Why This Obscure Nonprofit Wouldn’t Exist Without Their Social Media Management Tool

How do you build a community around a sport you invented and no one ever heard of? How do you attract potential target audiences & partners to develop the idea? How do you get people enthusiastic for a ridiculous idea and how do you turn them into ambassadors?

We put all our money on Facebook and Agorapulse, which turned out to be the killer-combo.

The International Extreme Petanque Federation is a Belgian non-profit organization founded by 12 friends and I in order to promote extreme petanque.

What started as a crazy idea after a couple of beers, quickly turned into an international online community, which eventually lead to the creation of an official organization.

Although we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we do take our social media efforts very seriously in order to reach our goals:

  • Promote extreme petanque as a real sport
  • Become the biggest online petanque related community in the world (we recently made the top ten)
  • Attract sponsors & sell merchandise to fund our activities
  • Organize offline events for our fans (like the very first extreme petanque world championship)
  • Identify valuable user generated content to integrate in our content plan
  • Reach out to our fans & stimulate ambassadorship

Social is the only digital channel we use to develop our idea. We don’t have a website or e-mail list. We focus on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter, and we have some IFTTT-scripts running to feed a Pinterest & Tumblr account.

Today we have 8,000+ Facebook fans with a very healthy engagement rate, which allowed us to monetize the content and sell our merchandise to fund our activities.

For us the key to success was Agorapulse. and below you’ll read how it helped us shape our wildest dreams.

1. Identify content that organically attracts relevant fans

We’re old school when it comes to (social media) marketing: content is king! We’ve been obsessed with trying to serve the most engaging content since day one, but to be honest: at the start we didn’t have a clue what to post to build our audience.

So we started experimenting and posted 3 times per day on Facebook and we tagged every piece of content (by theme) in our Agorapulse publishing overview.

It took us about 1 month to identify the content that worked and the content we could throw down the drain. Even today it’s our go-to functionality to optimize our content.

Data-driven content creation

The content tagging functionality might well be the most unoticable feature of the entire platform, but to us it’s pure gold!

It allows us to minimize irrelevant content and maximize quality content.

It even made our content creation process easier, because we now only focus on content themes we know will resonate with (potential) fans.

Without Agorapulse we would also been able to identify content issues, but it would have taken more time and a lot of manual data manipulation to come to the same conclusions.

2. Leverage data to optimize & monetize our content

Agorapulse offers a boatload of comprehensible stats that help you optimize your social media efforts. The dashboard contains relevant KPIs and allows you to really dig deep in case you want to.

You wouldn’t believe us if we told you how many hours we spent in this goldmine, but we loved every second of it.

It allowed us to:

  • Discover very early that video was the way to go, which quickly increased our viral reach
  • Find a tone-of-voice thanks to the demographic stats
  • Optimize the publishing frequency and timing to maximize organic reach
  • Find a better balance between the different content themes to keep the page relevant and entertaining
  • Improve our copywriting efforts by comparing the engagement rate to the caption length & structure in the detailed post analysis
  • Make analyses over a long period of time. Weekly and monthly reports are fine, but sometimes you need a bigger picture to better understand the impact of your efforts

Data-driven fundraising

But the best has still to come! Thanks to the ROI module we were able to convert the engagements into a valuation expressed in dollars (or Euro in my case).

It allowed us to explain the value of the content to potential partners, who were not always able to get their head around abstract terms like reach, engagement or clickthrough rates (CTR).

The fact that we can actually show the value we generate, made it easier to land sponsorship deals with brands who are looking for visibility within our fan base.

Without Agorapulse we wouldn’t even have known the social ROI-model, let alone how to monetize social engagement. Today it’s the basis of our sponsoring model.

3. Less work, more play

The first year we posted 3 times a day on Facebook & Twitter. The second we dropped to 2 per day and now we’re cruising on 1 post per day.

That’s more than 2,000 posts in less than 3 years.

On average we schedule 3 months in advance. It takes about 4 to 5 hours to schedule 180 Facebook & Twitter posts. Frankly, if we weren’t using the automated publishing queue in combination with the drag and drop content calendar, we would already have given up 2 years ago.

Agorapulse offers the most practical and intuitive scheduling interface we’ve ever used and we still don’t understand why Facebook hasn’t copied it yet.

You win great amounts of time and scheduling content actually becomes fun!

4. Efficiency

The fresh feeling of Inbox Zero

Oh, how we sometimes miss the times when we only had 30 fans. Since we hit the 5,000 fan mark last year, we receive a lot more comments, private messages and reviews. We try to reply to all of them, which significantly increases the day-to-day management (hence our rigorous scheduling rhythm).

Thanks to the Inbox Zero feature of the Agorapulse dashboard, we are able to quickly manage all incoming messages. Every step of a conversation pops up separately in the dashboard.

Instead of weeding your way through the standard Facebook notifications, you get to work with a mini-built-in-CRM that allows you to easily delegate, tag or archive the messages.

Without it we would’ve lost track of a lot of user-generated content and interesting people. By nurturing those relations with Agorapulse we were able to:

  • Identify and engage with our ambassadors,
  • Generate a lot of free PR (TV, radio, print & online)
  • Find partners to organize offline events

All of this allowed us to push the extreme petanque idea into the real world and connect with our fans even more!

Mobile app

We follow up on most of the messages with the Agorapulse app. We are always available and we try to reply on the fly. Although we plan most of the content with the desktop editor, we use the Agorapulse app to post media from my phone without having to export it to my desktop PC.

It also allows us to reschedule some previously planned posts and keep track of what has to be published.

Without the app, we would be a lot less responsive and have less agility to play around with our content. And we would definitely have less time to play extreme petanque and create content.

Bonus ball

Last but not least, we would like to like to highlight a feature that didn’t directly help us achieve our goals. But we consider it as valuable as the tool itself: the wonderful team behind the platform.

The support team is almost always available and they follow-up the issues & questions with the speed of light. It feels like I have a dedicated support team at my exclusive disposal.

Their support comes in many forms & shapes:

  • In-app chat function with the support team
  • FAQ to help you solve almost 95% of your questions
  • The Agorapulse Academy for those who want get the most of the tool (highly recommended)
  • Lots of “get started” video tutorials
  • Think you could use a new feature? Just suggest the feature you want and the dev team will do the rest.

If we were them, we’d call ourselves the extreme customer support federation 😀

If you decide to sign up for Agorapulse, I just would like to ask you to do it here. For everyone who signs up via the link we get a little bonus, which will allow our dear nonprofit to fund our extreme petanque activities. (See, I’m ALWAYS fundraising…)

If you do, we’ll send you a little souvenir from Belgium to thank you for your support!


John Haydon