My learning from Social Media Week – Breakfast Briefing

I am lucky enough to be involved in Social Media Week London, by attending the We are Social Breakfast Briefing “What Social Media means for Charities”.  This was held in their very swanky offices in St Johns Square and required a stupid o’clock start for anyone attending outside the capital.

This was a very interesting meeting – as I work for the Trading division of a charity it is easy for me to forget that there is more to third sector work than fund-raising and engaging with Volunteers.  I have to admit that I hoped that this briefing would address those two aspects of charity work but alas (and i am sure rightly so) it focused mainly on Programming.  There were a few interesting and useful insights that I feel are worth sharing.  For those of you who are old hands at this Social Media thing I am sure these are not “news” but never the less here are the interesting bullet points for me, which look at Social Media from a very strategic point of view…

  • Early Internet was about Corporations and Government disseminating information, the emerging Social Web (if emerging is the right term to use anymore – I would argue it has emerged!!!) builds the internet around individuals.  There is a shift away from top down hierarchy to fluid participative networks.
  • There are two key trends: Social Capital – participation motivated by shared values, not £’s and Self Organisation – networks growing outside of your Organisation.  To be effective in Social Media there is a need to tap into both of these trends.
  • To build on Social Capital – Content isn’t king, Conversation is king, quote from BoingBoing.
  • Using Social Media means a culture shift away from “join us” to “join in”- away from hierarchy of we are setting the agenda and how we approach it to a more conversational style and recognising that you will no longer have complete control.  True empowerment?
  • Social Media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs or as We are Social call them “hubs” are low cost tools that can easily be used to engage and co-ordinate volunteers, donors and action groups.
  • When setting objectives around Social Media there is a need to allow them to be fluid and as ever SMART – ask yourself, is this really achievable though Social Media.  Social strategies need to be researched so that you understand your target audience, where they are – ie sector? platform? competition?, and who are they – profile, key influencers.
  • In your blog/hub it is important to build some ground rules around:  Conversation and/or content, Editorial – who does this need to be approved by? Moderation – for those that don’t blog (yet) this is around who approves comments, if you approve at all and how you respond to comments made.  It is important to respond well – we should all learn from the Nestle KitKat debacle.  Ensure there is space for active participation,  Add value, Recognise that you are part of a wider network.
  • Don’t use your followers as a cash pool as this is “Chugging” and generally not popular.  Converting followers into volunteers or donors takes time and is dependent on good conversations.  This is especially true for Long Term engagement although there was general consensus that “events” will have a major impact on fund-raising.  It is a good idea to point our here that if you are asking for donations make it a simple “couple of clicks” process or you will lose out.

Finally there was some discussion around encouraging staff to promote your charity on their personal twitter and facebook accounts.  It is clear in UK Law – Consumer Protection Act (I think!) that if you are making a personal comment you need to make it clear.  However I fail to see how you stop enthused issue focused staff from commenting on campaigns or events.  Interesting?  If you have a view on this please comment.


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