The impact of social enterprises on the overall economic landscape in Australia and worldwide is crucial – they broaden the job market, create a safe environment for inclusive employees, and drive sustainability forward. Such businesses state resolving pressing social issues as their aim – they fight against homelessness as well as protect minorities or disadvantaged youth.
Needless to say, by trying to combine making the world a better place with profitability, businesses are forced to face many challenges that make the proven ways to grow a social enterprise not quite efficient.
Challenges for social enterprise owners
Lack of governmental funding
Due to the tediousness of the registration procedure, most social enterprises are not classified as non-profits. This cuts businesses off of most governmental grants – CEOs and founders are forced to place emphasis on the pure enthusiasm of their employees – as a result, it’s a struggle to onboard a top marketer or hire Python programmer. For more details check mobilunity.com.
The lack of grants and third-party funding forces social enterprises to seek other revenue streams. It takes time and experience which most businesses (after all, a social enterprise is a nascent trend) don’t yet have.
Lack of talent
Most employees still view traditional enterprises as the main way to get a well-paid job. At their early development stage, social enterprises struggle to compete with VC-backed startups or famous companies. On the other hand, those who’re looking forward to proactively change the world, often join NGO teams and are either not aware of the social enterprise trend or don’t treat it seriously enough to contribute to the development of such a business on a daily basis.
Lack of exposure
While social enterprises are an appealing trend to local governments and policymakers, business owners quite often struggle to spread the word of their activities. Standing out in the crowd of better-budgeted businesses and learning the importance of online presence is another challenge social enterprises have to be prepared to face.
If a social enterprise owner manages to break through the informational barrier and spread the word about his project, it’ll solve other challenges described above. Let’s go over the most effective techniques of getting exposure for a social enterprise as well as the online presence definition.
Ways to get exposure for a social enterprise
Depending on your goals, budget, and skills on the team, there are different promotion strategies for a social enterprise to consider. Unlike a regular business, a social enterprise has the advantage of a message that would appeal well on social media, attract the attention of the local community and press.
How to build an online presence for a social enterprise? Here are some techniques you can try to get people to know and be passionate about your project.
1. Take care of your corporate website
While social media has started a myth that no one needs corporate websites anymore, knowing how to build a website is still important to a business owner uses while hunting employees, approaching investors, or talking to a potential client.
In order to spread awareness about your social enterprise, make sure your website looks the part – that it is well-built, describes the product (service) and the global aim behind it, gives a clear idea about your development pace, and allows clients and investors to be a part of your vision.
A good way to showcase your passion and vision is to start a blog on the website. Moreover, by posting the content optimized for search engine, you’ll get higher up in rankings and start attracting more organic traffic to the website without having to pay a cent.
2. Don’t underestimate networking
A strong community is one of the social enterprise’s main benefits. Many founders don’t mind supporting and cross-promoting each other. Don’t hesitate to go to conferences, charity events and spread the word about what you are doing. Chances are, you’ll find employees or potential clients as soon as you step into an environment with like minded people.
There are dozens of events regarding social enterprises that are hosted on a yearly basis in Australia. Be sure to check the Facebook “Events” tab while looking for a gathering to attend – it’s quite helpful, and most events are free.
3. Start a crowdfunding campaign
If you need more funding for a project to function properly, don’t sit around waiting for a governmental grant to show up. Instead, be confident enough to ask friends and contacts to fund your social enterprise. A crowdfunding campaign is helpful in several ways:
- You can learn how to present a project in clear and concise ways. Most crowdfunding platforms have a character limit when it comes to project descriptions. In order to not exceed it, you’d have to cut all the unneeded information leaving only pure substance.
- Crowdfunding platform managers are extremely helpful. When you’re posting a project for crowdfunding, the platform owners might help you to push it further by reposting the idea on their social media accounts or running an advertising campaign. While it wouldn’t be enough on its own to reach your funding goal, it can be a strong starting point at getting Internet presence.
- You have clear metrics to define your strategy’s success. If you see that a project is compelling and promoted well enough to get donations, it can be a strong confidence boost that’ll tell you’re on the right way. If not, you’ll still be able to see which promotion channels work better and which ones should be cut off. Moreover, you’ll get to know who among the target audience is more eager to contribute to the development of your enterprise.
4. Get active on social media
While your business most likely already has a page on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., it takes time and effort to attract followers to social media profiles. If you are bootstrapped for funds and aren’t yet ready to start targeting campaign, the easiest way to get followers is by getting socially active.
- Comment on influencer posts and in more active communities. Chances are, your comments will be interesting for like-minded people who’ll potentially become a share of your audience. Note that your comments should be genuine and not consist of self-promotion entirely.
- Tag influencers in your posts. It’s another way to get the attention of big players in the industry. Every once in a while, create posts with the words of praise to those whom you admire while tagging their accounts. Chances are, at least a few people out of the bunch will pay attention to your page, share or like a post, and become followers.
- Post regularly. If you have as much as a couple hundred followers, make sure to keep this audience active. Create posts where people can talk to each other about business or hobbies, networks, and bonds. Apart from business updates, don’t forget to share pieces of content relevant to your audience as well as crack a few jokes – humor plays well on social media and has a higher virality potential.
5. Start guest posting
As you’re running a social enterprise, there’s most likely a story behind it. Think about what led you to be solving a particular social issue, describe why you believe in its importance, and how your project is helping to target the problem.
Outline these ideas as an article pitch and start sending them out to online outlets. Most blogs are hungry for content and wouldn’t mind publishing your piece. Having said that, guest posting takes work, so it’s better to know a few tips before heading out.
- Reach out to press on social media. Pitching short article summaries on Twitter and LinkedIn is a good way to get the editor’s email and move to a productive conversation.
- Do a little research before pitching to reputable sources. That means finding out what are the topics of their latest guest posts and who are the author popularity and recognition of these pieces. Reflect on why this content got published and tweak your pitch so that it corresponds to the results of your findings.
- Get ready to follow up. Editors get dozens of guest post pitches on a daily basis – chances are, yours was simply unnoticed. There’s no harm in following up (without being annoying) as you might get the editor to pay more attention to your email.
- Hold to your grounds. Make sure to check on the way your text is published. If you want to follow a particular style or formatting, ask about it. When asking for a link, make sure it doesn’t have a “no-follow” attribute as this way, you’d have no traffic coming to the website.
The social enterprise market has been rapidly developing in Australia lately. According to the report issued by Map For Impact, social enterprises are providing a job for 12% Victorian residents alone. It’s noteworthy that organizations with a charity aim employ twice as many people with disabilities and female managers as the SMEs.
Promoting a social enterprise doesn’t come easy. Challenges like the lack of talent, experience, funding, or exposure can stand in a founder’s way. However, spreading awareness about a business with a goal to make the world a better place is not as challenging as it seems.
At the end of the day, all you need to do is to be eager to tell about the project to as many people as possible. There are different tools a business owner can use to spread awareness – a corporate website, social media accounts, networking, or a crowdfunding campaign, and each of those can pay off if used strategically and consistently.