Interview with Zoe Amar

Back Camera

Who is Zoe Amar?

  • Founder and director of Zoe Amar Communications and co-founder of the #socialceos awards
  • Has worked with the likes of ActionAid, Macmillan, and Crimestoppers on marketing, digital and social media strategies
  • An associate lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, delivering the module on social media
  • On the advisory panel for The Guardian Voluntary Sector Network and The Chartered Institute of Marketing charity interest group

What can I learn?

  • The advantages of having senior figures from your charity on social media, and how that can improve communication and transparency – as well as increasing trust from the public
  • The importance of leadership and training in getting members of your organisation on social media, and how this can improve the reach of your causes and appeals.
  • How certain problems are experienced of charities of all sizes
  • Which marketing tools are the most cost effective and have the greatest impact

Hi Zoe – for those who don’t know, could you just outline who you are and what you do?

I head up Zoe Amar Communications. We’re a strategic marketing and digital communications consultancy who’ve worked with CAF, Action Aid, Macmillan, Crimestoppers and the School for Social Entrepreneurs amongst many others. I also write for The Guardian Voluntary Sector Network and am a trustee of the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education. Along with Matt Collins of Platypus Digital I co-founded the #socialceos awards.

The #socialceos awards – what were your reasons behind launching that? And what do you think the Zoe Amar Social CEOsadvantages are to CEOs being active on social media?

We launched the #socialceos awards because we saw that there were some great CEOs doing pioneering work to raise awareness of their charities and promote the sector as a whole on social media, yet this wasn’t being recognised. Hence our awards.

The sector is under huge pressure to be more transparent, demonstrate impact and manage a complex range of stakeholders on limited resources. Getting your CEO and leadership team on social media is a quick and effective way to deal with all of these issues. There are plenty of other advantages too. 8 out of 10 people would rather work for a social CEO, for example. Weber Shandwick are predicting that there will be a 50% increase in CEOs using social media over the next 5 years.

Digital marketing channels, from social media to e-newsletters to websites, are not going anywhere and offer great value for money.

On a similar note, what are your views on trustees, employees and volunteers of charities pushing the organisation on social media? Are they doing it enough, in general?

Trustees, employees and volunteers talking about the organisation on social media are a brilliant way to increase reach and help your charity develop valuable new relationships. As yet, there aren’t many charities where this is being done consistently at all levels of the organisation. People need to feel empowered to use social media, and this has to be led from the top. The right leadership, guidelines and training will all help.

Social Media is one of your main areas of expertise. The larger charities normally do Twitter and Facebook very well – but where do you think a lot of small and medium sized organisations are going wrong with their social media output?

I’m not sure I agree with that- I think there are some small and mid-sized charities using social media brilliantly. Just look at Childsi Foundation. I agree that the bigger charities will have more resources yet in my experience the same issues arise in organisations of all shapes and sizes, such as not having clear goals, not researching how your target audience is using social media and not measuring results meaningfully.

The sector is under huge pressure to be more transparent, demonstrate impact and manage a complex range of stakeholders on limited resources. Getting your CEO and leadership team on social media is a quick and effective way to deal with all of these issues.

You also blog for the Guardian Voluntary Network among other places, mainly on Social Media – what trends have you seen developing over the past few years?

Boards are starting to engage with social media and are realising that digital carries huge opportunities for their charities as well as some risks. More charities are beginning to use LinkedIn as a way to develop relationships with corporates, local government and the media.

In the past you’ve also worked as the head of marketing for a charity. At that kind of level, what does the day-to-day of the job entail?

I developed the marketing strategy and then delivered it along with my team. On a day to day level we could be doing anything from running a campaign to working on the messaging for a corporate partnership. It was great experience as I also work with charities now on developing their marketing strategies and brands.

What have you found to be the most effective marketing tools? And how can you see that changing over the next few years?

Digital marketing channels, from social media to e-newsletters to websites, are not going anywhere and offer great value for money. The most successful charities are the ones who truly integrate their on and offline marketing activities.

As well as everything else, you also offer consultancy and training. What are the main problems that you Social CEOs awardhave seen charities come up against?

Despite improvements in the economy, charities still have to deliver a lot on fairly tight budgets. It can be challenging for their leadership teams to block out time to map out their audience and work out how to integrate digital and marketing into their organisational strategies.

Finally, could you just remind us how people can get in touch with you, follow you on social media and the like?

Follow me on twitter @zoeamar or email me on zoe@zoeamar.com

People need to feel empowered to use social media, and this has to be led from the top. The right leadership, guidelines and training will all help.