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Digital Mums – The Social Media Company Changing The World of Work

For many small businesses, social media can be low on the priority list. With so many important jobs to do there’s simply not enough time to refine your Twitter or Facebook strategy – not through want of trying. Yet, those businesses who are successfully adopting social media can see huge benefits. And we’re not talking about huge brands. Just look at our recent blog with Etsy seller Bettie Confetti

Nikki Cochrane, and her co-founder of Digital Mums, Kathryn Tyler, saw an opportunity to help small businesses develop their social media strategy whilst also solving another problem – the lack of flexible careers for mums. We caught up with Nikki to find out more about the ingenious business model that drives Digital Mums.

 

What did you both do before you set up Digital Mums?

I discovered my love of social media, digital and innovation at the most famous ad agency in the world, M&C Saatchi. I worked directly for the founders and their passion and make-it-happen approach to business rubbed off on me. I took my learnings, completed a degree in Psychology as a mature student and by chance, met my fabulous co-founder, Kathryn Tyler, on a yoga retreat. As well as a love of yoga, we shared the same beliefs, drive and desire to build a business with social impact at the heart of it. 

Kathryn has worked with some of the most innovative schools around the world, including the Innovation Unit. One of the inspirational programmes Kathryn worked alongside was the Global Education Leaders Programme funded by the Gates Foundation, whose mission was to transform the way countries teach and students learn. In particular, Kathryn spent a lot of time alongside the team that worked on their REAL Projects programme. This is where she took inspiration for our innovative Digital Mums training.

 

How did you come to launch Digital Mums?

Our first venture together was our own social media agency, which we set up to support local businesses in Hackney – where we both live and where Digital Mums was born. We were overwhelmed with how many small businesses needed help to build and manage their social media presence. We knew we needed to take on more people and realised that mums would be the perfect solution.

Kathryn knew she could take her Innovation Unit learnings and insight to design a course that would teach mums everything they needed to know about social media management. Additionally, we both recognised that maternal unemployment and a lack of digital skills are a huge issue; discrimination forces 54,000 new mothers and pregnant women out of their jobs every year, while 12.6 million adults currently lack basic digital skills. Social media management offers mums a third way – family life and a career – it’s just a matter of teaching them the skills.

So we stopped working for clients and started training up mums in social media instead.  Digital Mums was born in 2014 and our first course officially started in January 2015. 

Discrimination forces 54,000 new mothers and pregnant women out of their jobs every year.

 

Why is flexible working so important?

We’re not mums ourselves, which often surprises people given the focus of our business, but we both lost our fathers at a young age and saw our mums struggle to balance work and family life. We’re therefore deeply passionate about helping women find work that works around their families and are equally passionate about helping businesses to see the benefits that this way of working can bring. Through our own experience as a 100% flexible working company and through our work with hundreds of small businesses, we know that flexible working offers a fantastic solution for everyone involved.  

And it’s not just us who think it. According to our recent #WorkThatWorks report which we launched with the Centre for Economics and Business Research, 68% of stay-at-home mums said they would go back to work if flexible working around childcare was an option, while 37% of working mums would work additional hours.

Currently, 2.6 million mothers are out of the UK labour force. By tapping into this current lost talent, businesses embracing flexible work could benefit from a total of 66 million hours more work a week providing the UK economy with a £62.5 billion boost to output each year.

Nikki Cochrane Digital Mums, Co Founder

Tell us more about #WorkThatWorks

We have a big vision to support every mum to achieve their perfect work-life balance. We call this ‘work that works’ and it’s a vision that we fully embrace, with our whole team given the option to work flexibly and remotely. 

We currently offer two six-month courses, which are delivered 100% online. Everything learned on our courses is hands-on and applied immediately in the real world. Our innovative ‘R.E.A.L. Learning’ approach is about learning by doing, giving mums the confidence to get out there and start working with clients on graduation. 

  • Our Social Media Management Course is for mums from all career backgrounds. As part of the course, they run a grassroots campaign in their local community.  
  • Our Social Media Marketing Associate Programme matches mums from a comms background with a small business during their training. Here they develop a social media marketing strategy and run the business’ social platforms. 
  • Our training modules are all created in-house and include guest content from experts like YouTube’s Mamalina, Hootsuite and Buffer. Additionally, each mum is put in a peer group of six mums to encourage people to share experiences and learnings.

In under 3 years, we’ve upskilled over 700 mums and gone from offering one training programme to 20 mums a month, to two training programmes to 104 mums a month. 

 

What do you enjoy about running your own business?

For me, the most amazing thing about running my own business is the people I meet along the way and the impact we have on their lives. As well as a lack of flexible work opportunities, confidence is the big barrier cited by our students to returning to work. We’ve trained mums who pre-family have had amazing careers but all say the same: they don’t feel relevant to the increasingly digital world and career confidence is at an all-time low. Upskilling women within in-demand digital fields not only gives them their confidence back, it makes them feel relevant to the working world again and confident enough to hustle for rewarding and flexible roles that sync with family life. 

To date, 95% of our students have completed our courses successfully and 4 out of 5 have found work that works, which they attribute to their training. To ensure as many mums as possible are able to benefit from #WorkThatWorks, we’re committed to social impact and put 10% of our profits into piloting a bursary fund for low-income mums to take part in the training. 

On a personal note, our work has recently gained us some amazingly high-profile awards, including Red Women of the Year, Marie Claire Future Shapers and Campaign Digital Mavericks. I can’t help but be very proud of that. 

 

Is there any advice you’d give to someone looking to start or already running a business?

My advice to anyone thinking about setting up a business is find the right partner to build it with. Running a business is often compared to a rollercoaster ride. There are a lot of ups and downs along the way and, for me, where’s the fun in riding a rollercoaster on your own? My second piece of advice is to get a Digital Mum 😉 Social Media is a cost-effective and impactful way to build your brand online. Don’t expect it to drive sales overnight, but do expect it to build up a strong, loyal following that will provide the best path to business growth. And there’s no better person to do that job than a mum.

 

If your business needs help with getting social media right, Digital Mums is opening up a limited number of places for businesses to work with our trainee social media managers in May and June 2017 – for less than £100 a month. 

All mums on our Social Media Marketing Associate Programme have backgrounds in marketing, comms or PR and, as they’re in training, we charge very low fees for this support – £500 for six months where they will spend 10-15 hours per week on social media marketing for your business. We’ve worked with over 300 businesses and charities over the last two years and 97% said they’d recommend us. 

To get in touch, email hello@digitalmums.org

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