Media Trust Twitter for Charities Event (July 2009)

Yesterday Jacqui and I pootled over to Millbank for a Twitter for Charities event organised by Media Trust and chaired by the voice of common sense, Rachel Beer. If you’re on Twitter and want to follow Media Trust events, search the hashtag #mtevents. It serves for all.

This was an exceptionally good conference for a number of reasons:

  • It was short, sweet and to the point
  • It was focussed on one tool, which made it easier to keep on topic
  • The speakers, Rachel Beer and Daren Forsythe (formerly of the BBC & Media Trust) were excellent
  • Fellow members of the panel, Carly from Elephant Friends and Fliss from Media Trust had great case studies to mention
  • The questions were intelligent and prompted good discussion
  • A member of senior management was there! Joy!

I honestly believe that the next stage is holding conferences not just for the people who are using the tools – surely those should be practical workshops, really – but for those who need to be convinced that their team should be using them. We need to be talking metrics, successes, importance and, yes, pitfalls with the people who have ultimate responsibility for communications, fundraising and marketing.

Anyway, here were some things that came out of the day that I thought were worth mentioning as they are critical to understanding the role of social media and using social tools effectively:

  • You don’t necessarily need a social media policy (though some comms guidelines are fine). You do need an integrated, comprehensive and positive policy for communications, fundraising and marketing.
  • Twitter is not an objective. You use Twitter as a tool among many to meet your objectives.
  • If you’re unclear about your objectives, wait until you know what they are before using the tools.
  • Having a positive statement of what you can do online (perhaps an ‘our voice’ statement instead of a ‘policy’) is much better for all concerned than a negative policy. Rachel here sited Intel’s example of rules of engagement.

All of this, once again, proves that my conviction that social media is another avenue for responsive customer service is well-founded. And I’ll continue to believe that until I have any sort of compelling reason not to.

Media Trust – Managing Social Media

I’ve been a wee bit cheeky and broken a rule of social media – being topical and timely – by only blogging about this even three days after it happened, but in my defence I did tweet throughout! We were unable to attend the whole event, which featured the following line-up:

Chair – Daren Forsyth, former Director of Innovation and New Media, Media Trust / BBC

Michael Waugaman (Consultant) – Seeding, growing and managing a community

Jasmine McGarr (Tempero) – Voice of moderation: safety and reputation management

Dean Russell (Precedent) – An overview of third sector social networking

As well as a case study from us, and the chance to be in the second Q&A session. J presented, overcoming her nerves, and I piped up in the Q&A since many of the questions were from people wanting to know about the everyday nuts and bolts. We were lucky enough to see Dean Russell’s presentation; lucky because he speaks an awful lot of common sense about how to start, which websites to consider, how to gain internal buy in and the ‘voice’ you should be trying to project. Luckily, he likes Dogs Trust – I beamed when he said he really enjoyed following us on Twitter because of our good professional / personal balance of tweets.

As is often the case with these events, the Q&A gets to the heart of the issues much more than the presentations, no matter how good they are. It is where the meat of the problem is finally chewed on, and I was asked one of the best questions I had been so far: “If you had to choose only two sites to focus on, which would they be?”. The woman in question had very little time or resource. I said Twitter and Facebook because you can achieve the most on these two with the least amount of time; we’ve just rehomed a second dog thanks to Twitter conversations, and in a year 40,000 people have amassed on Facebook, which makes it easy to send out updates to a lot of people quickly. But it was definitely an interesting question, and one that I hadn’t been asked before.

Then I was asked the other question – “do you think your job will be the same in 3-6 months time?”. The way it was asked, it was very clear that what was meant was “isn’t your job just a bit made up and a fad?”. Perhaps it would be if all I did was specialise in very specific community moderation, but I am involved in all aspects of digital marketing. Right now we’re looking into integrated online and offline campaigns, for example. I replied “probably not, but I’m alright with that,” and went on to explain how to me, social media is just another form of traditional, good old-fashioned customer service and marketing. I have found that my particular skills lend themselves to the online world more than the offline, but the end result is still the same.

I’m just a writer who has a knack for online customer service, and forming relationships. Nothing strange, shortlived or particularly new about that, is there?