In our first story of the BRIDGE series, we’ve looked at Civilians in Conflict and their social media journey. This week we have been chatting with Emily Johnson at Anawim about their social media journey. They have been part of our pilot BRIDGE programme which we ran in partnership with Comic Relief. Emily is the Fundraising, Partnerships and Engagement Officer at Anawim and they run a women’s centre based in Birmingham that provides a holistic service to women across the city.
A number of organisations shared with us that they initially found social media an uphill struggle. These organisations felt that there were a number of barriers, including having little or no time, resource and knowledge to allow them to use social media for good. Desire to increase awareness, engagement and raise much-needed funds was huge, but they were not sure where to start.
Continue reading to find out more about Emily and Anawim’s social media journey.
It would be great if you could tell us a little about Anawim
Anawim exists to support women and their children, especially women vulnerable to exploitation including prostitution. We seek to provide wider positive choices to help them achieve their goals and reach their full potential as part of the wider community.
To this end Anawim treats everyone with dignity and respect, recognising that every woman and child matters as an individual. Anawim seeks to work with partners and other agencies to challenge that which degrades and diminishes.
We have a full timetable of courses and activities that raise self-esteem, confidence, skills, awareness and social responsibility. Alongside this, we provide professional counselling, support with things like parenting and safeguarding and space for women to drop in when needed to receive support, clothes and food. We also provide support to women on the street at night in and around Birmingham, in prison, at court and in hostels in a flexible way, responding where and when it is needed.
Let’s think about 12 months ago, how did you approach growing and engaging your audience on social media?
I had just started in my role as Fundraising, Partnerships and Engagement Officer. My predecessor loosely looked after social media but also did not have fundraising as part of their role.
We understood how important social media was for a charity but needed to understand where to start when implementing a strategy. We have never had the capacity to look into implementing any kind of structure or plan and felt apprehensive about starting to use the various platforms as we were aware that we needed to approach what we were planning and posting with sensitivity.
As a small organisation, social media seemed quite overwhelming and was territory that felt unknown to us. The concept felt intangible for us, especially as we were new to the social world and also that there was not a physical solution.
There is no timescale for grief when you lose a baby. You have a whole life span to imagine and think of 'what ifs'.
— Anawim – WWT (@Anawim_WWT) October 13, 2019
What were some of the most helpful lessons you have learned during your social media journey?
We have started to implement structure into our social media plans and posts. This has helped us to post more regularly.
We viewed a number of webinars and reached out to the experts at Lightful who assisted us with putting things into context. These sessions have really helped us to navigate what we should be doing on social media.
One of the main things that we have started to implement is creating and using personas when posting content on social media. We still target these personas now and this has helped us to grow our follower base.
We started to implement SMART objectives to measure how successful posts and campaigns have been over time. Recently, one of our aims has been to grow our audience and also the number of engagements on social media. One of the techniques we have implemented was to post about inspirational women from Birmingham and the surrounding areas. We have also started to post more regularly to keep people engaged and informed with the work we are doing.
What have you been able to achieve in the last 12 months?
During the #GivingTuesday campaign, we managed to raise a lot of donations through the story we created and posted through Lightful. The best outcome over the last 12 months has been that we have been prompted to try something new. We would not have taken part in a #GivingTuesday campaign without the encouragement and support that we have received.
We were also featured on the BBC radio, ITV News and BBC news over #GivingTuesday. Being featured by these channels was a learning curve for us as an organisation. It was a good insight into how to deal with the media and also a very good opportunity for us into how we wanted to be represented and what we wanted our tone of voice to be.
The campaigns we ran highlighted that we needed to grow our network, we already had a number of loyal followers but we needed to develop a wider audience base. Understanding our current audience and also the audience we wanted to reach out to provide us with an opportunity to learn.
We don't always know the right words when supporting patents who have suffered Baby Loss.
— Anawim – WWT (@Anawim_WWT) October 11, 2019
What are you hoping to continue in your next phase of your social media journey?
By understanding how we should reach into the unknown territory of Social Media in a safe way, we understand how to approach our future campaigns, with a continued sensitivity. This has been really important for us and we now stand in good stead for our future campaigns.
Our internal and external audiences have given us great feedback about our social media presence as our online presence has noticeably increased. We have also been increasing engagement on all of our social channels which we hope to continue along with increasing Anawims visibility on social media.
We have been able to collaborate within the team on a more regular basis thanks to Lightful which has been great, especially now that we have an additional volunteer who is assisting with social media. This means I have been able to delegate tasks, especially around content creation.
With our collaboration, we have been able to develop a consistent voice on social media which we will continue to build on.
Website – http://www.anawim.co.uk
Instagram – @anawim_wwt
Twitter – @Anawim_WWT
Facebook – @anawim.wwt
LinkedIn – @anawim-women-working-together
Learning more about BRIDGE
Organisations we have spoken to have told us that they face similar barriers when it comes to social media. These barriers are things like –
- Lack of awareness in the community – Some organisations have good engagement online, but very few, if any, followers are the area of operation of the organisation.
- Fear of posting something which is taken in the wrong way – Organisations find it tricky to find an appropriate way of storytelling when dealing with sensitive subjects. Learning how to tell their stories with dignity and appropriate language is a learning that can benefit a number of organisations, whatever your target area.
- Lack of time to dedicate to social media and what can be learnt from it – Charities often do not understand what the possible outcomes and benefits of social media are. This is a challenge as if they do not know the benefit, why should they dedicate time to it? Presenting the possible outcomes and therefore the return on investment (either time, money or other resources) early on helps organisations to see the value and start using social media as a strategic asset rather than a nice to have.
- Lack of connection between fundraising and social media – Charities are well aware of traditional fundraising methods but some are yet to understand and utilize social media as a fundraising tool.
This is why we have created the programme with three main objectives in mind to combat the barriers above. To increase the digital skills and confidence of participants, improve social engagement through better storytelling and help them to increase in financial resilience. Organisations come away with solutions and strategies to help them to become more resilient and put digital-first.