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Don’t let your nonprofit’s positive statements become a joke

By | Communications, Marketing, Social Impact, What we're reading | No Comments

There’s a pretty good comedic post floating about the nonprofit sector right now – from the Nonprofit with Balls blog (pardon the name) – that “translates” commonly used nonprofit terms intended to describe positive aspects of organizations that tend not to. An example: Lots of opportunity: It literally could not get any worse.”

While this post is a good read and a good laugh, it resonates with a lot of us because we see the contradictions in what we are trying to do (build better communities, serve those around us who aren’t being served, make a difference in our neighbourhoods) with the ways in which we do it (chase grants, cut corners on benefits, work unpaid hours, and more). I’ve written here in the past on the importance of making your employees your brand ambassadors – this funny blog post weighs in with the importance of making sure your organization’s positive statements aren’t a joke, and this goes well beyond just your employees. But how do you do make sure you’re not going to end Read on. Read More

Communicating your social impact

By | Social Enterprise, Social Impact, Social Media, Strategy and Advice | No Comments

I’m guilty of using big words when little ones suffice. And that can be a barrier to communicating social enterprise – complex terms can block our messages from reaching the very people we want to reach, and telling the stories we want to tell.

So how do we communicate our social impact? My suggestion: through communicating our values. And more. Read More

Are you sending your email newsletters legally? An important check!

By | Social Media, Strategy and Advice | No Comments


Are you sending your emails legally?

Many of us in the nonprofit and social impact sectors are aware of the new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), but it seems that not everyone is – or of the potential outcomes if you’re not!

Today, the CRTC issued a press release detailing a $1.1 million dollar fine they assessed against CompuFinder, a company that does training for marketing and social media and other kinds of services. They do a lot of their marketing, apparently, through email.

CompuFinder did a few things wrong, according to the CRTC:

  • They couldn’t prove they had consent to market to the people who received the emails – and CASL requires that you collect express consent from people and document that consent.
  • While they provided an unsubscribe mechanism in their emails, it didn’t work. CASL requires you to provide an unsubscribe mechanism in your marketing emails – a link is often easiest – and it needs to remain active for at least 60 days after you send your message.
  • They accounted, apparently, for about 26% of all complaints in the CRTC’s database!

Many nonprofit and social impact organizations use emails to send notices of training workshops, programs, and other services. If you’re sending emails, make sure that you’re compliant!

Need advice on how to make your email marketing compliant with CASL? We’re here to help. Schedule a consultation and we’ll plan a strategy to keep you onside.

Screenshot of the Incipe Workers' Cooperative Facebook Page

Evaluating Facebook Ads – Are They Worth It?

By | Social Media | No Comments

Evaluating the channel before buying the ads

Are Facebook ads worth the expense for your nonprofit or co-op? We’re evaluating Facebook ads so that you and your groups can weigh the costs and benefits.

Screenshot of the Incipe Workers' Cooperative Facebook PageFacebook recently decided to give us some free credit for advertising through their ads system, and we thought we’d take the opportunity for some free word-of-mouth.  After all, a lot of nonprofits and advocacy groups use Facebook advertising to work towards spreading news of their campaigns, their projects, and the work that they’re trying to do. Co-op enterprises use social media and Facebook as another advertising channel.

So, we did a few things – spiced up our Facebook page before setting the ad, posted a blog post to serve as the ‘sponsored story’ link, and all kinds of other recommended things that experts have suggested.  The ad was approved, and released onto the market, and…

Boom. We got dozens of likes right quickly.

But we took a look at the people ‘liking’ our page – while there were some people obviously involved in our target demographics (we targeted Canadians who had interests and likes connected to the nonprofit, social enterprise, or cooperative field), there were a large number of people whose Facebook profiles showed no friends, had one or two photos, no activity, and were created very recently.  And these profiles all seemed to like thousands of Facebook pages.

Something didn’t seem right here.

In the end, it seems that there’s a serious issue plaguing Facebook advertising – through ‘blackhat social marketing,’ unscrupulous marketers or campaigners can ‘buy’ thousands of ‘likes’ on their pages, to create a false ‘buzz’ around their campaigns or products.  Purchasing these likes means thousands of fake accounts will like a page, falsely inflating the appearance of its reach.

These fake accounts plague the Facebook system. Many regular – and very real – users accidentally or innocently accept friend requests from these accounts, which inflates their reach, which feeds back into the loop that’s being created.

The fake accounts also end up ‘liking’ random Facebook pages, in various attempts to appear to Facebook administrators and moderators as real accounts; to do this, they like the ads that they see, in addition to the page that they’re being hired to like.

Here’s where a lot of our sudden boom in likes came from.

This can really impact your nonprofit, co-op, or advocacy marketing campaign.

Facebook charges you per click on your ad.  If there’s a substantive amount of false accounts liking your page, you’re likely to be paying for likes that aren’t real and reach that is inflated.  For some of us on small budgets actively trying to make an impact on social media, this is a budget-drain with absolutely no return on investment. For a few of us, this could be a serious issue.

What do we do?

  • Evaluate.  Take a look at your current Facebook audience, and get to know them – our page had very little likes pre-ad campaign.  Ask them to take action in promoting your page, by sharing stories, recommending your page to friends. Focus on digital word-of-mouth campaigns. In good conscience, we cannot easily recommend Facebook advertising to some of our clients because of the low return on investment and the high waste of ad money through fake likes.
  • A key evaluation is also consideration of whether you feel ads will have a meaningful impact – I regularly use Adblock extensions in my browser, and was debating turning them off to see the impact of Facebook ads. They aren’t always appealing.
  • Engage your audience and drive online traffic through real-world presence. Make your page engaging, offer images to be shared, campaign steps that users can easily take, and other ways of driving online traffic.   People respond well to calls-to-action – try that.
  • Work with us. We can work on organic social media campaigns where you don’t have to resort to paid advertising. That’s what we’re here for – let’s get started.