I’m writing this with my blogger hat on.
Every day, many emails arrive in my inbox from charities, corporates and public sector organisations, all asking if I can feature their latest news. I’ve also been on the other side of the fence when advising charities how to work with bloggers. Many are keen to do this as the right influencers can boost traffic, improve SEO and generate income.
Here’s what more bloggers, including myself, would like charities to do:
In the new selfie age, it is easy to focus on the latest snazzy social tools and forget that the likes of Facebook were originally referred to as social networks. They are a place to connect with other individuals and for charities, this offers a wonderful opportunity to engage with stakeholders, supporters and community users.
In this section, Zoe Amar outlines how you can expand your network by engaging with bloggers, Lizzie Carter explains how to reach out to key stakeholders and Kirsty Marrins explains how to grow your community.
1. Make your approach informal. Bloggers are not journalists and unless your press release chimes with specific interests of ours, a press release can feel a bit impersonal. We love it when organisations send us an informal email or tweet with an idea for content. Many bloggers set up their social media presences as a personal passion project, so anything which shows how you share our values is great.
Over the years, CLIC Sargent has secured some of the best corporate partnerships in the sector, but recently the team noticed other organisations engaging with clients over Twitter, reaching out to new customers on Facebook and chatting with suppliers on LinkedIn.
Our team was already using social media in a personal capacity, but when talking about using it in our day jobs, the room fell silent. Why weren’t we doing that? And what opportunities were we missing out on by ignoring these channels of communication in our work?
Know what it is. Social media is, in many ways, synonymous with community management. To do it well your charity needs to understand who your audience is and foster an open and warm environment where they can talk about things, have an opinion and feel that it’s a safe place. You will never build a community if you only broadcast.
Think about your communications style. Charities need to be ready to do handholding, and to respond quickly and be empathetic on social media. You can be warm and friendly on social media and still be professional, but there needs to be a boundary. Also know your limits - if you are unable to help directly, you should signpost your members to useful resources.
2. Listen to us. We might well have questions or need more information, or images to go with our piece. If you’re able to provide those quickly then it’s more likely we’ll write a good blog.
3. Spread the love. If you’re able to retweet our blog about your charity or send us a quick thank you email that is always appreciated.
Blogger Kathy B often blogs about charities and causes that interest her
4. Build a long term relationship. Many of my best blogs have come from getting to know charities over months or even years, and them approaching me or vice versa about a story. We want to build relationships with good organisations and we like to approach them as partnerships.
5. Get to know us individually. Following on from my last point, I know that many charities worry about the time needed to develop strong relationships with bloggers. I’m not going to lie - it can be labour intensive. That’s why I always recommend getting to know a select handful who will resonate with your audience, rather than 100s.
WHAT DID WE DO?
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
The digital world moves so fast that it is important to be agile. We want to be braver about using digital media channels for both cold new business approaches and communicating with our partners. We need to find new ways to monitor the success from this and want to move with the times, looking at how we can use things like Buzzfeed, Instagram, Snapchat and be a trendsetter in these areas. We know that this is a long game but worth investing the time in.
Charities are ideally placed to build communities around their social media presences, given the nature of their causes and the services they provide. Kirsty Marrins, digital freelancer and experienced community manager, has plenty of advice for how charities can do this.
Understand which channels work best for your charity. It is easier to build communities on Facebook, than on Twitter as you can create bespoke groups, such as a group for your volunteers. Have a think about the channels you have and how could you use them to encourage your audience to talk to each other
Let your community guide your content. You will only have a community if you give people what they need. Look at the top 5 pages on your website for inspiration, or run a Q and A using your charity’s experts. If you want a community, you have to involve them. You have to give people a reason to comment.
Cancer Research UK have invested in community management on their social channels.
Be realistic about your resources. Some charities monitor their social media accounts out of office hours and over weekends, whilst others just devote whatever time they can. Supporters are fine with delayed responses as long as you set expectations, such as pinning community guidelines to the top of your page. To keep it manageable, communities can be small, for example, a closed Facebook group for marathon runners.
Have a crisis process. Sometimes things can go wrong so it’s important to have a crisis management process in place.