Digital Marketing, SEO and My Life as a 20-Something

Category: Social Enterprise Marketing

7 of the Best Free Online Resources to Learn About SEO

With SEO professionals in high demand and many marketing and communications people looking to at least understand and implement the basics, “How can I learn more about SEO?” is a question I’ve been asked a lot lately.

In my eyes, SEO is one of the coolest things in the world and I’ve been known to talk people’s ears off about it. For those of you who aren’t blessed (or tortured, sorry) with this opportunity, I’ve put together this list of some of my favourite, tried and tested online resources for learning about SEO and getting started in this wonderful, crazy part of the digital marketing industry.

My #1 Go To SEO Resource: Moz

Friday is the greatest day of the week. Not because it’s the end of the workweek, but because it means it’s time for a new Whiteboard Friday! I’m a reader so I’ll typically just read the transcription but for you visual and audio folk, every Whiteboard Friday includes a fantastic video sharing the latest tips, tricks and explainers on everything you need to know about SEO.

Whiteboard Friday is just one section of their excellent blog full of SEO resources, covering everything from local SEO and link building to technical SEO and crafting high-quality content. If you don’t choose to subscribe (highly recommended), this is definitely an SEO blog you need to be checking regularly.

Finally, Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO is a must-read. Divided into seven sections, the guide is an easy-to-understand yet comprehensive source of knowledge on everything you need to know about SEO from understanding how search engines work (absolutely critical for any aspiring SEO professionals) to conducting keyword research, a rundown of technical SEO and how to craft and implement an SEO strategy.

Search Engine Journal

A close second in my heart, this is the one e-newsletter I faithfully read every day. Search Engine Journal is a great resource not only for SEO, but paid search marketing, PPC and digital marketing in general.

Search Engine Journal is one of my most trusted resources to stay up-to-date on the constantly evolving world of SEO. From the latest algorithm updates (ugh) to new SERP features, I can always count on SEJ to keep me in the loop. Juggling multiple SEO and paid search campaigns doesn’t always leave much time for reading, so SEJ quickly shares what I absolutely need to know and alerts me to what I need to investigate in more depth.

In addition to industry news and updates, they also have a lot of fantastic guides and informational articles that are comprehensive yet quick and easy to understand. From beginners to seasoned pros, everybody can learn something about SEO from Search Engine Journal.

Search Engine Watch

Search Engine Watch is another excellent online publication to keep up with SEO and paid search knowledge and news. Similar to Search Engine Journal, they offer a great mix of the latest news and ongoing knowledge and tips to help you make the most of your SEO campaigns.

I don’t read Search Engine Watch as much as I used to due to time constraints and I find they don’t publish quite as much as SEJ, but it absolutely makes the list for those looking to learn about SEO.

Neil Patel

My man, Neil! Neil Patel’s blog is an excellent place for comprehensive, yet easy to digest videos and blogs containing excellent SEO tips and actionable advice.

If you have a question about SEO, Neil Patel has the answer. A notable shout out goes to his e-commerce SEO guide for helping me to quickly begin tackling that monster when the opportunity was unexpectedly presented.

Looking for tips on how to write the best titles and meta descriptions for your blog posts? Here’s your case study.

Google Webmaster Central Blog

Get your news straight from the horse’s mouth. If you do any work with SEO or websites you need to be following Google Webmaster Central.

While a lot of what they share is technically oriented and may only be relevant to developers or technical SEO specialists, if you’re not in the loop with Google then you could be missing out on key updates and knowledge that could have a serious negative impact on your site if you’re left behind.

Think With Google

While not an SEO-specific resource, Think With Google shares fabulous and timely marketing insights. When done well, SEO shouldn’t exist in a silo, so good marketing knowledge and insights are always relevant for SEO.

SEO is a whole world waiting to be discovered. SEO covers very specific goals and tactics, and it can also be seen as a very broad concept that can and should be integrated into all aspects of website development and content and digital marketing. It can be overwhelming to figure out where to start, but even implementing basic search engine optimization practices can generate huge results for your blog, website and business.

I love SEO and I feel so lucky to have ended up in this part of the digital marketing industry. I hope these resources serve as a useful starting point for you to learn about SEO and begin your journey down the fascinating, fast-paced, occasionally anxiety-inducing rabbit hole that is search engine optimization.

Are there any more resources you’d add to this list? Any burning questions about SEO you need answered? Leave a comment or connect with me online and let me know!

The Best Of…Social Enterprise Marketing Resources

Over the last few weeks we’ve talked about what a social enterprise is, why marketing a social business is a little bit different, best practices for marketing your social enterprise and a fabulous social business brand example. Hopefully, you’re feeling inspired with some tangible ideas to improve or get started on your social enterprise’s marketing.

Today, it’s time to hand out some awards for the best social enterprise resources out there. These tools and resources will help you achieve marketing success, and hopefully save you some time and money along the way. Happy marketing!

The academy (errr, I) would like to congratulate the winners in the following categories.

 

Best Resource To Learn about Social Enterprise Branding

Brand the Change book

Brand the Change

 

Without this book introducing me to this world, this post wouldn’t exist. Brand The Change by Anne Miltenburg is an excellent resource for marketers and social entrepreneurs, whether they are building a brand from scratch or looking to strengthen their existing brand. The book provides a helpful mix of actionable steps, real world examples and anecdotes and exercises to help you bring the book’s wisdom to life. The information is clearly presented in an easy-to-digest manner that doesn’t require a marketing or business degree to understand. I ordered it when the new edition first came out so it took a while to arrive from the Netherlands, but it was absolutely worth the wait!

 

Best Website for Social Entrepreneurship and Business Planning Resources

MaRS Social Enterprise Resource

MaRS

 

As one of the world’s largest innovation hubs, MaRS has a wealth of online resources available about all aspects of social business from business planning to legal issues and everything in between. You can browse their extensive library of articles and videos or enroll in their Entrepreneurship 101 online course. For those in the Toronto area, you can take advantage of their workshops, events, funding or job board.

 

Best Online Courses – Marketing

 

HubSpot Academy to learn about marketing

HubSpot Academy

 

HubSpot is not a social business focused resource, but it is one of my go-to places to learn new marketing skills. They have a large collection of free articles, videos and courses about various aspects of marketing from social media marketing to inbound marketing. HubSpot also offers certifications so you can prove and display your newfound marketing knowledge. If you’re looking for a CRM or marketing stack for your social enterprise, HubSpot is one of the options you should consider.

 

Best Online Courses – Social Entrepreneurship

+Acumen Online Learning

+Acumen

 

With a mission “to provide anyone, anywhere the skills and community to drive social change” +Acumen offers free and paid online courses for social entrepreneurs and change makers. The courses are both on demand and scheduled on a wide range of topics including social entrepreneurship, human centered design, leadership, business planning, social finance and more! Having taken their Social Entrepreneurship 101 course, I can vouch for the quality of this online learning experience. If you want to learn more about social enterprise marketing and social business planning, +Acumen is the place to go.

 

Okay, enough learning! The tools below will help with your day-to-day marketing activities.

 

Best Social Media Management Tool

Hootsuite for social business social media management

Hootsuite

 

Entrepreneurs often complain they don’t have enough time for marketing. With Hootsuite, you can make the time for marketing by managing your social media platforms in one place. Hootsuite also lets you schedule posts in advance (amongst many other awesome features!) to save time and plan out your social media messages in one sitting. If you want to learn how to use Hootsuite or improve your social media marketing, the Hootsuite Academy offers excellent free courses and certifications (for a fee) in these areas.

 

Best Tool For Easy Graphic Design

Graphic design for social entrepreneurs

Canva

 

Can I use Photoshop? Yes. Do I usually just go to Canva because it’s so easy to use? Also yes. Canva’s easy-to-use and free platform means you can create beautiful graphics for your social business without being or paying a graphic designer. You can make images in all different sizes with one of their templates or start from scratch. While Canva is free, they do have paid options if you want to take your creations up a level. If you want to learn a bit about design, you can use the free Canva Design School.

 

Best Content Management System for Your Website/Blog

Best CMS WordPress

WordPress

 

Whether you use the easier WordPress.com or go full-in with WordPress.org, WordPress is my go to content management system, and not just because it’s a free, open source software! WordPress is extremely user friendly for all users from beginners to expert web developers, and offers many different theme, structure and hosting options to meet any social business’ needs. Need more proof of how awesome WordPress? Well, WordPress powers 32% of all sites on the internet, so they must be doing something right!

Well, this is it! As I wrap up my blog series on social enterprise marketing, I hope you are now equipped and confident with not just the knowledge, but the tools and resources you need to help your marketing and social business succeed. Social entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart; I wish you the best as you continue on your adventure and look forward to seeing the change your social business will create in our world.

Have you used any of these resources? Are there any good social enterprise marketing resources that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!

Social Enterprise Brand Feature: Who Gives A Crap

In my previous post, I talked about how social entrepreneurs can create strong social business brands and effective marketing campaigns. This week I’ll be highlighting a social enterprise who’s brand and marketing activities put all of my social enterprise marketing best practices into action. (DIdn’t read my last post? Don’t worry. Scroll to the bottom of this page for a checklist that will get you caught up!) Who Gives A Crap is a fantastic social enterprise with a unique, memorable brand and an important social mission. Keep reading to learn more about them, their work and their marketing!

Introducing Who Gives A Crap

Who Gives A Crap is a social enterprise that sells toilet paper. Yes, you read that right, toilet paper! When their founders learned that 2.3 billion people in the world (about 40% of the global population) don’t have access to a toilet, they were inspired to act. Who Gives A Crap sells toilet paper made from environmentally friendly products, with 50% of their profits donated to non-profits working to improve access to toilets, clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in developing countries.

Who Gives A Crap Toilet Paper

Their Brand

I fell in love with Who Gives A Crap’s branding the moment I saw it. The funny, attention grabbing name. The bright and eye-catching, yet simple colours and design. The humorous brand voice. This unique, colourful branding remains consistent across their website, product packaging and social media accounts so you always know what to expect. When I discovered Who Gives A Crap, I knew I had to include them in this article because they are such a memorable, unique brand.

Their Product and Packaging

As I mentioned above, Who Gives A Crap sells primarily toilet paper, but also other household products such as tissues and paper towels. They offer a high-quality product comparable to, if not better than traditional toilet paper brands (they were Australia’s #1 toilet paper, after winning the award for most satisfied customers in Canstar Blue’s 2017 toilet paper review!). As far as pricing goes, it wouldn’t beat the bargain brands but has a reasonable and competitive price point that makes it a strong contender when shopping for toilet paper. They even have a subscription service so you can get your toilet paper delivered to your doorstep.

Each toilet paper roll is individually wrapped in paper packaging with a colourful design. Their customers often share pictures of their toilet paper rolls on social media…I can’t say I’ve ever seen that for any other toilet paper brand! Beyond being eye-catching and insta-worthy, wrapping each roll individually in paper helps them avoid using plastic packaging (which we all know is bad for our earth).

Their Digital Marketing

Who Gives A Crap is not a social business who is afraid of marketing; they have an excellent website and use both social media and e-mail marketing. Who Gives A Crap does an effective job of balancing sharing and leveraging their social impact story with putting their product first in their marketing messages. Visitors to their website are certainly aware of the positive impact the product has beyond meeting their own needs. As they say themselves, “Good for the world, good for people, good for your bum.” But their value proposition is not centred on the social impact, it is simply an added bonus of the customer’s purchase.

Who Gives A Crap keeps their colourful and humorous brand consistent across all of their digital marketing platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. They share both owned and curated content with a focus on being funny. They utilize lots of images and graphics that stick to their colourful brand, often using their own products and packaging in the posts themselves (sometimes with a dog thrown in!). In the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom they use paid social media ads that focus on driving conversions by advertising free shipping on most orders and sharing their subscription service.

Who Gives A Crap isn’t afraid to be funny! This humorous tone is consistent across all of their marketing channels.

 

Transparency

While they may not make their model of change their unique selling point (remember, that’s good!), they do an excellent job of being transparent about their model of change, their business activities and their social impact. In clear and easy to understand language, they explain and provide proof of how much they donate to charity and what it’s for and how their product and packaging itself minimizes its impact on the environment. They also explain how the 50% of their profits that are not donated to charity are used to grow the business. In addition, Who Gives A Crap shares regular social impact reports that go into more detail about company activities and how they are creating a positive change in our world.

The Verdict

Overall, I definitely give a crap about Who Gives A Crap! Their colourful, humorous brand pulled me in and stuck in my mind. I really felt that while buying their toilet paper would support a great cause, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be getting a high-quality product that would meet my needs just as well (if not better) than anything I would find in a local store. What more can you ask for from your toilet paper?

This post was supposed to highlight multiple social enterprise brands, but Who Gives A Crap is such a great brand example that I just couldn’t stop writing about them. Their unique and consistent brand, excellent digital marketing strategies and transparent business practices and model of change are an A+ example of good social enterprise marketing that all social entrepreneurs should learn from . Keep up the great marketing Who Gives A Crap!

Social Enterprise Brand Marketing

Does your social enterprise use these marketing best practices? It’s never too late to get started!

 

6 Best Practices for Marketing Your Social Enterprise

This is the second post in a four-part series where I explore marketing and branding in the social enterprise industry. Don’t miss out on part one where I define social enterprise, week three where I feature an awesome social enterprise brand and week four where I wrap it up with some useful marketing resources.

You’re ready to make a change in the world, and you’ve created the social enterprise to do it. Now, how do you spread the word? Keep reading for 6 best practices you can easily implement to effectively market your social enterprise and create a sustainable, long-term business that will change the world.

1. Be a business-first; focus on your product or service

Let’s start with a little math; social enterprise – social = enterprise. Too many social impact businesses rely on pulling on heartstrings to make sales. This can be an effective short-term strategy but is rarely sustainable long-term.

Market yourself as a business first, and then use your social impact story to complement and amplify your marketing message. Do some market research, identify your target market and create a marketing strategy and implementation plan. Then, hold yourself accountable to make it a reality.

It’s important to ground your social business marketing strategy in the core principles of marketing. This means creating a high-quality product or service, identifying your target market, pricing it appropriately (if you have a higher price point than competitors, you need to justify it with more than just your social mission!) and using the best distribution and marketing channels to reach and sell to consumers.

2. Don’t just tell your social impact story. Showcase it!

It’s one thing to tell your story, it’s another thing to truly showcase it to the rest of the world. Combined with the business-first approach to marketing as discussed above, a powerful story can create magnetic marketing that draws in consumers to power your social enterprise for the long term.

How can you showcase your story in an effective way?

Visuals and Videos

In today’s digital and mobile world, visuals are a key part of modern marketing. Showcase both your product as well as the benefit of your social enterprise through pictures, videos and graphics. This will help consumers understand, connect with and hopefully support both your product and the positive change your business creates.

Not a graphic designer? With free, user-friendly tools like Canva you can be!

Numbers

So, you claim to make an impact? Prove it!

Numbers help communicate your story and can also build your trust and credibility, all of which contribute to effective social enterprise marketing and building a sustainable operation.

social enterprise video marketing

The world is on their phones, watching videos. Will they be watching your social enterprise?

3. Be transparent

This is part of telling your story, but in social business marketing this deserves its own point. What is your impact? Do you use volunteers? What organizations do you donate money to, and how much? Who are your suppliers?

Being transparent builds credibility. A spectacular marketing campaign won’t get a response if nobody trusts you. Individuals increasingly demand transparency from socially responsible organizations. If you are transparent from the start you will build trust, and with time, a bigger audience and group of loyal customers.

You also need to be clear on what your model of change is. Consumers want to see that your profits really are creating a meaningful impact. If what you’re doing for the world and how you go about it isn’t clear, don’t expect consumers to open their wallets for you.

4. Utilize digital marketing – strategically

Digital marketing can be a very effective and cost-efficient marketing medium, but it can be easy to fall victim to the belief that a business needs to be present on every online platform.

The key to choosing the best digital marketing platforms is to think about your target audience. Who are they? Where do they spend their time? What type of content and topics are they interested in? Ask yourself these questions, and the platforms you need to be on should become crystal clear.

If there’s one digital marketing platform that you must have, it’s a high-quality website with your own domain. High-quality does not have to equal high-cost, thanks to many easy to use and free or low-cost templates and website builders.

You should also ensure that your website is optimized for SEO to improve its chances of being seen in search engines. While a website does not need to be a large expense, it is your social enterprise’s digital home. If you only have a small budget for marketing, SEO is where you should be spending it.

social enterprise

No matter the cause or budget, every social enterprise needs to have a website. Don’t forget SEO!

5. Build a consistent social enterprise brand

Branding does not have to be an extensive or expensive endeavour. But investing a small amount of time into developing your brand will go a long way.

Beyond the basic branding activities of choosing a name and creating a logo and colour scheme, the best thing to focus on is brand consistency. While your messages need to be tailored for each platform and its audience, you still need consistency, especially as most customers will encounter your messaging across multiple platforms and mediums.

To build a strong brand, keep your colours and logo consistent. Use similar and predictable tone and language. If there’s more than one person creating and managing external communications, you may want to make a style guide to keep everybody on the same page.

As your social business grows, building a strong brand is something you should dedicate more time and money to. Until you reach that point, consistency is the best thing you can do to develop a trustworthy and memorable brand.

6. Don’t be afraid to spend money on marketing

A misconception that seems to carry over from the charitable sector is that social impact organizations need to spend less on overhead costs, including marketing. Some people think that any money not spent directly creating social change is money wasted.

Similar to the saying ‘you need to spend money to make money’, you need to spend money to create change. To create social change, you need to leverage a marketing strategy to let the world know what you’re doing and how they can support your business and social mission.

For social entrepreneurs without a background in marketing, taking on the task of marketing a social business can be overwhelming. Even hiring a marketer or outsourcing it can be daunting if you’re not familiar with what your marketing needs are. Even for experienced marketers, social impact businesses still present a challenge in finding that optimal balance between product and story (often on a limited budget).

But in the end, social enterprise marketing doesn’t have to be as complicated as it may seem. By implementing these 6 best practices and making the most of our social enterprise marketing resources, you’ll be well on your way to running a successful social enterprise marketing campaign that will help generate long-term business, and social change, for years to come.

Social Enterprise…What Does It Really Mean?

 

This is the first in a four-part series where I explore marketing and branding in the social enterprise industry. Today’s post demystifies the world of social enterprise and lays the groundwork for digging in from the marketing angle. Check back on Tuesday for part two!

Social enterprise. Charity. Social innovation. Corporate social responsibility. Non-profit. Social impact. Systems change…if you have a desire to make our world a better place, then you’re probably familiar with these terms. You’ve used them yourself, you’ve probably donated time or money to organizations who label themselves as such. But do you really understand what these terms mean? Does anybody really know what they’re all about?!

Keep reading as I lay out for you what a social enterprise really is, what a social enterprise is not and why marketing for a social enterprise needs to be approached a bit differently.

First Thing’s First: What is NOT a social enterprise?

Before we get into definitions, let’s start off by clarifying what is not social enterprise. They may have elements of social innovation or social change, but the organizations and activities below are not social enterprises.

  • A non-profit organization or charity that is funded through donations, grants, government funding and/or service or membership fees
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Social programs
  • A non-profit that charges a fee for membership or goods/services offered
  • A business that donates to charity
charity donation box

If an organization is funded primarily by donations, then it is NOT a social enterprise

So, What IS a Social Enterprise?

Social entrepreneurship as a whole can be described as any sort of entrepreneurship or business that creates social value or seeks to address social issues. Therefore a social enterprise, in its broadest sense, is an entity with profit-generating activities that simultaneously work to affect positive social change.

But if only it were that simple! There about as many definitions as there are social enterprises, also known as social businesses. This is due to the varied nature of social business activities, with many different social missions and models of change, numerous revenue models and various legal structures (which are different in each country or jurisdiction). I won’t be getting into these nuances, as this is ultimately about marketing. Now, what are others saying about social enterprise?

The BC Centre for Social Enterprise says:

“Social enterprises are revenue-generating businesses with a twist. Whether operated by a non-profit organization or by a for-profit company, a social enterprise has two goals: to achieve social, cultural, community economic and/or environmental outcomes; and, to earn revenue.” -BC Centre for Social Enterprise

MaRS’ definition takes a more nuanced approach, with a distinction between social enterprise and social business. In MaRS’ view, social enterprises are strictly part of a non-profit organization, while social businesses are “commercial for-profit entities, created by social entrepreneurs to address social issues. SPBs maintain their social purpose at the core of their operations, while existing in the market economy and delivering shareholder value.”

A social enterprise, according to MaRS, is:

“ Social enterprises are revenue-generating entities generally owned and operated by a non-profit organization (which may or may not also have charitable status). Since there are no shareholders, any profits from the operation are re-invested into the work of the organization.” -MaRS

Is your understanding of social enterprise more clear now? Great, now let’s throw one more thing into the social change mix…corporate social responsibility.

Are Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Enterprise the Same Thing?

Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Enterprise often look similar, but don’t be fooled! They are two separate activities that should not be confused.

How do you distinguish between them? It’s important to ask what the role of social change is in the organization as a whole. If social change is their primary goal, then they are a social enterprise. If financial profit and delivering financial value to their shareholders is their primary activity and purpose, with social impact as a secondary or less important activity, then they are simply engaging in corporate social responsibility.

How can you determine this? Remove the social impact activities from the organization’s operations. What’s left? If removing the social impact activities removes all or most of the organization’s operations and revenue, then they would be a social business. If removing the social impact activities leaves a fully functioning and profitable operation, then what they do for the world is simply corporate social responsibility.

volunteers corporate social responsibility

Many organizations have their employees volunteer in the community. This is a great form of Corporate Social Responsibility

Is Social Enterprise Marketing Any Different From Business or Non-Profit Marketing?

If you take away the ‘social’ then you’re left with ‘enterprise’, so wouldn’t the regular rules of marketing apply?

Yes…and no.

Social businesses have incredible, unique stories that can and should be shared with the world. Stories are excellent for raising awareness of important causes, as well as brand awareness and driving sales. A social enterprise should never shy away from telling their story and sharing their impact.

But their story, I would argue, is not their value proposition. It cannot be their unique selling point. Pulling on heartstrings and making people feel good may encourage initial sales, but if the product or service you offer isn’t of high-quality or isn’t priced appropriately, will they repeat that purchase? Some will, but many won’t. And that doesn’t bode well for the long run.

To be truly sustainable long-term, social entrepreneurs need to find an optimal balance between their model of change and a high-quality end product that is competitive in the market against other businesses lacking a social mission.

As far as marketing goes, social business marketers must put product and quality first in their marketing strategy and use their story as additional leverage instead of making it the core value proposition or marketing message.

social enterprise marketing product

To succeed in marketing a social enterprise, you need to put your product first, and then tell your incredible story

 

Social enterprises are on the rise, with many social entrepreneurs finding new ways to apply business principles to social problems. Social innovation has existed for centuries. Now, the increasing number of social businesses are creating new models of change and having a positive impact on millions of lives around the world. As social entrepreneurs market their businesses and causes, they need to find a better balance between leveraging their stories and putting their product first to create sustainable business models that will expand and sustain their positive impact that our world needs.

How can they find this optimal balance? Stay tuned for next week’s post as I dive further into the world of marketing for social enterprises with best practices and strategies for building a social enterprise brand and marketing it successfully.

Sources

https://www.centreforsocialenterprise.com/what-is-social-enterprise/

https://socialenterprisestuff.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/charity-vs-social-entrepreneurship-5-differences/

https://www.marsdd.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/MaRSReport-Social-Enterprise_2012.pdf

https://www.innov8social.com/2016/07/difference-csr-social-enterprise

https://www.marsdd.com/mars-library/social-enterprise-business-models/

https://www.marsdd.com/mars-library/being-a-social-entrepreneur/

https://www.innov8social.com/2016/07/difference-csr-social-enterprise