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Successful social media marketing on a budget

The low cost means that social media marketing is particularly important for charities or social enterprises operating on very limited budgets.

These organisations are continually trying to balance competing financial pressures from the direct beneficiaries of their cause and the need to raise awareness that will attract future funding.

Some examples of successful campaigns on a budget

The #nomakeupselfie

This campaign raised millions of pounds for Cancer Research UK, although it wasn’t even run by the charity. This article in The Guardian tells the full story. Posting a selfie without makeup was all about demonstrating authenticity. People bought into the campaign precisely because it wasn’t engineered deliberately by Cancer Research UK, and it was easy to donate by text message with just a few taps on a phone.

The #icebucketchallenge

Videos posted on social media of people having a bucket of icy water poured over their heads raised over $100 million for motor neurone disease charities. On Facebook 28 million people uploaded, liked or commented on one of these videos.

Hope For Paws

Hope for Paws is a small animal rescue organisation with just 4 part time staff based in California, USA. At first glance the website seems old fashioned and rather uninspiring, until you click on the social media links and discover that the Facebook page has over 1 million likes. The rescue videos posted on Youtube are featured by major news sites such as the Huffington Post and also have views in the millions.

At the heart of Hope for Paws is the charismatic founder, Eldad Hagar, who has dedicated his life to helping animals in need. He credits his success to social media in general and to his camera in particular - rescues often take place in challenging circumstances and they are filmed in real time. Photos telling the story of the rescue can be uploaded to Flickr almost immediately, and an edited video including updates of the rescued dogs showing their recovery, transformation and new lives follows as soon as possible.

Vet Ranch: “We’re going to fix them all”

Founded in 2014, Vet Ranch is a collaborative effort by a number of small veterinary practices based in Texas, USA. The vets use the proceeds from their YouTube videos and donations to fund the treatment and rehoming of rescued small animals, mainly dogs and cats, who would otherwise have no future. The videos are educational and aim to inform viewers about what treatments are required and how they work, as well as chart the story of the patient’s recovery process behind the scenes. You can read more in this article from Odyssey Online.

One nice touch is the direct involvement of the viewer community in the Vet Ranch videos, which also feature cards, letters and pictures sent in by children who have been following the stories of particular animals. Some of these kids get a personal thank you and their questions answered within the video itself.

In an interesting twist, the song ‘Rosa Dear’ featured at the end of the Ranch Dog videos has generated additional interest in the artist - the indie band Ruth. After the introduction of so many new fans, the band donated all proceeds from their February iTunes sales to Vet Ranch.

How would you describe the roles played by various social media in the success of these charities? Do you have other good examples to share?

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This article is from the free online course:

The Power of Social Media

University of Southampton

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join:

  • Welcome to the course
    Welcome to the course
    video

    This course explains how by understanding networks better we can exploit social media. Watch Dr David Millard & Dr Lisa Harris tell you more.

  • What are networks?
    What are networks?
    video

    Watch Dr David Millard explore what we mean by a network, and look at some of the examples of networks around us and their characteristics.

  • Recruitment in a digital world
    Recruitment in a digital world
    video

    Watch Dr Lisa Harris, Nic Fair and Sarah Hewitt discuss the role of social media in recruitment from the perspective of employers & potential employee