Yes! Non-profit agencies have a brand and like any business, even a used car lot, they should want to improve their position and increase their brand loyalty. But how to do that when what you “sell” is in fact a social service and not a car? You can’t advertise right? How would it sound?
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Building brand isn’t really selling but even if it is, you can and should be “selling” your brand every day. Here are some hot tips to build your brand online without having to sound like you have a sales quota to meet.
Build your relationship with media
It is a good idea to apply the 80/20 rule according to this blog post by Sofie De Beule “There's no secret formula to successfully engaging with your audience on social media, but applying 'The 80/20 Rule' should always be a big part of your strategy. It simply comes down to this: use just 20% of your content to promote your brand, and dedicate 80% to content that really interests your audience and engages them in conversations.”
Check out the full post.
So talk about driving... not the cars!
Be responsive to your social media
When there is a discussion or issue happening on social media – it is happening NOW. Putting it in your calendar to respond on Monday isn’t going to cut it. Your brand needs you to respond to topics that affect you in real time.
Start your own YouTube channel
Yes it is true, now everyone can have their own TV station. And it can be a great vehicle for “advertising” your services, your news, your stories and trainings.
A great tutorial here.
Everyone loves stories! Here is an area where social services can outshine even the hottest new car on offer. Every agency has positive stories they can share with the world. You can even use your new YouTube channel to do so! Rohit Bhargava says on his post, Building Trust: 6 Ways to Get People to Believe You Online, “If you think about your relationships in real life, when people share more about what they are thinking and planning to do, you feel more involved with them. Giving the inside story is a great way to build trust.”
Trust of your agency’s brand is built when you connect with your consumers and offer a glimpse behind your Wizard of Oz curtain. Share your strategic plan, your accreditation recommendations, even your salaries, (some public sectors have them published as a matter of rote each year). Share how your donations were spent. You get the idea. By offering up information you take away the potential for skepticism. The Portland Society of Vancouver BC learned a very big lesson about this last year.
Create Brand Ambassadors
These are your happy consumers. Post their comments and stories of their positive experience with your agency everywhere. Yes everywhere - On your website, in your brochures, on your social media, and even posted in your lobby. This is in fact your best selling feature according to “Social Horsepower”
“Consumer skepticism is growing about advertising, and trust in them is eroding. At the same time, mass paid for advertising no longer reaches as many people as cost effectively as it did previously. This is due to both the fragmentation of media (due to greater choice), and also due to the growth of online and social media. In a recent Nielson survey, only 33% of consumers said they trust paid advertisements, but a whopping 92% trust peer recommendations”
And last but not least;
Have a crisis plan
No we are not talking about an accreditation evacuation crisis plan here, but a crisis plan to deal with poor publicity, a damaging negative review or a even a huge media scandal. Look to Jian Gomeshi’s recent attempt to pre-empt his own scandal through a Facebook post, as an example of crisis planning. OK maybe it’s a plan that backfired, but at least he had one.
After all, you never know when you might have to make lemonade out of lemons.
More great reading on building your non profit brand: