Is your social enterprise marketing strategy missing the potential of social media?

Although social media may seem like a nice-to-have, strategic social media interactions have proven their ROI across industries. As a social enterprise leader, you know you need to grow your company’s bottom line to increase your impact. But have you considered the role social media can play in that bottom line growth? Are you truly leveraging its potential?

Follow these three steps to drive more revenue and more impact by harnessing the power of social media as a key component of your social enterprise marketing strategy.

Focus on promoting your cause, not your business, and tell powerful stories

As a social enterprise, you have a huge advantage when it comes to social media. Because your business model is focused on a cause, you have the opportunity to create content that inspires and makes an emotional connection. You have a chance to be a breath of fresh air in comparison to all the brands that simply use social media to push their products. Are you leveraging that potential and putting your cause at the forefront?

As a social enterprise, you have a huge advantage when it comes to social media. Click To Tweet

Utah-based outdoor goods manufacturer Cotopaxi is one example of a company that has succeeded on social media because they’ve taken a cause-forward approach. Cotopaxi is a certified B Corp committed to alleviating poverty worldwide by creating sustainable products and donating 2% of their annual revenue to deserving causes worldwide. Instead of focusing their social media content on their products, they regularly post about the causes they support and the organizations their customers’ purchases fund.

For example, they recently tweeted about their partnership with The International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit that responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The tweet and its powerful photo of IRC refugee children shows Cotopaxi’s followers the type of impact they could make by buying Cotopaxi products and makes an emotional appeal that a sales-oriented message could never match.

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Their Instagram feed is also full of these powerful stories and images:

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By making the causes they support the central the of their social enterprise marketing strategy, Cotopaxi is turning its community into advocates for their cause and their product.

Monitor activity for potential opportunities for engagement

Monitoring is crucial to a successful social media strategy. But before you begin monitoring daily social media activity from your various stakeholders’ social media accounts, it’s best to make a plan. First, research and develop lists of relevant players in your social enterprise’s unique space. To find users relevant to your industry or cause, start searching various related keywords on Then, simply click “People” and begin following accounts that interest you.

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As your search continues, organize the users you’re now following into lists of similar accounts. To add accounts to a list, just click the menu on an individual account and click “Add or remove from lists…”. You can create a new Private list here or add to an existing Private list.

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We recommend organizing the accounts you’re following by stakeholder group. Depending on your business model and goals, some groups you might consider include potential funders, existing customers, potential customers, competitors and reporters who may be likely to cover your social enterprise.

Once you’ve created your lists, it will be much easier to monitor your social media channels and keep your finger on the pulse of your industry, potential customers, supporters and competition. Take a daily look at the articles, videos, and content they post, and look for opportunities to respond and engage in real-time.

At Prosper, we use Hootsuite to keep track of lists of existing and target clients, publications in each of our six focus areas (social enterprise, nonprofit, education, technology, healthcare and professional services) and key influencers who are impacting those industries. Keeping a close eye on these lists throughout the day helps us chime into relevant conversations and engage in more meaningful ways. Though Hootsuite works well for us, there are plenty of other more social media tools you can choose from to make following and engaging with your lists a breeze. Check out a few options here, and be sure to check out these tips if you need extra help deciding who to engage with from your lists!

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Communicate authentically with your audience

Your social enterprise marketing strategy likely consists of a mix of inbound and outbound sales and promotion tactics, and you probably consider social media to be part of that universe. But at its core, social media isn’t about sales and marketing. It’s about building genuine relationships.

Social engagement is an organic and spontaneous activity for many social media users, and brands should adopt that same mindset. To truly succeed, you need to have genuine, two-way conversations with your followers. Don’t just talk at your audience. Instead, start conversations and truly engage with those who care about your cause. This type of communication empowers your followers to become personally involved with your organization, and eventually, they may just become customers, supporters or funders.

Social media isn’t about sales and marketing. It’s about building genuine relationships Click To Tweet

While the cause-oriented social media posts we shared from Cotopaxi earlier are effective, the true power of their social media strategy lies not in these broadcast style posts, but in their direct interaction with other social media users. Take a look at these valuable conversations they’re having with their followers on Instagram:

Curious students use a globe to locate their home during class at their school in Combita, Colombia. For students of the Escuela Nueva model, the school day is no longer just sitting and listening. Rather, they are now active participants in their own education by taking on leadership roles, creative art projects, producing plays and performances, and voting. Essentially, the students learn how to learn while developing cognitive and social competencies. Plastered on the walls, posters encourage cooperation, peace, values, and teamwork. Fundacion Escuela Nueva views each child as an agent of change that is crucial for maintaining peace and democracy for the next generation. Oscar Javier Villamarin Gil, a FEN teacher for seven years, says he can identify students in the community who have been educated using the FEN model simply based on their behavior. Photo and caption by Ambassador @james_myron_roh. #Cotopaxi #GearforGood #AdventureOn

A post shared by Cotopaxi (@cotopaxi) on

How much are you engaging on social media? How much are you broadcasting? If your time is weighted toward broadcast-style posts, it’s time to adjust.

The takeaway?

Once you start using social media to truly interact with your stakeholders and community, you’ll begin to see the payoff for your social enterprise. Yes, social media can be a colossal waste of time and effort when it’s not leveraged smartly. But if you focus on telling stories, engaging authentically and spending your time on strategic conversations rather than promotion, bottom line business impact will follow.
If you need help developing a social media strategy for your social enterprise, learn more about our approach and contact us at Prosper Strategies.

Yvonne Hangsterfer is a Junior Designer and Account Coordinator at Prosper Strategies. Her days usually include work in WordPress and Adobe Creative Suite, and she works with a range of clients on everything from extended marketing campaigns to design and development projects.

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