Social Impact Campaigning Done Right

It is pretty well understood, that any business starting today or hoping to grow into tomorrow, without a deep sense of purpose built into their foundations is missing both the point and the boat.

To put it as simply as Forbes did — “Companies that ignore purpose are becoming irrelevant.”

We know that values drive consumer decision making when it comes to making a purchase. Without a ‘good reason’ to back up an initial instinct to an offer, customers find it easier to walk away.

Nielsen Global Survey revealed that 55 percent of global online consumers across 60 countries are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies who are committed to working towards positive social impact and environmental outcomes.

What is less understood and practised is having a strong, aligned and organised purpose that not only grows your business — but also your brand! And fast!

You and your marketing team might be thinking “we need more instagram followers” or “we need more emails on our subscription list,” but really what you are looking to do, is bring humans together over a shared belief. Your website or Instagram or YouTube is just the ‘community hall’ where your people gather.

Simon Sinek says “there are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” 

Similarly, it can be argued that in marketing you have two options. To constantly jump up in front of people wherever they go, or to move them to where you are. (Which one is more sustainable do you think?)

Moving people is essentially is the crux of movement building. It’s right there in the name. This is what NGO campaigners are trained with tenacity to do. To bring humans together over shared purpose and to gather them. Often onto a shared platform, database or into a physical space. (Sound familiar?)

The best part is, we all have the instinctual skills and know-how to do this. All it takes is a little bit of structural thinking and a helping hand along the way.

Social impact campaigning is essentially a way to systematically inspire humans and resonate with them over issues that are important to both of you. It is a really great and fulfilling way to move people into your work quickly and securely. It is also an exercise of authenticity, credibility and generating organic interest. (Media anyone?)

In order to build a recognised and respected social impact campaign, you should:

  • Be authentic and committed. Do not start anything you do not intend to finish.
  • But also remember, no one is perfect. Mistakes will be made. Evolve and keep moving.
  • Invest in understanding humanity, not hacks. Treat it like a learning curve in culture and psychology.
  • Step outside your comfort zone. Talk with people outside your normal demographic. Listen. Learn. Ask. Repeat.
  • Align. There are existing roadmaps for most of the urgent changes the world needs to achieve. Most exist in the UN, public sector or civil society levels. Try not to work outside the momentum. Innovate inside it.
  • Open the door. Invite people in. Dissect your language and reconstruct it. You might accidentally be speaking from a point of intellectual privilege. (We all do it, it’s okay.)
  • Use Strategy, Strategy and more Strategy.
  • Have a strong Theory Of Change. This just means the actual steps of how you will make impact.
  • Build the right Moments. Think outside the box and do things that turn heads.
  • Integrate Call to Actions. Invite your audience into the story. Do not speak at them.
  • Unpack 200 ideas and executing maybe 2. If something isn’t going to work for the larger community, let it go.
  • When the time comes to stand up and speak out, make sure you are supported. It can be really daunting.
  • Be okay with failure. Get comfortable with it really fast. You are great.
  • Try to only make things that matter. Even it means being patient.

As we enter 2020, businesses don’t simply have to outsource their purpose positioning and storytelling to third parties via donations and support. Businesses (and startups particularly) can become change agents in their own right. Old business models are shifting. We can do things differently.

Dare to not only create something great, but to create great change. It will not be easy, but it will be strong. And you’ll bring a resilient community along with you on the way.

If you want to learn more about Social Impact Campaigning, how to do it right and aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals, come along to our Fishburners Lunch & Learn on November 21st. 

See you there team!

by Matisse Walkden-Brown 

Matisse is a campaign strategist with a social impact and public relations background. She has been involved in the design and execution of national and global campaigns for 10+ years, across the environmental, start up and pop-culture arenas.

Matisse led the Pacific region for Greenpeace for four years, worked for Southern Cross Austereo in integrated campaigns, is a marketing business coach for SME’s for the Australian-aided ‘Fiji Enterprise Engine’ and a PR specialist for Sydney social enterprise start-ups.

Matisse’s passion is aligning innovative ideas with strong integrated audiences through storytelling, inclusive movement-building and the diffusion of information.

With resonance being a core focus of Matisse’s work, she has developed deep expertise in ‘tribe building’ through the conscious ‘de-privileging’ of communication, marketing and engagement tactics. Her goal is always to inspire & incite authentic action from those best placed to progress a cause, or support a brand.

In 2018, Matisse’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to co-found ‘The Projects Collective’, a platform and co-working space for ethical artisans in the Pacific, as well as ‘The Projects Creative’, an educational portal for those needing a little help organising and energising their big brave idea.

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