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Giving Back Month

During Giving Back Month the folks at WebFuel have decided to use our Social Media for Social Good. We believe that Social Media is an incredible tool that can be used the change the world around us. It can help share a story. Increase awareness about an initiative. Influence the community around you. Raise money. Its reach, power, and versatility are incredible, and when used the right way, can make the world a better place.

We have invited a group of guest bloggers from local and national charities to tell us how they have used their Social Media for Social Good.Our first guest blogger in this series is Stacey Diffen-Lafleur who shares with us how The United Way Ottawa is using their Social Media for Social Good.

Social Media for Social Good: United Way Ottawa

We are always looking for ways to engage new audiences, to spread our reach and get their help to make our community better for everyone. We do this by sharing stories, demonstrating impact and making it easy for people to talk with us. Social Media has made a difference in our outreach strategy and how we engage people from across our city to make change happen.

Why are we using it? It’s a community conversation that everyone can contribute to and build on.

We’ve found that Social Media opens new doors for us. Since 2009 the team at United Way Ottawa has been using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Flickr to have a conversation.

Let me be clear, it’s not all about fundraising either. Our business is engagement. We use Social Media to demonstrate results, to share stories of the lives we’ve helped to change and to invite people to interact with us all with a goal of making our community stronger, healthier and safer for everyone.

Here are a couple of examples of where we’ve seen social media really make a difference.

Reaching out to up-and-coming leaders

Schmoozefest – an event run by our Next Generation Cabinet – recently celebrated six years with a complete sell-out. Money raised goes back into the community, again helping to make a difference in our community. How did we build a buzz about Schmoozefest? Via Twitter. And the people that came to schmooze got a lot more than they expected. Kelly Rusk, a member of Ottawa’s twitter community was there and shared her Schmoozefest experience through a post at Local Tourist Ottawa’s Blog.

And that’s just one aspect of social media supporting the work we do.

Bloggers are media too

We give bloggers the same access we give media, and we give them the same materials and same opportunities to meet and interview. And you know what? They like it. They write about us, they help us get the word out via the blogosphere about the work we are doing in and for our community.

QR Codes, offering more than just a quick read

QR (quick response) codes are another new way we are sharing stories of people who have had their lives changed through the help of United Way Ottawa. This year our print ads that feature people from our community contain a QR code that takes a reader directly to their story on our website, both written and in video format. What once was just a single view before the page is turned, is now generating traffic on our website and as a result, broadening our reach. Melissa’s story, a LiveWorkPlay program participant, has been scanned hundreds of times.

Twitter – a launch pad

Twitter remains one of my favourite ways to talk with people in Ottawa – and at the beginning I devoted a lot of time to building a following – both for my personal account and for @UnitedWayOttawa, our corporate account. Today the corporate account has its own momentum and has outpaced @TheStacey by several hundred followers. It is an instant channel to share daily campaign totals – which are retweeted regularly by news outlets and the general public. We use it to share lives changed too, these also get a lot of RTs. Everyone has a hand in helping us make change happen in our community.

Social Media helps us to educate our donors, partners and our community about how we are investing their gifts and the results we are working towards. Additionally, we use it to help other companies who are holding events, doing workplace campaigns, or soliciting other kinds of support like sponsorships, volunteers or gifts in kind.

Over the next few months we’ll be rolling out a new, fully-sponsored website, and building on a grant we’ve received from Google, we’re developing a Google AdWords campaign. I am certain that other channels will appear, and some may change, but one thing I know, the conversation about our community and the potential for everyone – no matter where they work or how they want to engage – to make it better will only grow. Social Media is where that conversation is happening, I invite everyone to join.

Stacey Diffin-Lafleur, Senior Director, Marketing at United Way Ottawa has more than 19 years of marketing experience and is one of Ottawa’s social media community pioneers. She gets the Internet, she gets communication and she gets the impact that conversations – online and off – can deliver for our community.

Disclaimer: The contents of this Blog post, and associated opinions  are those of its Author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of WebFuel, or its employees.