GUEST POST: Charities should leverage emerging technology to create cost-effective social campaigns » Charity Digital News

GUEST POST: Charities should leverage emerging technology to create cost-effective social campaigns


In this guest post, Seb Underhill, co-founder and director of Social Media Marketing at 33Seconds, explores how a third sector organisation can leverage emerging technology to launch amazing, never been seen before campaigns that don’t eat the annual resource.

Our online activity is becoming as natural a part of our daily lives as brushing our teeth and flicking on the telly. In fact, the UK’s average internet user spends roughly 43 hours online each month. The technological boom of the last decade has seen more than 36 million Brits sign up to Facebook and at least 15 million create a presence on Twitter – and these numbers are growing by the day across a range of social media platforms. This mass online engagement opens up a fantastic opportunity for creative third sector organisations to take advantage and reach an enormous number of people without having to break the bank.

Of the 55 million internet users across the UK, nearly half log into social networks every day, which means driving awareness and targeting the public via social media has to be a key consideration of any charity’s overall marketing, communications and fundraising strategies. If done right, social media represents a much more cost – and reach – effective option.

However, it’s not always easy to come up with unique digital ideas that’ll get people talking and make you stand out from the crowd – regardless of the size of your budget. But with the creativity and smart thinking that third sector organisations have become renowned for in recent years, charities are beginning to take a new approach. One option for these organisations is to leverage emerging technology to build capacity and launch amazing, never seen before campaigns that don’t eat the annual resource.

Startups across Europe often have millions of pounds invested in teams of experienced developers who deliver innovative, best in class technology that we read about everyday. In London alone the number of digital companies has doubled in the last three years. So rather than spending precious budget developing one off apps, products or tools, charities can tap into this network of young tech companies to achieve their goals more effectively and at a fraction of the cost.

Very often, these young tech startups are on the lookout for attractive user case studies to help give them the proof points of how well their product works in action. This helps attract investors, and a new user base, but many of these companies also look to use their innovations for social good. By taking an entrepreneurial approach, savvy charities can team up with a startup during its early years and gain access to smart technology in a partnership that will benefit both parties.

For example, Cancer Research UK (CRUK) team up with Berlin-based photo-sharing and discovery app, EyeEm to promote its 2012 / 13 Race for Life series. This is the largest women only fundraising event in the UK, with 250 races taking place across 90 locations nationwide. Pictures taken by participants at the events represent some of the most engaging social content available to the charity, as they work hard to support individual fundraising efforts and to bring to life the unique atmosphere of the event.

Participants and their supporters were encouraged to tag images by race location using the app, which were then automatically added to a collaborative, social photo album on the Race for Life Facebook page. This allowed CRUK to leverage the time and funds invested in EyeEm to produce an application that supported and encouraged personal, location specific photography.
It’s crucial that third sector organisations continue to deliver innovative and effective campaigns and communications that bring value to their supporters. There are a countless number of free social tools out there to be harnessed and important partnerships to be built with an ever-growing number of tech organisations whose expertise can help build a mind-blowing campaign that doesn’t cost all the money in the world.

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