Become a #socialmediasanta and give a homeless child a Christmas to remember

For the last three years the good people of Twitter have come together to give homeless children across Scotland a Christmas to remember. Shelter Scotland have hundreds of boys and girls – aged from 6 months to 16 years – at their families projects who might not get a present this year. There’s over 4000 kids homeless in Scotland right now.

Us Twitter users can make a real difference to these children, so why not join us as a #SocialMediaSanta. Here’s how:

- Check out this year’s best books for kids, top toys and great games. Lots of which are under a tenner.

- Select an online retailer or support a local toy shop and pick a gift.

- If buying online: Add to Basket, use Shelter’s address at checkout (below) and add a wee message using the ‘gift’ option if available. Shelter Scotland would like to thank you personally for your gift.

- If buying in a local toy shop: Send to Shelter Scotland (address below) or drop it off at their office. Include ‘#socialmediasanta’ and your contact details on the outside of the parcel if possible. Shelter Scotland would like to thank you personally for your gift.

- Voila. You’ve made a kid who might not have otherwise got a present very happy this year.

Here’s the full address for Shelter Scotland, they’ll be distributing presents to the families projects in Glasgow, South Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Dundee:

Social Media Santa, Shelter Scotland, Scotiabank, 6 South Charlotte street, Edinburgh, EH2 4AW

I’m not sending out cheesy corporate gifts this year, instead I’ll be sending a present on behalf of each of my clients. Lets make it a really special Christmas. Help spread the word by sharing this blog post and using the #SocialMediaSanta hashtag across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Why not take a photo of the gift you bought and use the hashtag!

3 ways housing associations can embrace social media

My role at Third Sector Lab has allowed me to work with a number of housing associations and housing charities on social media training and strategy development. Digital isn’t about asking staff to find an additional four hours a week to ‘do’ social media. Rather it offers housing associations an opportunity to get their job done more effectively and efficiently than ever before. For me there are three key areas where housing associations can really make the most of social media – community building & customer service, thought leadership and storytelling.

Community building & customer service
Many housing associations have chosen a Facebook Page as their primary space to engage residents online when in actual fact a Facebook Group may be more appropriate for their needs. A simple Google search of ‘Facebook Groups vs Pages’ will help you weigh up the pros and cons. To paraphrase, a Page is a great marketing tool but it’s rare to see one work as an an online community for residents – that’s where Groups really come into their own.

Like many housing associations, Yarlington Housing Group had a small core group of involved residents, but the majority were older and retired. Ken Comber, Head of Communities at Yarlington, wanted to engage younger, more diverse tenants to become part of their resident focus groups. It was important that barriers, such as mental health, physical disability or location, didn’t impede the housing association’s methods of communication. With that in mind, Ken took the plunge and developed a Facebook group called Yarlington Chat. 18 months on, the group now has over 3200 residents signed up.

Yarlington Housing have found that while there are occasional complaints and criticism, most of the posts residents make are positive. Staff have built meaningful relationships with residents, increasing take up of opportunities, such as on training and digital inclusion projects. Ken also found that residents were answering each other’s questions and this resulted in fewer queries coming in to the office – streamlining the business.

Real friendships were formed. Isolated members of society became involved in the communities around them online. Members were offering help and support to each other in areas as diverse as depression and housing benefits. For Yarlington, their Facebook Group has become both a key customer service channel and a vital community building tool.

Thought leadership
Working in the social housing sector is about so much more than providing accommodation. Whether it’s the bedroom tax or making housing affordable for first time buyers there’s some huge issues affecting the sector. Every housing association should have a blog where your Chief Executive, Chairperson or policy specialist can offer their insights on the big issues. If you’re new to blogging a great role model to look towards is Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). JRF blog posts are genuinely interesting or useful and never focus on organisational ‘news’, for example: ‘Care about poverty? Here are 10 reasons why you also need to think about ethnicity’ or ‘The #indyref debate on housing in Scotland needs to go beyond the so-called ‘bedroom tax’. If your housing association doesn’t currently have ability to blog look at guest blogging on sites with existing audiences, such as The Guardian Housing Network. A blog used in tandem with an active Twitter presence is a formidable communications tool.

Storytelling
Video and audio are hugely underused mediums within the social housing sector. While dull, lengthy corporate videos are ten a penny it is rare to see short, engaging content that tells the difference housing associations make on a daily basis. Using simple, free apps like Soundcloud, Audioboo, Instagram Video, Vine and YouTube frontline staff can become social reporters, demonstrating the impact of their work as they go via short conversations with residents. Audio storytelling in particular lets you focus on a person’s voice. In many ways, it’s a more intimate form of storytelling than using video. People are often more comfortable speaking into a microphone than they are looking into a camera.

How could your housing association embrace social media?

This article originally appeared in the Nov 2014 issue of Housing Scotland Magazine.

Social Media for Social Good – Glasgow 5th Dec 2014

Scotland’s third sector social media conference returns to Glasgow on 5th December 2014. I’ve worked with GCVS to programme the line-up of speakers and workshops – which is pretty damn impressive if I don’t say so myself. The focus is very much on learning, debate and making connections. We’ve kept ticket prices low so it’s accessible to all budgets. You’re welcome along whether you work in the charity, public or private sector.

Workshops and talks include:

#Indyref uncovered – Social media lessons from the Scottish Referendum campaign
Kevin Gilmartin – Digital Communications Officer at Glasgow University (Previously Digital Media Producer at Yes Scotland)

#Icebucketchallenge lessons – How Facebook propelled MND Scotland’s biggest ever fundraising campaign
Iain McWhirter – Head of Fundraising and Volunteering at MND Scotland

One man mission – How an award winning campaigner uses social media to raise awareness of dementia
Tommy Whitelaw – Project Engagement Lead, Health & Social Care Alliance Scotland

Search engine secrets – Using SEO for awareness raising, fundraising and more
Conrad Rossouw – Digital Manager at Shelter Scotland

Funder’s perspective – How you can use social media to achieve your aims and demonstrate outcomes
John Fellows – Head of Communications, Big Lottery Fund Scotland

Super storytelling – Using simple video & audio to transform your case studies
Rosie McIntosh – Communications Strategy Consultant, Third Sector Lab

Connected housing – How housing associations and social housing charities can utilise social media
Ross McCulloch – Director, Third Sector Lab & Head of Communications, Relationships Scotland

Young people online – Safety, privacy and policy for third sector organisations
Claire Connachan – Senior Communications Development Worker, Youth Scotland

Goal setting – Crafting a simple social media strategy
Leah Lockhart – Director, Relate Lab

Dads rock – Using Facebook, Twitter and more to engage dads, raise funds and campaign
Thomas Lynch – Project Coordinator, Co-founder and Trustee, Dads Rock

Perfect planning – Time and multi-channel management for busy people
Carolyne Mitchell – Information Officer, South Lanarkshire Council

Five simple ways to get everyone in your organisation passionate about social media

I cannot believe I’m writing a piece on getting everyone in an organisation involved with social media in 2014, but the reality is most charities and public sector organisations are a long way off truly embracing the medium. Technology isn’t really the issue – it all boils down to trust. That isn’t to say that managers feel their staff will spend all day tweeting photos of their cat, but most don’t feel confident managing a strategic approach to using social channels.

While it’s easy to brush off social media as the responsibility of your marketing or communications person (if you’re lucky enough to have one), if you do, you’re missing a trick. Data shows that employees have greater reach, more influence and generate more revenue than official, branded organisation accounts. The organisation that taps into the reach and influence of its employees is much more likely to succeed in the social age.

So, if you’re tasked with making social media work within your organisation, how do you ensure everyone is on board? Here’s my five top tips which originally appeared in my article for the summer edition of Children in Scotland Magazine:

1. Show people that social media can help them get their job done
Staff don’t have an extra four hours in the week to ‘do’ social media. You need to show them how social media can help get their job done, how you can achieve your team’s goals and how you can reach your key audiences. You need a strategy. It’s a scary word, but, with a framework, you can create something meaningful and succinct.

2. Ensure people feel protected and empowered
If your social media policy was written by your IT-support person, it’s probably 15 pages long and terrifying as hell. He/she may be great at keeping your server ticking over, but they shouldn’t be single-handedly responsible for defining how your organisation communicates with the outside world. You need a policy that protects staff and your organisation, while making staff feel empowered and trusted, allowing them to experiment and drive your online communications. And it needn’t be more than one side of A4.

3. Create social media champions within each team
A strategy is great but without people driving it forward you’ll get nowhere. Start small and recruit social media champions who can get their team enthused – this also gives you a better opportunity to demonstrate impact to executive level staff. Give champions ownership of the channels they’re most experienced with and passionate about. Don’t make your video content champion the person who has never held a camera before.

4. Give volunteers and service users a meaningful role
At Third Sector Lab we spend a lot of our time training volunteers and service users to become social reporters for third sector conferences and events. The rich audio and video content these reporters create really tells the story of a conference in the way a written report cannot. How can you involve volunteers and service users in your online communications in a way that empowers them and tells their story?

5. Make sure the Chief Executive believes
The organisations that thrive in the social space are usually the ones who have a Chief Executive that values staff involvement. Just look at Young Scot – their online presence is driven by Louise MacDonald’s belief that social media can help bring about social good. More importantly she trusts her staff to get the job done using whatever tools necessary. While it can feel an uphill struggle at times, getting people from across the organisation involved in social media is worth the pain. People connect with people – they don’t connect with faceless, branded corporate accounts. If you want to use social media as a campaigning, fundraising and potentially service delivery channel you need to remember that.

Do you have any top tips for getting staff involved in your social media presence?

Digital Scotland: Future-proofing the third sector

I was recently asked to write a piece on digital inclusion and digital delivery of services for the Health and Social Care Alliance’s ‘Imagining the Future’ – a collection of think pieces providing insight into some of the essential ingredients for shaping a fairer, healthier future Scotland. Below is the full piece from the document.

 

Digital Scotland: Future-proofing the third sector

The Scottish Government has a bold ambition: Scotland should be a world-leading digital nation by 2020. It’s hard to argue against that – Independent or not it’s clear Scotland needs to embrace new technology if we are to have a truly diverse, robust economy. The Scottish Government’s ‘Digital Future’ strategy outlines four key strands: connectivity, digital public services, digital economy and digital participation. The Scottish third sector has a pivotal role to play, particularly around digital participation and public service delivery. But without a fundamental shift in thinking there is a danger the third sector will be left behind – along with vast swathes of the population.

30% of Scots don’t have basic digital skills. That figure rises to 50% of people with disabilities and 60% where the individual has no qualifications. 15% of Scots have never used the internet. A Citizen’s Advice Scotland survey found 36% of their clients have never been online. These stark figures highlight a massive societal gap that needs to be addressed if we are to achieve that 2020 vision of a digital Scotland. Access to physical technology and connectivity, particularly in rural areas, are important. But for me they’re not the big issues. We need to ensure people have basic skills needed to get online and embrace the internet. That word ‘embrace’ is key. Oxford University looked at why people choose not to use the internet in their everyday lives – 82% of respondents were ‘not interested’. Researchers found no evidence that these people are restricted from going online. They simply don’t care. For many older, disabled and unemployed people their first foray into the digital world will be mandatory online-only benefits claim forms – hardly an inspiring start. In a sense digital inclusion is more about social barriers than technological ones.

Recent research on digital exclusion from the Carnegie UK Trust recommends that ‘trusted intermediaries, such as voluntary workers, community development workers…can help to deliver the personalised, differentiated approach that is needed to help different groups of citizens in Glasgow to get online’. So third sector staff and volunteers will be key in ensuring the digitally excluded are skilled and enthused but it’s also worth thinking about that other strand of the Scottish Government’s digital strategy – digital public services. I believe the third sector can deliver innovative, effective services through a ‘digital-first’ approach. Of course we will always need face-to-face interaction with service users but let’s not use digital exclusion as an excuse for inaction. So could an Argyll & Bute counselling service save money and reach hundreds more isolated individuals if it allocated half its travel budget to video technology rather than the environmentally-unfriendly, time consuming practice of counsellors driving all over the region?

My experience on Foundation Scotland’s grants committee, chairing other funding panels and working with Scottish charities in my role at Third Sector Lab tells me that two fundamental areas need to be addressed to get the voluntary sector ready. First we need a skilled workforce ready to ask how digital technology can help us deliver cost-effective services that make a real difference to the lives of Scottish people; we need digital champions within every Scottish non-profit. Secondly we need funders to understand the difference digital can make and put their money where their mouth is. We don’t necessarily need dedicated funding streams – digital to should permeate all areas of the funding landscape. We also need to ensure grants officers have the skillset to objectively assess tech-based project applications from charities and social enterprises. Once we make that shift I believe the Scottish third sector can lead the world in digital media for social good.

Oh no not another motion

Christine Grahame MSP sums up how a lot of us in the third sector feel about Parliamentary Motions:

Oh no not another Motion—That the Parliament notes that, of around 10,000 motions lodged during the current parliamentary session, the word “congratulates” appears 4,584 times, “award” 1,500 times and “lottery” 688 times; further notes that, in the Parliament’s Business Bulletin on 12 May 2014, new motions and those with additional support take up over 40 pages; notes views that, with 15 years since the Parliament was established, it is time to review the procedure and practice of lodging motions; believes that it is appropriate for there to be two categories of motion, those that seek a members’ business debate, which should not require, as in this case, an artificial reference to Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, and motions of national relevance, and considers that congratulatory messages should follow a separate process such as a message board on the Parliament’s website or contained in an interactive display in a public area, which could include a short video or images of the individuals, groups or issues mentioned in the message, thereby saving at least 40 pages of print and cluttered in-boxes.

Are ‘congratulatory’ Motions of this sort useful or do we need to move them to a different channel as Christine suggests? 

11 Must-Read Digital Inclusion Reports & Case Studies

I sat on the recent Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy evidence panel session looking at Digital Democracy which has got me thinking more about the importance of digital within the Scottish third sector. I’ve written a short piece on digital exclusion and the role of the voluntary sector for an upcoming Alliance Scotland paper, I thought it would be worthwhile sharing some of the research. So here’s my eleven essential digital inclusion resources and research papers. There’s a definite Scottish focus to these and it’s worth noting they’re in no particular order:

1. Spreading the benefits of digital participation | The Royal Society of Edinburgh
Launched today, this report outlines findings and recommendations on how barriers to digital inclusion can be overcome so that everyone in Scotland can benefit from the digital revolution. The research considers in depth questions on the responsibilities of a digital society.

2. Digital Participation: A National Framework for Local Action | The Scottish Government
This document sets out the Government’s plans to build upon the progress being made in developing world class digital connectivity. Section 6 will be of particular interest to third sector professionals.

3. Cultures of the internet | Oxford Internet Surveys
78% of the UK population said that they use the Internet. Does this large proportion of Internet users in Britain herald the rise of a common Internet culture, or are beliefs and attitudes about the Internet as diverse as opinions can be across the general population?

4. Digital participation and the third sector | Chris Yiu, SCVO
Chris Yiu, Director of Digital Participation at SCVO, spoke at Social Media for Social Good about the digital inclusion role the third sector plays plus he touched on the need for a digital-first approach to services. He’ll also be speaking at #BeGoodBeSocial in July.

5. Get IT together case studies | Citizens Online
Tons of useful case studies from digital inclusion projects across the UK. Scroll down the page for the Scottish examples.

6. Scotland’s digital future: A strategy for Scotland | The Scottish Government
A few years old now, Scotland’s Digital Future: A Strategy for Scotland sets out in detail how the Government intend to achieve their digital ambition. The strategy looks at the four key areas of public service delivery; the digital economy; digital participation and broadband connectivity.

7. Making Digital Real: Case Studies of How to Help the Final Fifth Get Online | Carnegie UK Trust
The Carnegie UK Trust’s 7 Digital Participation Tests and 6 Case Studies of successful local projects that are tackling digital exclusion in new and innovative ways.

8. Offline and left behind | Citizens Advice Scotland
Only half of CAB clients have an internet connection at home. 36% of respondents said they never used the internet and a further 11% said they hardly ever used it. Does a digital by default approach to welfare benefits could exclude some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society from accessing the very services they rely upon?

9. Wealth of the web: Broadening horizons online | Age UK
The report looks at the obstacles to older people being online, which range from lack of interest to financial cost and lack of training and support as well as the drivers behind getting older people online which include family support and specific interests and hobbies. It’s London focused but incredibly useful for those of you working with older people.

10. Across the divide: Tackling digital inclusion in Glasgow | Carnegie UK Trust
Who is offline in Glasgow? Why are people in Glasgow offline? Research and recommendations for tackling digital participation within Scotland’s largest city.

11. Media Literacy: Understanding Digital Capabilities | BBC
A useful overview of digital skills by region, socio-economic profile, etc.

Any essential reports or resources I’ve missed? Leave the url in the comments below.

Social Media for Social Good (Glasgow, May 2014) | All the slides

I’m relaxing with a much needed beer after Social Media for Social Good. It was a particularly good line-up of speakers and workshops this time, combining thought provoking talks with genuinely useful workshops – definitely no chaff. Thanks to everyone who ran a workshop or delivered a talk and all of you who made it along. Below are the slides from the day, we’ll be back with another event in three months time…

Using case studies | @RosieHopes

Making Facebook work for regional fundraising | @Lirazelf

Y encourage local people? | @YelpGlasgow

Managing a website redesign | @Conradr

More slides will be added as they come in.

Digital Democracy – What needs to change?

I was asked to take part in a Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy evidence panel session looking at Digital Democracy this week. You can watch the full session above or if you’d rather be spared my rants here’s what I see as some of the key issues or questions we need to tackle in Scotland:

Unlocking big data

  • How can data (intelligence ) ensure we get the right services to the right people?
  • How do we ensure data isn’t kept in silos within organisations and across sectors. We can be particularly guilty of this in the charity sector.
  • Can we trust our government with our data and should people have open access to all their data?

Social media

  • Too many local government functions still treat social media as a broadcast mechanism. How do we move towards ensuring government officials at all levels can use social media as an intelligent listening and engagement tool?

Digital inclusion

  • 30% of Scots don’t have basic digital skills.
  • 15% of Scots have never used the internet.
  • Equipment and broadband access are still prohibitively expensive.
  • Are we guilty of using digital exclusion as an excuse for lack of  ’digital first’ service planning within the public and third sector?
  • Are we at risk of returning to an age when a narrow elite controlled the democratic process?

Do people actually want ‘Digital Democracy’?

  • Much of the chat around digital democracy centres on the need for people to be constantly engaged with the democratic process or community action. Lots of people want a hands-off relationship with democracy – they just want their bins emptied and well trained teachers.
  • Is there a danger that digital democracy adds even more layers of bureaucracy if it isn’t a truly fundamental shift in our thinking about democracy and government?
  • Do we need to move away from a geographically-centred approach to democracy towards a more interests-centred approach if we are ever going to engage a significant chunk of the population?

 

I’d love to know what you think on any of these questions. 

 

 

 

#DigitalAngus Free Webinars – March & April

This post was edited on 11th March to simplify the sign-up process.

Back in January I helped Angus Council programme the first #DigitalAngus event, bringing together people interested in social media for social good. One of the key pieces of feedback from attendees was the need for additional follow-up support. With that in mind I’m hosting a series of webinars hosted on Google+ covering Twitter Essentials, Social Media Strategy, Content Planning and Facebook Essentials. Full details and dates below.

If you’d like to take part please click the link(s) below related to the webinar(s) you’d like to attend. Please note places are very limited.

Twitter Essentials Google+ Hangout – Wed 12th March 1-2pm
Whether you’re new to Twitter or you’re just unclear about how it will work for your organisation this webinar is for you. We’ll discuss the importance of identifying your audiences and setting goals. We’ll look at key tools for cutting through the mass of information, including hashtags, twitter lists and dashboards like Hootsuite. You’ll come away from this session with an understanding of how Twitter can help you get your job done.

Social Media Strategy Google+ Hangout – Thu 20th March 2-3pm
Your time is precious, don’t use social media just because everyone else is. During this webinar we’ll explore the four key elements of a social media strategy: goal setting, a social media audit, deciding what you’ll say and measurement. You’ll come away with an understanding of how to align audiences to channels, making sure you get the most out of the time you spend online.

Content Planning Google+ Hangout – Wed 26th March 2-3pm
If you spend Monday morning looking at your Facebook Page or your blog wondering what on earth you’re going to talk about then this webinar is for you. Content planning is a simple but essential part of your social media strategy, giving your online presence more focus and, hopefully, more success. You’ll come away from this session with the skills needed to create a simple content calendar covering the next 12 months.

Facebook Essentials Google+ Hangout – Wed 2nd April 2-3pm
With over 1 billion user worldwide Facebook is still the social media powerhouse. That said, many charities don’t understand how to get the most out of the channel. This webinar will look at the simple technical set-up of a Page or Group and, more importantly, how you create content that really connects with your audience in a crowded world. You’ll come away from this session with a more succinct understanding of how Facebook can benefit your organisation.