Engage and Connect with Social Media – Event roundup

I had the privilege of presenting with Rachel Beer (founding partner of Beautiful World) and Leah Williams (Recently Head of Communications at Women’s Resource Centre and now at Breast Cancer Care) at the event – Engage and Connect with Social Media held in London at the Window (a wonderful venue and a fabulous lunch provided too!) in for members of LVSC’s Cascade Network – A network for London’s Second-Tier Information and Communication workers.

Over 25 frontline and infrastructure organsations attended the event which explored if social media was right for them, how to plan strategically for its effective use, and how it can enhance engagement with members and their audiences.

Several of the organisations that attended the event were already managing online communities using a wide variery of online media and shared their experiences and learning; and others were learning which approaches would benefit their work and communities they serve.
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Rachel opened the day with an insight into what are social media and the growth of how people are accessing online media and an insight into how charities can use it effectively.
I delivered a case study overview of a small rural organisation, on the positive steps they are taking to move forward with online media not only from a practical point, but also strategically too and how they are learning to ‘listen’ – something they hadn’t done before. We looked at how their future plans to embed online media in the way they communicate will ensure what they do fits in with the vision and aims of their organisation and the benefit to their audience too. (For an insightful look at listening with a purpose, visit Podnosh to read ‘Is listening neutral‘)
You can view Rachels slides from the opening session here.

The workshop sessions split into two groups. Rachel and Leah delivered a great overview presentation of how the Women’s Resource Centre, an umbrella body for women’s organisations, made the leap into the world of social media.
You can view Leahs slides from the workshop session here.

I delivered a discussion session on online community management, looking at the following areas – What is an online community, how to cultivate and grow your community and enable it to be user friendly and more accessible – especially for new members. We discussed Navcaboodle (which uses Ning) as an example of an online community and the importance of user testing in the early stages with potential members, as well as the creation of easy to find ‘help’ guides for new users and the skills building of group leaders to enable them to faciliate and nurture their newfound communities. We also took an in-depth look at developing a social media policy, with how to become innovative and confident in enabling staff and/or volunteers to engage online and effectively on behalf of an organisation.
You can view my slides from the workshop session here.
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The afternoon session delivered a surgery session with participants – Leah sharing about how to use Twitter, and Rachel with advice on issues such as legal, branding and identity, individual staff voice versus a ‘charity’ voice and more.Rachel Beer.JPG

Charities at my surgery table shared and explored the areas of online networks and social networking covering many of the varieties of communities that organisations can use for effective engagement, not only the ‘usual suspects’ of Twitter and Facebook; but also how Flickr and many other online communities can be used to support campaigns and extend an organisations reach. Discussions also took place on how to feed information and acitvity back out to stakeholders and other parties especially when working with a private or closed confidential network (e.g. for health or youth related networks).

We wrapped up the days event with a round-up of what we’d learnt and shared together.