One of the most important aspects of marketing is audience engagement. It’s also one of the more difficult things ESR has faced, apparently through much of its fifty years of service to the community. In most cases, we know the impact we’ve had on the lives we’ve touched; our clients often tell us that we’ve completely changed their lives. But all too often we’re reminded of how many people we haven’t touched.
Those are some of the most disheartening words a Community Action Agency can hear. The challenge becomes one of engaging people who don’t have time, and educating not only the people we serve–or could serve–but also those who could help. Technology both helps and hinders the conversation; we can reach more people now that nearly everyone has a Smartphone, but it seems to shorten attention spans as well. We’re on to the next thing if we’re not moved immediately by what we stumble onto.
Everyone seems to be reluctant to start something, whether it’s being the first person on the dance floor, or the first to like a Facebook or blog post, or anything else. Some of us just can’t be bothered, while some worry what others might think of us, or what we might be thought to support through association. Or maybe we just don’t know what to do, or what’s expected.
What many people don’t seem to understand is that taking an action to help an agency like ESR doesn’t have to cost money or take up a lot of time. Most people have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and if not, these require only an email address and a few minutes. From there, the good one person can do becomes exponential. Social media is market driven, and clicks are currency. Each time a person Likes or Comments on a post on Facebook, there is the potential for others to be told about that action. When that person Shares a post, that potential is even greater since she’s actively recruiting others to see the post. Both of these barely take the time required to blink, and the impact can be huge. It can be a quick way to spread information and news, and sometimes it’s a perfect way to connect those in need with services or those who can help with ways to give.
But it has to start somewhere. Ideally it would start with people who are already friends of the agency, such as staff, board members, clients: people who are related to the agency already. These three main groups have many direct contacts in the community across a broad spectrum of society. Imagine, then, the impact of these people sharing with their contacts, and their contacts sharing with their contacts. Even a small effort can have a large effect this way.
However, some social media venues, particularly Facebook, have algorithms in place that determine which subscribers see what content from which account. In part this relates to marketing preferences of each subscriber, and is intended to create higher revenues for Facebook. Fair enough, since they’re providing the service; it’s a business, and it’s selling a service not giving it away. What isn’t so great about this, of course, is that it limits the visibility of each individual post. While it doesn’t guarantee that all posts will be seen, it does help when Facebook users click Like on the page as well as individual posts.
So, yes, we’ve come all this way just to ask you to Like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter, and Like and Share and comment on our posts. But now you know the ‘why’ behind the request, and hopefully have a better understanding of just how important that few seconds of your time is to us. Every simple action helps the community become more aware of us, and maybe moves someone to support us so that we can continue to change lives in our community.