Let’s Talk Marketing

Val Rathjen, Community Learning Network

1 4 14 January 2020

Marketing has been a topic that has come up a few times with CALPs in my region this fall. One of the strengths of our system is that we are all interested in building awareness of literacy needs in Alberta, in promoting our programs and sharing ideas and tips to build capacity in the system. 

I recognize that marketing is a huge topic, so lets just look at your online footprint. In the past months I have made it my goal to explore the websites and social media presence of each CALP organization in Alberta. That’s right, if you have a website, I’ve visited it, if you’re on Facebook, I’ve checked you out… So what did I learn?

CALPs across the province are doing some really neat things, like:

To sum up our CALP presence online:

  • 97% CALPs have websites
  • 95% have a Facebook page
  • 48% use Twitter
  • 43% are on Instagram

This is great news! We all know that people are looking to the internet to find learning and volunteering opportunities in their communities, so the fact that so many CALPs are present online is amazing. But, is it enough to simply have a website or Facebook page? The short answer is no, it’s not just about taking up space online. We must consider how to make that space effective and engaging. Here are a few things to think about:

We want to be:Social Media blog

Attractive: Is your online presence (website, Facebook, etc.) active and engaging? 

Clear: Is it clear what your purpose is, who you serve?

Accessible: Are you being mindful of your audience and posting things that they can engage with?

  • For example, do you include visual cues that could help someone who may have gaps in their reading or language skills

Current: Can learners easily find out about your upcoming learning opportunities (courses, tutoring, family literacy, etc)?

  • Is this list up to date?

Functional: Do all the links work? Can people view your information easily on their phone, tablet or computer?

Mobile Friendly: Can people access your website or social media on their phones or tablets and still navigate it easily?

I recognize that this list may feel daunting, especially when you are already juggling so many different responsibilities. So maybe take it one step at a time.  

1. Go take a fresh look at your website or Facebook page. Get some feedback from other staff, board members or volunteers. A quick way to update your online presence could be to share a success story from the past few months, honour a volunteer or share a learner story. But remember, always be sure you have explicit, informed consent before you share anyone’s image, words or personal story. Celebrating the amazing work you do is one way to engage people checking you out online.

2. Broaden your Facebook reach. I’d encourage you to connect with other CALPs that are active on Facebook. Friend each other, like, share, and comment on posts. See what others are posting and how they are promoting their programs. To get you started, I recommend you visit the CALP Portal and check out this Social Media discussion from 2017 (https://calp.ca/forum/?discussion=518). Many CALPs shared their Social Media info. You can also check out a great blog post by Shaba Qureshi – Social Media for Non-Profits (https://calp.ca/blog/social-media-for-nonprofits.htm).

3. Need a fresh approach to your promotion materials? I recently had a CALP staff share a free online tool that she uses to create posters, online posts and other promotional materials – Canva.com. This tool has enabled their CALP to create professional looking posters that can be shared through a variety of platforms at the push of a button. The site provides tutorials, blog posts to expand your understanding, and tons of options that you can customize to meet your needs.  

Canva.com is just one of many free online options. If you have tried something else, I would invite you to share your experience and suggestions with the rest of us by adding a comment to this post. There is nothing like first-hand experience from the field! Please join the conversation and share your tips and tools with the rest of us.

Val Rathjen
CLN East-Central Regional Support Staff


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