United Way is a worldwide not-for-profit organisation that supports social services locally. The organisation’s main area of work is the fight against local poverty by providing programmes and services and connecting people so they can solve local issues together.
United Way has been running an ongoing hashtag campaign with two intertwined hashtags, #UNIGNORABLE and #LocalLove.
One of the regional organisations, United Way Greater Toronto, has set up a social wall, which, we’re happy to see, the organisation is using in all kinds of ways.
The social wall is mostly focused on the #LocalLove hashtag and embedded on the UWGT website. But UWGT also uses the wall during events throughout the year and changes the sources and settings accordingly.
We talked to Maria Khan, Associate Manager of Social Media at UWGT, to find out how #UNIGNORABLE and #LocalLove tie in with each other and to talk about the role social media plays in social change.
Associate Manager of Social Media, UWGT
Can you tell us a bit more about the #LocalLove and #UNIGNORABLE campaigns?
Unignorable is drawing attention to the issues in our own local community. These issues negatively impact our communities by holding too many people back because of circumstances beyond their control. Left unchecked, they threaten the quality of life we all value.
These Unignorable issues aren’t someone else’s problems; as members of communities, they belong to all of us. Local Love is how we solve Unignorable issues.
We’re using #UNIGNORABLE to bring awareness to these issues with research-based content. We’re using #LocalLove to highlight all the work being done around our communities to help bring attention to and change these problems facing our communities.
Social walls are a big part of our strategy for our fundraising and donor recognition events. They help make our digital presence known and help encourage guests of our events to share their experiences with their networks online.
By making social walls a focal point of our events, guests are more likely to engage with our brand on social, and often this helps us to trend on Twitter. This strategy helps us reach more people than just those who are at our events and makes our brand messaging present in Twitter feeds across Greater Toronto and sometimes even across Canada.
We embed Walls.io on our website to display all the amazing engagement from across the region. This helps our supporters see themselves as part of the #LocalLove that is making issues like poverty and childhood hunger unignorable. It’s on display on an ongoing basis. At events, we display Walls.io on screens throughout the venue.
At a recent event, we also had a hashtag printer which allowed attendees to get their picture printed on site when they used the hashtag to post their image on social media. This helped encourage usage of the hashtag and gave us lots of great selfies for our Walls.io display on site.
In September, for the launch of our annual fundraising campaign, we had residents from across our region volunteer to show their local love. For this event, we provided each team of volunteers “Local Love kits” that included instructions to share their experience on social using #LocalLove.
We also provided props that would help display our branding front and centre in a natural and fun way in any shots from these volunteering events.
We also included #locallove in all our emails and had clear calls-to-action encouraging all participants to share their experiences digitally.
What are you planning to use Walls.io for in the future?
We’ll most likely be using Walls.io for our 2019 fundraising campaign launch in September and definitely for UP 2019, the CN Tower Climb for United Way. At this event, people from across our communities come together to climb the tallest free-standing structure in Canada to raise funds for our communities.
While they register, wait to climb, and once they return from the climb, they have the opportunity to show up on the large Walls projection that is in the centre of the pre- and post-climb area.
Social media plays a crucial role in impacting social change. It allows everyone the opportunity to share their voice with the world and raise awareness for important issues that matter to them.
As our organization covers a large geographical region, we need to ensure our content and events are accessible to as many of our supporters and clients as possible. This is what makes social media even more crucial for us.
And at events, social media activity ensures we have a larger footprint than just who is present in the room — essential in spreading our message and introducing our movement to even more people.
I really like seeing how the folks at UWGT are getting the most out of the social wall by adapting it to their changing needs. I especially like how they’re using one hashtag to draw attention to issues in the community and another hashtag to highlight the positive changes people are making in the very same community.
They simply adapt the social wall to the event their currently running. Meanwhile, the ongoing social wall embed on the website helps volunteers spread out over a large region feel connected throughout the year and not just at events.
UWGT mainly uses a free Walls.io wall to embed it on the website and upgrades the account for events. This is an easy way for non-profit organisations to keep costs down during the year and then put that money towards a paid subscription for events or other temporary uses.
We maintain a free version of Walls.io because we want everyone to be able to use our social walls. And because we want to be as flexible as our customers’ needs, paid Walls.io plans can be cancelled anytime and will revert to the Free plan.
There are many ways to motivate
The United Way campaign also stands out thanks to the many different ways they’ve found to promote the campaign and motivate people to use the hashtags.
The hashtag printer is a fantastic idea, for example. In a time where most of us only keep photos digitally, we place value on a printed photo. Being able to print out a selfie motivates event attendees to use the hashtag and post to the social wall.
Of course, props always help, and UWGT knows that. The “Local Love Kits” are taking this a step further, creating a neat little package that informs about the campaign and motivates people to post at the same time.
Instructions for how to post to a social wall are often overlooked in campaigns we see here at Walls.io. It can seem unnecessary to give directions, but they can be really helpful to take the hesitation out of campaigns and social walls. Promoting the hashtag and giving clear calls-to-action makes sharing easier.
And last but not least, a good campaign recognises opportunities. When do people reach for their phones and social media? A lot of the time it’s when they’re waiting for something. At the Tower Climb event, UWGT is giving people something to do while they wait for their turn to climb.