her experience as librarian using release forms and strategic, non-identifying photography to include all ages in publicity photos.
- Ashley brought up that the page load speed performance was below average, and suggested that exporting the images to Webp format would help.
Meg Golz agreed with all of the accomplishments that Ashley noted, adding that the clean and simple feel even extended “below the fold.” That being said, she found three things that they might want to address:
- The header carousel could be designed to match the more modern feel of the rest of the homepage – and be easier to read/engage with
- Could have a bigger call to action for getting involved
- Link your Instagram!
Tana Elias pointed out that while it was mobile friendly, there were PDFs that were not. However, she applauded the lesson plans and grants that were featured prominently, and felt that WI Ag in the Classroom was clear and welcoming to their audience.
There were a few cosmetic and navigational aspects she noted that could use some work, but on a larger scale she wondered if the many resources could be grouped by grade level to make them more useful for teachers. She also suggested that the content should be dated, or new content highlighted, to keep the site feeling fresh.
What about WI Agriculture in the Classroom’s Facebook Page?
Ashley Storck pointed out the strong aspects of their presence on this social platform: consistent posting (“relatively”), solid engagement across interactions, and good community management.
In terms of what they could improve, though, there was a list ranging from general content to the specific information architecture:
- Lesson-specific content
- Real-life images
- Content pillars
- Fundraising tools
- Page name consistency
Meg Golz loved the posts with people – “building community is everything!” She also felt they did a nice job tagging other accounts (when relevant). She also had some suggestions to improve the graphics: “…clean up some of the graphics to have a little less info on the image, more in the text, and double check spelling, tags, etc.” She also felt there could be a more clear call to action on the page.
Tana Elias had a lot of good things to say about the Facebook page:
- Solid following
- Posts promoting lesson plans have consistent look & feel
- Good mix of engagement, celebration and content offerings with consistent pushes to web site
Once again, however, the importance of visuals came up: “More regular video content – it does well,” as well as “Use more photos and less graphics – or use Canva for more consistency.” Tana also felt that Facebook would be a good way for the organization to build partnerships and increase their reach.
The Final Part of the Audit was Instagram.
Ashley liked that they did cross-posting, though she noted it needed to be updated appropriately. However, she emphasized that Instagram was exactly the place to get the new followers and engagement they were hoping for. She complimented them for starting to explore the use of Reels to build the audience.
That being said, she noted that the posts could benefit from brand guidelines, font and color specifications, and copywriting. She suggested that they look at using the Instagram-specific tools, and finally pointed out that they could improve the link in their bio, potentially with one of the many “linktree”-like apps.
Meg Golz was impressed with the regularity of their posts – “That can be difficult to keep up with!” She also liked that there was lots of good educational information, but she noted “If you’re looking to attract educators, post educational content – especially video! Use the great content you have on your site/in your posts, and make videos showing how helpful they are for education!” Like Ashley, she suggested better use of the “link in bio”, since links in Instagram captions aren’t as effective.
Tana brought it all home. She liked that their posts used more photos now than graphics, adding “Reels are great and are being viewed!” She felt they definitely had a solid start.
To continue the improvement, though, she suggested that “even more photos!” along with stories, contests, and giveaways would bring more engagement. She also recommended they follow more accounts specific to educators, their target audience.
It was a valuable learning experience for everyone.
The entire SMBMad Board thanked all three panelists and the two nonprofits for making the return of the nonprofit audit a success. Everyone got the opportunity to not only see these nonprofits in action, but also took away a renewed inspiration to look at their own online presence and find ways to improve it.