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.

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.