A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about some of the most useful things I’d learnt from attending the NFPTweetup meetings held in London. The eighth event was held on 15th September and, having had a couple of days to reflect on what we saw and discussed, I’d like to add the following three things to that list of useful learnings.
1 – coordination of activity across social media platforms and other activities is vital to generating the most benefit. Roberto Kusabbi from British Heart Foundation shared their story of this year’s London to Brighton cycle event which saw the charity use multiple and linked social media platforms more than ever before.
The team learned from 2009 that there was a lot of social media potential for the event and in 2010 created a linked programme of activity to not just reach as wide an audience as possible but to also try and engage with them. The specific event programme included:
- a Facebook page which generated more than 200,000 page impressions
- 15 hours of live blogging from the event which generated more than 3,000 visitors (Robert sat at his PC until his fingers smoked!)
- real-time twitter communications from the BHF team as well as supporters and participants. Their event twitter hashtag #L2B was mentioned more than 4,000 times!
- video stories of the 14 year old chap with heart disease who completed the event. The films followed him before, during and after the event.
- The event team on the ground was involved in posting updates too, encouraging the crowds to do likewise and keeping everyone up to date and involved.
Tragically, a participant died during the event and the team also had to think very quickly about how to communicate the information as rumours started to spread across the various platforms from other participants. Again, tying in traditional event and PR disciplines with social media proved the most effective way to go. Being honest with followers wherever possible, being respectful to participants and the deceased’s family whilst information was patchy and communicating with riders via social media whilst the event was halted for medical teams to arrive. Excellent work in very challenging circumstances.
2 – creativity and a compelling story still captures the attention and imagination of audiences. Even in the fast-moving world of social media where it’s easy to think we’ve seen everything. Yvonne Struthers from the RAF Benevolent Fund shared what I can only describe as a brilliantly imaginative social media campaign. I can’t do justice to the thinking and effort behind The 1940 Chronicle concept in a blog so please do watch the video to see Yvonne describing the campaign.
In a nutshell, they created a modern online newspaper utilising real stories from the period around the Battle of Britain (BofB day was 15th September). Columnists were effectively fictitious characters from the time and included pilots, nurses and support staff from real airfields. Their stories were told as diaries across twitter, Facebook and the website with pictures and videos appearing on Flickr and Youtube. Each RAFBF team member played the part of one of the characters for the period of the campaign (around 3-4 months) and communicated in character throughout. This bought what is effectively a 70 year old story for some, and only history for others, into today’s vernacular and enabled audiences to interact with characters and stories from one of the most pivotal periods in British history.
And of course there are fundraising links and opportunities throughout!
3 – both these charities will continue activity beyond the core event. Lots of social media activity built around events seeks to generate support and a buzz prior to and during the event. But valuable engagement (ie; fundraising, advocates for the cause and volunteers) is much more likely to result if relationships built can be maintained. RAFBF is considering how to develop the characters created, and the followings they have built, into future activity. BHF will be maintaining communications with it’s event followers to build stronger relationships with the charity as well as in advance of next year’s event.
The presentations and more information will be available on the NFPTweetup site very soon so check them out if you want to know more. Thanks again to the organisers at Beautiful World and Just Giving. The next event is on 25th November so keep an eye on the NFPTweetup web page for further details as well as thoughts, results and useful findings from this latest event.
Kevin Baughen is the Founder of Bottom Line Ideas, a charity Trustee and serial volunteer.
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