Why social media shouldn’t be the golden ticket
Marketing in the not-for-profit sector is faced with uniquely stringent budgets and an undeniably testing brief. Marketers are not trying to persuade consumers to part with their money in exchange for a product or service, but instead to donate.
And while digital allows charities to connect with their donors on a deeper, more personal level, not-for-profits should never forget the power of traditional media when it comes to actual donations and creating an emotional connection, says Glenda Wynyard, Managing Director of The Media Precinct.
“Too many charities are reliant on social media to solely carry the load of their communications as they have a perception that their followers equate to financial supporters,” she explains. “However, relying solely on social media does not necessarily transfer to real-world supporters or donors because it lacks the credibility of other media.”
A crowded marketplace
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission reports that there are currently more than 56,000 registered charities in Australia, with more than 200 new charities registered in July 2018 alone. That’s a lot of competition for donations.
And against the backdrop of this crowded and competitive space, charity marketers are under pressure to deliver value for money with minimal resource.
To cut through the competitive clutter more attention needs to be paid to raising awareness of the charity and its cause using a combination of editorial coverage and paid mainstream advertising, says Glenda.
“Both of these methods educate the market, raise awareness and build trust, therefore the charity gains credibility and trust over time,” she explains. “Trust and credibility builds donors and supporters.”
But while charities increasingly turn to digital and social channels in an attempt to save money, traditional media remains the most effective way to gain trust, convey a message and tell a compelling story which tugs at the heartstrings.
The power of the media
Digital media is undeniably important. The ability to accurately target and segment audiences enhances a charity’s ability to focus its efforts and budgets where the opportunities lie.
The Social Deck’s work with the aboriginal group, Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia, on an anti-smoking campaign demonstrates the power of behavioural segmentation through digital channels.
The Media Precinct’s work with headspace and their Yarn Safe campaign is another example of harnessing social media’s power in following behavioural footprints.
Social media is a powerful tool that all not-for-profits should learn how to harness, as it allows a direct and humanising channel of communication to open up with potential and existing donors.
However, charities often become over reliant on social media as a marketing tool because it is cheap. Research conducted by Australia Post found that consumers overwhelmingly considered adverts on social media ‘easy to ignore’, and increasingly ‘less trustworthy’.
The danger with social media is that it can create a false equivalence between support and donation. A large social following, or large numbers of ‘likes’ or engagements with various campaigns does not necessarily lead to an increased volume or value of donations.
While it is important for building a community and spreading the charity’s message, social media alone does not constitute an effective marketing strategy, and potential audiences are often lost.
“In Australia, it is no coincidence the top five charities who people say they donate to or trust the most are using mainstream media to connect with potential supporters as well as social media,” explains Wynyard.
She points out these charities are leveraging mainstream media’s credibility and trust – particularly within newspapers, magazines and television and online news sources from both an editorial and advertising perspective.
Broader media platforms, such as television, newspapers and radio, are an essential way to build legitimacy and drive contributions. PR remains a cost-effective way for charities to get cut-through in the media landscape. Unlike paid media, newsworthy content generates an organic reach that drives direct interest back to the charity.
The ability to present expertise in a newsworthy context provides a more nuanced view of the importance of a charity’s work than a straightforward advert will ever be able to. Setting your marketing in the context of the world at-large can be a powerful tool for converting interest and admiration into active donations.
Paid media through these platforms can also be a crucial part of a not-for-profit marketing strategy. The ability to control the conversation and deliver a creative story with a powerful message is invaluable. TV adverts are able to deliver a simple message in a more memorable way than any other medium – take the Animals Australia campaign for Live Export currently on air.
Indeed, traditional media, such as television, plays a role in appealing to a broader audience than a narrowly defined ‘target’ market.
While digital targeting has obvious advantages, nothing can drive broad awareness like a television campaign. MS Queensland’s powerful awareness campaign shows the value that compelling storytelling can add when combined with the reach of traditional media.
Digital media remains an important part of charity marketing, but for those looking to really stand out from the crowd, traditional media channels remain the most effective and powerful way to tell your story to a broad and engaged audience.