Figuring out your content marketing strategy is, like many things, a bit of a dance: You make choreographed choices, pause, look backward, figure, and then move forward with a new set of designed steps, all in the spirit of wowing your audience and reaching the right people. This is certainly the case in figuring if and how social media will find its place in the future marketing strategies of organizations, across most industries. Deciding to ditch or dedicate your time to social media channels depends largely on assessing the successes and failures of its use in the past (and following suit with a similar or wildly different strategy, depending on your research findings). It also depends on your key objectives, goals, and measurable targets. Toronto’s Furniture Bank, a charity and social enterprise bringing gently-used furniture into the homes of people coming out of poverty, sees a hopeful future for social media in its overall marketing scheme in future. With goals to build brand awareness, strengthen relationships with partners over the social sphere, and market its charitable and industry events, the future is bright for social media in the context of this social enterprise.
(Below: A personal story distributed on social channels on the impact of Furniture Bank’s work.)
© Social promotional post for Furniture Bank's Chair Affair (2017). Photo credit: Larry Arnal. Design: Samantha Mehra. Retrieved from Facebook on 23 November 2017.
Over the past year, Furniture Bank saw an increased use of social media in: a) its promotion of charitable events, like its annual Chair Affair and charitable golf tournament; b) its visibility in the channels of its sponsors and partners, often via cross-promoting on social media; and c) an increase in original digital content (imagery, videos, staff and donor stories). In meeting organizational goals, this increase in dedication to social media as a marketing tool has been “so far, so good”. In a Q & A with Furniture Bank‘s Director of Marketing & Community Engagement, Mitchell Praw, he touched upon how he sees social media as an overall support to the growth of the organization, reflected on past digital campaign successes which will likely factor into future strategies, and pointed out where social media has not made too much of an impact (yet!):
Q: Do you see Furniture Bank using social media even more in the future? How has it been a helpful tool in your daily job?
A: Likely, mainly as a platform to share new content with stakeholders, and introduce ourselves to new potential clients and partners by way of our content strategies.
Q: How has social media strengthened your partnerships with agencies, corporate sponsors, and partners like 1-800-GOT-JUNK and You Move Me?
A: Celebrating them publicly 2. Driving success in our own business which in turn creates new opportunities (broadens the potential scope) of our partnership(s).
Q: Has social media “pulled together” your organization in any unexpected way?
A: Not really, no. Some thoughtfulness around customer service via these channels, but the occurrences and implications have been minimal.
Q: Any successful social media campaigns that you will reuse in future?
A: Our Chair Affair – designer awareness/celebration campaign was excellent … and we will look to expand this next year.
Lessons for Others
The recent growth in social media use for the Furniture Bank was an education. Some lessons we can take away from this charitable, social enterprise and its use of social media in an overall digital strategy:
*Keep it personal: In a charitable context, where an organization’s work directly impacts the lives of others in a positive (and life-changing) way, creating engaging digital content that highlights the personal stories of employees, donors, and clients is an effective way of giving your brand an edge on social channels. The human element is key.
*Posting often, and with care, was key to the success of Furniture Bank’s digital campaign for it’s online silent auction in 2017. Stunning photos and thoughtfully-crafted chair descriptions also paid homage to the designers who took their time to donate. Having the designers profiled also encouraged them to share their posts and reach their own networks, contributing to brand awareness and likewise providing content to the feeds of the designers.
*Cross-promotion with sponsors and partners who are part of your lifeblood is an important part of an organization’s presence. It’s important to contribute to their brand awareness, and this is done easily in a social context.
*Social media is a sound option for those working in the charitable sphere: cost-efficient, data rich, revealing, and an easy way to be part of the conversation and give your brand a new life.
Industry: Charity, Community Service
Name of Organization Contact: Mitchell Praw, Director of Marketing & Community Engagement
Authored by: Samantha Donaldson
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
Furniture Bank Website (2017). Retrieved 23 November 2017 from https://www.furniturebank.org/
Furniture Bank Facebook Page (2017). Retreived 23 November 2017 from https://www.facebook.com/FurnitureBank/
Furniture Bank Twitter Page (2017). Retrieved 23 November 2017 from https://www.twitter.com/furniture_bank/
Mitchell Praw, Email Interview. 23 November 2017.