Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Social Media Marketing

I undertook social-media marketing (both strategy and execution) for Gram Vaani from April to October last year. Here are some of my top insights and learnings from the experience:

  1. If your organization’s accounts already exist on social-media platforms, audit the previous posts to gauge the tone and language that is set and also what kind of posts garner better engagement than the others. As much as possible, continue with the elements that work well for your brand so that the transition is least jarring for your followers.
  2. Good content will do well organically. While promotions may bring those exponential spikes; the only sustainable approach is to create quality content consistently that connects with your audience at an emotional level.
  3. Represent all your stakeholders in your social-media posts including donors/funders, partners, team members from CEO/founder to junior-most employees. And tag their correct account handles!
  4. Social-media management requires a balance between content that’s current and that which is planned beforehand. While you can plan for communication on important days of the year for the thematic-area/s you work in and other posts which are not time-sensitive, there are many external events/news that will come up that you could not have accounted for when you charted the social-media calendar (for example, organization’s participation in a conference, an award conferred on founder/CEO, reaching an impact milestone etc.). Be agile.
  5. Inculcate diversity in types of media accompanying posts from posters to short videos as well as in content buckets from human stories to big-picture impact numbers.
  6. ‘Social’ comes first in ‘social media.’ Social media is not just about posting content about your organization, it is also about responding to other’s comments on your posts and engaging with posts of people/organizations in your ecosystem.
  7. Maintain the spirit of your organization and its work on your social-media. Don’t feel forced to adhere to sensibility of the platform (For example, Instagram is a casual platform but you have chosen to be present on the same because your audience/s are on the platform. You don’t have to create reels using playful filters and effects if that does not align with the ethos of your org). This also does not mean that your content/design has to be uncreative :)
  8. No typos please. Spelling/grammar mistakes in your design copy and caption reflect poorly on the organization’s image.
  9. Clean design in form of a relevant poster that conforms to your brand colours/aesthetic and communicates the message of the post succinctly or a short video or an infographic will help capture that fleeting attention span. Social-media (unlike email) is a very visual medium where people scroll as opposed to perusing every word.
  10. Increase in the number of followers is one metric of success but what’s more important is who is following your account and what they’re doing with your content. Ideally, you want people/organizations in your TG to follow you and follow through your CTAs.

Are you an NGO, social enterprise or CSR that needs help with your social-media strategy and execution? Reach out at smitapkothari@gmail.com

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Saturday, January 14, 2023

Annual report for Akanksha Foundation

A few months ago, The Akanksha Foundation took a bet on me to create their annual report for 2021-22. But I didn’t want to submit another PDF that just checks off the compliance box and that no one wants to read.

So I turned all notions of a usual annual-report upside down:
A typical annual-report relays information about the year gone by. I wanted to employ emotive storytelling and so we had a real Akanksha student give the audience a tour of the year at her beloved school.
A “normal” annual report is stuffed with exhaustive details about all the events that take place in the year. However, lengthy text is difficult to digest given limited attention-span. So I pushed for sharp bite-sized content sans jargons and edited it brutally to the point that each piece included was uber-essential.
A conventional annual-report, in its vertical scroll, often contains photos to give the viewers a window into the org and its work. I wanted to offer an authentic experience of visiting an Akanksha school digitally via horizontal design. The elements and backdrops you see in the report are all re-created based on actual photos of Akanksha school & classroom and so is Dhanashree – the Akanksha student who walks you through the report (literally!).
After several doubts, content drafts, and design-challenges: we produced https://annualreport.akanksha.org/introduction
Kudos to leadership at the organization for supporting an idea as radical as Akanksha itself!
Annual-report is such a powerful communication tool to showcase the happenings of the year to all stakeholders. Why should it be boring? What are some cool annual reports you have seen lately?

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Thursday, January 5, 2023

Impact story workshop (training/capacity building)


These happy faces made one of my weekends last year!

A diverse cohort turned up for my impact-story workshop on a Saturday evening in late 2022 from :
🌏 Varied geographies like Canada, Australia, South Korea and of course, India
💟 Different cause areas from education to livelihoods to special needs
👩‍🏫 👨‍🏫 Representatives from non-profits, CSR and foundations

We discussed what an impact-story template/structure looks like, best practices to follow while writing the case study, how to customise your story for different audiences/stakeholders and more!

At the end of the session when I asked the participants to share their aha moment/key takeaway from the last 90 mins, one of them said that the entire session was an aha moment! That was my aha moment:)

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Monday, March 21, 2022

My Podcast: The Human(e) Story

I'm stoked to share my first podcast with you on heart-to-heart chats with changemakers: The Human(e) Story! 

The Human(e) Story features my conversations with stalwarts of social impact in India like Venkat Krishnan of GiveIndia and Anshu Gupta of Goonj via six pillar questions including what drives them, which stories are special to them, and how should one contribute to the society. If you're interested in the Indian development sector either as a practitioner, aspirant or supporter; this series is for you!

Listen to the podcast trailer and episodes on:

Google Podcasts

Amazon Music

Apple Podcasts

This project is extremely special to me as it combines my love for creating something new from scratch in a new (audio) medium, emotive content, and checks off one more thing on my professional bucket list:) 

Do subscribe to the podcast on your favourite app to get notified when new episodes are added and please drop your thoughts/suggestions in the comments below!

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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Quarantine tales: How Bengalureans are coping with lockdown (The Hindu)

At 6:07 pm on Wednesday, keyboard tunes to Kishore Kumar’s song Yeh Shaam Mastaani… (This fun evening…) reverberated in the quad of a gated community in Bangalore. The occasion: Self-imposed quarantine due to spread of COVID-19.

It started as a call for ideas to keep one entertained during the quarantine on the Whatsapp group comprising residents of the apartment complex. “Balcony antakshari” was a suggestion that amused many. The one who proposed it explained the novel concept in tweet-sized instructions: “We just pick a time, get onto the balcony facing the courtyard and play antakshari for a bit.” Another informed participant on the group posted a short video of how the Italian musicians were singing and playing instruments from their balconies. Yet another resident offered for her son to play keyboard attached to speakers. That sealed it.

And so it was decided: It would be a 20-minute session on Wednesday at 6 pm when people would come to their balconies that look into a common courtyard and croon. Many like me started hovering around the balcony a little earlier than the designated time in excitement! And then a few minutes past 6 pm floated the familiar tune that beckoned some who weren’t on the Whatsapp group and some who were but had forgotten about the rendezvous. Young and young-at-heart, men and women gradually started popping in their balconies, some vigorously waving their hands at their long-lost neighbours. One of the following songs was the apt and relatable number Mere Samne Wali Khidki Mein… (In the window opposite to mine…). Very quickly, I realized that the intersection of my loudest and my suitable-to-human-ear voice could not travel beyond my balcony. I think many others who realized the same compensated with loud clapping at the end of each keyboard song-recital to make their presence felt and to appreciate the player’s efforts. And thus, “balcony antakshari” turned into “balcony concert.” The keyboard player became the community hero and compliments and wishes for a bright future were sent his way in wholesale on the Whatsapp group. The concert for the evening had ended with Chalte ChalteKabhi Alvida Na Kehna… (Never say goodbye…).

Now that we were hooked, we heeded to the advice. Next evening, a German lady whose father was an opera singer in Austria, offered to play his CDs from her balcony. And the day after that, a stereo blasted kids’ favorites like Prince Ali from Aladdin, Sunflower from Spiderman, and We Will Rock You by Queen from someone’s balcony.

Next up was drinks. Another resident showcased on the Whatsapp group a cocktail she had concocted and christened Corona Cashaya. The professional-looking creative that left others on the group drooling, had the beverage served on the rocks with a blob of ginger and a whole lemon artistically placed next to the glass. The post was not meant to make others jealous. The drink-maker had bottled three of the same and made them available free for grabs. “Will just drop at your door and leave,” she offered generously. “Important to keep spirits up!!” the post ended with a smiley. And thus began the auction on the group that lasted nine mighty minutes. This left some, who missed the window, enraged. And so, the next batch was promised.

Then came Sunday, March 22, when PM Modi had urged everyone across the nation to follow Janta Curfew i.e. to remain in their houses during the day as a drill for future lockdown. And the occupants in my residential complex did everything prescribed which is to do nothing at all. Children didn’t play in the quad, garbage collection was paused for the day, domestic help was not allowed to enter the premises etc. etc.

Such are the times in my gated community. Usual measures like sanitizers at the gate, recording temperature of the maids who come from outside, and closing access to common areas of the club-house like gym and pool, were implemented like they were in my friends’ gated communities in different parts of the city. In addition, COVID-19 has helped discover music lovers, mixologists, and patriots in my community so far.

(Here's the link to my article on The Hindu's website)

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