#CommsforGood: 10 ways to improve your communications strategy

Are you currently developing, reviewing or delivering a nonprofit communications strategy? If you’re thinking about the type of strategy you need, check out these tips. If you’re looking to take your communications strategy to the next level of effectiveness, consider the 10 tips below. They’re all sourced from a Gaurdian article on the importance of communication in aid work and how to get it right.

1. People engage best with people, not abstract issues

Use case studies, testimonials and human interest stories to illustrate your issue in a real, accessible and relevant way.

2. Communicate the difference people can make

Rather than only focusing on the negative aspects of the problem, show that it is possible to address the problem and communicate what each audience member can do to help address it.

3. Find a private sector partner

Find an influential company that can act as your champion, so it can push your cause among peers.

4. Strategic communications can change policy

Aim for policy change by advocating for your cause in the media and amongst politicians. Policy change is one of the most tangible ways to achieve your social development goals. For example, the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report team engaged with Pakistani press and politicians to advocate for education in the country. This contributed to the Government finding more funds for education and passing the free education bill.

5. Monitor everything

Speaking of monitoring, continually monitoring your progress and impact can help you generate a clear picture of what’s working and what’s not. You will then be able to make informed and effective adjustments to your strategy and use the positive monitoring data for stakeholder engagement and advocacy.

6. Know your audience

By clearly identifying your audience and understanding their behaviours, you can tailor your strategy and messages to best suit their needs.

7. Shift from compassion to solidarity campaigning

Move from convincing your audience to feel sorry for those you are helping, to working together with those in need to improve our shared world. Move your audience from focusing on pity to championing empowerment; from “it’s sad, but I have my own problems” to “we’re all in this together.”

8. Select the relevant data

Data is essential for transparency and evidence-based advocacy. With that said, ensure that you use the right data that is consistent with your strategy and messages, to ensure maximum impact.

9. Do more with less by being inventive

If you’re a small NGO lacking in resources, you’ll want to remember this tip. Work with freelancers and pro bono communications specialists, and organize competitions among students to generate content. Leverage free social media platforms and strategic partnerships that are cost-effective.

10. Listen to people on the ground

Talk with the people you are working with and serving in your project sites. Listen to them to understand what the real problems/needs are. Then together with them, incorporate this feedback into your communications strategy. This will ensure that your strategy can be as effective and relevant as possible for your these top-priority stakeholders.

Social media for social marketing: Can hashtags, viral content and online networks influence behaviour?

In the age of hashtags and viral videos, can social media be a powerful tool for social marketing? As a digital communications specialist I’m keen on finding examples and best practices.

First thing’s first though – it’s worthwhile to clarify the distinctions between social marketing and social media marketing, as people often confuse the two.

Social marketing, as defined by the International Social Marketing Association, “seeks to develop and integrate marketing concepts with other approaches to influence behaviours that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good.” Social media marketing on the other hand utilizes social networking websites specifically as a marketing tool, to build brands, market products and services and broaden stakeholder reach. But it’s worth noting that the two approaches are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Different combinations of these approaches can be used in an organization’s marketing strategy.

Here, I’m concerned with social media as a tool supporting social marketing. With that said, I’d like to share the first of three examples that I believe exemplify this link in very creative ways.

The 2014 #LikeAGirl campaign, run by the feminine hygiene company Always, used a powerful video and social media to show that this phrase – which had become an insult – could be empowering. The campaign included elements of both social marketing and social media marketing, as described above.

Using YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, people were encouraged to comment on and share the video, as well as the #LikeAGirl hashtag, together with examples of how the phrase can mean amazing things. A range of social media influencers – including celebrities and government leaders – participated. By the official end of the campaign, the #LikeAGirl video was viewed more than 90 million times, becoming the number two viral video globally. And there were 177,000 #LikeAGirl tweets in the first three months of the campaign. #LikeAGirl generated significant global awareness and changed the way people think about the phrase. Positive perceptions of the phrase increased from 19 to 76 percent among the youth surveyed. What’s more, two out of three men who participated in the campaign said they’d now think twice before using ‘like a girl’ as an insult. Read a case study on the campaign

Look out for two more social media for social marketing examples in a future post.