How supporting local causes provides a massive ROI for SMEs

Dolls on the globe

Why Small Businesses Should Donate to Local Charities

Maybe you’re reading this because you’ve have had a request to support a local charity and you’re not sure whether it’s a good way to boost your marketing effort.

In terms of ROI – it really is a no-brainer. It’s a cheaper form of advertising often without actually having to spend much cash.

A Foresters survey in the UK found that 89% of consumers think businesses should support charities and their local communities.

82% said that when offered a choice between identical products or services, their purchasing decision would be affected by whether a company engaged with charities and its local community. Yes that said 82%. That’s eight out of ten cats folks.

It makes sense for a local business to choose to support a local charity both in terms of visibility and reach – local people are at local fundraisers.

Estate agents are pretty canny with this – they frequently pay to have “for sale” boards erected around a local community stating how they’re sponsoring the local fete. Great publicity for them and drives traffic to the event. Win Win.

Product based businesses can find a home for an otherwise unusable end of line item easily by offering it as a prize. Service based businesses can offer vouchers – again bearing in mind that he UK Gift Card & Voucher Association reckon that  as many as ten per cent of cards expire, are forgotten about – or simply lost once won. The business still retains the kudos of having offered the prize. Plus, it’s perfectly acceptable to attach terms and conditions to a prize (e.g a restaurant donates a free meal but winners must buy drinks  or a venue donates an off-peak weekday birthday party).

So,  have some pretty cards printed up “kindly donated by  your business  with the company logo and attach to the prize. It can be as small as a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine. As they say “every little helps.” Of course if you can afford to be more generous, your charity will raise more and will of course be more grateful.  And don’t forget, smaller charities massively value any corporate sponsor – you won’t just be one of many.

Budget cuts and the credit crunch have had biggest impact on local charities so your help will make a really big difference.

Plus you’ll get more bang for your buck. This is because a higher percentage of the value of your offering will go the work of the charity because local causes tend to have much lower overheads.

Of course in return for your donation (no matter how small)  a chosen charity should have active accounts on social media,  a decent website which can feature their donors and good relations with the local press to shout about fundraising activities.

I can’t recommend this enough. By visibly supporting local charities like this, a particular business can become synonymous with supporting the community in the minds of local people.

From a personal perspective it certainly boosted Gingham Cloud’s visibility as a fledgling business when we paid to sponsor the entertainment at a local black tie fundraiser.

Are you looking for help with your fundraising and marketing efforts? Do get in touch and we can arrange a coffee to see how we can help.

Takeaways from Social Day UK 2017

Social Day was a one day event in London bringing together a variety of experts who shared their knowledge and expertise. Here’s what we learnt.

It’s all about storytelling

Janet Murray explains how press and tv coverage add “bling” to your website and your credibility

Janet Murray PR expert gave us tips on how to get use social media to obtain press coverage in the traditional print media. This in turn provides a business with credibility and so can make a dramatic difference in sales. Check out the hashtag #journorequest on Twitter to see if any journalists are looking to talk to someone like you. Her basic advice though? Share the story others want to hear, not the story YOU want to tell.

If you want to really capture attention, stories are where it is at, explained Snapchat specialist Sumaiya Omar. She provided a very powerful (if hard to watch) demonstration of the impact of how video and stories can provide insight that doesn’t come from any other medium by showing us footage from Rania Ibrham’s harrowing video as she and her neighbours tried to flee the fire on the 23rd floor of Grenfell Tower.  She also advised that video is super easy to repurpose if you shoot with Snapchat’s spectacles so watch this space on that.

Video video video

We all keep reading how important it is to go live and yet we’re all embarrassed to put ourselves out there. This week I felt the fear and did it anyway, thanks the charismatic Garry aka The Optician Social Media Guy.  I learnt that actually I’m probably better off doing an interview based format. But the real top tip on going live came from SuperPeriscoper and serial live broadcaster MrASingh.  Think about your content first. Don’t worry about how many followers or viewers you have when you’re live. If you’re going to feel dejected and depressed by seeing how few people are watching, put a post-it note or some blu-tac over the viewer numbers. This allows you to just focus on offering something interesting for people. (Often many people view later rather than live anyway, so this really is great advice to concentrate on adding value with what you’re actually saying.


Twitter handle embroidered on shirt cuffs. Love this.

It’s not enough to be liked.

The keynote from the super energetic founder of Youpreneur Chris Ducker claimed that it’s not enough to be liked – you have to be people’s favourite. He also reminded us how important it is to avoid being distracted by  shiny things.
His secret? FOCUS –  Follow One Course Until Success

Follow One Course Until Success – FOCUS


Twitter’s Bruce Daisley gave us a few key stats on the microblogging platform. Twitter now describes itself as a news app. Users go on to Twitter with a discovery mindset and this means that they are more attentive, responsive and more trusting than on other platforms. This can easily be summed up in this cartoon.

Virtual Reality specialist Sarah Jones was saying that the beauty of a VR is that it’s an immersive experience and so its stories are much deeper. The fact that you’re in a headset means that you can’t be “second screening”. That’s the technical term for what we all do, with one eye on House of Cards, and the other on your weekend plans in your WhatsApp groups. It’s this focus that makes VR valuable and exciting.

Victoria Taylor from UntwistedSocial Media is all about the bubbles. Not prosecco -though I think she likes that, too!. But using the DM facility on Instagram and FB messenger to get in touch with people. All part of the  know/like/trust cycle which  ultimately drives sales.

Speaker of the day for me, by far,  was the irrepressible Growth Hacker Vin Clancy who  just shared so much value, it’s going to be a blog post all of its own. Watch this space for more.

3 fail safe strategies to make the most of a big event like the #Oscars without making a #pwcfail

trending with hashtag

So the truth has come out – it turns out that Bryan Cullinan, PwC partner in charge of envelopes at the Oscars (R) was responsible for the mix up over Best Picture and it was he who managed to hand over the wrong envelope to Hollywood legends Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty.

Cullinan had spoken to HuffPost on the mechanics of the evening, and there was a BBC piece focusing on how he and fellow PwC partner Martha Ruiz memorise the winners, and enjoy their red carpet moment.

Throughout the run up to the event  evening, he had tweeted including with throwback photos of last year’s photobombs on the red carpet using the PwC hashtag.

And just moments before Beatty hesitated, re-checked the envelope and then rather unchivalrously allowed Dunaway to spill the wrong beans, Cullinan tweeted an exclusive backstage shot of Emma Stone with her statuette….

BUT perhaps this is the problem – perhaps the multitasking and pressure to get as much out of the event in terms of social media output was his downfall.

So I’m sharing my three super easy strategies to making the most of a BIG trending event without landing yourself in hot water

1 Think ahead of time about what you want to achieve – do you really want or need your own trending hashtag?  In PwC’s case they are seen as a boring accountancy firm and this was their chance to shine and glitter and showcase that they do other things outside of audit. BUT with the best will of the world, nobody (outside of other employees at the firm) was using the #pwc hashtag on Oscar night. (until it all went wrong)

2 Of course use your phone for pics and videos – of course but remember, you can showcase exclusive behind the scenes stuff AFTER the event and still take advantage of trending hashtags – be sure to plan to leave time to pull together a best bits blogpost at the end of an event.

3 Finally, make sure that you focus on the task at hand. Of course, it’s helpful to document what you’re doing but the key component is be present for the people around you. This way you can give all your attention to the real reason you’re at the event.

If you’re looking for help with your social media strategy, do get in touch.


Surprising statistics: sneak peek in advance of the Academic Archers conference

This week, I’ve mainly been preparing for my presentation at the  Second Academic Archers conference which will be held this weekend at the University of Lincoln.

This is my full abstract.

Communications specialist Olivia Vandyk will illustrate how social media can help rural business.  

The presentation studies known online activity in Ambridge. It will highlight the perceived and potential social media practices of a variety of residents to give an example of what can be achieved, touching on the various networks and technology that can enhance the personal and professional lives of all, whether poultry smallholder or publican. 

While the focus is mainly on commercial case studies including The Ambridge Tearoom; the session will provide valuable insight to anyone with a smartphone. 

The conclusion that social media can help foster feelings of community suggests that the Borsetshire populace should take immediate measures to advance their online activities.

In its research I found a huge amount of social media statistics, particularly pertaining to rural businesses, so I thought I’d give a sneak peek in advance of the conference.

The Mum Economy, for example, added £7.2bn to the UK’s coffers in 2014, supporting over 204,000 -many of them digital entrepreneurs.

Two thirds of the UKs population now own a smartphone.

80% of all UK adults are using the internet every day.

37% of UK people check social media “several times” a day.

I did find a cracking stat, that some people are checking Facebook up to twenty times a day but I just couldn’t verify it anywhere and so didn’t use it.  I may conduct my own research into this.

A 2010 study found that interacting directly (tagging a photo or  writing on a wall)  with friends on Facebook increased feelings of wellbeing and sociability.

A study by Sociologist Nicholas Christakis states that social networks offer benefits, not just for us as individuals in the network, but for the community as a whole. They can apparently: – Foster trust and reciprocity, Facilitate the flow of altruism and generosity, Contribute to lower crime rates, Promote better public health and indeed Support reduced political corruption. That’s a huge list of benefits.

My favourite stat though, showing Mark Zuckerberg’s continued dominance despite his memo today is this one:

Worldwide, as of January 2017,  at 1.86 billion, Facebook has more monthly active users than WhatsApp (500 million), Twitter (284 million) and Instagram (200 million)—combined.

Stay tuned for more on the events of the AcademicArchers conference but if you’re thinking you really do want to align your social media strategy, don’t hesitate to get in touch.








Why Community Manager Appreciation Day applies to everyone


When people ask me what I do, I tell them I run my own company and that I”m a communications specialist — it’s sort of PR (darling).

Fundamentally I’m a people person — I’m compassionate and curious about other people’s lives — it’s why I initally went into magazine journalism. When I was approached over a decade ago by Justine Roberts, CBE and Carrie Longton, to help with their venture I didn’t know anything about parenting other than being quite an enthusiastic aunt to seven nieces and nephews.

Since then, I have served as a community manager on the boards of Mumsnet helping make parents’ lives easier on a huge variety of topics that affect women on all levels from breastfeeding to Brexit. It’s a cross between being an air traffic controller and Chloe from CTU. I’ve had four children of my own and now know more about Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig than any adult not involved in the production company ever should.

Managing a community is about making sure that you’re always honest, transparent and empathetic to the concerns of the people in your tribe. Mumsnetters generally like it when I’m around because I understand what they’re going through — I’ve been there too. But even if that’s not the case, it’s important to look at your clients and look at where their pain points are and see how you can help.

What can you do to help your community of existing and potential clients? How can you make them crave what you do? Perhaps you can bring them value? In the case of Mumsnet, that value comes in failsafe parenting tips from people who’ve been there, done that, and got the stained t-shirt and the online companionship in doing so — knowing that there are other mothers out there who don’t know what heck to cook for supper again!

In the case of a consultancy business you can be sure to put yourself top of their call list by ensuring that you’re looking at upcoming events and being ahead of the game — and bringing them something that your competitors aren’t.

This is the best way to make people know, trust, and ultimately buy from you.

Thoughts on Blue Monday 

The ingenious invention of a PR team trying to sell holidays back in 2005, the apparent formula for Blue Monday links to the number of days since pay day, the likelihood of falling off the wagon of any New Year’s Resolutions and the dreary weather plus the supposedly most depressing day of the week. 

And, lo, it has become a fixture in the editorial calendar. 

So, should you pay any attention to fixed days like this?  PR guru Janet Murray is wise in her advice to beware awareness days as when seeking a hook for journalists, it’s often not enough. 

But for a marketing plan or as an opportunity to jump on a trending hashtag, it’s folly to ignore what people will be discussing anyway. 

As long as you ensure your content educates and entertains and is consistent, then you’ll be on to a winner. 

As for being the most depressing day of the year? I say get up; get coffee; get on with it.

If you’d like to meet for coffee to discuss how to keep your content relevant please get in touch.

Gingham Cloud 9: Social media tricks for Hallowe’en

It’s Hallowe’en so we’re treating you to nine quick “tricks” to help up your social media game.
Biographies – we’re all guilty of this. Branding strategist Phil Pallen says this is the one  thing that can make or break whether someone follows you. Do ensure your Twitter/Insta/Facebook bios are really the best they can be (and update that linkinbio on your Insta already!)

Stronger Together 
facebookgroupIf you’ve not got a Facebook group going on yet, you need to – with the organic reach of business pages continuing its decline, the advantages of groups are showing real returns, especially as members can opt in to receive notifications of activities.

Images. Again.

We say this time and time again – a picture paints a thousand words but more importantly improves your engagement. By adding images to your social media you can increase engagement by 120%. On LinkedIn, links with Videos typically result in a 75 percent higher rate share and links with images result in a 98 percent higher comment rate.
Gifs –  wooo okay! It’s true – Gifs are always fun and good for a quick RT on Twitter.

Ask, nicely and it works.
Use the right words to improve engagement: Buddy Media found that action keywords like “post,” “comment,” “take,” “submit,” “like” or “tell us” are the most effective.

Timing is all
All the analysis points to Facebook traffic peaking between the hours of 1pm and 3pm.

Little and often.  Make fan/follower management as much a part of your daily routine as posting content — this is a good way to build your brand.

Words and Pictures


If in doubt, try an infographic – this extract from a brilliant but HUGE one from MyCleverAgency illustrates the perfect post on most networks.

And finally, please don’t forget the call to action – if you’ve enjoyed these tricks why not get in touch to see how else we can help?


Act fast to opt out of data sharing between Facebook and WhatsApp

whatsappUsers of the messaging giant WhatsApp have been irked by the news that not only are there ads on the way but also that parent company Facebook will be receiving info from your Whatsapp feed to help target your ads and “improve your experience.”

Now, do rest assured, this does not mean that your Whatsapp activity will be posted on your wall anywhere by Facebook or anyway. But the data will be used to send info between the companies to create an advertising profile for you. And these messages are often some of our most intimate.

So if you want to opt out of this there are two things you can do and both take approx 10 seconds.


When you next log in to WhatsApp you’ll probably see new terms pop up.

(as an aside may I say how much I love the graphic)

When they do – click on READ our Terms

and you can use the button to switch off sharing.










But oh no! What if you HAVE ALREADY ticked the new terms (or you aren’t sure if you have). We’re all guilty of all just ticking those boxes. In fact 2012 research cited here on Time.Com   suggests it would take SEVENTY SIX DAY to read all the T&Cs we are supposedto read. Seventy six days, people!
Anyway the good news is, you can still opt out over the next 30 days by the 26 September 20IMG_324816

Go to Settings

Go to Account

Go to Sharing

Unslide the Share My Account Info button



And you’re done.

9 things we learned at #TNWEUROPE2016

Life is about moments.

1 Stansted Airport is not the super easy quick airport it used to be. I’m sad about this as I served on its Consultative Committee between 2011-13 while it was part of BAA and this was not the airport that was planned then.
2 Traffic jams are bearable if your taxi is a Tesla. Schiphol airport’s state-of-the-art taxi fleet is comprised of 167 Tesla Model S cars in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint.











3 As Amsterdam’s the Start up capital of Europe, there were hipsters everywhere… Not for them the traditional burger van, or even an airstream (though there was one of those.) Oh no – the coffee cart was a wicker hamper-be-decked vintage Mini.Very cool.



4 In the communications workshop which was ably lead in a remarkably steam-punk style building by Stephan Fountain from PR CO, we learned the key to great PR is “finding your why. People don’t buy what you do – they buy why you do it. (For more on this and if you have a quick 18 mins to spare (it’s well worth it) watch Simon Sinek’s Start with Why Ted talk.
Once you know why your business does what it does – its higher purpose – then you can build your story on this.

5. Moving picture files are NOT a fad.
Adam Leibsohn of Giphy answered the question we all want the answer to –

it’s pronounced gif not jif.

He spoke about how the whole range of human emotion can be summed up in 5 second videos and more interestingly, how language has evolved from words back to to pictures.



6. Aparna Chennapragada, director of Product at Google explained how artificial intelligence can be amazing. And her rules apply to services as well as product. When designing anything new, you need to balance the wow moments (where your product delights) with the occasional what the hell moments (where expectations aren’t met)
AI can be amazing – and anything that machines find easy and people find hard should be outsourced in this way. BUT you need to make sure the good massively outweighs the bad.

7. Julie Zhou from Facebook talked about the aha moment. If you set out to solve a problem with a clear idea of how a solution is going to work out, when you hit setbacks (and you will) you’re more likely to be demoralised.

Teams that fall in love with a problem and have conviction that what they’re trying to achieve is meaningful are much more likely to continue to find a successful solution.

8 The catalyst for my trip was  funny, energetic and inspirational Gary Vaynerchuk from Vaynermedia The fast talkin’, fast movin’, hustlin’ entrepreneur speaks the truth when he says that patience is all and if you want the results, you gotta put in the hard work – and that means no complaining.

“We need to recalibrate our definition of success”

9. Buzzfeed’s Matt Stopera talked about how his stolen iPhone which ended up in provincial China taught him the importance of not judging a book by its cover. Or in this case, a country and its people by what your country’s media says

What did you think of TNW? Let us know on Twitter.