10 Learns from the First NFPSM

The inaugral Third Sector Social Media conference took place this week. I was stoked to attend, knowing I’d be surrounded by some of the most inspirational and interesting people in the sector, and I wasn’t disappointed.

I felt massively inspired by all the ideas, and it was a real privelege to spend time with such lovely, interesting people. I learned many’s a thing, and while I can’t remember who I learned each thing from, none of the below come from me. So apologies if this was your lesson and I fail to recall!

1. What’s your story?

@afine had a great answer to one of my many questions. Rather than advertise, charities should ask themselves what their story is, and tell it through social media. I’m now half-preparing inspiring stories from the front line of anti-bullying work I can tell in my super-exciting new role at BeatBullying

2. Build relationships with people in organisations, rather than with organisations

I missed much of @stevebridger’s talk, but I caught one tweet that captured a great trend. There is often just one person behind a brand’s social media presence, and you have a chance to build a relationship with that person. This can be the beginning of fantastic partnerships, all built through a world where brands are now much more accessible and friendly than only a few years ago.

3. Show data in ways people both enjoy and understand.

I loved the talk from Google, and the amazing demonstration of how big the oil spill in the gulf of Mexico was. Charities collect and publicise data on their causes, and using free applications like Public Data Explorer, Refine and Earth Engine, we can really make it hit home with our suporters.

4. Your supporters want to be superheroes

Tom Latchford of Raising IT gave a typically rousing talk about how we all wanted to be superheroes when we grew up, saving the world from various baddies. Nothing’s changed for your supporters – you have the chance to turn them into superheroes by letting them becoming advocates for your cause, and sending them forth to help you achieve your mission.

5. People will remember how you made them feel, not what you said or did

This really stuck with me. As charities, our work is almost always moving in one way or another, and rarely more so than when illustrated in video form.Use funny videos to tell your story like “A Love Story…in Milk” from Friends of the Earth, and give supporters feelings to remember.

6. Don’t market your next meeting; ask if you should serve muffins or pastries at it

This is a classic principle of social media – it’s a conversation, not an advertising tool. Keeping it fun and informal will let people know your next meeting is happening, but crucially, also give them a chance to have some light hearted input into it.

7. Unexpected things work – so you have to take risks

Who would have known that a cat playing the organ or a 13-year-old girl singing about the day Friday would be hits? The fact that the most unexpected content can go viral means you actually have to take risks, and try out crazy ideas. Because they might just work.

8. Have a clear call to action on your website

A great presentation from We Make Them Click on how to maximise your website’s potential. Lots of practical examples like Oxfam, who have clear buttons that get visitors to take a specific action to support the charity. If you have thousands of visitors, this can have a massive impact on your work.

9. Good branding can give you an effective campaign

The Robin Hood Tax is a fantastic movement – a simple idea whose time has come. But it was originally an old leftie idea, and as such became associated with figures that today’s young people and celebrities couldn’t identify with. The passion and commitment of its supporters made it what it is, and I couldn’t help thinking that the very cool look and feel of the campaign helped get the message across.

10. Do what you do best and network the rest

We all have our strengths. Don’t try to be all things to all people – focus on what you do best, and link to those who do the rest.

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