Like many public media services, OPB has been experimenting with social media. OPB found strong engagement, but few donor dollars from such efforts. The exception to the trend? OPB Passport.
The Early Days of Passport
OPB implemented Passport later than most stations to address a CRM conversion. However, once Passport launched in May of 2017, it proved a strong acquisition tool – running neck and neck in FY 2018 with on air fundraising (TV and Radio) for acquiring new members.
To take advantage of that momentum, in the fall 2017 OPB began ramping up promotion of OPB Passport online and on-air. They aired interstitial spots on TV around key Passport programs like The Vietnam War and Poldark., including general spots and program-specific spots. They emphasized binge-watching of these programs. Passport messaging was included in standard fundraising breaks on TV and radio.
Beginning in 2018, the team at OPB instituted monthly Passport tv spots highlighting new content to encourage new sign ups and keep active users watching. The weekly e-newsletter also highlighted tailored Passport messaging to three segmented audiences: activated users, qualifying existing member who were inactive users, and existing members who didn’t yet qualify for the member benefit.
Passport Promotion Expands to Social Media
The Passport promotional effort expanded across channels to include social media with emphasis on sustaining donations. In total, social posts for Passport content have brought in $4,884 in annual revenue from 62 contributions at a cost of $3,500. Through the use of a default sustainer form, 65% of donations were from new members—and 99% of all donations were as sustainers.
OPB chose to promote shows such as the Vietnam War, Poldark, Great British Baking Show, Victoria, Jamestown, Hamilton’s America and Little Women on Facebook, and considers high engagement as valuable as the dollars. OPB believes efforts underscore the importance of gaining followers and generating awareness and excitement about content across channels.
Binge-watching opportunities are promoted on Facebook through paid posts. A Vietnam War post did best, bringing in $1,584 from 22 sustainers— a net gain of $1,000 over the $500 OPB invested. The post received 748 reactions, 110 shares, 113 comments and 51 new page likes. A Poldark post generated $1,200 in new revenue from 14 sustainers and received 1,048 reactions, 84 shares, 104 comments and 62 new page likes. Though the Poldark did raise over $1,200, the post cost OPB $1,000.
Social Fundraising—Just the Beginning
OPB’s experimentation on social media underscores the broader fundraising potential in Passport’s promotion across channels. Though Passport-themed posts raised more money than other OPB posts, they still represent less than 1% of total Passport specific donations. Instead, the top source of new members via Passport is watch.opb.org from viewers looking to watch programs requiring the member benefit.
Still, there is value in experimentation. So far social media efforts show that people are more likely to donate when there is immediate value in doing so.
OPB plans to experiment with social media and Passport entering the new fiscal year. Going forward, OPB will continue to test social posts for program-specific binge to drive engagement and track how the current social cohort of newly acquired members will behave in future as viewers and donors. To build on the efforts thus far, OPB plans to target specific lists of lapsed members from their database. They’ll also begin testing some digital advertising for Passport to promote new content available and will send targeted Passport emails highlighting specific content available to those that have activated and those who have shown some affinity for a particular program in the past. OPB will also be incorporating Passport viewing data into their CRM to allow for even more audience-specific communications in the future, and to better understand of how viewing affects giving.
Lisa Grace I Associate Director of On-Air Fundraising I OPB