What does the world famous reality star Kim Kardashian have to do with a small Stockport based ADHD childrens’ charity? The answer to that is very little (as far as we know) other than the fact that we are both harnessing the power of social media to let people know that we exist.
Just like Kim, SPACE Stockport are on Twitter but if you happen to follow us both, you’ll notice that she has a lot more followers than us and we’re totally OK with that. We are 100% fine with the fact that Kim has over 42 million Twitter followers whilst we only have 500, because Kim’s marketing goals are different to ours.
SPACE Stockport is run by parents of children with ADHD for parents of children with ADHD and as such we won’t be getting any celebrity endorsement deals. We don’t have our own cosmetic products, skincare range or clothing line. We don’t even have our own fragrance, but despite the lack of branded products we are on a mission. We’re on a mission to make sure that Stockport parents of children with ADHD know that we’re here. We are looking for what marketing professionals would call a niche market. If you live in Stockport and have a child with ADHD, then we are looking for you because we want you to know that we exist.
Our marketing goals are quite straight forward. We’re a non-profit organisation so the number of people that attend our monthly meetings and engage with us on social media doesn’t generate us any income. The committee is made up of volunteers, so nobody gets a new BMW if more people join us for a coffee and getting a 100,000 likes on Facebook or a million followers on Twitter won’t get any of us a bonus, but we’re still on a mission. If you are from Stockport and your child, or a child that you care for, has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder then we want you to know that we exist, that’s it. That’s our mission.
Parents of children with ADHD are regularly told what they should be doing. We’re told that we are parenting our children incorrectly. We’re told that our children will grow out of it. We’re told that our children are eating the wrong foods. We’re told that our children just need a firm hand. We’re told that ADHD doesn’t exist and that our children are just badly behaved. Parents of children with ADHD are told lots of things. We’re not here to tell you anything. We’re here to provide information. We’re here to share our experiences. We’re here to signpost agencies that we have found useful. We’re here to make sure that you know you are not the only family going through some of the day to day challenges that you face. Even if local parents of children with ADHD never contact us, our marketing mission is that they know we exist, because if they know that we are here, then they know that they can get in touch if they want to.
Using Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about our existence may be relatively new, but we’ve been on a mission to support other parents for over a decade. The venue has changed over time as have the volunteers and the parents joining us every month, but the mission has always been the same, to make sure that people know that we exist. Stockport has less than 300,000 residents so if we manage to get a million followers then the chances are that most of them aren’t really interested in us and vice versa. We love having our Facebook posts shared and being retweeted on Twitter because somewhere amongst those extra readers will be more of the people we’re looking for.
If local parents know that we exist, then that means that they know they’re not the only parents going through the challenge of raising a child with ADHD. It means that if they have a bad day, they know that they can vent to us privately on Facebook. It means that they know that we have a library of books about ADHD that they can borrow free of charge. It means that they know that there is a network of other parents they can talk to. It means that they can find out about local conferences. It means that we can provide a source of information. It means that they are able to attend our specialist presentations. It means that once a month they can join us for a coffee and a chat if they want to.
The bigger picture is that we want to fight the ongoing stream of ignorance about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. We want to dispel the myths and ensure that our children are not penalised by schools for things that they cannot control, but our priority is to support families. If you have a child with challenging behaviour, the playground can be a lonely place. We can’t do anything about that, but when you’ve had one of those days we can be there to reassure you that you are not alone. We can’t do anything about the fact that raising a child with ADHD can lead to family disagreements on the best way forward, but we can be there to let you know that you are not the only family with those problems.
The reason our mission is to let people know that we exist is because if local parents know that we exist, then it means that they know that we’re here if they want us. It means that they know that they are not the only one and some days that’s enough. SPACE Stockport may officially only be four people on paper but we’re part of a much bigger community. A community of other parents who want the best for their children. Kim can keep her 42 million followers because we’ve got each other.