Volunteering Warrnambool serves as a volunteer resource centre, aiming to encourage volunteering within Warrnambool and southwestern Victoria. The service, which operates through Warrnambool City Council, holds regular training sessions for volunteer based organisations.
I was invited by Volunteering Warrnambool to conduct a training session to assist organisations in utilising social media as a marketing tool. Social media can complement existing marketing activities and provide further opportunities to promote causes, engage stakeholders and recruit volunteers.
The session provided an overview on marketing, including the need for organisations to develop key messages and consistency between their marketing activities.
In developing these messages it is often useful to consider the strengths of the organisation and how these attributes can benefit the target market. While not-for-profit organisations tend to avoid framing their stakeholders in marketing terms, it is important to consider that most organisations will have multiple target markets. For example, target markets may include clients, volunteers, business partners and government, who interact with the organisation is different ways.
While the type of interaction with these stakeholders may differ, there should be a common message that builds upon the strengths of the organisation. This approach assists an organisation in considering the best methods to engage each of these target markets to ensure maximum impact.
It is important to consider the best methods of communication to each reach target market. It is worth considering social media as one of these tools, particularly in extending the online presence and reach of an organisation.
An organisation’s website needs to reflect the branding and key messages that are used in all other forms of communication. The website should serve as the basis for online communications by feeding updates into social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as email based newsletters.
Integration ensures that there is consistency between these tools, while providing ongoing updates to stimulate discussion. Social media is a two-way communication tool and it is important to maintain ongoing dialogue to further engage the online community.
While there are several well-established social media tools, there are emerging platforms such as Pinterest, which enables people to pin images and multimedia and to share this with their networks. Not-for-profit organisations can utilise Pinterest to capture volunteer experiences using imagery and videos.
Social media is part of the overall approach that an organisation can use to to reach their communities and stakeholders and needs to be considered in the context of a marketing strategy.