#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.

Your charity needs to change the way it uses Facebook

facebook logo at the beachfront


Photo credit: mkhmarketing

The eagle-eyed among you will notice I was speaking about Facebook’s tenth anniversary on Scotland Tonight this week. This gave me a good chance to reflect on how the world’s biggest social network has changed the way third sector organisations communicate. For those charities that really get Facebook it’s become a way to re-home dogs and a space for lighthearted discussions about family issues. Facebook has some incredibly powerful uses across the voluntary sector but the reality is most charities still use it as a vehicle for pumping out dull organisational updates.

Facebook was founded in 2004 as a student network, it quickly evolved in to a place where 3 in 4 UK adults connect with their friends and family. Lets not forget that Pages didn’t come along until 2007. They’ve always been an uneasy bed fellow. People are primarily on Facebook to see photos of their cousin’s baby or a video of a cat falling of a TV – they’re not there to be fed your ‘news’. That doesn’t mean your charity has no place on Facebook but it does mean that you need to tailor your content accordingly. How can you be useful or interesting to people via your Facebook Page? If you can’t tick either the useful or the interesting box it’s time to shut up shop.

This post is verging on being a rant so it’s probably worthwhile finishing up with some practical steps you can take to ensure your charity’s Facebook Page is a success in 2014:

1. Understand your audience(s)

If you’re looking to connect with more parents then chances are Facebook is going to be perfect for your organisation. If you’re using it as a campaigning tool to influence key politicians then chances are you’re wasting your time – go and open a Twitter account. Understand what makes your audience tick, what content do they want from you and what questions can you ask them that are likely to strike a chord.

2. Think mobile first

50% of UK Facebook traffic is via a mobile device. That percentage will rise massively in 2014. That means your long form content has no place on Facebook – you need to think about how you nudge people towards reading those more in-depth, complex blog posts or policy pieces on your website. My advice is to work on distilling down your content to its constituent parts or key messages. A ten-point blog post provides you with ten excellent Facebook posts to use over the next ten days – driving people back to your original content. If you have a large piece of research ask yourself what is the key question we’re trying to answer here and ask it on your Facebook Page (closed questions work best). Distilling down doesn’t mean dumbing down, treat your audience with respect but understand that when they have a spare two minutes on the bus to look at Facebook you need to capture their imagination in a crowded news feed.

3. Plan. Plan. Plan.

How do you currently decide what content is going to go on your Facebook Page? Chances are you boot up your laptop on a Monday morning, sigh to yourself that the Facebook Page needs updating and then default to that dull organisational update I mentioned earlier. A simple content plan will change everything. For each month of the year write down a blog post idea, the more seasonally relevant you can make it the better. Once you’ve done that you not only have a blog content plan but you can start to use the key themes from the blog across your other channels. That lengthy blog post you wrote at the start of the month gives you content gold for your Facebook Page and your Twitter account.

4. Play devil’s advocate

Stop being boring. Seriously, stop it. Think about the key questions that are important to your organisation’s work, your staff, your volunteers and your service users then ask them. Sometimes they will be controversial, sometimes you won’t like what you hear but take the leap. Lets say you’re concerned about how people with learning disabilities will fare in an independent Scotland but your charity isn’t comfortable tackling the issue head on, why not use your Facebook Page to ask your supporters. You don’t have to say we believe X and kill the conversation dead.

5. Spend some money

There’s no doubt that Page engagement has become increasingly difficult. The reality is your charity should consider allocating some marketing or comms budget to boosting posts and increasing overall Page likes. How much did you spend on branded pens or flyers last year? What was the environmental impact of all those printed products? Start small and experiment, boost those posts that have already started to gather likes, shares and comments – they’re the ones that will spread fast. For around a tenner you could reach an audience of approximately 6000 people (this figure differs from Page to Page) – no other medium allows you to connect with that many people for the price of four coffees.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I’d really love to know what works for your organisation. Leave a comment below or drop me a tweet.

Give a homeless child a Christmas to remember – become a #SocialMediaSanta

Social media santa

For the last two years the good people of Twitter have rallied 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. In total there’s 4754 kids homeless in Scotland right now.

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

– Check out some of the best books for children, 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. Include ‘#SocialMediaSanta’ and your contact details if possible. 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:

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


I’ll be sending a toy this week, I’d urge everyone who follows me on twitter to do the same. Lets make it a really special Christmas. Help spread the word by sharing this blog post and using the #SocialMediaSanta hashtag.

Social Media for Social Good – Glasgow 3rd Dec 2013



Take a colleague or a friend for free. Simply submit two booking forms, clearly stating ‘free place’ under your colleague/friend’s name on the second form. Forms should be sent to john.robertson@gcvs.org.uk before 5pm Fri 14th Nov to qualify. You will be invoiced after the event.

Huge thanks to GCVS for this generous offer!


Scotland’s third sector social media conference returns to Glasgow on Tuesday 3rd December 2013. 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.

Highlights include:

Special Q&A session – Social media and the press
Kenny Farquharson – Deputy Editor, Scotland on Sunday

Lifeboat stories: how and why RNLI work with volunteer press officers in Scotland
Henry Weaver – Press Officer for Scotland, RNLI and Richard Smith PR Manager for Scotland, RNLI

Why on earth are we all using social media anyway?
Sarah Drummond – Co-Founder and Director of Design, Snook

Son, carer and campaigner: raising awareness of dementia carers using digital tools
Thomas Whitelaw – Campaigner, Tommy on Tour and The ALLIANCE

How to avoid the classic social media pitfalls
Craig McGill – Digital Strategist, Weber Shandwick

Full programme and booking form below. Tweet me or leave a comment if you have any questions.

Social Media for Social Good Dec 2013 – Programme

Social Media for Social Good Dec 2013 – Booking Form

I’m now Head of Communications at Relationships Scotland

Well the post title says it all really. I now have the pleasure of working with national counselling, mediation and family support charity Relationships Scotland as their Head of Communications – two days per week.  I’m incredibly excited about this new position and look forward to getting started later this month.

I’ll be splitting my week between the Head of Comms role and my position as Director of Third Sector Lab. Things have grown considerably at Third Sector Lab – we now have a much bigger team providing social media training & strategy development, social media support for events and website design. We’ve also got a much-needed new website for the Lab in the pipeline. Here’s just a few of the organisations we feel privileged to call recent clients:

  • SCVO
  • Relate
  • Oxfam Scotland
  • Lifelink
  • Dunfermline Advocacy
  • SCLD
  • Inspiring Scotland
  • GCVS
  • The Conservation Volunteers
  • Voluntary Action Fund

As well as being an incredibly exciting role, the Head of Comms position with Relationships Scotland is really important from a business point of view. It keeps me grounded in the reality of the challenges Scottish charities face. Not every organisation has a whacking great comms budget and most certainly don’t have the privilege of a full-time comms team – that’s something we always bear in mind at Third Sector Lab.

I’m looking forward to connecting with lots of you in my new role at Relationships Scotland while continuing to develop the digital media work we do at Third Sector Lab.

5 reasons I’m excited about Social Media for Social Good Glasgow

Scotland’s third sector digital media conference returns to The Albany Learning and Conference centre on 17th May and I’m pretty bloody excited. Here’s why…

1. We’ll get the inside track on how the #EqualMarriage campaign harnessed the power of social media

{Jump to 4.08 to listen to Tom French who will be speaking at our event}

2. Stephen Naysmith, The Herald, will be openly exploring how charities and social entrepreneurs can use social media to effectively connect with ‘traditional’ journalists.

3. We’ll have workshops centred around real-life case studies from the likes of National Trust for Scotland, Young Scot, Scottish Athletics, Youth Football Scotland and Leith Library.

4. It’s a chance to meet other third sector professionals interested in getting the most out of their online presence.

5. Leah Lockhart, The Improvement Service, and Marc Bowker, formerly Quarriers, will be looking at the often overlooked issue of how social media fits within your organisational culture.

Book your place today