If you’re working for a social enterprise you have tonnes of resources and oodles of marketing cash, right? Of course not!
The truth is most social enterprises are driven by a burning desire to change the world for the better – but that means you need to build awareness for your cause on a shoestring.
Digital marketing, and social media in particular, is an incredible opportunity to do just that – but if you’re not doing it right, you could be flushing your hard-earned money down the toilet.
According to last year’s Sensis Social Media Report, 79% of Australians now use social media, and that figure’s growing. Quite simply, it’s the ultimate word-of-mouth marketing tool.
Here are five ways to increase awareness for your social enterprise, without needing big bucks.
Tell your story
Storytelling can change the world. Did you know? Authentic storytelling is the single most effective way to change the world for the better. Storytelling works because it engages. Storytelling works because it’s memorable. Storytelling works because it doesn’t preach or lecture.
Research shows that people’s brains are hardwired to respond to storytelling. It’s true! As a society, we tell stories. Around 65% of our conversations are made up of personal stories and gossip – everything from, “You won’t believe what happened in the lift this morning!” and “Guess what Margaret has in her lunchbox today?” to “Did you hear? Spider-Man got his super powers from a SPIDER BITE” and “You wouldn’t believe: Superman’s allergic to kryptonite!”.
It’s these personal stories that interest and engage us, and it’s these personal stories that can change the world. It’s these personal stories that account for the worldwide success of Humans of New York – small, meaningful glimpses into other people’s lives, which can have a huge impact on our own.
Even the big man Mark Zuckerberg backs this up. In his January statement that changed the game for Facebook, he said: “You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
This is the reason we encourage businesses to find their “why”.
Why the “why”? Because once we find out your “why”, we can help you tell your story. Fact is, no one accidentally starts working for a social enterprise or small business. You could be doing the same job for a corporation and earn three times as much money.
People work for good causes because of a deep-rooted, heartfelt desire to change the world, regardless of the salary. That same story can attract your customers.
Once we start telling our stories, we start building connections. Stories, you see, are what bind us together, as humans, as individuals, as a community. Share your story, and when you need supporters, sales or even volunteers, they’ll be there, ready and willing to help you and your cause. Share your “why”, and others will find their “why”, too.
Choose your platform
In our (kind of extensive) experience, it’s always better to do one social media platform really, really well than do lots of them poorly. We see that quite often; causes spread themselves too thin by trying to do a little bit everywhere, and the only result is they’re don’t end up building a real audience or community on any of them.
You must make a decision here, and I would always err on the side of doing one really well, then adding a second, then a third. I wouldn’t try to go out there and register accounts on every single platform available, just BECAUSE.
Here’s a breakdown of where people are hanging out on Australian social media:
- Facebook 94%
- Instagram 46%
- Snapchat 40%
- Twitter 32%
- Linkedin 18%
- Pinterest 10%
- Google+ 10%
A lot of people think Twitter is right up there with Facebook, but in reality, it’s quite a bit smaller here in Australia. Nationally, Instagram and Snapchat are far bigger and some other platforms are much, much smaller. This is something to take into account when you’re deciding where to spend your time and money.
As you can see, Facebook’s still the big kahuna when it comes to social media, and it’s still the best platform for digital marketing. That’s not going to change any time soon, despite what the cynics say.
Know your audience
It’s only when you know who you’re speaking to that you’ll be able to create truly engaging content on social. And, when you create engaging content, you’ll start achieving your goals – whether that’s more volunteers, more donations, or simply making your organisation a household name.
See what we mean about it paying off?
The interesting part about social media is that you may have many audiences. Most organisations have at least two or three significant groups they’re speaking to – whether that’s Victorian mothers aged 35-44 or Indonesian school teachers aged 25-34.
Why is this information important? Well, that’s simple: you need to know who you’re speaking to. When you write a post, you have a message that you need to convey. How can you convey it effectively if you don’t know who you’re talking to?
Think about it like this: you’re an individual, right? And you have your own vision, values, and voice, yes? But – you speak slightly differently to different people. For instance, the way you speak to your best friend isn’t the same as how you speak to your grandma. You’re still you; you’ve just tweaked your voice to suit the situation.
Social media is exactly the same! Your organisation has a clear voice, vision and values, but it needs to address its audiences appropriately. You’ll know when you’ve hit the nail on the head because your community will start talking back to you – commenting on posts, tagging their friends, sharing on their own pages.
If your organisation has a few different audiences, you might worry that you’ll be ostracising one group by speaking specifically to another. That’s where content planning comes in – make sure that your mix of posts is such that everyone is accounted for.
Create meaningful interactions
Social media is so much more than drafting your content and clicking ‘Post’. A successful social campaign doesn’t just publish content – it creates conversations. If it doesn’t, your social-media platforms (and therefore your brand or organisation) can be a bit dull and boring, talking at – rather than with – people. And as we all know, if there’s one way to ostracise people, it’s to talk at them rather than with them. (You know that one uncle? The one everyone avoids? That’s who we’re talking about here.)
So, how do you build relationships via social? Asking a question is the simplest way to invite conversation. After all, it tells your followers that you want to hear from them. They don’t have to always be really hard-hitting ‘let’s solve the world’s problems’ questions either. Simple conversation starters around what people are having for dinner or watching on TV can be fantastic for building a sense of belonging.
It’s also SO important to respond to both messages and comments – it not only potentially builds relationships with your followers, but increases the engagement on your page. This might be answering a question they have asked or simply thanking a follower for their comment/encouragement.
Don’t get into the habit of posting identical content across all your social platforms, either. Remember, your audience differs depending on each platform, so ensure you have a good understanding of each channel and your followers on each one so you can tailor your posts accordingly.
Finally, build your brand reputation
One of the last pieces of the puzzle is getting people to trust you. There are a lot of ways you can do that. Surround yourself with people with a stellar reputation, whether that’s through consultants or an advisory board. Having people with a big reputation behind you can open some big doors. Get influencers talking about you. Again, it’s another way to borrow reputation from those with a big following.
Being quoted in the media, and sharing that with consumers, is another way to build your credibility and spread the word about your cause. Building a relationship with a journo only needs to cost you a cup of coffee, and maybe a well-placed sample bag.
One of the quickest and most effective ways to build credibility is by entering (and hopefully winning) awards. Nothing opens doors faster. We’ve been recognised by Anthill as one of the 100 Coolest Companies in Australia, which is great for attracting new staff.
We were also the winner of the 2017 Telstra WA Micro Business Award. Not only do we get the referred credibility of being associated with a huge brand, it gets us instant credibility and recognition in every room we walk into. Just winning this award has gotten us featured in podcasts, radio interviews, press coverage, and on a stage in front of international media and business organisations.
No matter what stage your social enterprise is at, give it a crack. It’s also an incredible way to identify any weaknesses in your story – and as we all know, telling your story can change the world.
Alecia Hancock is the founder of Hancock Creative, an award-winning education agency training not for profits and social enterprises all over Australia. For free training for social enterprises, check out hancockcreative.com.au/ctw