In today’s world, millions of businesses and brands are struggling to stand out from their competitors and grab people’s attention. Effective marketing in the social sector is even more challenging and requires a unique way of creating catchy content to get people to listen. The subject matter of NGOs can be disheartening, so it’s even more challenging to think of creative ideas to promote these organizations. Based on our work with Hear Congo, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we’ve come up with 7 tips for NGOs to get their message out there.
1.) Keep Up-to-Date on Trends
WWF Denmark: #LastSelfie
It is a common misconception that serious issues need to always have a serious voice. When it comes to creating catchy content online, it is important to use a tone that people will respond to. Therefore, it is vital to keep up-to-date with the latest online trends to make the content easy to share. Make your message loud and clear by taking advantage of the many popular trends that are constantly changing, like WWF Denmark did by using the popular trend of selfies and an effective yet simple hashtag to raise awareness about endangered gorillas.
2.) Don’t Only Be Online
Unknown: India Poverty Campaign
It is essential to use different forms of marketing to assist in raising awareness about social issues; the online environment is flooded and in order to stop people in their tracks and think about an issue you need to make use of different forms of marketing that can ultimately be shared online. The catchiest content for NGOs is content that is visual such as images, videos, quotes or physical activations. The above is a Poverty in-store campaign that is currently being run in India to raise awareness about how easy it is for people to push away concerns about poor children. This is an example of a simple and unique idea that most importantly got shared online with the potential to go viral.
3.) Appeal to your Audience
Save The Rhino: Nothing we do will ever bring them back
It is important to understand the audience that you are reaching out to in order to create more effective content. Analyze your visitor’s behaviour on the internet; it is a great place to study human behaviour and to start a conversation and understand the audience better. Not all marketing for NGOs has to be serious and depressing. Sometimes the best way to get a point across is to use something light-hearted, slightly humourous and simple to understand just like the Save the Rhino Organization did in this print ad.
4.) You Can Use the Shock Factor
WWF Unknown: Imagine This Was Yours
The debate about when to use the shock-factor with NGO marketing in ongoing. Using imagery or messages that are too shocking all the time can scare people away, but do not be afraid to use something shocking once in a while to make your message stand out just like this WWF print ad did for poaching. Organizations have less money to buy media and therefore need to make made ads that stand out by being provocative and visible. To get the message shareable online, they need to be brave and sometimes make people uncomfortable.
5.) Use Infographics
Hear Congo: Infographic about Rape in the DRC
Infographics are an effective and visual way to create a summary of facts that only need people’s attention for a few minutes. In comparison to giving people a whole list of facts or a documentary to watch, an infographic is the best way to share a few important and often the most shocking facts that directly raise awareness about an issue.
6.) Increase Online Presence
Survival International: Facebook
Make sure you get listed higher in search engines to attract more visitors to the NGO’s online pages. NGOs operating with similar causes should not be seen as competition — you’re all working together to achieve a common goal. Building online communities and collaborating with similar organizations is easy on social media platforms and other online forums. Use digital drivers such as social media platforms and blogs to the best of your ability to effectively direct people to the NGO’s website. This Facebook page for Survival International is a good example of a catchy layout for a digital driver such as Facebook.
7.) Be Literal and Direct
Save the Children: Break the Circle
Too often messages get complicated with an overload of information. Be literal and simple in portraying your message most effectively; this “Break the Circle” campaign for Save the Children visually displays the vicious cycle of physical abuse inflicted on children. This is a powerful message as it portrays the route of the problem which therefore makes the solution clear.
Although the core of NGOs are very different to profit-driven businesses, in terms of marketing, treat the NGO as a brand with a mission. Think about how you can use social tools to push this mission online and in front of people.. Effective marketing for NGOs requires a lot more creative thinking in order to create catchy content that will get people to share it. The bottom line is to always keep in mind what the main marketing goal is for NGOs. Every piece of content created should serve as a tool to help reach the achieve the main goals of raising awareness and encouraging donations.