WhatsApp: great for event team communications

photo of Bostin Tay Party flyers and beer mats on a black tableLast Thursday Dudley CVS staff were being briefed about how our first event at Brierley Hill Civic would run, and what we would need to do if we were helping out. Bostin Tay Party was a festival of food, fun and ale, and we were looking forward to throwing the doors of the Civic open to the community.

We have a Brierley Hill Civic Facebook Page and Twitter account, we’d created Bostin Tay Party event on Facebook, and we had a committed staff team on a rota to help the 2 day event run smoothly. It became apparent that it would be really helpful to have an easy and effective way of communicating between a handful of us who could stay in the loop on key decisions, split responsibility for sharing content on social media, and respond to conversation on social media. Particularly as a key member of the team on the social media front, Becky, was on leave during the run up to the event.

WhatsApp was the perfect solution. Within a matter of a minutes, before the end of the staff briefing, we’d created a WhatsApp group with 6 members. At this point it was 30 hours to the start of the event. I’ve found it interesting reviewing conversation and interactions in this WhatsApp group which we used for a total of 4 days. Below are a few things I learned which have resulted in me to wanting to use WhatsApp for any events I’m involved in organising / helping out at.

1. The WhatsApp group enabled us to swiftly get co-ordinated 

In the first 3 minutes of the WhatsApp group existing a remote team member sorted increased social media admin access across the team. No need for meetings or phone calls!

2. WhatsApp can bridge between the main social media team and others in the wider teamphotos of pint glass with Brierley Hill Civic logo on it

One the day of the event, unprompted, our Chief Officer Andy popped photos of the lovely glasses and beer arriving a the Civic. The social media team then shared them on Facebook and Twitter. This enabled us to have real time photo content without needing to be there ourselves.

3. WhatsApp helped with key information sharing and reduced workload

Donna spent the afternoon numbering the beer vouchers and setting up the entry stations, and updated us on arrangements through the WhatsApp group before she left for the day, helping to keep us all up to speed with what was what.

Our admin officer Dale said that he found the WhatsApp group conversation really useful as he could keep track of what was being done and it saved him from having to text or call people about various things. This wasn’t visible to those of us chattering away in the group, as Dale was in the group without needing to actively contribute, so it was interesting to me to learn that being in the group had helped him in this way.

4. WhatsApp helped us to see what was going on

The Bostin Tay Party started on Friday night, but some of us weren’t on the rota until Saturday. Mel took a number of photos which she shared in the WhatsApp group as well as on Facebook and Twitter, helping the team to see what was happening, and have chat about social media sharing etc.

5. We could share interesting things without waiting for a debrief

On Friday evening I spotted that Facebook has added the ‘very responsive to messages’ icon to our Facebook Page, which has to be earned to appear on your Page. I shared this with the team on WhatsApp, as congratulatory encouragement.

6. It was all so easy

It was so simple to set up the group, and everyone used it ways which were natural and instinctive to them, without any need for explanation or instruction. And as usual with great team conversation we did everything from getting work done to chattering about buses home and going to the circus!

 

I really love WhatsApp and the way it can help teams of people bond, encourage each other, get work done and share critical information widely in a timely manner. I’m in WhatsApp groups of sizes varying from 2 to 30 members, some are short-lived (such as for an event), some morph into new purposes, others have been alive and lively for over 18 months with more and more people being added over time. I’m fascinated by the way WhatsApp  helps teams to bridge with social media like Facebook and Twitter, whether it helps to share content to go out, or brings information in from those other channels to people who might not have spotted it otherwise. I’m also keen to explore the WhatsApp broadcast message function which I posted about here.

I’d really love to hear how you use WhatsApp or what might prompt you to use it.

You can learn more about how people in different sorts of organisations in Dudley are using social media at BostinCamp, we have a great session coming up on 14 October – find out more and register here. It’s a great early evening conversation, it’s free to come along, you can buy a cuppa and slice of cake and meet brilliant people.

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3 comments

  1. David Wilcox · October 2, 2015

    Hi Lorna – thanks for such a useful post (as usual:)) I’ve also been looking at telegram.com – but I guess more people are likely to be familiar with WhatsApp. There are fancier solutions like slack.com but simplest usually wins.

    • Lorna Prescott · October 2, 2015

      Thanks David. I think WhatsApp really works because people already use it (like Facebook messenger for many). I’m desperate to start using Slack with team to figure out what it could be great for and what not to use it for. I downloaded the app ages ago but clearly it doesn’t do much for a team of one! Happily I am taking an online course with someone and we have agreed to use Slack for our team discussions and assignments, so he has been showing me how we can use it. It’s early days but I can think of a few things it would be useful for in my work. The challenge is moving colleagues on to yet another platform. So if I have to keep some things to WhatsApp because people like familiar apps, that’s fine – it’s better than not having group comms and online team encouragement 🙂

  2. Good Practice Exchange · October 30, 2015

    Love this Lorna! Haven’t been using WhatsApp directly, but wrote this post about it: https://goodpracticeexchange.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/whatsapp-could-it-help-you-make-your-community-a-better-place-to-live/.

    When the Satori Lab organised GovCamp Cymru they used Google Hangouts initially (which was really useful) and then went on to use Slack. I like Hangouts as there’s a world of possibilities (including how the National Assembly have used it: https://goodpracticeexchange.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/hanging-out-with-the-national-assembly-for-wales/), and Slack is ok. But I really like that a lot of peopl already use WhatsApp – it’s already accessible and something people are generally familiar with. Slack to me just feels a bit like a snobbier WhatsApp. Happy to be proved wrong on that though!

    Cheers,

    Dyfrig

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