NFPtweetup social and getting back to work

On Thursday, I had a day that felt pretty much like I had never had a baby. Okay, it began with dropping the littleun off at nursery, and I did pick her up and say a quick goodbye, but I spent the morning doing grown up things like, erm, cleaning house. Then I headed into the office to do some catching up, and was answering email queries within five minutes of stepping through the door.

I then headed over to the NFPtweetup social with my manager, Jacqui, but we didn’t end up being all that sociable, at least for the first couple of hours! Though I got to chat babies with the wonderful Rachel, Jacqui and I spent most of the time talking about work… and it was brilliant! We were bouncing around a few ideas, talking about things that have changed in the last year, talking about how we could develop one thing or another. Nothing concrete and certainly nothing I could talk about here, but it just generated this exciting atmosphere of Things To Be Done. And it made me go from happy to be going back to work to itching to get started. I was all set to start brainstorming some ideas for Monday today, but had to remind myself to enjoy my weekend and spend my last few free days soaking up as many Ramona cuddles as possible!

And those cuddles are wonderful. I will miss them. But I know from that swell of positivity and surge of determination that work is exactly where I’m meant to be.

Having said a quick hello to the lovely Steve Bridger and got a chance to meet my husband’s newest colleague, Rochelle, I then got a delicious dinner bought for me at Moshi Moshi (my first visit; quite pricey but excellent – I recommend the soft shell crab).

Thank heaven for grandparents who agree to put a squirmy little baby to bed. And thank heaven for squirmy little babies who start the next morning by giving you a just-beginning-to-be-toothy smile and a hug that melts hearts at fifty paces.

Okay, working world. Make some room: I’m ba-ack!

NFPTweetup 10 and thoughts on being a community manager: Back to work!

Well, not really. I’m not planning to return to my desk just yet, but it was good to dip a toe back in the water. Of course I never really exited the pool; part of being so interested in things like social media – look, I’m blogging! – means you follow what’s happening even when you’re not being paid to.

Anyway, in a change of the usual play – change – feed – play routine, I attended the 10th NFPTweetup, and enjoyed it hugely. Rachel Beer, the team at beautiful world*, sponsors JustGiving and the speakers did an excellent job bringing it all together, as ever. Last night was a return to an older but much-loved and very useful format: a couple of short, focussed presentations, some break-out sessions on particular topics and a panel and plenary.

The introductory presentations were two of my favourites so far because – at least out of the five or six tweetups I’ve attended – they were the most unusual. Jonathan Waddingham of JustGiving provided some insight into the next generation of their Facebook app, and the way it plans to simplify giving through Facebook, and then Amnesty International UK’s Fiona McLaren spoke about Amnesty‘s use of social media surrounding the recent protests in Egypt.

The latter was the one that felt really different and especially interesting for it. Although in specific content it’s far from what we do at Dogs Trust, actually every charity sometimes has to ride the wave of a public story. A lot of talk around social media is about creating the content, making the story and bringing it into the public eye. This was about becoming part of something already bigger than any individual or organisation and using it to send an important message to both existing and new audiences. It was fascinating stuff and I felt very glad I’d got mum to Whifflesit so I could be there to hear it first hand (even if the event was being livestreamed for the first time in a while).

A break out group led by Rachel and Ashley Clarke followed for me – others went into groups with Jon and Fiona – focussing on new and newish developments such as Facebook’s Page settings, Quora and It also segued off into an interesting discussion about brand feeds vs personal feeds and whether avatars should be logos or individuals as well as some talk of Twibbons (that’s a previous event’s presentation from my manager).

It’s thinking about that session that lead me into some other thoughts about community management that I’ve been musing over lately and meaning to blog about. I see post after post after post on what it means to be a community manager and whether it’s the same or different from a social media manager or a digital marketing manager. And of course no two community manager jobs can really be defined the same way in the particulars, just in the overall aim: to build, maintain, engage and influence a community around a particular brand, interest, message and/or product. But I got thinking about it in the context of my job title – Digital Marketing Officer – and what that means.

One of my favourite discussions about social media teams is from David Jones, from his H&K days (and it’s only five minutes, so you should totally watch it now). It defines four different people / jobs: Reconnaisance, Mad Scientist, Communications General, Community Manager. I love this because I think if you work in social media you should instinctively know which one you really are even if you do some of all those things, but sometimes the lines get so blurred it’s hard to do. I’ve been thinking about it recently because while actually at work it was hard to know for sure. Wasn’t I all of them?

Well, yes, in a way – I think everyone in this field is – but being away from the day-to-day of it let me know at heart who I am and what it is I love doing. I enjoy being part of strategic planning and I think you can’t carry out a strategy if you haven’t been involved in creating it. But if I’m totally honest I enjoy the daily implementation more. I do enjoy getting the internal buy-in and learning about / researching the big picture stuff, but get even more excited about the chance to get on and do it. So I’m maybe 20% Recon and Communications General.

I really do like trying out new tools and platforms and enjoy the buzz I get from using them in a way that results in something positive, in meeting an objective; I also love getting to grips with the language and etiquette. However, I can find it dull and frustrating at the beginning stages when it’s just a bunch of geeky early adopters talking in circles (*cough* Quora *cough*), so I’m maybe 25% Mad Scientist.

So if I’m the person that enjoys listening, talking, creating and curating content and generally being a helpful, positive voice, I must be the Community Manager (or at least 55% CM). And oh, I totally am. I miss all sorts of bits of my job at the moment, and the biggest part is actually feeling useful in the community. Sure, it can be frustrating sometimes, and occasionally I wonder if my skin is always thick enough for this. But if I ever wasn’t sure which element of the job I really own, now I am.

Of course, lots of social media jobs demand you be all four simultaneously and usually quite rightly so (though occasionally so much so it’s clear the employer doesn’t really get it and just wants one cheap uber-geek to do what at least two or three decently paid semi-geeks should be doing), and certainly you’ve all got to be holding hands and swapping skills and knowledge. Yet I’ve really found it helpful to know how, at heart, I define myself, and what I’ll be bringing back to the table – and hoping to learn – when I get back to work.

And now, bed. Or there’s no way I’ll be able to keep up with the Whiffle tomorrow.

*I feel like I should point out that my husband is now working with beautiful world as a designer, although he’s only just started doing so and I’ve attended these events loads of times before. But there you go.

Social Media Day: Chameleon Net and #nfptweetup

Yesterday was clearly social media day. Well, given my job, every day is social media day but I don’t usually have a half day seminar about all things digital in the morning followed by an nfptweetup after work. Let’s take ’em one at a time.

Chameleon Net

I went along to the seminar in place of the Digital Marketing Manager. To be honest, we were both quite suspicious that it would be an extended sales pitch, but we needn’t have worried. The salesy part was thoughtfully kept to a 5 minute add-on at the end.  There were four conveniently succint presentations but the seating was more round table which made the Q&A at the end a little less pressured; everyone prefers an intimate roundtable to being the kid putting their hands up to ask another question, right?

The sessions were on:

The Online Power Cycle – A lovely 80s themed summary of the power of iterative and cyclical testing in marketing campaigns, courtesy of Richard Kirk.

Trolls, Lurkers & Evangelists – An introduction to online communities and identifying and building those communities in view of the fact that 90% don’t contribute. A useful case study of the new USA Today Kindness community and why the speaker, Drew Davies, suspected it would not succeed (I agreed).

S0cial Fundraising – A Case Study – A look at Diabetes UK’s challenges site with useful statistics from the first six weeks (70 challenges, £50,000 pledged, £1,500 banked), from Dan Martin. Diabetes UK is of course a client of CN.

HTML 5 – Barney Stephens took us through the long term implications on HTML 5 and where we can start to plan ahead and gently implement rolling changes to be in line with the new technology when it happens (in 2022…).

If the first session sounds interesting to you, then I recommend a 3-day trip to the IDM to do the introduction to Digital Marketing course I wrote about before, because it will cover this subject in far more depth. But if you’re really brand new and nervous, then a session like this with CN will push you in the right direction.

I could also have ditched the communities session because it was at a slightly basic level given our experiences using and building social networks – they pitched to the centre, quite rightly so – but found Drew an approachable type who quite clearly feels very passionate about this area; he’s someone I would talk to about the subject in the future.

The post-coffee break bit was where it was at for me. I enjoyed hearing a case study I was unfamiliar with, with a bright, simple idea implemented well. But the real jewel in the crown was the final session on HTML 5. It’s the first time a digital marketing / social media based session has gone even a little bit techy. And it’s important. Because even if you never build a website in your entire life nothing saves you money, time and grief more than knowing what the designers / developers are talking about and being able to give them a well-considered, thoughtful and knowledgeable brief.

While it might seem like HTML 5 implementation is light years away, we all know it’s harder to suddenly bring something up to date than to start planning for it in advance. Okay, I won’t be raring to use Canvas yet, but the potential to have lightweight graphics, dynamically updated on web pages (the text to which can be edited by any user just in their browser) is exciting. I’ll probably blather on about this in a bit more detail in a future post, as I want to get on to tweetup thoughts while they’re still fresh, but it was great to be able to get to grips with the geek in me.

Two people from Chameleon Net I’ve followed before now are Jon Dytor and Ross Miles. They have two of the most different tweeting styles you can imagine. They both came to the nfptweetup. More below…

NFPTweetup 1st Birthday

This was the first tweetup at which I’d tried to lend a helping hand with the organisation; both Jacqui and I felt we’d taken lots from previous events and it was time to give back.

The agenda was to have a short presentation critiquing a Twitter feed. I was to do a corporate one (or two, actually) and Steve Bridger picked a charity feed he was relatively unfamiliar with – Diabetes UK again! – to give his thoughts. Then there were break-out discussion groups around the subjects that come up time and time again: Fundraising, Communications, Campaigns, How To… and Integration (with other media online and off).

We ended up going with our strengths; I did a short presentation on what @paulhenderson rightly described as “one of the great loves of my life”, Disney, and Jacqui facilitated the group about Comms strategy since she has the perfect mix of traditional and digital experience. Our not-so-newbie-now Lo and I then ran around helping the fantastic Beautiful World team (who organise the event along with generous sponsors JustGiving) in tweeting updates from the different discussion groups.

I’m not going to recap on all the learnings because you can do that by reading through the @nfptweetup twitter feed and searching the hashtag #nfptweetup – although I will pick out one or two points in a moment. Firstly what I will say is what I enjoyed particularly about this event.

1. The Format

I think we’ve finally cracked the nut and found something that works (although as with cyclical testing, maybe it’s good to keep tweaking, eh?). Just enough presentation time that people can warm up and get their heads around things but not so much that they’re asleep – it is in the evening after all.

2. The Venue

Okay, we were ridiculously lucky to be invited to the East Winter Garden for part of Chain Reaction, but the different kinds of seating, small room, and general informality really helped to get the discussions feeling less like tutorials and more like the information-swapping, networking and learning events they should be.

3. The Subjects

They were chosen based on Beautiful World’s feedback after every event, and they were spot on. These are the things people wanted to talk about. Almost every group also had a discussion on tone, which made the critique at the beginning quite relevant.

Now, thoughts…

One thing that came out of the integration discussion was scheduling tweets. Now, there’s a time and a place for this. If you’re pitching to an audience when it’s in a different time zone. If you want to make sure something will go out at a certain time without forgetting or because you’ll be away / in a meeting. Use judiciously, I can see it being useful. Until last night I’d never heard of anyone exclusively tweeting that way. Ross Miles surprised me. He once to help Chameleon Net be seen as thought leaders, and therefore goes painstakingly through his RSS every morning, scheduling carefully spaced out tweets linking to posts on a variety of relevant topics. At 1:30pm, every day, he drops in one related tweet about CN – no more, as he doesn’t want to spam. He is a big NFL fan and has a whole other feed just for that. There is also a general @Chameleon_Net stream.

Now, I understand why he does it – lack of time, resource, etc. But I now feel a little bit like I wasn’t following Ross! I’m a great believer in tweets with personality. In fairness to Ross and his ability to write an interesting tweet, I obviously hadn’t noticed he was doing this, so he has taken the time to inject some personality. And, again in fairness to him, he does reply to tweets and respond unplanned whenever he can. But now I know, I think it does explain why I spend far less time tweeting Ross than his colleague Jon, who is very much himself, ad hoc and at random. Should Ross be saving the scheduled tweets for the main CN stream and give a little more insight into himself (NFL an’ all) as he fits in to the bigger CN picture? I think I would prefer that. I talked about this with him at the event, by the way, in case you think this is a bit of a passive-aggressive way of communication. During the course of the evening, Steve B. responded that he thought scheduling was not a path a charity should go down. I agree.

Onto something else.

I was actually quite hard on Disney considering how much I love it. But I think it’s quite silly that a company that has such evangelical adoration attached to it has a relatively personality-free and distant @disneyparks feed, but also employs wonderfully personable, interesting and sweet people like head of the Disney Moms Panel, @lauraspencerone. It baffles me that a company full of such – pardon the pun – characters would want to have a stream that feels quite cold. And that still hasn’t answered a question I asked several days ago. I know there is a streamed video of last night’s event which I will link to when I know where, so you can tell me if you think I was harsh.

Once again, the nfptweetup has come into its own as a useful place to challenge assumptions, get tips and learn something about the wider world of the big T. Come along next time; we can always keep learning.