How the power of Social Media helped spread the word of a charity, creating support and changing lives
My first guest on the Blog is Kristin Paterson, Director of Whole Lotta Life Foundation. She shares her insights and best practices on how the power of social media, and in particular Facebook, can spread the word of a charity to you adults diagnosed with cancer, creating an online support and community, and thus changing lives.
B!Social: Could you please tell us more about WLL?
Kristin: WLL was set up 4 years ago to provide support and community to young adults between the ages 20-45 diagnosed with cancer in New Zealand. When I was diagnosed, I only found a little community in the US called Stupid Cancer that provided me with support. As I was living in New Zealand, it was only computer based, but proved to be pretty invaluable.
B!Social: Why is Social Media such a powerful tool for WLL?
Kristin: It is invaluable to have online support, and helps hugely to eliminate those feelings of isolation. Sometimes when you are really sick, the only thing you can do is get from your bed to the couch. It is a great way to reach out, and it is important to connect with a community. Also the treatments are different overseas than in New Zealand, so I found it is good to reach out to others in the same country. This is why I created WLL, to make it easier for people to connect.
Also, when people feel well enough, they can bring these connections from the online world into the offline world. We organise retreats, regional meetups all around New Zealand where people can connect with each other and share their journey. So WLL is basically a catalyst, people find us online and then through us, they find each other.
B!Social: How do you find people, how do you reach your “target audience”?
Kristin: We definitely haven’t been able to use Facebook to it’s full potential. Since WLL launched 4 years ago, there has only ever been one or two people juggling the social media accounts while simultaneously wearing several other hats. We did some smaller marketing campaigns and ads that did bring results. Unfortunately we just don’t have money to put into Facebook advertising, but we would love to use it more in the future. So it has been all organic, and people find us through tagging other people. We started 4 years ago and now we have over 1000 followers.
B!Social: What is the big potential you see in Facebook and other social media?
Kristin: Our demographics is between 20-45 year old. Facebook is exactly their platform, they are there. Between the ages 25-45, there are twice as many women diagnosed with cancer as men, with the majority being breast cancer. Facebook and WLL line up really well in these terms. We are also on Twitter and Instagram but our followers are from much further afield than just NZ.
Also, we link now most of our events from our webpage to Facebook. All the information can be found on our website, but we announce them and link over to them from Facebook. It is easier to reach everyone like that.
The other thing I found very useful is using Messenger for our Regional NZ groups where we can send direct messages and communicate instantly with each participant. However, we are doing that with our personal profiles, not through the WLL page.
B!Social: Do you have any challenges?
Kristin: As the Charity grows, I feel the need to draw a line between “public figure” Kristin and “just me” Kristin who is working from her laptop in her PJs, who has 2 kids and a dog. Probably the best way for that will be to set up my own personal page.
B!Social: Tell us more about the big event that is generating a lot of buzz and basically going viral on Facebook in the Nelson community right now.
Kristin: Yes, it is going to be a huge fundraiser and a real fun event organised in The Granary on the 30th of September. We are hoping to raise a lot of awareness to help support young adults with cancer and their families in New Zealand, get donations and also give everyone a special evening out with a lot of fun and entertainment! It’s first and foremost a wonderful opportunity for the Nelson Community to come together and support our work.
I am so delighted that Your Tribe, Nelson’s leading women’s networking collective took up the initiative, organise the event for us as it takes off a lot of weight off my shoulders. The event is everywhere on Facebook now, people like it, share it with their friends and networks, it definitely bought us more attention and I am sure it will get even bigger after the event. (You can find the details of the event here.)
B!Social: It sounds awesome, we will be there live at the event!
My last question to you is: what would be your advice or message to people and new businesses that are just about to start their social media presence?
Kristin: Remember, people have come to your page for a community and not to be sold to. It is important to build that community, and to develop a voice online. I see a lot of pages that just advertise at you. I am inclined to turn them off personally. Facebook is also more casual. I think we can really get the best response when we are ourselves and develop a voice rather than sounding like a “big organisation”.
B!Social: Thank you Kristin! :)
Please also feel free to share this post with anyone who you think might benefit from it.
Hi, I'm Bea!