VSA’s digital reach has surged in recent years as the organisation increasingly uses social media to engage younger New Zealanders.

In 2012, VSA had 642 Facebook followers. By October 2016 it had reached 26,877. A younger audience has been targeted, with 68% of VSA’s followers under 45 years of age.

Digital media story FB2

Advertising assignments on Facebook. VSA's Facebook following leapt from 642 to 26,877 in four years.

Over the same period, LinkedIn followers have gone from zero to 4826. VSA now has the second-largest LinkedIn following of any New Zealand not-for-profit and LinkedIn has become a key channel for volunteer recruitment.

These huge increases are boosting engagement across the organisation. For instance, in the year to 30 June 2016:

  • the number of prospects registering an interest in volunteering leapt by 51%. VSA now has 4324 prospects on its books compared to 2323 three years ago.
  • 454 more assignment descriptions were downloaded from VSA’s website.
  • the actual number of applications for assignments jumped by 39%, to 364.

VSA's Acting Communications Manager, Sarah Barnett, says that for the last couple of years, VSA has concentrated on cost-effective digital marketing, especially targeting potential volunteers through Facebook and LinkedIn. The online process for registering an interest in volunteering is also far easier.

This strategy has been highly successful, Sarah says, but the reason VSA has engaged such a devoted audience is that almost all the material shared online has come straight from volunteers - their stories and photos. “They are powerful and the audience connects with those in a way they wouldn't with traditional advertising." 

At the same time, a new focus on short-term assignments and continuation of the Downer young professionals programme is helping VSA to recruit younger volunteers.

  30 June 2012 30 June 2013 30 June 2014 30 June 2015 30 June 2016
Facebook likes 642 1196 1752 20,472 26,722
LinkedIn followers 0 50 219 1571 4826
Instagram followers 0 0 0 0 511
Twitter followers 472 690 965 3084 3284
Total social media followers 1114 1936 2936 25,127 35,343