Tag Archives: twitter

Social enterprises deliver commercial capabilities with effective tools of trade

Today’s update is a guest post from Jessica Purbrick-Herbst, community manager for Social Traders. Jessica gives some tips on how social enterprises can use the digital economy to support their communications and marketing activities, and grow their businesses.

A social enterprise is a business that has a social purpose, and invests the majority of its profits (50% or more) into delivering that purpose. The social enterprise business model is robust and sustainable, and is increasingly becoming the business de rigueur as entrepreneurs seek alternative forms of profit distribution.

In context, there are over 20,000 social enterprises in Australia, with footprints in every Australian community. For some examples, consider your local bowling club, RSL or sporting league. Within this business model, the social enterprise sector may support a disadvantaged group (long term unemployed, disabilities, young and at risk). Or the production of low cost fruit and vegetables may provide access to fresh produce for everyone in the community. A social enterprise may be a cafe, a film production agency or community centre. It can also be a financial institution (for example, Bendigo Community Bank) or a packaging and distribution unit.

Just like any business, a social enterprise needs customers, and tools of the trade. Having access to the national broadband network (NBN) will enhance business growth across all sectors, by improving the speed, reliability and access to internet connections around the country. For social enterprise, utilising online marketing tools, directories and of course social media will help to grow the business, bringing in new opportunities.

Strong and stable internet connections have already enabled social enterprises in Tasmania to find customers globally; Victorian social enterprises to compete for business around Australia, and Melbourne social enterprise caterers to provide online ordering systems to corporate clients across the city. Without this network of reliable internet access, these businesses would miss opportunities and struggle to meet their social impact goals.

Top Tips for Hume Region Social Enterprises

  1.  Develop a practical, integrated marketing plan which coordinates online and off-line business growth activities.
  2. Communication activities need to be integrated (supported and consistent).
  3. Going online doesn’t have to be expensive. Utilise blogging platforms like WordPress or Tumblr to establish an online presence. Try Facebook and Twitter to support your activities. Use a regular, brief, action-orientated newsletter (try Mailchimp) to reach existing customers and find new ones.
  4. Don’t sign up for every shiny new online system – find the two or three preferred hangouts that are used by your current and potential customers, and build from there.
  5. Sign your business up for a free listing on The Social Enterprise Finder (www.thesefinder.com.au) – Australia’s only directory of social enterprises.

For further information and access to online tools and resources, go to:

Images and video links:

Regional promotions – social media and tourism at the Regional City of Wangaratta

For the latest addition to our series on local government in Victoria’s North East, we spoke to Emma Keith – Tourism Development Officer at the Rural City of Wangaratta.

 

Key facilities in the Wangaratta council all have active social media platforms, chosen to complement their existing promotions. These are being used to build and engaging with local audiences, and to reach out to prospective visitors. Wangaratta’s visitor information centre currently uses a YouTube channel, lists their walking tours on TripAdvisor and Facebook, and has begun dabbling in Twitter and Pinterest. Similarly, the Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre has built up a successful Facebook presence, with over 900 followers and 1,000 location check-ins. They have taken a personable approach, sharing ‘behind the scenes’ photos and stories with friends of the Arts Centre.

Another example of successful online activity in the region is the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail – a cycling route connecting Wangaratta, Rutherglen, Beechworth, Myrtleford and Bright, linking visitors to local food, wine and accommodation. The trail is actively promoted on many social media channels, such as TripAdvisor, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

Emma notes that the local wine makers are very active in regional promotion, particularly through initiatives like King Valley Prosecco Road wine trail. Wineries like Dal Zotto, Pizzini and Brown Brothers use Twitter to share stories from the region, helping to raise awareness of the region, and engage people during their stay. “When they come to the vineyard, they feel like they are already part of that conversation – like they already know the people behind the cellar doors.” The council has also heard of local wineries using Twitter to organise direct sales to B2B and wholesale customers.

While many of Wangaratta’s arts and tourism promotions are highly active on social media, Emma also discusses ways to help those who are still lagging behind. Some businesses are reluctant to start as they feel that setting up and learning to use a social media account may be too complex or time consuming. Improving access to social media training and mentoring helps to overcome this barrier, giving businesses the confidence to get involved in this new economy.

Wangaratta Council is beginning a 12 month project on YouTube that will encourage local residents to contribute user generated content in the form of a 90 second video grab. These give people the opportunity to share the “best things in their own back yard” in their own words. For this, the council hopes to act as facilitators – allowing people to talk within the community, instead of sending official messages in to them.

The council also began trialling Facebook ads earlier in 2012, for tourism promotions around the NAB Cup match to be held at the Wangaratta Showgrounds. They created a series of ads with destination-focussed imagery, designed to inspire and motivate different groups, improving attendance at these events. Initial ads targeted fairly broad demographics, aimed at people in Melbourne and regional NSW. Local operators saw an immediate increase in demand, with some selling out events across the long weekend. The range of statistics available from these campaigns provide a great deal of insight to council into the demographics for these events, such as the location, age, and other interests of the people involved. These can be used to further refine the promotion of other events in the region.

Connecting local producers with customers at Walker Events

Mansfield’s Walker Events is an events management business with an environmentally friendly ethos at its core. We spoke with business owner Alli Walker about how she uses social media and the web to promote her business. 

Business overview

We started in 2009,  and run a suite of three core events, aimed at promoting the many facets of sustainability. These are the monthly Mansfield Farmers’ Market, the twice yearly Sustainable House Tours and the newly introduced Regional Farm Gate Tours. Our customers are mostly Victorian, with a mix of locals, regional and Melbourne-based.

Which web or social media technologies are you using in your business?

  • We started off with a farmer’s market web page – this was used as the portal for all information pertaining to the market. Stallholder enquiries and applications are all handled online through the web page.
  • As the other events grew in their following and strengths, we created a second web page for Walker Events. This allowed us to introduce devotees of the farmers’ market to the other facets of our business. Both web pages are updated on average once per week and cross-promote each other.
  • Both web pages are attached to a MailChimp database, allowing people to sign up to our email newsletter. This is used for promoting all facets of the business. Using MailChimp takes away a lot of the work (subscribers/unsusbcribers, etc) involved with keeping the database up to date.
  • Twitter and Facebook also play a large part in the marketing of the business. The farmers’ market has its own Facebook business page which is used to communicate general foodie news and promotions as well as market information.  Twitter is used as a means to create relationships with producers, other markets, people interested in food as well as media contacts.
  • We are just starting to use YouTube to record different experiences – we have a business YouTube channel which is another way to showcase our experiences.
  • As a business that prides itself on being environmentally sustainable, being a part of the digital space in such a big way helps us to reduce the amount of paper and other resources that we use.

What have been the benefits of using these?

We embraced digital marketing from the very beginning, simply because it was something that could be managed in-house. The media contacts that we have made online have been of enormous assistance with PR and marketing.

Contacts made through Twitter have created some huge benefits for the business, as well as for individual producers who attend the market. In particular, one of our producers was “introduced” over Twitter. This was noticed by some high-level chefs, and as a consequence is now supplying product to several hatted restaurants.  Word of mouth recommendations are vitally important when it comes to local produce and the use of Twitter in this instance was hugely successful.

What benefits do you think the NBN will have for your business?

At the moment, slow internet and frequent drop outs that can occur through our wireless internet connection mean that something that should take half an hour ends up taking half a day. Constant and controlled broadband access will make many of our tasks much easier.

Do you have any tips for other business managers who may be looking at getting online?

Don’t be scared! There is no need to jump into everything all at once – start slowly. Ask questions. Read books and blogs. Attend workshops and professional development. Keep learning and make the most of the opportunities that are available.

You can connect with Walker Events on Twitter at @MansfieldFM, and on the Mansfield Farmer’s Market Facebook page.