Digital Communications on a Budget

8th February, 2023

To see all the Rebuilding Heritage communications resources click here.

Getting ‘Bang for Your Buck’ in Digital Communications…

Did you know that Heritage organisations reported improving engagement and outreach as one of their top digital priorities for the next three years? (2021 Digital Attitudes and Skills for Heritage (DASH) survey). This includes strengthening digital comms, marketing and social media.

We know a professional online presence and an engaged audience brings many benefits, such as reaching new potential donors, promoting events or activities and raising funds.

But when it comes to digital comms, few of us in the Heritage sector have enough time or enough budget to do everything we think we should. There is always more. More content, more engagement, more platforms.

This guide will show you how to get the most from your resources. It will help you to prioritise where to spend your time and share a few ways to increase your productivity by setting up or streamlining your processes.

Here are our top tips on getting bang for your buck!

1. Focus on your Audience

Don’t waste time creating anything that isn’t serving your audience.

Do you have an audience persona? An audience persona is a fictional profile. It can represent groups of similar people in a target audience.

For example, a group of donors or your typical volunteer. They can help you figure out how to reach people on a more personal level, while delivering the right messages, events or calls to action.

If you don’t already use audience personae, create some for your key audiences and refer to them when you’re planning a campaign, your strategy, or writing any sort of copy.

To create one, ask yourself these questions:

– Demographics. What is their age, income, marital status, children etc?
– Why would they be interested in your heritage organisation?
– What are their values?
– What kind of content will they find educational, or inspiring?
– What are their pain points? What would put them off supporting you or coming to visit?
– How is your heritage organisation benefiting them? What do they get out of volunteering? Or visiting?

Taking the time to identify your audience will help focus your digital comms and prevent you from putting out generic and bland information. By tailoring every post, and every email, you’ll be able to communicate your message and you’ll get better engagement.

You can find more help to create audience personas here.

2. Learn from your analytics

You probably have access to a wide range of analytics, across your social media, email platform and website. Allocate some time to look at it regularly and create a brief monthly report to measure how your digital comms is doing.

This does not have to be a long process! Pick two or three metrics and measure those on an excel or Google sheet. Here are some suggestions:

  • Social Media: Best three performing posts in terms of overall engagement (and worst three) posts with most shares, and follower count
  • Email: Open rate, click-through rate, make a note of the subject line for your best-performing emails, and the best-performing link
  • Website: Most visited page (after the home page) and where your traffic is coming from.

By focusing on only a few analytics the task is less overwhelming, and you can clearly see the progress you are making.

It’s surprising what you can pick up from looking at analytics regularly, and don’t be afraid to test your assumptions. For example, you might see a boost in engagement when you post pictures of members of staff, or when you share content of family activities.

Test one thing at a time, perhaps the call to action, or video vs. images. See what makes a difference. Remember, it’s all a test, so if something doesn’t work then don’t take it personally, you’ve learnt something!

For more help with your Google Analytics, have a look here.

3. Make the Tough Decisions

Now that you’ve identified your audience and had a look at your analytics over the last few months, it might be time to make some tough decisions about where you are spending your time.

  • Is one platform taking more of your time than others, and are you really seeing the results that the effort deserves?
  • Are the blogs you’re creating driving enough traffic to the website to justify the time they take?
  • With low levels of engagement on social, is it time to bite the bullet and finally start making TikToks?

Never be afraid to scale back on one platform, if you think you could be getting better results elsewhere. Your digital comms strategy will benefit from a mini audit every 6-12 months, making small tweaks rather than big overhauls.

4. Focus on Evergreen Content

Evergreen content means it’s not tied to a particular season or event.

Making content as one-off posts, emails and blogs can take up more time and effort (and brain space) than necessary. Try creating two or three big pieces of evergreen content that you can repurpose throughout the year.

You can break down your large piece of content into shorter pieces and share it on different platforms. It makes your content go further and saves you both time and effort.

Take 10 minutes and write down a list of ideas…here are some examples of evergreen content:

  • Nine ways to enjoy the countryside
  • Visitor Guide: Getting the most out of your day with children
  • 20 things you didn’t know about…

Next, decide if you’re going to create an infographic, short video, or blog article.

Once you have the finished piece, list all the ways you can re-use that piece of content, and write the social media, or email copy while you’re in the flow.

So, for example, if you have ‘Nine ways to enjoy the countryside’, you can share that once a week for nine weeks, using a different point each time. Then give it a break for a month or two and start again.

Don’t overthink it, your audience probably sees less than 10% of your content, depending on which platforms you use. They’re unlikely to see, or remember seeing, the same things twice.

5. Make the Most of User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) refers to content related to your heritage organisation that’s created by someone who’s not staff, or an ‘official’ representative.

It could be a mother who shares images of her kids playing at your site, or a local historian who shares images of your new collection.

How can you encourage UGC?

  • Promote your social handles prominently around your site and on your website, making it easy for people to tag you.
  • Create a hashtag that is unique to your campaign or organisation and encourage people to use it when they post UGC. Make sure you check the hashtag isn’t associated with anything unsavoury, or not aligned with your organisation’s values. A quick search on all platforms should show up any concerning content.
  • Regularly search for content that tags you or uses your hashtag. Engage with their post to say thank you and ask permission to re-share it on your own social accounts.

For more tips and tricks on how to encourage UGC, check out this guide.

6. Aim for Consistency

We are all different. Some love the morning, some the afternoon, some feel invigorated on a Monday, and others like to save creative tasks until the end of the week. Find what works for you and start batch-creating your content.

Don’t knock it until you try it!

Get into the routine of creating content and scheduling it at the same time and you’ll banish that feeling of ‘what shall I post today?’ forever.

You’ll also start to gain traction on social media platforms just by being consistent, and not having large gaps between postings.

7. Don’t Neglect your Email Mailing List

Did you know that around 319 billion emails are sent every day? Chances are that your email mailing list is your most engaged audience. Don’t take our word for it, have look at your analytics.

There are lots of reasons why you should want to build your email list, but primarily because it’s a warm audience and because it can become a valuable asset to your organisation. Those who have signed up for your list want to hear about your events, or they’re interested in news from your sector.

The bonus is that because you own the data, you won’t lose it overnight due to factors beyond your control. Platforms may experience ups and downs, and accounts can be hacked, but email lists will always belong to you.

So, our final tip is to make sure that you’re not neglecting your email audience. It may seem quicker and easier to post something on social than craft an engaging newsletter, but you’ll reach more people, and get a bigger return on investment if you do.

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