How Charities can Succeed on Social Media.
Will shared with us how a charity with a small budget can succeed on social media.
- Will Francis
- 45 mins
Tom: Hello and welcome to episode 28 of the Make Things Better podcast. Today I'm joined by Will Francis. Welcome on the show, Will, how are you doing today?
Will: I'm great cheers Tom, I'm really good and thanks so much for inviting me.
Tom: Yeah, thanks for coming on. Well I really enjoyed your session with the DMA the other week. Do you want to tell us a little bit about how you got into working for the DMA or IDM? I'm not quite sure what they're really called to be honest.
Will: Yeah, do you know what, neither am I. I still invoice the IDM and I don't even know if that's what they still call themselves, but they keep paying me to do it so, that's cool.
So basically I've been working in digital for nearly 20 years. I started just doing- just mucking around with the internet in its early years, and I was in a band as well, so, you know, I'd create like a website for the band and things like that. And then MySpace came along in the mid-noughties, and that really captivated me. That was the first time something really kind of, yeah, captivated me like that, and I got very into it. I knew it inside out, I knew how to use it, how to grow band profiles there, and yeah, did that well. And then- MySpace expanded after Rupert Murdoch bought it and they opened an office in the UK, and I went for a job, and I got one, because I had all these nasty hack-ey workaround ways of making profiles look nice.
And then, yeah, I sort of went through that for a few years and I became the editor of the site. Basically running the content and the relationships with film artists, music artists and that kind of thing, to a degree, with other colleagues there.
And, yeah. It was at that time, in the late noughties, that I started to see brands wanting to get involved in social media. Because at the end of the day, marketers of brands, all they really care about is where are the audience, where is the attention? And up until that point, really, at the turn of the millennium, all the attention was on TV, with some on print and outdoor radio. So that's where they spend their money. And the internet came along, didn't get taken very seriously to start with.
But then when social media started really sucking up lots of time, people weren't sat in front of the telly for hours every evening. They were starting to spend more time - 'David, what you doing upstairs!' - you know - 'I'm on the internet! I'm surfing the web! No one use the phone 'cause I'm on dial-up!'. And more people were starting to spend time on that, and of course '07 saw the launch of the iPhone and that was another pivotal point where, it was- You know, you didn't have to go upstairs on the family computer, you could do it on your phone, and by about 2010, that had matured to the point where you could just sit and basically lose an evening looking at social media on your phone, right? 'Cause things like Instagram came along as well as Facebook at that time. So- And I saw brands wanting a piece of that attention, and it was kind of clunky and awkward, 'cause they wanted- At MySpace they wanted like a profile, like forward motors or Coca Cola would want a profile, and like, yeah but you're not a person, and how does that work? This is a social space. And in a lot of ways, I don't think brands have really surmounted that.
You know, I think a lot of brands, they're occupying these kind of person shaped holes in places like Twitter and TikTok and Instagram, and most of them still haven't got a clue how to operate their- And they default to just basically spamming people with their brand assets, and their like, campaign messages, you know? Which I think's interesting, 'cause had you have asked me back then, I would have absolutely guess that it would all be kind of sorted out by now, and brands would know what they're doing.
So anyway, that was that, and then in 2010 I went and worked at one of the big global ad agencies, and then a year or two later started my own agency in London. Worked at a lot of big entertainment, tech, fashion brands, and then I exited out of that a few years ago, and since then I've been basically telling other people how to do it through the big institutions like the CIM and the DMA in the UK. The Digital Marketing Institute in Ireland and globally and the American Marketing Association. I'm just on a- I'm basically on this- I've found myself on this mad mission to just save people from- I mean, that sounds like I'm putting myself on some sort of messiah pedestal, doesn't it? I'm trying to just save people from bad marketing. There's so much of it still about. From really major brands that should know better, because they don't really know what else to do.
Tom: Yeah, yeah. That's really interesting to hear, because the way I actually ended up getting this job at Hive IT where I'm sort of doing a marketing kind of role, is that before I had my own business where I talk about football, and I had like a website, and I had some people who would basically consume my podcast talking about football, and analysis of it, and then what happened was someone from Hive got in touch with me because they listened to that football podcast and they wanted someone to come in and do some marketing, so I've kind of, gone through that shift where you've gone from being an individual, you can say whatever you want really, and you're kind of just representing yourself but no one else, to representing a brand instead, which is a big big shift, and if I'm honest, I've kind of been on a journey myself over the last year and a half trying to figure out - Right, how do we get across that we're just like a group of people trying to make good things happen? And it's quite hard to do that as a brand, and I feel like, as you say, a lot of brands haven't really figured out exactly how to do that yet. So. I can definitely relate to what you were saying there.
Will: But the big difference between what you were doing before and what you're doing now, is now there's an ask. You're not just saying 'here's a cool thing' end of story - you've now got to say 'here's a cool thing and by the way, if I'm going to keep my job I also need to ask you a favour now you've enjoyed this lovely content, could you just click here, could you give us your email address, could you sign up?' and it'll go to this landing page. You know. And there's always that- Well, it- There is the pressure on marketers like yourself to weave that ask in somewhere, and you don't have that as a creator. But that is the key difference, and that's- You know, that's why marketers and brands, they look at something like TikTok and like 'wow all these people are going viral on TikTok so therefore we'd be able to viral'.
But then they go onto TikTok and they can't help but weave in the ask. But then there are brands that do I get it, obviously - you look at someone like Ryanair who are like the go to example of a brand on TikTok. They don't ask for anything back. They just make really silly videos about talking planes, memes - I mean, they're literally, they're clearly not precious about it. They just pump 'em out, they're just having fun, and it just makes the feed a bit more of a chuckle. That's it, they don't ask for anything back. And they are in the 0.1% of brands that can do that. But it's only by doing that that you build a relationship with people, and you know what, if you build a relationship with Ryanair because you enjoy their videos, when it comes time you want a cheap flight to Rome, you know where to go. You know? You don't need to be reminded by the next post in the feed like 'click the link in bio' and all that kind of stuff. You don't need that. You know where to go. Because a brand that has done that work of building a relationship with you just through offering content, they occupy a space in your head, you know? They're living in your head, rent-free, as the saying goes. And when it comes times that a consumer wants their thing, like I say, they know where to go. People know, they're not stupid.
Tom: Yeah, yeah definitely.
Will: So how do you reconcile that? I'm interested, like how do you do that content marketing in the purest sense? Like content marketing- And how do you manage the urge to ask for something back like a click to a product or service or something?
Tom: I'm keen to ask you about charities in particular as well, because at Hive we do try and work with quite a few charities and do like, tech for good sort of projects. And, in that space, what a charity often needs - they need many things, they want to really get people involved, and you know, use their service and make the most of it, and help and support people. But also what they're going to need is the donation side, and so, without asking for those donations how do they get those donations?
Will: I think that's a very good question, and it's one that at least should be asked and talked about. Look, it's like - I don't want to bang on about that same point - but it's like any relationship, right? You know, if you have a friend there are times when you will- you know, you'll need to be listened to more, or you'll need to ask favour, can I borrow this, can I stay round your house, you know, whatever. And there's times when they'll ask you for stuff. But most of the time you just chat and hang out and no one asks anyone for anything really, do you know what I mean?
Will: And that's sort of how relationships work in a balanced way. So what I'm getting round to saying is yes, absolutely ask. Just don't do it every time. But also, I think, without sounding like too much of a purest about the point, I think you can almost never ask, because I think again, if you- If you motivate people through really good content that just captivates them, they will know when to act. Now, there's a whole other thing to talk about there. Algorithms, and paid social.
So, the first thing to say is that with paid social, absolutely. That is where you can absolutely ask for stuff, you can ram the sales message down peoples' throats, you've paid for the privilege, and by the way you can do so in a very predictable way. Personally, I think if you've got a business objective like getting clicks to a donation page, and you're trying to drive that through an organic social media post, you're basically insane. Because you're relying on something that is completely unpredictable. I mean, you might as well write it on bits of paper and leave it on park benches. It's that unpredictable and unreliable as a format, as a channel - organic social.
So, you know. If a charity came to me and said we need a thousand clicks to this donation landing page by next Friday, I wouldn't post it in bloody organic social media. I'd say 'great! a thousand clicks - I can make that happen reliably. Who do you want to make those clicks? Tell me all about them. Yep, and I'll make sure it's those people'. You just need a bit of money. You don't need loads of money - obviously it's not free, but it is a business-like way of driving that traffic, and those kind of hard, commercial results.
So I think, you know, we've arrived in a place where the distinction is quite clear. Organic social media is for building a relationship with people, and paid social media is for putting those asks in front of them. And ideally, I don't think you should ever put those asks in your organic. I think you should let the ads do that, and keep them quite separate. Because there's clarity both for you, in terms of your expectations, because personally when people come on my courses and they say, you know, 'we measure our social media performance by clicks' I'm like, ugh, really? Like that's not how you measure the efficacy of organic social content. It's a terrible- It's the worst channel for driving clicks. You know, the only way to reliably do that is through ads. And also the other thing to say is look there's a bit of a check, you know, a bit of a filter when you put stuff out. If you're telling people to do something, asking people to do something, and you're not paying for that message to go out, you're probably doing it wrong, just in general I think. You know. So, think about that dichotomy of you know, organic social media and paid social media.
Cause the other thing to mention is then algorithms, right? The reason why we have to be so careful about what we put in organic social media is because that whole system now is run by algorithms, and if you look at TikTok, we're talking to an extreme degree. But everyone's copying TikTok, so everyone's becoming more algorithmic. And what the algorithm does is it picks the cream of social media, and presents it to people, because that's the content that will keep people on the platform longer, and get people looking at more ads. Okay? And on most platforms, every 3rd or 4th post, and so- And roughly when someone looks at an ad, the platform makes about half a cent, a cent, something like that. If someone clicks an ad it's a few quid right? It's quite a bit of money. So there's big money to be lost by showing people anything other than the cream of what is on that platform. So, I mean, just that fact alone. So if you're not in the cream of content, like the very best content, the greatest hits album content of that platform, the algorithm is basically chucking you in the bin. 'Cause it's got better things to show people to keep them on the platform.
And we're moving to a world, thanks to TikTok, where it's really becoming irrelevant who you follow. So even if people follow your charity, your brand, that's becoming less and less relevant. The algorithm's just showing- You know, if I've watched DIY videos all the way through, it's just going to show me more DIY videos, regardless of who I follow. Because that's what keeps me for longer. Now TikTok really pushed that approach hard when they came up with this almost completely algorithmic feed, but now Instagram, Facebook are copying that. And so, it's really kind of do or die- It's a really pivotal time, I think, for brands. Start creating the cream, or basically just- just run ads.
Tom: Mm. It's interesting because, what comes to mind for me is almost like there's this inequality being perpetuated by the algorithm, because what you've then got is like, whoever can create the cream, like the highest quality content that people actually want to watch that's genuinely entertaining, that's going to keep people on the screens. They're the ones who are going to benefit the most from the algorithm, but what if they can only make it through having a budget, you know? What if you've got like a smaller company or charity that don't have a big budget, focussed on doing all these other things, how do they really create that quality that's actually going to get them to stand out and make it worthwhile doing?
Will: That is the logical next question, isn't it? And that- When I tell people what I've just told you, people are like 'Okay, that does make sense...how do I do that?' you know. And I don't believe it requires budgets - I think the first thing it requires is just an acknowledgement of all those facts. But also an acknowledgement that, you know, this isn't Hollywood. It's not like the pop music charts here. There's not just like one leader board of what's the cream of TikTok or Instagram. What is the perfect content for your audience probably isn't perfect for anyone else. And everybody has their own individually curated feed by these algorithms. So, it's- Don't worry about big production, the flashiest, most creative, crazy, and what have you - it's not about that.
The first thing it starts with is understanding your audience. I know I'm sounding a bit old school and educational, academic, but it really is about going back to understanding your audience. You know, if you're a dog's charity, a dog's home, something like that right? I mean obviously pictures of dogs, videos of dogs - don't stop there. Talk to some people, and ask them, what is it, what do you really kind of like about dogs? Maybe do a bit of a survey of your audience. And then test some different stuff as well, see if it's dog petting and cleaning tips, how to keep them, maybe it's emotional stories of rescues - which we know does really well. Try different formats, different things. Keep it lo-fi, you know, you can create incredible content on the phone in your pocket. Like, this thing has been used to shoot Hollywood movies that have gone on general release. There are about 5 movies at this point that have gone out on general release that were shot on phones. You know? The first one was Tangerine in 2017, and looked beautiful, you know? It's not about not having the right budget. I don't think that's- that's not people's hurdle.
They haven't sat down and thought what do our audience want? They're not audience-centric enough. That's the problem. You know? I feel like sometimes I'm living in a parallel universe when I run the courses like the one you came on. Because, like, a lot- It does seem that a lot of marketers haven't stopped to consider that they are basically dog fooding their audience. I don't know if you've ever heard that term, have you?
Tom: I've not heard of that, but, I can see where- I think I know where it's going but carry on.
Will: They're dog fooding they're audience - they're basically feeding their audience stuff they would never eat themselves, you know? And, everyone's doing it. Like, you know? Come on, look at the way your thumb is just on hyperdrive, right? When You're just scrolling through the Instagram feed, or Facebook or whatever. And to some extent on TikTok. And unless something pulls you towards it because there's something in it for you, I'm not going on social media for other people's benefit, I'm on there for my benefit, as a user. And I'm looking for stuff that's got information for me that's going to feed my brain in some way. And so, only something that is- I mean all good content is one of two things. It's either useful or entertaining. That's it. And unless it's got that value baked into it that it's just really useful, it's going to show me a hack or something really useful, or it's going to entertain me like it's going to make me emotional, laugh, cry, whatever. Unless it's got something in it for me that I need to see, I'm just going to whizz past it like 99% of the other stuff.
And yet, marketers, when they put stuff out, they don't think, 'well would I really care about this if I didn't work here?'. Or, maybe, I think some people who come on my courses to be honest, they don't have the bravery to stand up to the people they're working with and the people above them and say you know what, I'm not sure pumping all this stuff out is actually a good idea, because I'm not sure if we're honest with ourselves, any of us here would welcome this into our feed. And I feel like it's a treadmill that marketers have kind of got on, where they feel like they just need to keep feeding social media and there's no time to stop and go 'why are we doing this? who is this for and why is it getting such poor engagement? is there something better we can do?'. Just really basic fundamental questions. And like I say, major brands are doing it - I don't know if you want to edit this bit out. And I don't know if I said this when on the course you came on.
Tom: Was it DFS?
Will: Yeah Dreams beds! Right?
Will: So whether you want to leave this in is up to you, but Dreams bed - what a fantastic example, a major brand, major Olympic sponsor, and they're just putting pictures of beds just because they- Someone thinks that's the job. And yet no one in their right mind would want that in their feed. Even the people that work there don't want it in their social media feeds personally. It's very strange.
Tom: I remember those posts were getting like, only a few likes as well. Like less than 20 likes. And I'm pretty sure Dreams beds had like hundreds of thousands of followers. So, the amount of people who were seeing that - or maybe not seeing it because the algorithm's filtered it out after the first hundred or thousand people.
Will: That's what's happening.
Tom: Yeah. That's exactly what's happening, yeah. But- I guess what you're getting at is like, what is the point in seeing that? What is the point in anyone having a look at a bed on Instagram, like why would anyone want to have a look at a bed on Instagram? If- If someone could just go on Google images and see the exact same thing, there's no, like, story behind it, then what is really the point in it? And how would that differentiate them from anyone else as well, like. It's never going to create an emotional connection either. And there's no, sort of storytelling aspect to it, just having a photo of a bed, right?
Will: Absolutely. You know, and it takes that extra leap of creativity. It doesn't have to be like Oscar-winning, but I mean just something relating to beds, like do something about sleep, do something about how beds are made, about furniture making in general, I don't know. I mean, I can't solve their problem but whatever it is it's got to be more interesting than that and, I think that, yeah, look a lot of people are just stuck and they're not quite sure what to do, and I'm not sure if they have the permission internally to kind of rip it up at this point. It's so established isn't it, as like a process, that we must just keep posting on Instagram 3 times a week or whatever.
It's like no one's got the permission to go 'Hang on a minute, sorry, sorry, no.' Can we just have a chat about why we're doing this? I think everybody feels like they might look really stupid, that might be seen as a daft question, everyone might ridicule them and go 'What do you mean why we're doing it! It's Instagram, everybody's doing Instagram, you know.' They might be- So, I can understand that. It's tricky and I think a lot of marketers are in that position. And you know, I think charities like, I get a lot of people from charities on my courses as well, and I think charities are in exactly the same situation really. But the problem that charities have is often they're quite resource-poor, budget-poor, they don't, you know, they're as busy as anyone else at least - if not more so.
Will: Your average charity marketer, because of course they don't have the luxury of lots of resource to throw around the place, right? They have to be very lean in what they do and I sympathise with that, but I think it's never a bad time to just stop and take stock. And go back to looking at who your donors are, your core donors are, what is it that they care about? What keeps them up at night? What do they fear? What are their values? What do they thinks important? What do they thinks funny? What do they thinks cute and adorable? I mean just try and find these things out - what is in the back of their heads, because if you're able to speak to what's actually in people's heads already, that's what latches, that's what hooks us as people. I can't remember who it was - one of the titans of advertising said something like 'great advertising continues the conversation taking place in peoples heads'. Right?
Now, the big holy grail - in case - I don't know how much you've thought about this. But the great holy grail in advertising is to be the first brand to speak to part of someone. Like a very famous example is like Dove, yeah? Back in 20 years ago, Ogilvy, massive agency, helped Dove launch the real beauty campaign. And they were the first beauty brand ever to say 'you know what, beauty marketing is broken, it's terrible, and it's making everyone feel terrible about themselves and it's actually totally fine to be a normal person, and we're going to celebrate looking beautiful in a very natural way'. They were the first people to do that, and that land-grab as a brand was - it's one of the biggest upticks in brand affinity and loyalty, and ultimately commercial results, that's ever been seen. They went from being just another soap to being one of the most popular beauty brands out there. So that's the holy grail. But you don't have to be first, you don't have to be that kind of revolutionary, but you do have to speak to something that is already going on inside people's heads, I think. And-
Will: And you just need to find out what those things are first, and then you will hook them with your content.
Tom: Yeah, so I guess sometimes it's going to take some bravery and you have to almost step out of what you've been doing and kind of stop looking at what everyone else is doing sometimes as well, I'd imagine. I mean - I don't know, from my perspective anyway, there's nothing wrong with having a look at what the best people in marketing are doing and seeing what is gaining a lot of attention, looking at who is getting millions of views on YouTube or whatever else. But, sometimes it can be a lot easier to go alright, that company's similar to us, what are they doing? And then you end up having all these sort of companies, brands, doing similar things that aren't really very effective, and they're all kind of the same.
Will: I think charities are probably quite guilty of that. Maybe all brands are, thinking about it, but I do think there's maybe a bit of risk-averseness in charities. It feels like there's a lot on the line, and again, would I be any different if I worked for a charity? No, I'm sure I wouldn't be, I would be risk-averse, I would really worry about messing it up and putting a dent in this year's donations 'cause of my stupid ideas. I get it. But yeah there is that issue, I definitely- You know, charities of certain types or categories do seem to do very similar stuff, and I think there is something about trying to stand out. It doesn't have to be crazy. But, something that just speaks to a new part of the consumer's heads. That your competitors aren't currently doing, is the key thing.
Tom: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. And I think I'm definitely risk averse in my role, you know. Like our company works with like the Department for Education, it works with a few local charities, I don't want to do anything that's going to mess up any client relations or anything like that so. I totally admit I'm not great at marketing at all. Like, I'll say that happily on that podcast - I'm just not. I'm keen to learn but so far it's, yeah it's hard to be good at marketing if you don't want to do anything that's going to mess things up and I think that's totally normal and rational. So yeah - what tips would you have then for charities to improve their marketing on like a limited budget?
Will: Let's formalise it. I think it's always a good time to do a bit of a homemade digital strategy. You don't have to bring some expensive agency in, you don't have to spend money, you can just do this in some spare time. I know you've not got any spare time, but some time that you can carve out, right? If you just did it for an hour a day for a week or two, you could do this in 5 or 10 hours. So have a refreshed digital strategy. And the sections would really go for me, as follows. I would focus on very specific objectives for the next 3, 6, 12 months - whatever feels right for you.
And I think the problem with marketers - or the problem with being marketer, one of the things that drives you mad as a marketer is there are a million things that you could do and could achieve. Right? It's- People talk about shiny ball syndrome in a lot of industries. In marketing it's terrible, it's like 'Ooh that! What about that! And now there's this, and I've just read this cool hack for going viral on TikTok, but now people are talking about LinkedIn and how videos doing well there and this and that' and there's all these opportunities screaming out at you that you feel like you must put time into, and so. You might really have like- If you were to go through it you might have like 10, 20 objectives that you're actively trying to achieve at one time. That's terrible, that's really - you're spreading yourself thin, you're not really smashing it anywhere. What I would do is I would draw up 3 objectives and stick to them for a sustained period of time. 3 months, okay, good. 6 months better, 12 months brilliant. As long as you feel you can stick to it, and if you think 'you know what, 2023, we are going to build our email list, we're going to build TikTok audience, and we're- maybe there's some reason why a LinkedIn, b2b facing audience or something like that. Or whatever it is, 3 distinct things, and just go after those as digital objectives, right, for the next few months, the next 6 months, something like that.
Right, so you've got your objectives, be clear about your KPIs, how are you measuring those objectives, what's the scoreboard. So if you're saying you're going to grow TikTok, what do you mean by that? Do you mean followers and also do you mean a certain engagement rate - average likes per video? Okay, so just get that down on paper. Now you know what the rules of the game are. It's like when you go to a football pitch, you're looking at the scoreboard, that's how you know whether your winning or not, that's really important. And you can check in on that at any point during the game. Right, the next thing is you need to then research the audience. How are we going to achieve those objectives without knowing the audience? I don't really know. So it's then doing that audience research. There are so many free tools today, things like keyword research tools, answer the public, keywords everywhere, keyword surfer, uber suggest. There's free versions of all these things and particularly, you know, social media. Just browsing Reddit is a fantastic- Reddit is a brilliant way to find out what grinds people's gears and what people care about, because that's what a lot of it is about. It's basically a load of forums, isn't it? Instagram, TikTok and all the usual social media sites - just see what people are talking about, what they seem to care about, what makes them laugh, cry, get angry etc, right?
And start to, again, focus and say 'well look we could speak to everyone' but if you're marketing to everyone you're marketing to no one. So let's pick one, two, three personas that we're really going to focus on that are relevant. So if we're going to grow our email list and our TikTok audience, let's say they're our objectives for the next year, who is that that we can most effectively do that for? And who are the most valuable people to our organisation? But focus. Focus on them, because if you've got a very specific persona in mind when you create content, it will speak to them, it will resonate with them, it will speak to a part of them that they, you know. And they'll feel acknowledged and seen by your content, they'll be drawn towards it because it'll feel like it's for them, you know? Whereas again I think a lot of marketing content that goes out - it's not really for anyone, so it doesn't really grab anyone by the throat. That's such a waste of resource. It's better to resonate really strongly with 5% of your audience, than just waft past 100% of your audience without anyone really noticing.
I know I'm talking about really basic stuff here. These aren't like, mega future forward hacks. But they're important and people aren't doing them enough. And then, once you've worked out who your personas are - and those lots of templates for those online by the way - then just go onto your content strategy, so which platforms are we going to use? How are we going to use them? What is going to be our thing there? What are the main themes that we're going to cover there? Again, keep it focused - not doing everything - Ryanair, it's just talking planes, that's it. So, be focussed about the kind of content choices you make. Come up with ideas and just run with them. And then, also some sort of media strategy. However small your budget is, just map out how you're going to use that budget effectively. Could be through ads, could also be through promoting and boosting posts. Which actually is very effective. It's essentially a gateway drug for advertising, so I feel like, you know, the platforms make that quite effective. And boost, and promote your best content. Your best organic content to increase its reach. And then also think about how you can work with influencers and creators, and get them on board as well as part of that.
And then, finally, agree whose going to do this stuff, how much- And try and, in a very simple table or something like that, try and say 'right if we're going to do this and that, who's going to do that internally? Does anyone need upskilling? We really want to grow on TikTok, turns out we've not got anyone who can do video editing. Dave's quite good at this sort of stuff, send him on a course'. You know? Just checking that you can actually do this stuff internally. Upskilling is so important. There's so many digital skills gaps today. I see that because of what I do, and that's why what I do is kind of I guess booming at the moment because people are realising there are all these digital skill gaps. So acknowledge them. It's great having a strategy but if you can't execute it internally, it's kind of useless. And it doesn't take a lot of training just to like get people upskilled, really. It's an easy thing to fix. And it's much cheaper than hiring new people, and then that's it. That's it, that's basically your strategy. And, like I say, don't need to take weeks and weeks to do it. If you're really pushed you could do it in a day - I know I'm being a bit flippant there, but you could. And then that's your north star, that's everything I'm going to do, every time I come into this office, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to achieve those objectives, I'm going to create content for these people, and that's it.
Tom: Yeah. I think you're going to put the IDM out of their courses, like out of business, with all of that. You've just kind of covered everything in 10 minutes there which is fantastic. Yeah, I just wish I knew all of that stuff like a year and a half ago, maybe when I first got into marketing myself, and I think hopefully this video will be very useful to anyone who does go away and implement what you've just spoken about there because I think that's a really comprehensive plan, and I think it's quite easy to follow in a way. As you say, some of those ideas are quite simple but at the same time, I think they are getting missed a lot. I admit that I've missed a lot of those things in the past, but at the same time, I suppose it's just hard for people to find the time to take a day out and go 'right this is what I'm going to work on today' when people are so busy and there's other pressing matters and everything else. But sometimes just taking a step back, do all of that work, and then you're going to be set. So yeah, fantastic. Uh, final question for you is - what can people do to make things better?
Will: What's with the capitalisation of Make Things Better, is that one of your kind of things, or?
Tom: That's the name of the podcast - it's the Make Things Better podcast. Why did I come up with that name?
Tom: I think it's because at Hive our sort of main purpose or kind of tagline type thing is using technology to make a positive difference in our world, and I just needed like 3 words pretty much that would be quite sharp and to the point. 'Cause I think that's what we're all about as a company, is trying to make things better essentially. And it can also be interpreted either like making things better - as in making websites better, making apps better, and what else. But it can also be like making things better for people. So, yeah, I think that's how we came up with that.
Will: Ooh. That is a big question.
Tom: It is, it is.
Will: Yeah. Well. Okay. I think there are many things that we can do to make things better as organisations. I think that the first thing we can do is - I mean are you talking about marketing things or?
Tom: Interpret it how you like!
Will: Really? Okay, cool.
Tom: If you want to go down marketing, or you can go down the world as a whole, you can go down any route you like, you really can.
Will: Well. I think - I'll probably bring it back to marketing. I think that every brand and organisation would benefit from being themselves, from being authentic which I know is a massively overused word in the world of branding and marketing, and usually means nothing in fact.
But I do think that, I think that we've seen that so much in recent years with various things happening, all the way up to most recently like, the World Cup in Qatar. You know, events like that, like the World Cup, they push people, celebrities, brands, whoever, to really kind of have a thing about who they are and what they stand for. And, whether they like, you know, whether they want to publicly stand by something or not. And, you know what, people are increasingly looking to brands, charities, companies, they're increasingly curious about what's going on behind the scenes. I think there's been a bit of a - you know - an erosion of trust. My parents generation, they kind of just trusting everything was above board and legitimate, and now we realise that's not the case. Even in - I'm sorry to say, but even in the charity world, there's been a bit- There's now a bit more cynicism around what happens to that money you donate and what have you, and charities have to do a bit of work to reassure donors, don't they? That this money's all going in the right direction.
But similarly with companies, people are curious - okay what am I sponsoring here? When I buy your chocolate, your coffee, your cars, whatever it is. What am I sponsoring? Am I funding the solution here, or am I just funding more of the problem - whether it's environmental, whether it's social justice. So I think that more and more brands - a chocolate brand, Tony's Chocolonely I think do a great job of being very open about who they are and what they stand for. Patagonia, the fashion brand, have been doing this for years. One of the biggest examples of that. The Body Shop, now The Body Shop and Patagonia was, you know, 20 years ago were kind of weird hippy standout examples, but now more brands are taking that seriously, and kind of every big brand is in some way doing that, so. I think one way to make things better as a company is really work out your values and run your business unwaveringly by those values, the way that you hire, the way that you fire, the way that you work internally. And also how you treat your customers.
How you treat your staff will transfer onto how you treat your customers. If you treat your staff in a certain way, they will probably treat your customers in very similar ways. So it does transfer to the outside, how you run internally. It's- You're not in some sort of sealed bubble. So I suppose just, yeah making sure that you really run your organisation strictly by your values, and then in your marketing, you can actually lean on that, and. You don't need to apologise for that anymore - I think some organisations were worried that they'd you know, come across a bit too worthy or earthy or hippy or whatever it is. I think that time has gone, I think that's actually a strength. And, so that's one way to make things better.
And like I say, that goes back to hiring. The great thing about marketing is that anyone can do marketing, it's the reason why a lot of people kind of go into marketing. It's why I ended up in marketing, because I've just got a lot of the natural skills - I didn't study marketing, but I enjoyed being creative, and I enjoyed experimenting with that creativity, you know? And I think one way to make things better is acknowledge that and know that you don't always have to hire people from privileged backgrounds who've got fancy marketing degrees, there are lots of schemes where you can actually hire people who are in some way underprivileged, and may well have incredible creative skills, because those things largely can't be taught. So, look diversely for your people. And that - you know there's lots of research that backs up, that ultimately makes for a stronger organisation. And ones that are more representative of customers. So that's one way. I think that's it. Is that a bit- That's maybe a bit of a waffly answer, is it? Do you get what I'm getting at?
Tom: I think that's a great answer, yeah. I think- I don't know, if I'm interpreting it right it's kind of about really getting across what your organisation is based on the people that work there, the values that they have, and being as authentic as possible.
Will: To them. It's finding out- Sometimes some organisations have never actually found out who they are, or what their values are. So like, go and dig and find out and then when you find them, your happy with them and you've polished them a little bit, whatever, then just do everything - the way that you order stationery, all the way up to the way you do your biggest ad campaign. Do everything by those values, and people will see it, they will trust it, and the right people will be drawn towards it - both staff, but also customers, donors, supporters out there. They will just be drawn towards it, you will naturally- You know, people will self-select, and you'll draw in the right people. Whereas if you pretend to be something you're not, you'll just end up attracting the wrong people anyway so it doesn't work.
Tom: Yeah, yeah definitely. And, I think with our company, something I've learnt over the last year and something that my manager has said to me a few times is like, what we're kind of about as a company is kind of showing off the work of other people and celebrating their success and how they're making a difference in the world, so like the charities that we're working with, I mean they honestly are making big differences to people within the Sheffield community.
And so through our marketing, something that we want to do more is sort of celebrate what they're doing rather than show off about us as individuals, because it's not really who we are - we're not a very showy offy kind of company, we're not very corporate, we don't do big like competitions and try and win awards and all that sort of thing. But we are just like, happy that we get the opportunity to like work with local people who are doing great things, so. Yeah, I think that's something I've definitely taken away from that answer is actually, ah well, that's something that us as a company could do more, and definitely me and my role in marketing is sort of, get there out there even more to be honest. Yeah, that was a brilliant answer, and finally, where can people find you on social media, or anything like that? You've got the opportunity to give yourself a plug if you want to.
Will: Plug. Yeah, I'm at willfrancis.com and you can find everything I do there primarily. I'm also on LinkedIn as Will France, and Twitter @WillFrancis. I mean I'm @WillFrancis pretty much everywhere. But yeah, the main place is willfrancis.com. And if anyone wants to drop me a line and ask me about any of this stuff, you're totally free to do that. I will happily answer your questions for free about this stuff, I just enjoy hearing from people about their challenges and if I can help I will.
Tom: Awesome. Yeah. Thanks so much. Cheers for coming on, hope you at hope have enjoyed watching, listening, or reading this podcast, and I hope you have an amazing rest of your day.
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