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Marketing

Cause Marketing 101: Getting Started

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Cause Marketing 101: Getting Started

by Kate Vandeveld

Did you know that 90% of U.S. consumers say they would switch to a brand associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality? In other words, even beyond the positive implications on our communities and our world, it’s also good for the bottom line.

This is one of many reasons that an increasing number of businesses are finding ways, big and small, to incorporate social and environmental causes into their business models. 

One effective and relatively uncomplicated way for businesses to do so is through cause marketing, or a marketing campaign geared toward a social or environmental cause. Such campaigns or initiatives can be run as a collaborative effort between a for-profit business and a nonprofit organization, or by a business on its own. And they can have a variety of goals, from fundraising, to raising awareness, to advocacy. 

If your business is interested in developing a cause marketing campaign, here are our tips for getting started:

Find a Cause That’s Aligned With Your Values 

As you might expect, the most important aspect of a cause marketing campaign is determining which cause you’ll be supporting. As with all CSR-related initiatives, it’s crucial that you align with your brand’s identity and core values. If you don’t approach your campaign from this angle, it’s likely to come across as insincere or irrelevant, which makes it difficult for consumers to connect and engage. When the connection between your values and your campaign makes sense and feels genuine, it will be easier to market, resonate with your audience, and achieve your intended impact.

A great example of alignment in cause marketing is Reebok’s partnership with the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. This annual walk is meant to increase awareness about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, educate people about the importance of early detection, and raise money for cancer research, and an athletic event with a cause is a natural opportunity for an athletic shoe company to get involved. With Reebok’s support, the campaign has been able to raise over $500 million for breast cancer prevention and research.

Find the Right Partner(s)

Once you’ve decided on the cause you want to support, the next step is choosing a potential partner(s). Here’s what you should look for:

  • Their mission(s) align(s) with your cause marketing goals
  • They are able to clearly measure and demonstrate the positive outcome of their programs
  • They have the internal capacity to work with you on a campaign (i.e. they have at least one staff member with bandwidth and strong interest)
  • They have a built-in audience you can activate in addition to your own

Remember, the best partnerships create mutual benefit for everyone involved, thereby incentivizing strong participation on both sides.

Get Creative with Your Plans

These days, there are a number of social responsibility initiatives and cause marketing campaigns out there. While this is a great thing, you’ll need to get creative to get your message out in a way that is attention grabbing, genuine, and impactful. Simply aligning yourself with a nonprofit partner and talking about it online won’t be enough – you need to think outside of the box and be smart with your timing, designs, and messaging.

For example, in 2011, Patagonia launched a cause marketing campaign around Black Friday and Cyber Monday called the Common Threads Initiative, which called on consumers to buy less – including less of Patagonia’s apparel. The campaign encouraged conscious consumption by calling out the environmental cost of producing every item we purchase, while simultaneously selling sewing kits for clothing repair. It was risky and innovative enough to garner a great deal of attention while still achieving its purpose of touting the durability of Patagonia clothing.

Use Your Available Assets

To run an effective campaign, you’ll also want to be sure you’re leveraging all available assets – both your own as well as those of your partners.

One great example is Dunkin’ Donuts’ annual Cop on a Rooftop campaign. Each year in Chicago, Dunkin’ Donuts partners with Illinois Law Enforcement to raise money for Special Olympics Illinois. To promote the campaign, Dunkin’ Donuts utilizes  its brick-and-mortar Chicago stores as well as the manpower of Illinois Law Enforcement. Law enforcement officers stand on the rooftops of participating locations and encourage patrons to make a donation to the Special Olympics, offering prizes to those who donate certain amounts. Since its inception 13 years ago, the campaign has raised over $2.3 million.

Have you seen or participated in a particularly unique or effective cause marketing campaign? Tell us about it – here’s how:

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What We Learned in 2015

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What We Learned in 2015

What We Learned in 2016 -- WhyWhisper Collective

2015 was an exciting year! We worked to expand access to integrative healthcare for communities in need, designed programs to support new mothers, expanded awareness of clean energy initiatives in New York, and so much more. We connected with inspiring individuals who are working to change the world every day. We made big internal changes (that we’re excited to share with you in 2016!). And, perhaps most importantly, we learned a lot.

Along the way, we’ve been sure to share many of our takeaways with you via our blog. As 2015 comes to a close and you’re kicking of 2016, be sure to check out the posts below to find insights on the subjects (both personal and professional) that are most relevant to you!

Start with Yourself

This year, we learned a lot about the importance of taking time for self-care and self-improvement. The positive effects of taking care of yourself extend to all areas of your life -- from mental health to workplace effectiveness. Self-improvement looks different for each individual, and can encompass anything from taking time off, to making more responsible purchasing decisions, to educating yourself about things that matter to you. To help you get started, here’s some of what we’ve learned:

 

Learn from the Experts

We believe one of the best ways to learn about social impact is by example. This year, we’ve been lucky enough to connect with and learn from innovative and effective leaders from nonprofits, social enterprises, and corporations. Here’s a bit of what we’ve learned:

 

Share Your Message

One of our focus areas at WhyWhisper is helping nonprofits and socially conscious businesses spread the word about their work. From developing voice and messaging guidelines to implementing an effective social media strategy and beyond, there are so many ways you can ensure that people know about the impact you’re making. If you’re looking for tips, start here:

 

Think About Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

The concept of building social impact into existing business models is on the rise, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. Businesses and corporations can make significant headway in addressing social issues, and we look forward to seeing (and helping) more of you follow suit next year. If you’re interested in learning more about CSR, here’s some of what we’ve shared this past year:

 

Increase Your Impact

We’re constantly exploring ways that organizations and businesses can make internal changes that have a positive effect on their workplaces and on the world. Here’s some of what we’ve learned:

 

Take Action

We’re also always looking for ways to help our community bridge the gap between caring about a particular issue and actually taking action. When you’re short on resources, or don’t really know where to get started, it can be tough to make moves. We’ve put together a number of posts about how you can take action around different issues – and some are as easy as talking about the issues online! Check them out:

 

Words of Wisdom for Freelancers

At WhyWhisper, we set out to build a different kind of work structure. As such, our team is comprised of consultants who work remotely and independently, taking on projects that are personally meaningful with teammates who support and inspire. But freelancing has its own challenges, and we’ve learned a lot along the way:

What’s your biggest learning from 2015? We’d love to hear about it, and share with our community. Here’s how to get in touch:

Happy New Year to our incredible community! We’re so lucky to learn from you every day, and can’t wait for all that we’ll do together this year. Feel free to connect with us anytime – we love to hear from you.

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How to Implement an Effective Content Strategy

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How to Implement an Effective Content Strategy

by Kate Vandeveld

As marketers, we’re all about developing and implementing effective content strategies. While we agree with Bill Gates that “content is king,” we also know that great content is nothing without a great strategy to promote it.

How to Implement an Effective Content Strategy -- WhyWhisper Collective

Effective content strategies vary based on a number of elements – a business or organization’s mission, audience, and goals, to name a few. Critical components typically include, but are not limited to: a website, social media, a newsletter, and a blog.

But no matter what your content strategy looks like, there are certain things you can and should do to ensure its effectiveness. Here are our tips: 

Know Your Audience

When you’re developing your brand’s content strategy, it’s crucial to know your audience. And we’re not just talking basic demographics – take the time to look into their interests, the types of media they most frequently engage with, and their purchasing habits. The more you know about your target audience, the better you can tailor your content to their interests and needs.

Establish Goals

Before you get started, think about what you’re trying to accomplish.  Do you want to grow your following? Are you hoping to increase engagement? Looking to boost sales? When you take the time to establish your goals from the start, you can build your content strategy around them.

Develop a Voice

We’ve talked about the importance of honing in on your brand’s voice before developing and sharing social media content, but this advice really applies across the board. If you want to create a brand personality that your target audience can relate to, take the time to think through how you want to speak to them. Is your brand’s voice informal and colloquial? More professional? What kinds of words and phrases do you want to use, and which do you want to avoid? Think it through – it will make a noticeable difference.

Be Consistent

When it comes to content strategy, consistency is key. Come up with a schedule for each element of your strategy, so you can be sure to deliver content at regular intervals. Messaging consistency is equally as important. When you put out a blog post, share it on social media and in your newsletter, if possible. If you update your website to reflect a change in brand positioning, do the same across all platforms.

Monitor & Adjust Accordingly

Once you’ve put the time into getting to know your audience, setting goals, developing a voice, and coming up with a plan for consistency, it’s time to monitor your strategy. Look at metrics and pay attention to engagement across all elements of your strategy. Then comes the most important part: Use what you learn to make adjustments to your strategy. Change messaging or timing, share more or less frequently. Try new tactics and pay attention to the response. Use the first few months after implementing a new strategy as a testing period – your strategy will be stronger for it.


No matter what your brand or organization, if you take the time to do these things when you’re developing and implementing your brand’s content strategy, it will be well worth it.

What are your personal tips and tricks for content strategy? Share with us! Let’s help each other be the best we can be. Here’s how you can share:

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Marketing: When You Should (& Should Not) Work With an Outside Firm

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Marketing: When You Should (& Should Not) Work With an Outside Firm

by Kate Vandeveld

At WhyWhisper, we believe wholeheartedly in only working with clients when we’re passionate about their work AND we know we can help them reach their goals. In fact, we built our business model in such a way that we are able to customize our teams based on each client’s particular needs, objectives, and industry.

Marketing: When You Should (& Should Not) Work With an Outside Firm -- via WhyWhisper

That said, we would never suggest that working with an outside firm is always the best answer. We know there are certain circumstances under which working with an outside firm is more beneficial than others (and we’re not afraid to say that out loud). Next time you’re contemplating hiring vs. leveraging external resources, keep these things top of mind:

  • The exact responsibilities and/or role that you are looking to fill and the expertise required
  • Your available budget
  • The estimated hours required per week in order to meet this need

Once you have those answers, you’ll be in a good place to determine whether it makes sense to build your capacity internally, or engage an outside firm for support. Here’s how we see it:

 

You should probably hire in-house if...

 

You need consistent, long-term support.

As you’re deciding between building your in-house team and seeking outside support, take a look at your list of needs, and the estimated time commitment. If it seems like you’ll need someone regularly throughout the day, and there’s no immediate end in sight for the work that you need them to do, it probably makes sense to hire someone in-house. While consultants will do their best to make themselves available, when needed, they tend to be a better solution for a specific deliverable or set period of time.

You’re working with a highly technical or niche product.

Generally, consultants are highly adept at quickly entrenching themselves in a particular field or industry, becoming experts on products and brands very quickly.  That said, if your company develops a product that requires extensive and complex technical knowledge, it will likely take more time and resources than it’s worth to bring an outside firm up to speed. If this is the case, consider hiring a full-time employee who will be able to use that knowledge and training beyond the scope of a specific project.

You have the time and budget to hire someone in-house.

If your company is in a steady state of growth, has a stable budget, and needs 40 hours/week of support, it makes good sense to make a full-time hire. Plus, as a fully invested member of the team, you have flexibility in regards to responsibilities without having to reassess budgets.

 

Marketing: When You Should (& Should Not) Work With an Outside Firm -- via WhyWhisper

On the other hand, you can benefit from working with an outside firm if…


You need a fresh perspective. 

If you’re having difficulty achieving intended results – whether sales, reach, engagement, or something else entirely – it may be time for a strategy overhaul. In these circumstances, we often hear that it can be hard for the day-to-day team to find the time or objective perspective necessary for taking a step back, identifying the problem, and re-thinking the strategy, As you might imagine, an outside firm (especially one with experience in your sector) might be just what you need. They’ll be able to look at your current practices objectively, and offer a new take on how you can effectively reach your goals. After all, developing a solid strategy is crucial to the success of your marketing efforts.

You need additional staff for a short time period.

On a normal day, you ‘re confident you have the ideal team for successfully operating your business. That is, until you decide it’s time to launch a new product or campaign, or your busy season arrives. In these situations,  it probably doesn’t financially make sense to hire a new full-time employee. Instead, consider working with an outside firm to give you short-term support.

For example, if you’re looking to launch a crowdfunding campaign, you really wouldn’t want to bring on a full-time marketing or development person. What you need is a small team of individuals who have extensive crowdfunding experience. They can help you develop a solid strategy and show you how to implement. Beyond that, you can determine whether it’s beneficial to keep them on for execution, or if that’s something that you are able to handle with your existing in-house staff.

You need a particular skillset but don't have the budget or headcount to hire.

Sometimes, as much as you’d like to hire a full team of permanent employees to meet every possible need, it’s just not financially possible. For this reason, it often works well to hire a full-time team to handle daily operations, but outsource for particular needs if and when they arise.

For example, if you don’t have an in-house design team, but do have interim design needs, this is the perfect opportunity to bring on a freelancer or contractor, as needed. Or perhaps you’re interested in developing a social impact strategy to incorporate into your company’s operations, but you don’t have the necessary expertise or aren’t ready for full program build-out. A consultant can be a useful resource in helping you build out your plans.

You are scaling quickly and need immediate support.

Hiring the right full-time employee takes time and careful consideration… and with salary, benefits, training time, and team morale, onboarding the wrong person can be incredibly costly. If you’re facing an urgent talent need, but know better than to rush through the process, consider retaining an experienced consultant short-term. Consultants are generally prepared to ramp up quickly, and can even be beneficial if helping you identify your hiring needs.


What are your thoughts on working with outside agencies versus building internal capacity? We want to talk about it! You can…

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5 Reasons Why You Should Be Blogging

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5 Reasons Why You Should Be Blogging

by Kate Vandeveld

For many individuals, blogging is a hobby – an outlet for sharing their activities, insights, and passions with the world. But for businesses and organizations, blogs are valuable marketing tools that can make a big difference in terms of brand awareness and credibility. We know it’s a little bit meta to blog about the importance of blogging, but we want to make sure you know why it’s so crucial.

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Blogging via WhyWhisper Collective

Here are five reasons why your business or organization should consider developing a blog:

Blogging improves SEO

When you strategize around your business or organization’s website, search engine optimization (SEO) is likely top of mind. And when it comes to SEO, blogging can make a huge difference in your results. Here’s why: The more often your website is updated with fresh content, the more likely it is to be picked up by search engines. For most businesses and organizations, basic website content isn’t very dynamic, as most elements (your mission, team, and contact information, for example) don’t change often. Developing a blog will give you the opportunity to continually create and share new content, which will improve your search rankings. The inclusion of relevant (i.e. your mission and services) will also help you to get picked up by search engines. Again, without this dynamic content, keyword integration opportunities are limited, and your search engine results may remain stagnant.

 

Blogging gives you a platform for sharing important information

Social media is a great outlet for sharing your organization’s updates and news. But on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, conciseness is key (if not necessary), and content is fleeting. Blogs, on the other hand, give you a place where you can talk about what your business or organization is working on in greater detail. Whether you’re sharing information about an upcoming event, expert advice on a topic relevant to your industry, or the results of a recent project or campaign, you can provide your followers with important information that will keep them coming back. Plus, if you share content that will be useful indefinitely, you can refer back to the blog post repeatedly. 

 

Blogging provides fodder for engagement & relationship-building

Is there an organization or individual in your industry with whom you would like to connect, but you don’t have a warm lead? Blog about them! Or at the very least, share with them one of your posts that you think they would find interesting. Reaching out to someone you don’t know without a reason is daunting, and often unsuccessful. By sharing relevant information with them, you’ll not only make the connection you’re hoping for – you’ll also prove your value as a partner. And if you really admire their work, you can use your blog to share information about them with your own following, which is even more valuable.

Blogging also gives your brand a voice, and encourages individuals to get to know you on a deeper, more personal level. By creating that additional connection, you will set yourself apart from other similar brands, and turn your followers into customers or brand ambassadors.

 

Blogging allows you to establish thought leadership

When deciding whether or not to engage with your brand, other businesses and individuals want to be sure that you are a credible expert in your field. One of the best ways to do that is simply by sharing your knowledge and expertise on subjects that are relevant to your industry. Think of topics that you would want to know about if you weren’t already an expert, and share the insights that you’ve gained through your own experiences and research. A blog is the perfect platform for establishing yourself or your business as a thought leader in your space.

 

Blogging drives traffic to your website

Because you’ll be using your blog to share exciting news and expert knowledge about topics relevant to your industry, your content will probably be a very popular element of your digital offering. When you blog, you can supplement links to the stagnant information available on your website, which people will only click on once or twice to get the information that they need. As a result, sharing your dynamic blog content will likely lead to an increase in click-throughs and subsequent website traffic. People want to click on information that is both new and valuable to them, and blogging opens up countless opportunities for you to provide it.

 

So if you haven’t already started a blog, it might be time to consider it. No matter your organizational goals, blogging can serve as a valuable element of your marketing strategy.

Already have a blog? What does your organization blog about? Share with us, and we’ll pass it along to our followers! Here’s how:

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5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game

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5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game

by Kate Vandeveld

Let’s talk about #hashtags. As many of us know, hashtags allow social media users to group key words and phrases so they are easily searchable. But these days, they are so much more; and coming up with a solid hashtag is a crucial element of most successful social media strategies.

5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game - via WhyWhisper

Here are some of the ways you can use hashtags take your social media strategy to the next level:

Promote an Event

You can use a hashtag to promote an upcoming event. Share event details using the hashtag, so potential and confirmed attendees can easily see what you’ll have to offer. Ask ticket purchasers to share that they’re attending using the event hashtag, so that their followers will take notice as well. Promote images of past events, when possible, to entice first-time attendees.

Then, use the same hashtag during the event itself so attendees can share their experiences, be it through quotes, anecdotes or photos. This is free (and sometimes even viral) publicity, plus it allows you to review the event from the perspective of your attendees after it’s over.

One great example is goods for goods#GalaforGood campaign. Leading up to their annual Gala for Good fundraiser, the organization uses the hashtag to share event details, encouraging their followers to join in the fun and promote the cause. Then, at the gala, attendees are encouraged to share their favorite parts of the evening using the hashtag, providing a fun overview for anyone interested (and fodder for the next year’s campaign!).

5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game - via WhyWhisper Collective

 

Launch a Campaign

Whether you’re launching a new product or fundraiser, you can rally people around your campaign with a great hashtag. Often, people first become interested in a product or an organization because they’re committed to the mission behind it. Hashtags give companies and organizations the opportunity to share their mission in one short, shareable statement that will engage their followers.

Standbuy, a crowdfunding platform for those who have been diagnosed with cancer, launched a fundraiser last year using the hashtag #StandbuyEachother. Not only did they encourage contributors to spread the word about the campaign, but they also used the hashtag to collect stories of gratitude for times that their followers received help in a time of need. Using the hashtag in this way built a positive conversation around the campaign, and strengthened and expanded Standbuy’s community of supporters.

5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game - via WhyWhisper

 

Increase Engagement

Hashtags can also be used to increase engagement with your target audience and expand your following. One tactic is to ask questions of your followers using a specific hashtag, and encourage them to share their answers using it as well. Another is to simply include your hashtag in posts about a relevant topic, and ask your followers to do the same.

For example, nonprofit organizations that are working to end human trafficking often use hashtags like #endhumantrafficking, #endtrafficking, and #endslavery to rally supporters on social media. Through these hashtags, those who are interested in the issue can engage with organizations that are doing work they believe in, that they may not have known about otherwise.  You can learn more about how to get involved in the fight against human trafficking here

5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game - via WhyWhisper

 

Participate in a Movement

Twitter has emerged as a platform for discussion around major global events and social issues, and those conversations are often centered around hashtags. Hashtags allow people from around the world to easily connect on these topics, sharing their thoughts and opinions.

One incredible example of how a hashtag contributed to such a movement started in summer of 2013, when George Zimmerman was acquitted of shooting Trayvon Martin. In response, hundreds of thousands of individuals participated in the #BlackLivesMatter movement on Twitter, voicing their anger and disappointment in the police force and judicial system. Today, the movement continues, and extends far beyond Twitter.

If you’re interested in using hashtags in this way, here are some other ways that you can spark global discourse through Twitter.

5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game - via WhyWhisper

 

Start or Join a Trending Topic

You can also use hashtags to attract new followers in your day-to-day strategy. The original purpose of hashtags was to organize certain words and phrases so that they are easily searchable to all users. That purpose is still relevant today, and is the basis for many meaningful connections.

If you’re tweeting about a topic that you think others might be talking about as well, do a little bit of research on the hashtags associated with the topic. If it’s something that is currently in the news, it may be an official trending topic – check the list on the left-hand side of your Twitter feed. If not, you can still include relevant hashtags in your tweets to engage others who might be searching for articles or conversation on the same topic. Some of our favorites are #socialimpact, #socent, and #changemakers. Share with us in the comments if you know of a hashtag you think we should follow!

5 Ways to Step up Your #Hashtag Game - via WhyWhisper

 

While Twitter and Instagram are the most popular platforms for using hashtags, they are also supported on Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and more. Be sure to consider which platforms you’ll be using and how you can integrate your hashtag into your campaign across all of them.

If you’re developing your own hashtag, make it simple, catchy, and unique to ensure effectiveness. A good hashtag is pure gold when it comes to engagement in the fast-paced world of social media, so take the time to be thoughtful about it.

What’s the best hashtag campaign you’ve seen recently? We want to know about it! Share with us in the comments below, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You?

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Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You?

by Kate Vandeveld

At WhyWhisper, we work to make sure that organizations and businesses that are changing the world are able to spread the word about their work as effectively as possible. And as a widely available, generally unrestricted, and low-cost communication channel, social media is an essential part of any marketing and communications strategy.

But in order to engage the right audiences and enhance your brand, it is crucial to choose the right social platforms. Too often, organizations opt to use too many platforms, and then neglect them or use them ineffectively; or choose the wrong platforms and miss important segments of their audience.

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? on WhyWhisper

Here’s what you need to consider in order to ensure that you’re utilizing the social media platforms that are best for you: 

Who are you trying to reach?  

What are the demographics of the people you’re talking to? Think in terms of age, gender, location, education, income level, etc. Also, are you hoping to reach individuals or businesses?  

What kind of content do you have to share?

Do you have a lot of original content to share with your followers? How often does your content feature images that you could share on social media?

How much time do you have to stay active?

Think about this in terms of how much time you’ll have to dedicate to social media on a daily or weekly basis.


Once you’ve identified your target audience, reviewed the amount of original content you have to share, and assessed how much time you have to remain active and engaged, you can start to determine which platforms you should be using. Here’s how it breaks down on some of the most widely used social media platforms:

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? - WhyWhisper
  • Audience: Facebook has the largest audience of all of the social media platforms, with little variance between age and gender, though it skews slightly female. Facebook can be used to reach any demographic.
  • Content: Consider using Facebook if you have access a good deal of original content. Ideally, you’ll want to use images as much as possible on Facebook, as posts that include images perform much more successfully than those without.
  • Time commitment: Facebook requires a lower time commitment, as most posts can be scheduled in advance through the Facebook platform itself, and you won’t need to engage as actively as you would on a more fast-paced platform like Twitter.
    • Recommended frequency: 1-2 posts each day (scheduled through Facebook)

 

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? - WhyWhisper
  • Audience: If you’re trying to reach a younger audience, especially those aged 18-49, consider using Twitter. While Twitter’s audience skews slightly male, you definitely shouldn’t discount it if you are looking to reach a more female audience. Because Twitter’s users are more active than those on other platforms, with 46% logging in on a daily basis, it is ideal for reaching highly engaged individuals who are looking for the latest and greatest information.
  • Content: If you are going to use Twitter, you should have access to a large amount of original content or the time and ability to remain consistently active with your followers on a daily basis. Twitter’s interface is such that new posts are only at the top of the queue momentarily, so you have to introduce new content frequently to stay on your audience’s radar.
  • Time commitment: As noted, Twitter requires more consistent time commitment for growth and engagement. Though the bulk of your posts can be scheduled in advance through a third party management tool, you will want to be engage with your followers live as much as possible as well.
    • Recommended frequency: 4+ posts each day (scheduled through a third party management tool), plus as much live interaction with followers as possible

 

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? - WhyWhisper
  • Audience: If you are trying to reach the 18-29 age bracket, consider using Instagram. The platform’s users skew slightly female (29% of all internet users versus 22% of men). Instagram’s audience has been steadily on the rise, with 26% of adult internet users now on the platform (up from 17% in 2013), so it’s definitely worth considering if you have access to compelling visual content.
  • Content: As Instagram is a primarily visual platform, you should definitely have access to shareable images if you’re considering using Instagram.  
  • Time commitment: Instagram requires frequent sharing and consistent use for growth and engagement, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding whether or not to use it. Posts can be scheduled in advance through a third party management tool, though on this platform it is more difficult to control the visual outcome of a scheduled post than it is to post live. Because of that, we recommend testing out the management tool to make sure that posts look the way that you want them to before scheduling a large number of them.
    • Recommended frequency: Posting 4-7x/week (live or scheduled through a third party management tool), plus as much live interaction with followers as possible

 

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? - WhyWhisper
  • Audience: If you are trying to reach females aged 18-29 and 50+, you should definitely consider Pinterest. Pinterest skews considerably more female, with 42% of women on the internet are using the platform compared with just 13% of men.
  • Content: Pinterest content is focused around images, so definitely consider this platform if your content is image heavy.
  • Time commitment: Pinterest requires active sharing and use in order to grow and maintain a following. Like with Instagram, Pinterest posts can be scheduled in advance through a third party management tool, but be sure to test it out to make sure that your posts look like you intend them to before scheduling a large number.
    • Recommended frequency: Posting 3-5x/week (live or scheduled through a third party management tool), plus as much live interaction with followers as possible

 

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  • Audience: If you are trying to reach employed college graduates aged 30-64, you should consider using LinkedIn. This platform is geared toward professionals, and those who are looking to network on a business level. Because of this, LinkedIn is ideal for B2B companies, and companies with a high level of need for new talent. It's also great for non-profits that are looking to find volunteers and engage with other similar organizations.
  • Content: LinkedIn users are looking for industry insights and news about your business or organization. If you have a good amount of that kind of information to share with a young professional audience, definitely consider using LinkedIn. LinkedIn is also a great place for finding volunteers, building professional connections, and finding new talent for your business.
  • Time commitment: LinkedIn requires less consistent sharing and use, so it is not nearly as time consuming as some of the more fast-paced platforms. As with Instagram and Pinterest, posts can be scheduled in advance through a third party management tool (like Hootsuite or Sprout Social), but we recommend that you test it out with LinkedIn as well.
    • Recommended frequency: Posting 1-2x/week (live or scheduled through a third party management tool), plus some interaction with groups that are relevant to you or your brand

Once you’ve narrowed your options down, we recommend that you get a bit more in-depth with your strategy. Consider the following:

Which platforms are your competitors using, and how are they using them?

Research where your competitors are on social media, and how successful they are on the platforms they’re using. You’ll likely want to be where your competitors are, and you can use their strategies as a starting point to determine what is working to engage similar audiences (as well as what isn’t!).

How do you or your brand stand out from competitors, and how can you use social media to showcase that?

Think about the things that make you or your brand unique from your competitors, and how you can accentuate that value through social media. For example, if your content features beautiful images, whereas your competitors’ does not, which platforms can you use to best showcase them? This way, you can draw in a different segment of your shared audience.


If used effectively, social media can make a huge difference in helping you achieve your goals, whether you want to increase web traffic, boost donations or revenue, or simply grow your following.

What are your favorite social media platforms, and why? Let us know in the comments below, or share with us on our own social platforms – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Work Hard & Be Nice: How Askinosie Chocolate is Changing the World

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Work Hard & Be Nice: How Askinosie Chocolate is Changing the World

by Kate Vandeveld

As you may have noticed, we’re really into the idea of changing the world for the better. And, similar to almost everyone else in the world, we also LOVE chocolate. So you can imagine how thrilled we were to learn about Askinosie Chocolate – a social enterprise that creates sustainable change through the production and distribution of chocolate.

© Askinosie Chocolate 

© Askinosie Chocolate 

There are many things that make Askinosie Chocolate stand out. To start, their commitment to social responsibility, unique story, friendly and approachable messaging, and beautiful packaging. We had the chance to chat with Lawren Askinosie, the company’s Director of Sales and Marketing (as well as the founder’s daughter), who gave us the inside scoop on the magic behind the brand, as well as their impact.


Tell us a bit about Askinosie Chocolate and what you do.

My dad started the factory in 2006, after over 20 years as a criminal defense attorney, because he was ready for a change. I was still in high school at the time, but immediately became intimately involved with our new lives as chocolate makers, especially on the marketing side of things.

Lawren-Askinosie-WhyWhisper

For a while, at 15, I was the one handling our social media, writing our press releases, writing website copy, and packaging copy. In fact, those things are still part of my job, except at the time I had no idea what I was doing. I learned so much as I went along though, and it was fun. Even now, we're still such a small team that we're often learning on the fly. With each new opportunity or project, we learn a plethora of new skills because, well, there's often no one else around to do it and somebody has to!

I started college a bit early and graduated a bit early, because I was honestly so passionate about what we were creating that I couldn't wait to jump in full-time at the factory (which I did immediately). I have been in my role as Director of Sales & Marketing for a little over 4 years, and every day is completely different.

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We have a little saying around the factory: "It's not about the chocolate, it's about the chocolate," which sums up our philosophy of this zen-like balance we strive for between an excellent product and doing as much good as we can. Whether it's our Direct Trade practices and profit sharing with our farmer partners, our Sustainable Lunch ProgramsChocolate University, or our commitment to traveling the globe in search of the best beans and developing relationships with the amazing farmers who harvest them, it all makes our chocolate better.


As you’ve noted, Askinosie Chocolates has developed a number of incredible programs that provide food, education, and agency to members of the communities you work with. Why did you choose to incorporate social responsibility into your business model in such a major way?

We incorporate social responsibility into our business because, well, our business is founded on it. The very foundation of what we do is based on Direct Trade; without it, we wouldn't be able to make great chocolate, plain and simple. The direct relationships with farmers ensures that we have the highest quality beans possible, and the profit sharing encourages the farmers to continue to produce great beans, because it produces better chocolate, which people love and want to purchase!

Askinosie-Chocolate-WhyWhisper

As for the other work we do, it just makes sense. It made sense for us to start Chocolate University, which is funded mainly by our weekly tours, because we wanted to serve our community, particularly our neighborhood. And it also made sense for us to get involved in our origin communities. We've worked so hard to develop meaningful relationships with our farmer partners; it seemed like a direct extension to then work with their local schools and their children and help them meet this need for nutrition, which is why we began the Sustainable Lunch Programs.

Perhaps the most exciting development of the Sustainable Lunch Programs is that within 5 years, our aim is for us to be out of the picture. Right now, Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) at local schools in the communities we work with make and harvest various local products, such as rice and cocoa rounds. We then ship these products back to the United States with our cocoa beans and sell them across the country. 100% of the profits from these products are returned to the PTA to fund lunches for each student every day. Through this process, we're basically providing them access to the market. We're also teaching them to do it themselves, so within 5 years (or less), they won't need us anymore. We see that as true sustainability. In fact, both communities in which we have the Sustainable Lunch Programs (Tanzania the Philippines) are already working toward this, and are well on their way to taking their products to the next level on their own. Of course, we’ll still be involved in their communities in other ways, because being deeply involved in the communities we work with is at the core of what we do.

Askinosie WhyWhisper.jpg

In a nutshell, we believe the social purpose of Askinosie Chocolate is to not only compensate our farmers fairly and treat them like the business partners they are, but to connect those farmers with our customers – to build relationships based on mutual understanding and appreciation, which makes both our chocolate and our business better. We believe transparency, social responsibility, and sustainability aren't just a part of great chocolate, they create great chocolate. It all goes hand-in-hand. 



How has your role at the company evolved over the years, and what is your favorite part of what you do now?

My role has evolved as the company evolved. I work alongside my Dad and our COO to run the company, and even though we manage different small teams with various responsibilities, we all work extremely closely with one another (there are only 15 of us full-time!). It's very hands-on.

Many of my responsibilities are the same as they were in high school; and in some ways they're just more challenging. Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of Zingerman's and a mentor to our factory says, "Success means you get better problems--but there will always be problems." I'd say we're lucky enough now that we encounter some pretty major problems! When I'm feeling optimistic (ha!), I like to think of them as opportunities; opportunities for me to learn something, to do better. And in many ways that's how my role has evolved the most: I've become a pretty solid problem solver and I get a chance to improve that skill on a weekly, if not daily basis.

My responsibilities are so varied that I really don't have a favorite aspect, although I must say that traveling to origin countries to meet with farmers, inspect cocoa beans, and work on community development projects is not only one of my favorite and most rewarding parts of my job – those trips have also been some of my most treasured life experiences as well. 

Askinosie-Chocolate-WhyWhisper

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own social enterprise?

I don't know that I have anything that revelatory to share here that many other experts haven't already shared, but a piece of advice I happen to believe in wholeheartedly is this:

Work hard and be nice to people. In my (albeit limited) experience I've found that pursuing tirelessly what it is that you think is right or good, while also being kind and compassionate tends to yield pretty positive results. 

 

We couldn’t agree more: With passion, kindness, and tenacity, anything is possible. Lawren’s upbeat personality and infectious enthusiasm for change and chocolate are apparent in Askinosie Chocolate’s social media presence – check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  And we highly recommend that you buy some of their chocolate – but that almost goes without saying.

Do you know an individual or organization who is changing the world in a unique way? Tell us about them in the comments below, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. We would love to help share their stories. 

 



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5 Tips for Marketing to a Global Audience

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5 Tips for Marketing to a Global Audience

by Kate Vandeveld

These days, it’s not uncommon for organizations and businesses to market their products and services globally, rather than focusing on a specific region. Email and social media allow us to bridge cultural and geographic divides, engaging with people all over the world who might be interested in our products, services, and ideas.

As you expand your global reach, it’s crucial to develop your marketing strategy with local market audiences in mind. Here’s how to best engage your target audience when working on a global scale:

 

1. Conduct Cultural Research

When you’re looking to expand into new geographical regions, it’s important that you get to know your audience. Having a basic understanding of a culture and its norms can make a huge difference in your audience’s perception of you and your brand, while helping you to avoid coming off as being ethnocentric or detached. For example, Procter & Gamble once released a TV commercial in Japan that had been popular in Europe. In the commercial, a man walked into the bathroom when a woman was in the bathtub, and touched her on the shoulder. In Japan, this action was perceived as being extremely chauvinistic and ill-mannered, and the commercial was off-putting to most.  With a little research, P&G could have easily avoided this cultural blunder.

The better you understand cultural norms, the more effective you can be in localizing your brand’s message. You can gather this information by reading about it, or, even better, by conducting market research of your target audience. And of course, the best possible way to ensure that you understand the cultural norms of a geographic region is to recruit a team member from the target region, or place someone from your team on the ground. Working directly with someone who has a deeper understanding of cultural norms is the best way to avoid making generalizations and truly appeal to a particular group of people.

 

2. Build Relationships with Local Influencers

When marketing to a new region, do not underestimate the importance of connecting with local influencers. These individuals can help you foster a sense of trust between you and the local audience, help you engage with those who will be excited about your products and services, and provide you with helpful information for tailoring your message.

Look for people and organizations that are talking about your industry, and that have a relatively large following on various platforms – a blog, Facebook, or Twitter, for example. If you’re able to engage these influencers and get them interested in what you’re doing, they can act as invaluable brand ambassadors to your target audience.

 

3. Tailor Your Content & Pay Attention to Language

When expanding globally, take the time to tailor your messaging to your new target markets. Detached messaging from an irrelevant third party will do nothing to build your credibility in new communities, so it’s essential that your content sounds like it is actually coming from the market you’re targeting. This means finding out what features are most relevant to your new audience, being aware of local and regional events and holidays, and using the knowledge you’ve gained from your cultural research to localize your message.

Once you’ve determined the type of content that you want to include in your marketing strategy, you’ll need to consider the language you use to convey it. If you’re targeting a market that largely speaks a different language, you will of course need to consider translation. If you’re able, opt for professional translation in order to avoid mistakes that will decrease your credibility. If you’re targeting a market that speaks the same language, be careful about idioms and colloquialisms – certain words and phrases are only used in certain areas, and you need to be aware of them when crafting your messaging.  For example, the phrase “pulling someone’s leg” is an American idiom that would likely confuse a British audience.

 

4. Develop a Global-Friendly Website & Consider SEO

Your website can be accessed by almost anyone with an Internet connection almost anywhere in the world, and may act as the first point of contact between you and new members of your audience. To make sure that your website best represents your brand, there are a few key ways that you can optimize your website for the global market. To make your website global-friendly, you’ll want to reduce the use of text in images, as it cannot be translated, and make sure that the rest of your text can be machine-translated. If you’re selling a product, double check that your shopping cart is internationally-friendly. And if you’re designing your website from scratch, you may even want to consider the connotations of different colors. For example, in the United States, green often represents eco-friendliness, whereas elsewhere it signals greed. In China, green can even indicate infidelity!

As you’re adapting your website, don’t forget to consider search engine optimization. Once you’ve figured out which aspects of your product or service appeal to a particular market, you’ll need to optimize your website for specific keywords and phrases. You should also consider preferred search engines, as they may vary according to region. Google isn’t the dominant search engine everywhere; in Russia, for example, it’s Yandex

 

5. Stay Up-to-Date on Global Trends & Events

Once you’ve launched your marketing strategy, don’t forget to stay current when it comes to global trends. Even the most perfectly crafted content can quickly become irrelevant in light of new global developments. Think of your strategy as a work in progress, and be ready to make adjustments as events occur and new trends develop.

There are many aspects of your marketing strategy that you’ll need to consider to most effectively engage global audiences, but taking these steps will be well worth it when you’re able to bridge cultural barriers and connect with people across geographic divides.

Do you have any more tips for global marketing? Tell us in the comments below, or reach out via Facebook or Twitter

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No Selfies With Cute Babies: On Finding the Way to Responsible Voluntourism

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No Selfies With Cute Babies: On Finding the Way to Responsible Voluntourism

by Shanley Knox, featuring interview with Kate Otto

Have you ever seen those beautiful photos of volunteers with small, African children wrapped in their arms? At first glance, these photos represent selfless individuals making a difference. But, could there be a deeper issue at stake?

Hashtags like #InstagrammingAfrica #MedicalBrigades, #GlobalHealth, and the nostalgic #TakeMeBack are growing in popularity as students and young professionals experience life changing trips to Africa and beyond. But, research is showing that these trips are not always beneficial to local populations.

In her recent piece, “#InstagrammingAfrica: The Narcissism of Global Voluntourism,” Lauren Kascak writes that, “Volunteerism is ultimately about the fulfillment of the volunteers themselves, not necessarily what they bring to the communities they visit. In fact, medical volunteerism often breaks down existing local health systems.”

As organizations work to improve the impact of “Voluntourism,” we, at WhyWhisper, took a look into the digital side of sharing these experiences. 

We asked Kate Otto, a World Bank consultant and the founder of Everyday Ambassador, to weigh in with her tips on impactful digital documentation surrounding your volunteer experience. 

Below, her tips for helping, instead of hurting, through your social sharing:

WWCo: How can we do better in digitally sharing our overseas experience?

Kate: The golden rule of sharing your experience overseas on public, digital media: imagine that everything you're posting to your Facebook, Twitter, and blog will be read and observed by everyone who you talk about in those posts (even if you know they don't have accounts on these platforms, or access to Internet). Would they be hurt, insulted, belittled, or disempowered by your comments or photographs? Would they probably think you're misunderstanding them? Then don't post it.

Have the consent of anyone who you're posting a picture of to post it to the world. Basically, even though the people you're working with are different from you on many levels, treat them the way you would like to be treated.

 WWCo: Can posting a certain projection of Africa and other destinations in the Global South be harmful?

 Kate:

1. There’s nothing wrong with taking and posting photos of yourself and the people who you're working and living with abroad; this can be an act that solidifies friendships and documents moments of joy and gratitude in the same way we would do in our 'home' environments. The problem isn't with your action, it's with your approach. There's everything wrong with taking and posting photos of yourself and the people who you're living and working with abroad, if in doing so you present yourself as "saving" or "helping" others, or in any way being "above", "smarter than", "more advanced' than "them".

2. Avoid us/them narratives at all costs. We are we. We are all people. We give and take in our relationships (and if you think you're the only one giving, you're probably not in a relationship), and we are gracious and kind and respectful in our relationships. By doing anything other than treating each other as equals, we are perpetuating systems of oppression. So be cool.

WWCo: What is the way forward toward documenting and sharing our experiences in a more positive way?

 Kate:

1. Honestly, document less and live more. Enjoy your experience without having to document every moment of it. 

2. Question yourself always: are you documenting for yourself, or for others? If it's for others, why? Be honest with yourself about whether you're taking and posting that photo to craft your "image" for others, or because you genuinely want to share a specific, meaningful moment with friends/family who are happy to share in your joys, whether they're your new friends abroad or your 'home' friends.

3. The absolute key part of travel and volunteering/voluntourism is about building meaningful relationships, and it's your responsibility to decide how (over)documenting your experiences will diminish or enhance your capacity for deep, lasting human connection.

To dig a bit deeper on this topic:

For effective ways of writing about your service/voluntourism experiences, check out EA's #WednesdayWisdom blog series 

For a weekly roundup of hot media on the topic of being authentic in a technology-saturated world, check out EA's #WeeklyPassport blog series

Looking for concrete tips about managing your voluntourism experience? Check out EA's recent webinar "No Selfies w/ Cute Babies! And Other Tips for Your Summer Abroad"

Pre-order Kate's book "Everyday Ambassador" to get a deeper analysis of these topics, pub date Jan 2015

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How to Run an Online Campaign with User Generated Content

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How to Run an Online Campaign with User Generated Content

by Shanley Knox

When it comes to running a successful online campaign, the key is no longer just in offering great content to your users. Instead, it's important to create a campaign that convinces your followers to generate the content themselves.

So, just how do you do that?

Set Measurable Goals

Before beginning your campaign, it's important to explore your purpose. Do you want to increase your reach? Educate others? Generate sales leads? Your goal should be clearly defined, so as to inform your strategy and content.  

Make it Worthwhile

Once you’ve laid out your campaign goals, it's important to ensure that you're offering fans value in exchange for providing you with content. In order to identify what makes them tick, you need to do some research. Do your fans want visibility across your platforms? Recognition for a donation? An opportunity or a prize? Once you pinpoint exactly what it is that they’re looking for, you can craft your campaign content around it.

Develop Toolkits to Support Your Fans

What do you want your campaign partners, stakeholders, and fans to do? Do you want them to share your logo, tweet a certain link, or post photos that incorporate your product? Make sure you create a comprehensive list, as this will help to ensure your campaign goals are met by the content your fans are generating. To set yourself up for success, make downloadable toolkits readily accessible, including sample tweets, shareable logos, photos, testimonials, and more.

Create Campaign Ambassadors

Campaign ambassadors are online users who spread the word on your behalf through their social accounts and personal networks. Often, your existing fans and supporters make the best campaign ambassadors. Request participation via email, and routinely follow up with specific tasks that maintain campaign momentum.

Another way to generate campaign ambassadors is to put up a registration page on your website.


Invite Fans to Collaborate

Host a Twitter chat, feature guest bloggers, invite guest pinners to your Pinterest boards. By inviting fans to collaborate with you, you're helping to create buy-in between you and your fans, while also incorporating new thoughts and/or aesthetics, and driving visibility amongst fan networks.


Engage

Don’t forget to monitor your campaign daily, and engage with your fans throughout. Like their posts, comment on their entries, share their content.... let them know you appreciate their involvement. 

Have you hosted a successful campaign focused on user generated content? Tell us in the comments below, or contact us via Facebook, Twitter or Email

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Freelance Resources: How to Market Your Skills Without Spending a Dime

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Freelance Resources: How to Market Your Skills Without Spending a Dime

The social good network is a tightly knit, passionate community united by shared values, as well as shared goals. As such, it's a space in which a referral or introduction from a trusted source can be the defining factor in landing a partnership or a job. 

Whether you’re looking to expand the reach of your network, establish some credibility, or land a job at a company you care about, here are a few ways to market your skills without spending a dime:  

1. Give Feedback 

Social entrepreneurs and nonprofit founders tend to regularly ask friends and family for feedback and advice. They know that a few key comments on a strategy or campaign can make all the difference in the efficacy of their efforts. As such, offering feedback is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your knowledge and demonstrate your value. 

Looking for a quick and easy way to deliver your comments? Make a voice recording. Tools like EvernoteiPhone’s voice notes or Cloud Recorder  can help you create shareable voice files that succinctly demonstrate your value. After spending a couple minutes on specific feedback points, don't be afraid to throw in a sentence or two about how you might continue to be of service through freelance or contract work. 

2. Co-work

Co-working can be as official as taking part in a program like Goodnik’s in-residence program, or as casual as setting up a weekly coffee date with a friend. The most important thing to remember is that it’s about finding a good working environment for you. At WhyWhisper, we've found that working alongside people who have similar passions and values is what makes co-working most powerful. Why? Brainstorm sessions, problem-solving, and referrals will naturally occur throughout your day.

3. Sit on a Panel 

Social good networks use panels as a way to get to the heart of important issues. Seek out the ones where you can provide the most value while reaching an audience that includes prospective clients and/or partners. Prepare thoughtful and insightful commentary, and pay particular attention to connecting via social channels and email, so as to establish a relationship while you're still top of mind. Your target audience is likely to follow up with additional questions and requests to chat further. 

4. Provide Empowering Environments

Connecting people is a powerful way to demonstrate your willingness to meet the needs of others. In a world of endless meet ups and happy hours, people appreciate introductions that help them to quickly cut through the clutter. Facilitate these meetings by hosting dinners or setting up happy hours with like-minded guests. Your efforts will not go unnoticed, and your guests will be all the more likely to do the same for you in the future.

5. Know Your Own Value 

You have probably already heard that people value those who value themselves. As you establish yourself within the social good community, you will be asked for your input and advice, as well as to lend a helping hand. Carefully providing thoughtful feedback is wonderful. Finding a way to clearly  communicate the monetary value of your product or services is even better. It ensures that others in your network will think of you as a valuable colleague, and opens the door for future business. 

Do you have a helpful tip to share about networking within the social good community? Leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

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