Jun 3, 2020

Amplifying Your Virtual Reach with Social Media

Happy creative businesspeople brainstorming in office, placing sticky notes with ideas on glass

The following is a transcript of our Q&A conversation from Episode 3 of our Pivot Success Series.  You can view the full webinar, and other webinars in the series, on our Pivot Success page.

This episode discusses strategies to amplify your virtual presence on social media.

How did the guests obtain their wine bottles? The important question right with social distancing and stay at home order, and can you clarify how the wine poll worked? 

Wes:  So to answer the first question is as you can imagine, we distributed them slowly and carefully. Our school district is represented by probably four or five kind of major neighborhoods. And we identified somebody of each neighborhood they could hold on to the wine for folks in their neighborhood to maybe from the porch. We have dropped off by that person on the winners porch. We thank everyone and also very specifically said give us some time, bear with us and be patient as we work to get you not only your wine items but your silent auction items or your live items. Because we wanted to do it the right way we wanted to do it in way that was considerate of how everybody was feeling at the time. In terms of the wine how it pulled, we basically took the list of all of the raffle winners because again the wine item was a raffle item. And for those of you who are not familiar with that or GiveSmart it assigns numeric number to each person so the first person who buys it is number one, number two. And then we use a random number generator online to then take that total which is 100 and 15 or so people who purchased and said put them in random order and in parallel. We numbered each pile of wine that we had and so then that was our way to say “hey we’ve truly been random just as if you had pulled a random bottle from the wall, if you were there in person you have effectively done virtually. You have assigned random numbers that correlate to these numbers of the models, so hopefully in any sense. 

Kirstin, any school admin have pushed back regarding sponsors live auction, online auction any extra components? Did you have any pushback there?

Kirstin:  No, we didn’t. We had a good relationship with our school administration and also Wes may be able to speak better to this. But we.ve been very much in coordination with them about how this event goes, how this promoted especially considering that yes, there is a wine wall, there’s a typically alcohol but they were very supportive of all of this. 

Wes: I would add to that this is a neighbourhood that celebrated our new principal year and a half ago with a party at the brewery. We have maintained a pretty good set of guidelines around what’s down on campus and what’s done at the school. It’s one of the reason we have a non-profit is so we would have an arm’s length relationship from the school. I think that’s thus avoid you know we’re not having a PTA so we’re not having a school event when we do this. We’re having an event for a non-profit that supports the school. 

Wes did you guys incorporate a live component via Facebook or the event website?

Wes: We didn’t. And Maurine that’s one of the things I’ve looked back and questioned ever since the event. Is whether that would have been fruitful for us to do I think if we had more time. If we’d given ourselves additional plan, we might have tried to make that happen. The reality is as I mentioned we went from the beginning of that week thinking “Oh there will be a bunch of people’s houses, maybe we can do something too.” then what’s the challenged associated with getting everybody up and running and it was lower down the list of priorities. So it’s not something and so I am in kind of looking back and saying “Gosh! What if we had more time?” And I certainly would challenge anybody who’s listening and still planning an event to consider what you might be able to pull off there because I do think that would have only improved the engagement that we would have had with the virtual participants.

Kristin: I also agree that no we were sort of also. So at the beginning of this was not the daily norm for everybody to be on zoom calls all day. To be gone you know Netflix hangouts and sort of doing all the Waynesboro hobbies.

How did you pull the Mishnah program into the virtual component? I know the tugging the heartstring is important.  

Kristin: it is. And as part of that, what the line we always like to use is it’s for the kids. But we’re also a really fun group and I think that our constituents knows that and it’s a balance of really stressing the importance of having this be a successful this year even though it was completely different from what people are used to. Because it is such a big night of fundraising but also you sort of keying up that fun and making sure that was an element that was going to get people want to engage. I think our base is very Pro the kids, very Pro the school but it was actually a matter of creating the fun and the engagement versus having to sell our mission too hard for this particular one.

I missed this I’m unclear as to the timeline for the event. What went Friday to Sunday? And what happened on Saturday night online?

Kevin: Yeah! They had their silent auction open from Friday at 5 O’clock P.M. until Sunday at 5 O’clock P.M. In the middle of that on Saturday night they did their live auction portion and even though it was not a virtual event a big live streamed. What they did was they converted their live auction items into silent auction items. They put that category called premiere and they had them open for the two hours. They really push up communications letting people know “Hey, did the special items. These were going to be the live items they’re really awesome experiences.” And so that get people excited and so that what happened on Saturday they had the two-hour live auction and closed up at Saturday night. 

What did you do for an auction item that was affected by the shutdown? The questioners saying we had a ton of restaurant gift cards and some of those places maybe shutdown for now. Did you guys run into that?

Wes: He kind of shrugged. We were so early in the process that we’re like “Okay, let’s put him out here and see people bid.” and people did bid. I think a lot of restaurant items that we have we’re lucky we’ve got a lot of good strong restaurants in the neighbourhood in the area in Atlanta that we felt like these guys are hopefully going to weather the storm. But ultimately, I think the best that you can do in this situation is put them out there and if there’s somebody who bids on them, there’s somebody who bids on them. But we are all adults, if we’re looking at an item that we say “Gosh! This is a hundred dollar gift card” in Atlanta, I’m going to put 50 bucks on it and hopefully they’re still come around and open back up in a few months. And so we didn’t have any conversations in restaurants or anything like that frankly.  We didn’t have time to but ultimately we said “hey we’re going to put it out and see what happens.”

How much of your revenue was already in hand prior to having inhibited virtual? And along with that, what percentage of your revenue is auctioned versus ticket sales?

 Wes: I would say 62,000 or so that we pulled in for the event. About 30,000 of that was based on sponsor of the event that kind of your restaurants or your local companies or parents who already purchased in the fall purchased through a separate fundraiser to include to the event. I know it’s a bit unclear but the total amount that we kind of already in hand were about 30,000. Ticket sales mentioned they are part of a fall fundraiser where they give money to the school and as a result get like two tickets or four tickets. And so tickets sales we probably sell about a hundred tickets of the 200 and we sell them I mean I’m doing a quick math here and in my head at 75 bucks a piece, so 7,500j of that remaining 3,000. I’m both left a lot of people didn’t end up buying tickets and so I think where we ended up with was probably 22,000 or so coming from a silent auction and probably another 10,000 maybe less.

Patrick what type of auction items do you suggest now that many restaurants sporting events are now closed? 

 Patrick: the first thing is using everything in your disposal. I think we’ve seen some cool people and hey they say this one group they were going to have tropical themed and they couldn’t have the physical event they auctioned off the decorations. And we’ve seen people my favourite of all tie I think is where people there was there was a box of Amazon packages and so they just room into a random box. So I think getting creative overall but then I think if you do have any of that kind of ticket related or experiences, if you are able to confirm the expiration date or different things like that is always good. I think gift cards at the moment. As we talked about businesses and in sponsors being impacted if there are gift cards where you can benefit the organization that have been for you and drum up some interest, I think are good. And then depending upon your organization for schools for example, the raffle off the parking spots or different things. I know that’s a lot of information all at once and definitely, I think depending upon your organization constituent base knowing the people in your geography it can be a little bit different. But certainly in the follow-up we will make sure to include some better examples overall.

How challenging was it to describe your items or visually display them to attract interest without the in-person viewing of them like was that challenging? 

Kristin: I don’t think it was that challenging.  I think that we had some good descriptions written up on GiveSmart site. And then what we did was in social media we worked harder probably visually. I think on the site for the auction we showed logos mainly. But in social media we were able to do a little bit more romance with the descriptions and with the imagery we were looking to highlight some of those more big-ticket items and the more exciting things especially. But I think it worked with the tools that we had. 

Wes any math on how much did you save on the cost for the menu food beverage etc.?

Wes: Yeah! Lots of math. I’ll keep it like $8,000 for the venue they immediately said if you can’t come, can we book you for next year? Can we just move that commitment out a year and we said “Absolutely.” Same thing for video booth, same thing for catering, we had proof of pudding which is the largest caterer in the southeast. They gave us a huge discount on catering in the first place and then they came back right back around and said “of course when I can hold you to that. We’ll do it with you when you are ready.” And so we’re very fortunate having built some strong relationships. I mentioned the brewery scofflaw brewery; shout out to Scofflaw brewery in Atlanta. They’re on neighbourhood and they supported us for years and they’ve got two boys at our school and it was like “Well yeah. We should have given a beer for this. We’ll give you beer next time”. So we built relationships that have made that very painless and we’re excited now. We’ve already got booked for next year. We know our date next year, we’re way ahead of the curve. So we have leveraged some good relationships and some really big hearts of those people who were going to help us make this happen to make sure we’re having a great event happen next year

Kristin since Facebook was the main social network bringing traffic to your event by your guest, do you think the age of the guests were impacted or affected that? What’s your sort of mind feedback to that?

Kristin: our constituents are mainly parents of the school and sorts of surrounding neighbourhoods. So we are targeting not an older crowd but definitely a facebook crowd. We’re no targeting 20 yrs. Old for this event. Facebook probably of the three channels is the one where we get the most engagement anyway. We do get a fair of engagement on Instagram but it’s obviously you can’t have the links to click through. We had put our link to the auction site in our profile so people were able to get it there. But for each post it’s little bit rough, right? I will say that we also boosted most of our posts that we were doing or at least the very important ones really starting the month out. And then as we get closer to it, the really important ones we were doing it much more heavily. We did not do an age target; we only did a geo target on it. So how we did it I think that the results and facebook being the highest engagement is really just reflective of our audience in the first place. So I think that there may have been some of the reach that spread might not have been the facebook audience. And I think that there’s probably just more than Instagram and word of mouth was would have brought in anybody outside of that demo.

How did you do registration for this event? 

Kathryn: For registration they did all Mobley and they sent out text ahead of time as well as emails, letting everyone know “Hey this is our link, go ahead and get registered.”  They really push to do it as early as possible. So, all registration was done online, pushing emails and text with the link to register.

Would you look at holding it virtual again versus going back to live even it’s back to normal in next March? So anything you would do differently?

Kristin: I’m at a point just personally where I miss giving people a hug right now and I would really love to do that. I we would actually consider it depending on what’s going on. I really think that having a facebook live component or doing something that’s bringing two people the night of would be really key for us if we going to do this virtually again.

Wes: Right now my answer is no. We want to go back to live. Yes, we have too much fun this way every year. But absolutely if the question is will we take this experience and the learnings from this experience to do the virtual side better, the answer is absolutely we will do so many things different.

If you had honourees, how did you celebrate and feature them?

Wes: We did actually have one honouree event that we did every year. Again shout out to our local Scofflaw Brewing Company because this year because, they were our honouree. We did is we did in multiple emails before after and during the event. We called out that they were a benefactor of the year. I would say that’s the best we could do given the situation. I thought about getting a picture or whatever but as we got closer to the event we felt like even that was probably inside of Newport aims to give a new situation.

Kristin: in addition to the emails. We did mentions in the emails we did a special social post right as the event closed just talking about them and what they had done for us. 

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What our clients say

We needed a platform to make sales online and to track and display ads for our sponsors. GiveSmart was perfect. We ended up making close to $15,000 more than we had hoped for. Definite better ROI than we anticipated. The interface is easy to use and provides plenty of options to get help if needed.

Michelle M.

The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

Using GS has created ease in auction bookkeeping, payments, and generating post-event thank you/tax letters. While we were online during COVID, our interactions with our GiveSmart via phone, email, and zoom were seamless. A representative always got back to us within the day. I would recommend GiveSmart to anyone doing a large online event.

Julie G.

MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

Jamie F.

Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

GiveSmart is easy to use and ideal for virtual events and can be used for in-person events to manage the silent auction, seating charts, and check-in to the event. Being able to use the platform for unlimited events within the contract year is very useful and being able to add other users and volunteers for different levels of access is helpful as well.

Dawn L.

Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County