I’m hoping to build my career in charity content marketing, to help women’s charities in particular to engage with their audiences.
As I’m studying an MSc in Marketing at the University of Salford (whilst working a full-time job because apparently, I just love stressing myself out), I’m researching the most impactful ways that brands can build relationships with their audiences and donors.
Charity content marketing often uses the people it helps in order to spread their message – here I’ll be looking at how and why charities should engage with their digital audience to tap into these stories.
Digital skills in the charity sector
Firstly, we need to address the elephant in the room – the digital skills gap in industry. JustGiving have just published their findings from their recent Charity Digital Skills Report, and the findings aren’t great…
50% of charities don’t have a digital marketing strategy!
Something clearly has to change for charities to not get left behind in the digital age. I’m just embarking on my journey into the world of digital marketing and hope to be a part of this change!
So, what’s the story?
Storytelling is everywhere you look at the moment, with big name brands such as Nike, Guinness and Innocent Smoothies all keen to tell their brand stories to their customers. However, if there’s one advantage that charities have, it’s the wealth of real, compelling stories that they have at their fingertips. These stories are authentic and honest, and don’t need to be embellished or shoe-horned into your marketing strategy.
If (like me) you’re new to storytelling marketing, it’s pretty simple – you’re probably already doing it without even realising it! Content Marketing Institute explains how the art of storytelling is a way of building relationships with your audience so they can get to know who you really are.
By sticking to a consistent narrative throughout all of your communications, you can build a persona that your followers recognise. It’s important that this persona comes from a place of truth, otherwise your audience will see right through it!
Ask yourself: who are we?
To use storytelling effectively as part of your charity content marketing strategy, the narrative you create has to align with your organisation’s core purpose and reason for existing. For many organisations, their existence is based upon a lived experience, often of their founder. There’s also the desire to creative positive change for others in the same or similar situation.
So, ask yourself, who are we, really? Where have we come from? What are our values? By answering these questions, you can identify the followers and bloggers whose stories match your own.
Twitter dashboard confessional
20 years ago, we were sitting on our beds writing ‘dear diary…’. Today, we’re on our laptops typing, ‘dear blog followers’! It shouldn’t surprise you that one of the biggest reasons people say they use blogging and social media is self-disclosure. You’ve probably used it yourself as a way of expressing your thoughts and feelings.
Women are especially fond of blogging about their personal experiences (confession time: I was a teenage emo kid with a livejournal account!). The the late, great Dr Kate Granger’s raw and powerful blog helped raise £250k for Yorkshire Cancer Centre. Emmeline May’s blog post inspired the viral ‘Tea and Consent’ video. Women everywhere are telling their stories online!
Finding the stories
Start by doing what you do every day: log into your organisation’s Twitter account and take a quick look at what your followers are posting. No doubt many of them will have direct experience of the issues your organisation addresses. By engaging with them, you can tell personal, relatable stories that really hit home with your target audience.
Tip: You can use followerwonk’s free features to understand who your audience is – who they follow and who follows them, to find like-minded people and widen your follower base.
Breaking down barriers, overcoming taboos
The amazing thing about giving your followers and supporters a chance to tell their own stories is that they have the power to get other people talking. And when people begin talk, issues such as domestic violence, rape, FGM and cancer become easier for everyone to discuss. By opening up conversations, we can erase taboos and make a real difference.
Some great examples of storytelling marketing for charities
Here are some of my favourite examples of storytelling in charity content marketing, as well as for nonprofits and other projects that have helped to empower women.
Plan International: Because I am a Girl campaign
Plan International focuses on advancing children’s rights and equality for girls around the world. Their campaign, ‘Because I am a Girl’, tells the stories of girls and young women in their struggle to access education, work and health services that they need. The campaign shows the success stories that prove social change for women and girls really works.
The campaign throws the spotlight on individual girls who have managed to break through social barriers such as Alpana from Deli, India, in order to create a mass global movement culminating in the annual #GirlsTakeover event in over 300 countries every year.
A campaign that I find particularly inspiring, if not necessarily well known, is the #myonething campaign by Marcelle Aleid. Aleid is a Syrian refugee living in Canada. She poses this question to her fellow Syrians scattered across the world: “If you had to leave your home, what one thing would you take with you?” They film their answers and send them to her. With this project, Aleid aims to bring a sense of hope for the future to refugees who are rebuilding their lives from scratch.
This Girl Can
Whilst Sport England isn’t a charity, nobody can deny the incredible impact that the ground-breaking ‘This Girl Can’ had on getting women into sport and exercise. There’s plenty that can be learnt from this campaign for charity content marketing. The ad shows real women of all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life smashing it on the track, pitch and in the pool. The This Girl Can website also has a wealth of stories written by the women themselves.
If you know of any fantastic examples of storytelling marketing for charities that you think I should know about, let me know! Comment below or tweet me @lc_fairley