I am ridiculously excited to be posting the first guest blog on this site. It is by Claire Bayley, Talking Newspaper Co-ordinator for Thomas Pocklington Trust based in Stourbridge. Claire responded to this post in which I offered copies of the Creative Citizen’s Variety Pack in return for stories about ways people are using digital tools. It is fascinating to read about what has helped Claire to take on responsibility for social media in her role – and look out for some really useful social media tips in Claire’s story. Here it is.
I’ve been a fairly avid social media user for a number of years, I remember MySpace and Bebo with equal parts happiness and embarrassment when I think of the pictures and posts I used to put up. Facebook became big around my University during my first year, so of course I signed up.
After a couple of years Facebook was getting overtaken by parents and their friends, I didn’t really want them seeing tagged pictures of me from student nights out but I’m too polite to decline their Friend Request. I signed up to Twitter as a form of safe haven. I soon saw why it had become such a success, as Stephen Fry once said “It’s not called social change or heavy debate… It’s called Twitter!” If anyone can find a better explanation please email me. I tend to do a lot of retweeting, mostly of silly accounts that accurately express my love of pizza and Gogglebox.
I work for the Thomas Pocklington Trust at the Stourbridge Resource Centre based in Oldswinford. The main part of my job is running the Black Country Talking Newspaper, we record audio news articles that get sent out to over 200 blind and partially sighted people each week in the Dudley borough. I have a fairly technical background and am not afraid of computers and digital media so (I think) for that reason I have recently been asked to head up Social Media for our centre. At first I was excited but then it clicked just how daunting a prospect this is… I’m responsible for our social media presence around the world and all I really do is post pictures of my dogs!
I went to a conference in February run by Sound Delivery (@sounddelivery), a digital media training, production and consultancy company. It was an intense day to say the least but I will say the word beneficial is an understatement. I went along as someone who uses Social Media on personal time to kill time; but I left feeling so inspired to change the world with my tweets!
The theme of the day was ‘being the story’ I started with a talk from Chris Cox (@coxness) the Digital Communications Manager for Mind, he spoke about the importance of developing a digital content strategy. I soon learnt this is paramount for any organisation in 2015. I’ll share some of the things I learnt with you here…
- Put yourself in your audience’s shoes – ask yourself what are they Googling for?
- Broadcast media was a blip – we’re now coming back to peer-to-peer media and storytelling.
- Content is king.
- On Facebook, don’t post more than twice per day, people will soon get bored. However, on Twitter you can post to your heart’s content!
It is also worth looking at how engagement is measured. Here are the three main goals…
- Applause (likes & favourites),
- Conversation (comments & replies), and
- Amplification (shares & retweets).
The latter is the one to focus on.
After leaving the conference I realised that whilst we give so much of ourselves on social media, we must also protect ourselves as individuals. I don’t follow anyone I work with on Twitter nor am I friends with them on Facebook. My personal Facebook page is as good as empty to anyone who views it who is not a ‘friend’. If anyone chooses to follow my personal Twitter account then I won’t stop them if they manage to find it. I do not advertise it though and I have a disclaimer about any opinions shared in the little ‘about me’ bit. One of the things I have struggled with is how to set up all of this without leaving my own profiles vulnerable. It is difficult, but it is still do-able and as long as you are happy with the page security you set up and don’t post anything really stupid then in my opinion, you will be fine. Don’t let it hold you back because you will get left behind.
I will leave you with this – stories make the world go round – think of Finding Nemo, it is in effect a story about the power of the story. Why not post stories about yourself, your journey, or the journey of a carer or volunteer? It does not all have to be about the service user (although don’t leave them out altogether!) That’s all the wisdom I have so far. Now, to quote Sound Delivery – get out there and be the story!
Credit & thanks to Chris Cox of Mind and Jude Habib (@judehabib) of Sound Delivery.
You can get in touch with Claire by email: firstname.lastname@example.org on the new twitter account @TPT_Stourbridge and there will be a TPT Stourbridge Resource Centre Facebook page coming soon!