Thursday, 9 May 2013

Guiding and Social Media part two

Hopefully you've seen part one of this series, extolling the benefits of using Social media for your Rainbow, Brownie, Guide or Senior Section unit. This is the write up of the intermediate session run by Rosie from CHQ - again if you've not had this training locally please do direct your local guiders to this post. 

So, lets work on the basis that you're tweeting. You have your unit facebook page up and running and are using it to keep in touch with friends and family. You might have a closed (or secret) group for your Rangers and it's all working well. 

What now? How can you extend your use of social media and  most importantly make it work for you? 

Ultimately of course that's the main question. We're all volunteers - we don't want to be attached to our laptops and smartphones any more than we have to be. I don't know about you but I didn't volunteer as a leader to add a few extra hours each day sweating over Twitter. We need to make our social media channels work for us, not the other way around.

The power of social media lies in it's speed, and the way it encourages engagement. If we're going to campaign we can make use of those strengths to create and sustain a buzz around our message, reach a larger audience over a longer time and ultimately strengthen our message. All in all this means that we increase our impact. 

The starting point of any campaign is the end point. Identify what result you want and work backwards from there. 

  • Be specific - is it more volunteers you want? Or in fact do you want 2 new Rainbow leaders?
  • Will you be able to tell you've achieved your goal? Make it measurable
  • Are you being realistic? Is having every unit in your County fully staffed at all achievable?
  • When do you want this to happen by? By being time bound we give ourselves a framework (Again, be realistic!)

The next thing to think about with your planning is who do you want to target? And which social media is appropriate?  Personally I'm a twitter fan* as I feel that you reach a wider audience. Facebook's new(ish) policy whereby you pay to promote your page means that actually your reach is hugely reduced. I've got 100 'fans' on the Penelope's Pantry facebook page, yet my last status update reached 6 people - especially annoying as that was for a competition I'm running giving away a £50 Sainsburys voucher. 

Twitter has no limits like that and as I mentioned before the national Girlguiding page actively follows units and RTs campaign tweets - be it recruitment, event publicity or just #weekendguiding activities. Also with twitter you can schedule tweets using a programme like Tweetdeck so that your message goes out at different times during the day so catches people as the Twitter audience changes. 

When you're developing your campaign, think about it in three stages:

  1. The build up... you want to raise interest
    • Hook people in by making it interesting. Use a call to action or question in your tweets. Sound enthusiastic - no one is going to be excited if your status update reads "Going to camp on Wednesday. Dreading it. Weather's awful. Guides are stressed" I hate to sound PRish, but spin that fear, why not tweet "Guides and leaders nervous about camping in this terrible weather! Anyone have any suggestions for surviving torrential rain on camp?"
    • Encourage engagement. 
    • Answer people's responses to you
    • Use hashtags # or link people using handles (their twitter name, which starts with the @ symbol - mine is @penjy) to involve others. 
  2. The event itself
    • Encourage attendees to participate. Ask people to post what they're up to, and to share what you're doing - don't limit yourself to words, use pictures, videos - anything that tells the story. Offer a prize - best picture tweeted on the day wins a Middlesex east thermal mug! 
    • Nominate someone to tweet during the event - set up a hashtag and tell people what it is -  it could be something simple like #guidecamp or something really specific like #MEGA2012 
    • When you can, try and make sure there's somewhere accessible with wifi or 3G coverage so that attendees can join in with their media
    • Make use of other media like Instagram and again use hashtags and handles in those feed to involve others
  3. After the event
    • Encourage people who attended to again share their updates, pictures, videos (ensuring that relevant permissions have been obtained)
    • Curate the event - if you've had a lot of coverage and want to capture it all in one place, use something like Storify to draw it all together
    • Keep the conversation going - ask follow up questions
  4. Evaluation
    • Ask for feedback - you can use something like Survey monkey in case people would prefer to be anonymous
    • Did your campaign work? Did you reach that goal?
    • What went well?
    • What would you do differently? 
    • Don't beat yourself up about things that didn't go well - learn from them.
Before this really drags on a few final things to think about

Social media is not just about taking - you need to give as well - so, if you see a unit (even if they're at the other end of the country to you) selling badges for a GOLD trip, RT it. Who knows what badge hungry guiders, or units in search of a challenge badge to fill those few weeks before camp you have following you?

Think about your brand - select your profile picture carefully, and think about what it looks like on screen.

Don't give yourself Guiding fatigue - make sure you've got at least one other person staffing those accounts so it's not all down to you. 

Think about your tone of voice - I tend to keep tweets chatty and friendly. I'm not presenting to the board!

Use apps to help you - I've mentioned Tweetdeck and Hootsuite which will notify you of and help you to keep on top of any mentions you get.

Just be aware of your data allowance - I'm deliberately on Three so that I have unlimited data. Similarly remember your charger! All too often I'm just out of battery when the guides have formed a perfect human pyramid whilst in full uniform on a bouncy castle singing Taps. Ok maybe not exactly that, but you get the picture. 

A huge thank you to Rosie from GirlGuiding CHQ whose workshop this is all based on. I've just written it up, she did all the hard work *Brownie thank you claps*

And now my call to action - have you got any questions? Any? At all? About anything in either of these posts? Either comment here or send me an email at and I'll bring them all together in a Social Media superpost and ask Rosie and the Social Media team at HQ to answer them all on here. I may even chip in myself ;-) 

As an aside, if you're reading this and fancy winning a £50 Sainsbury's voucher either for yourself, or to put towards the food bill for this summer's Guide camp or Brownie holiday, why not enter the competition I'm running here - for a recipe using your favourite Kitchen Hero or storecupboard staple from Sainsburys? You don't need to be a blogger, just pop your recipe in the comments section and Sainsbury's will pick their favourite!

*Something which no one was surprised at. Ever.

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