6 Photo Engagement Tips from National Wildlife Federation

Photo by Jim Brown, Courtesy of NWF
08.17.2012By

Photo by Jim Brown, Courtesy of NWF

If you don’t know Danielle Brigida, the social media manager at the National Wildlife Federation, she’s a rock star in nonprofit social media. I was able to catch up with her recently and talk about how the NWF uses pictures to engage with their audience.

Danielle Brigida, National Wildlife Federation

NWF did a great job adapting to Facebook’s Timeline (check out their Facebook Page) and Danielle had a few great tips to offer smaller nonprofits on using images to engage with your community, contests, and dealing with naysayers. Here are the 6 tips on how to engage your community with photos:

Tip #1: Find out what is visual about the work you do, and the story you want to tell with images.

“Don’t share anything you don’t want people to share,” Danielle says. “Think about your end goal before you post. What do you really think people will excitedly share about this program?”

Tip #2: Get in the habit of taking photos whenever you can.

“What’s really powerful in social media is combining real life experience with online,” Danielle says. “People are experiencing things and sharing them online.”

“If you have an event, get in the habit of taking photos. Document what you’re doing. Ask your volunteers to take photos, too.”

Tip #3: Invite your supporters to contribute.

NWF has conducted contests encouraging their supporters, including professional and amateur photographers, to submit their best images based off a theme. NWF’s Rachel Stemen has worked with photographers to create the PhotoZone page.

“We’ve realized that photographers interact with nature in such a meaningful way, and we’ve started being very deliberate about engaging them,” Danielle says. “I think all nonprofits can learn from artists that touch on the issues they cover.”

“The reason we’re active on social media is to get to know our supporters better. And we want to highlight their talent, and we’ve seen they feel honored when their work is featured,” she says.

Tip #4: Be creative when you don’t have the resources for photos.

Aside from it being a fun, inviting way to engage your community, photo contest submissions are also a new source of photos for your organization. Danielle says nonprofits can rely on their supporters for images.

“We wouldn’t have nearly as many beautiful photos if it weren’t for members generously donating them,” she says.

“Whether it’s a butterfly in your backyard or a landscape in Tanzania,” Danielle asks her community to contribute.

“And it’s neat for me to see. We’re engaging people with nature both online and offline. We’re encouraging people to go outside and take photos, and by sharing their photos they extend their experience.”

With proper credit and permission, these photos can add value to your nonprofit’s image library. But when you don’t have the photos you need, there are other places to turn to.

“When you don’t have a ton of resources, it’s good to know you can go to Creative Commons on Flickr,” she says. “It’s been great to create relationships with photographers. That’s a big resource for nonprofits—asking photographers who are passionate about your cause for help and advice.”

Tip #5: Engage on your end, too.

“Don’t look at social media sites as a place to post something and be done,” Danielle advises. “Continue to push it forward and extend the content’s life. I try and share things people can make their own.”

Tip #6: Take feedback positively.

If you’re doing it right, you’ll come across a few naysayers who may disagree or criticize your organization or its strategy. I asked Danielle how her team handles negative feedback.

“I try to be initially receptive, take the feedback as positively as possible,” she says. “Always be kind. We need our community’s passion, and for them to keep fighting for what they believe in, without losing sight of who we are.”

But when she can fix the error, she does so.

“I want people to come and tell us what’s wrong,” she says. “I want to give people what they need.”

I think Danielle’s demeanor in how she interacts and treats her community is something we can all strive to emulate. What are some new tips and ideas you got from reading this post?