Digital Marketing for Networks, Coalitions & Alliances: Telling Your Network Story
In the world of social impact, marketing is often viewed as a bit of a dirty word. However, at its core, marketing is about sharing what you have to offer with the world to build support for what you do. For a network, coalition or alliance of partners, it can be a powerful tool for sharing your story, galvanizing support, and reaching your collective goals. Here is a bit of background on digital marketing, along with some tips for using these tactics in your network or alliance.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is a specific subset of marketing that includes online tools and tactics. It’s a rapidly growing and changing field, with new tools and resources being created almost every day. Some examples of digital marketing include social media, email newsletters, search engine optimization, and more. But what are the benefits of digital marketing for networks?
What are the Benefits of Digital Marketing for Networks?
One of the biggest benefits of digital marketing is how accessible it is. There are a large number of tools and software free to use, and great resources for learning to use them. With just a little time and effort, it’s possible to reach hundreds and thousands of people with a message that resonates. Whether you are trying to spark action and advocacy, grow your membership, attract donations, or simply share information with others, digital marketing is a great option.
Start with Your Marketing Goals
Before you jump into the tactics of digital marketing, you should decide with your partners on your marketing goals. This should align and support the larger mission and objectives of your network, coalition or alliance. Some examples of potential Marketing Goals include:
- Disseminating information and best practices.
- Gaining new partners and supporters.
- Fundraising for your network.
- Spurring advocacy and action among supporters.
Decide on one to two goals along with the data and measures you will use to track your success. This could be your engagement on social media, number of email subscribers, donors, etc.
Tip 1: Create a Simple Brand Identity
One of the first things you should do is create a simple brand identity for your collaborative. This includes some kind of logo, along with colors and fonts that complement the values and emotions you associate with your group. Logos do not need to be complex – even your name clearly displayed in your font style and brand color is an effective logo. The key is to be consistent in how you represent yourself, so your audience recognizes the content you share online comes from you.
Tip 2: Social Media is Free to Use
Social media is an extremely effective channel for sharing information and communicating with a large audience. It’s free to get started with nearly all social media platforms, and provides you a place to connect with supporters and for them to reach out to you. I recommend starting with Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter. Facebook is the largest social media platform worldwide. While LinkedIn is smaller, it is better for professional and career-related communication. Twitter is bets for short messages and link sharing.
The key is to avoid overcommitting. It is better to only be active on one social media platform, but do so consistently, than struggle to keep up with 2 or 3 platforms. Pick a platform, create an account, and start sharing content that further your goals. This could be blogs, videos, press releases, imagess or just written posts – whatever is easiest.
Tip 3: Canva is a Great Design Tool
If you need designs and images to share on social media, or to create a logo, look no further than Canva. It’s a free, online design program that’s extremely easy to learn to use. It’s packed with templates and photos you can use for your designs, with many more available for a very small monthly fee. It’s perfect for meeting your digital marketing needs.
Tip 4: Keep People Informed with an Email Newsletter
If you want to keep your supporters, partners and audience informed over time, consider using an email newsletter. Software like MailChimp allow you to get started for free, with up to 5,000 recipients. You can create an easy landing page or signup form that you can link to your social media pages, and then send updates on your network to supporters over time. Include links to content on partner websites, promote events and programs, and otherwise use it to meet your goals.
Tip 5: Engage Your Audience With Webinars & Virtual Events
In this time of COVID-19, virtual collaboration is more normalized than ever before. It’s a great time to engage with your audience virtually using video conference technology. You can host 1-hour webinars or full-day conferences using the software available like Zoom and Remo. Use your social media presence and email newsletter to recruit attendees and get the word out. It’s a great way to engage more intimately with followers and dig into details.
As you can tell, digital marketing for networks is a great tool and option to reach out to their community and reach their goals. Creating a brand, social media accounts, email newsletter, and virtual events are just a few of the many digital marketing tactics networks can use. Have a question about digital marketing for networks. Share it below and I’ll see if I can find you an answer.
About the Author: Alex Derr, M.P.A.
Director of Marketing & Communications
Alex joined VNL in 2017, originally supporting our events. He now helps manages our communications and marketing strategy and content development work. Alex creates blogs, infographics, reports, and other content while managing our web and social media presence. He also runs our email marketing campaigns, tracks analytics, and conducts market research to drive our strategy. He supports our entire team with copywriting, graphic design and research, and helps with events, webinars, demos, and other online learning. When he isn’t at work Alex spends his time climbing 14ers (24 done, 34 to go!) and blogging on his own website, The Next Summit Blog.
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