Marketing Tips & Tricks for Community Groups
In this blog post I want to bring you the tools, tips and advice shared by leaders of local community projects. Links are in blue, so follow them to get the tools yourself!
The Communication for Community Groups free workshops were fascinating, with attendees sharing knowledge, tips, challenges and insights into how they market their projects. The projects were varied and included:
- A CrossFit gym wanting to attract more students
- A women-focussed training and support project
- A services-signposting initiative
- A number of community cafes wanting to attract more people through the door
… and many more!
Your project will have an aim, a purpose and a mission. One piece of advice is to crystallize your focus and to make sure your mission is clear. From there you can define your audience and decide on the best way to reach the people who will be most interested in your project.
Put your audience’s shoes on and define how you can help them solve a specific problem. Often, surveys are good for this purpose and SurveyMonkey has a free tier which will allow you to survey your audience and customers. MailChimp is a useful tool for sending out digital mail-shots, which can include a link to your survey.
Create or find a network of people close to you to help you with skills you may not be familiar with or help create leadership in your community by asking for willing volunteers. Otherwise, Google and Youtube will have all of the information you need to get started learning how to use social media effectively, how to write a blog, and anything else you can imagine!
Sharing your mission
Whether you want to raise awareness of your cause, promote an event on advertise your group generally, sharing online can be a daunting prospect. Our attendees shared basic tips including making sure you share relevant information rather than sharing everything that interests you, share positive and inspirational good news stories, avoid sharing “white-noise” and clutter, share plenty of visuals and posts with your unique personality.
Timing was highlighted as an important asset – certain times of the day will receive more interaction than other times and it differs from platform to platform (have a Google and see what you can find out!) The idea of searching for awareness day calendars and sharing your mission in tandem with specific awareness days could help boost interest, as well as piggy-backing onto national campaigns, sharing your mission and taking advantage of the wide reach of larger organisations such as Time to Talk, NAS, Mind and there are many others.
The workshop attendees discussed specifics of certain tools and some handy guides can be downloaded here on the specific topics:
- How to write a blog post
- How to write a press release
- How to film using a mobile phone
- How to conduct an interview
- Social media quick tips
More social media quick tips
We discussed one or two quirks of social media which did not make it into the above guide, so I wanted to include them here:
- Use local town Facebook groups to get in touch with other business owners, project leaders or members of your community.
- Collect mobile telephone numbers (with explicit permission) and use WhatsApp group broadcast messages to inform your audience of group news.
- Use the Facebook insights tab on your project page to see useful data on page visitors.
- Use how-to guides to share information about your group and provide value to the audience.
- Twitter is fantastic for conversations in general and for building relationships with high-profile advocates, like MP’s.
- Schedule social media posts by using Buffer or Hootsuite
- Canva is a free and useful post-creation tool
- Unsplash and io are two great, free stock image collections
- Create a Youtube account to get access to their free audio library, for free music to use in your content.
- 30 hashtags can be used on Instagram to share your post with others
- For businesses, Google offer a free Google Business Listing, which enables people to search for you.
- TeamApp is a useful app for your phone – it is a group chat app with more features than WhatsApp.
Consent and Accessibility
Consent needs to be gathered for every piece of content we share. Learn about General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and how it pertains to your project before you decide to share anything at all. Use photo and video consent forms to gather specific consent for your media files (the more specific the better!)
Accessibility should be a main focus for your group – how better to attract more people to your project than by making it accessible to everyone? Visit Usability.gov and read their Accessibility Basics Guide to get a head start on making accessibility a priority for your group.
Widgets and photo symbols can be used to translate your wordy documents, menus and posters into more easily-readable language for those with speech and language challenges.
Gloucestershire Deaf Association has advice, information and hearing loops available, so feel free to get in touch with them to ask further questions. Also, make sure your website’s “Alt-Text” or sometimes called “Alt-Tags” are up-to-date and working – Alt-Tags are descriptions for your images, which are used by screen-readers to enable people with sight challenges to have the description of the image read out loud to them.
Search for advice to make your website and social media channels more accessible for you audience. Often website builders such as WordPress will have accessibility plugins and extensions to make your website more accessible.
In the end
It was agreed that we get out of communication as much as we put in. We learned that there is no one way which suits everybody and what works for one group may not work for another. Despite a focus on digital communication throughout the day, we recognised that the best way for us to build relationships and learn from one another was face-to-face, and we all came away having learned some new tips and tricks to apply in our day-to-day roles.