Sunday, December 28, 2014

Webinar Summary: An Introduction to Social Media for Not-for-Profits & Social Services

The following are a few of the key notes and takeaways from a Bowda webinar delivered to a number of non-profit social services organizations in British Columbia. The topic of the webinar was an introduction to social media for not-for-profits and social services. 

It started out with an introduction to The Big Three: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, with a quick description of how each network works. These are the three major social networks that brands need to consider and evaluate if they are the right fit for their organization. Twitter and Facebook accounts are essential for your brand, and Instagram is beneficial if you have interesting visuals to share.

Following that, there was an outline of the basic information organizations need to have ready, which included: 

Profile Checklist: (ensure that your social media profiles have the following) 
  • Profile photo (business logo)
  • Cover photo (relevant and/or branded photo)
  • Short bio of your business
  • Long bio of your business
  • Links to your website
  • Physical address (and map)
  • Contact info (email address, phone numbers, etc.)

Next we learned what makes not for profits and social services different from other organizations and how these differences translate to social media. 

One of the main issues not for profits and social services face is how to deal with social media in relation to sensitive information. A tip we shared was to focus on statistics and numbers instead of using names. If you are questioning whether a post could affect a person’s reputation, it’s always best to play safe. Transparency is also key for these organizations, as people seek more background information as to where their donation and money will go. It is important to use your social media networks to inform your audience about what your organizations offers and how they do it. Many not for profits and social services have limited budget when it comes to social media and public relations, it is important to note that traditional marketing means are becoming less and less necessary. Not for profits need to take a page from startups and learn how to bootstrap effectively. Social media is an amazing resource with global reach that is free and organizations should be taking advantage of that. Many of the tools to enhance your social media strategy, such as Hootsuite, offer their basic services for free as well. 

Organizations were also given examples of social services organizations on international ((RED)), national (Canadian Blood Services), and local (Our Place Society) levels with good social media presence and practices.

Once organizations understand the whys and hows of using social media, it all comes down to content. 

Creating and Curating Content
  • Content you share should be helpful to your audience and relevant to your business - for example, if you offer services for women, mention other resources in your area that might also benefit women
  • FAQs - what are some of the questions that your organization is asked 
  • Engage with other businesses/sponsors/locals; share stories - write thank you’s to sponsors, engage with local influential people (like the mayor, for example), share stories of volunteers in action, reminders for up-coming events and follow-ups about previous events including pictures, go beyond organization centric and include issue-centric content
  • Have a plan, set goals, and stick with it - define your organizational goals and make sure your social media reflects those goals. Plan your content strategically with your goals in mind. 
  • Share everywhere - newsletter, social media, email, posters in physical locations, in person, etc.
  • Consistency is key - use the same photo/logo across platforms, post regularly
  • Get help if you can’t keep up - hire a volunteer to be in charge of your social media, or employ a professional agency to come in and ramp up your social media
Tools to Make the Most out of Social Networks
  • Instagram: use hashtags and apps to communicate and share with audiences, as well as discover other people, organizations and causes that are in line with your organization’s goals
  • Facebook: engage as your page (organization is active), reply to followers/questions, like other pages, obtain analytics/statistics
  • Twitter: create lists of interest groups/allies/influential people and organizations, use hashtags, host Twitter chats to generate awareness/discussion of relevant issues
The power of social media in communicating and reaching audiences can and should be used by organizations of all sizes. Not-for-profits and social services organizations can use this introduction to build their online presence in order to raise awareness, gain followers, fundraise, and bring attention to the causes and social issues that need support. These organizations help populations in our neighbourhoods, country, and across the world. 

If you are interested in learning more, don't hesitate to contact us for any webinar inquiries. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 Gift Giving Guide - Going Local

There are many reasons to shop locally this Christmas. It strengthens your community’s economy, benefits community groups, keeps your area unique, and reduces environmental impact to name a few. It’s win-win for everyone involved. 

Here we have curated our list of ten great gift ideas that support local businesses in the Ottawa area:

The Gift of Restorative Rest  

For the practical gift giver, consider giving the gift of improved health, better memory, lower stress levels, and all the many benefits of getting a good night’s sleep. Obasan is an Ottawa-based organic mattress company that offers customizable mattresses, which are a great idea for couples who differ in their sleeping needs. Not sold on the need for organic materials? Check out this blog post on the benefits of going organic for your mattress choice. 

Fitness/Martial Arts/ Self-Defence Classes

Here’s an idea for the fitness buff in your life: let them try something new by gifting them a two-week, unlimited membership at KFMA 313 Martial Arts. They have several programs to suit different goals, and promise elite training from experienced professionals. Your recipient will get a serious workout while learning new skills and having fun! 

Give Parents a Date Night 

Sometimes the best gifts can’t be defined by something tangible. If they could, some people would put “time” at the top of their Christmas list. If you know a couple with a young child (or two), ProCare after school centre offers Parent’s Night Out services every Friday night from 6 to 10 and Saturdays 5 to 9. This provides a great opportunity for busy parents to get a break and treat themselves (you CAN give the gift of time)! It also would pair great with a gift certificate to their favourite restaurant. 

Spice up Their Life

Cardamom and Cloves, located on Preston St. in the heart of Little Italy, has a wide selection of herbs and spices suitable for anyone’s tastes. Head here for the person on your list who loves to play in the kitchen. There are gift packages available that include four different spices based on a theme, such as African, Curry, French, and Mexican (bonus: $5 from this purchase goes to the Parkdale Food Centre). They also sell locally made preservatives and host workshops based on specific flavours and spices! My mouth is watering already…

Coffee, Tea, Treats 

An easy and excellent gift this year would be a gift card for the Ministry of Coffee, an unique and cozy cafe located on Elgin St. where they make delicious lattes, are conscientious in their coffee sourcing, offer a selection of high quality loose leaf teas (try the lemon ginger) and have a variety of food options as well. This gift is a guaranteed success!

DIY Unique Ceramic Pieces 

Take thoughtfulness a step further and put some work into your gift by visiting The Mud Oven, a paint-it-yourself ceramics studio. Here you can create a truly unique gift, be it a mug, teapot, bowl… you get the idea. You may even want to turn this into a participatory event and bring your loved one along for some creative fun! Just be sure to make a reservation ahead of time. 

Local Art & Apparel 

Fall Down Gallery features art by the extremely talented owner himself, as well as works created by other artists from in and around Ottawa. If you are looking for a unique gift for the art-lover in your life, this is the place to go. You could even hit a couple of birds with one stone since Fall Down features a boutique as well, offering clothing, accessories, shoes, hats, and more.

Locally Handcrafted Jewellery 

If you’re looking to find a gift the woman in your life, jewellery is an obvious choice. Keep it small and local (and from the comfort of home) by choosing a piece from Ottawa jewellery maker Lisa Simmon’s Etsy shop Oasis Bloom. The dipped crystal necklaces are gorgeous. This is one case where you may be tempted to buy one for a gift and one for yourself (guilty). 

Bath and Skin Care

You can give the gift of awesome smelling, nourishing, and environmentally friendly soaps and skin care products this year by swinging by Purple Urchin located on Somerset in Chinatown. They make it easy by offering gift bundles of delicious products. Perfect for daily care as well as those at-home spa days everyone needs once in awhile.

Canadian Winter Staple: The Scarf 

Can anyone have too many scarves? Of course not; what a silly question! Ottawa designer brand Krista Norris Collection features unique, gorgeous scarves for both men and woman, with a wide range of textures and fabrics to suit different styles and occasions. You can find something here for everyone, and the scarf you give will undoubtedly become a staple in your loved one’s winter wardrobe.

Hopefully this list has given you some new gift ideas and inspired you to look locally for your Christmas shopping. For more information on local events and businesses, check out Apt. 613 Support Local. Not from Ottawa? Yellow Pages has developed an initiative called Shop the Neighbourhood that will help you find small businesses in your area.   

Do you buy your Christmas gifts locally? What are your favourite local brands? Let us know!