Our Digital Future

Apologies for the gap in my blogging activity. I’ve had my head down concentrating on our forthcoming BBC Lifeline Appeal, which the BBC are filming next week. I’m looking forward to meeting Craig Revel Horwood – he’s presenting the TV appeal for us, so I’m going to pop along and get some photos and video that I can use to start getting the word out about for the appeal, which will be televised on Sunday July 15 at about 4pm.

I’ve also been tied up dealing with a backlog of website issues that we have to get sorted before we can proceed with the more exciting task of building a new one. The planning of that is in the early stages, and I’m about to convene a working group here at NOS so that we can start to map out the process and engage some external expertise.

My ongoing development of a Digital Strategy is in train. I’m planning a session with a key stakeholder group at next week’s Volunteer and Members Committee meeting in London. This committee reflects the traditional NOS supporter in terms of demographic but a survey monkey I have sent out in advance about their communication habits reveals a real mix of digital know-how. I’m intending to take the opportunity to get them all fired up about the power of social media. By the end of the meeting I want them all to be signed up to facebook and twitter so that they can lead the revolution out in the field.

Will keep you all posted.

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Going backwards to move forwards

You often have to take a step back before you can make a meaningful and measurable step forward. This is the case here at NOS with regard to our digital strategy. Before I’ve even begun plotting our upward digital curve it’s clear that we have to take a good look at the state of our foundations before we start building on top.

The website is the foundation stone of digital communications. Since www.nos.org.uk was launched back in 2008 the earth has moved, the digital world has turned and the cracks are now showing. There’s now a clear consensus here at NOS that we need a new website. Here’s why:

  • It is out of date in style and function (and a lot of content).
  • It does not fulfil our growing needs in terms of design, functionality and interactivity.
  • It’s costly to run – there are cheaper alternatives
  • Administration rights are limited, only our website editor can use the CMS
  • There is a general feeling of despondency because of the backlog of issues
  • The website is the platform on which we will need to grow our digital communications, so it needs to be as good as it can be

So, my digital strategy journey has a different starting point – which is a bit further away from the finishing line than I originally thought. Luckily stamina is something I’ve got buckets of. So onwards we go…  

If you are reading this and you have expertise in resolving software and IT issues around NetCommunity and Raisers Edge, or have a proven track record in helping medium sized charities create fantastic websites then I’ll be happy to hear from you.

Connections are the key and content is king

I gained a lot of insight from my Digital Strategy workshop with Action Planning.

Trainer Bertie Bosredon shared some fascinating insights into how Breast Cancer Care started utilizing social media, enabling all its staff with personal twitter accounts to feed their area of work within the charity. BCC are quite similar in size and scope of service to NOS, so it was really useful to see how they have seperated the social media channels so that fundraising and support services do not clash in terms of content, launguage, tone, etc.

This is the way we are going, with our new bone rangers challenge facebook page and our general facebook profile. And bit by bit, staff are joining in by creating professional facebook and twitter accounts. The next step is a staff survey to find out who is already using social media and who would like to start doing it for work so we can get more staff talking about their work online.

Another valuable thing I took from the training day was the story of Bertie’s mother in law, who is in her 60s and lives in France, and her incredible journey of discovery of new technology (a computer, digital camera) and the internet (email, skype)rapidly followed by total engagement with social media (blog, picasa). This gave me hope in facing what I thought was one of our major challenges as a charity – the demographic of our following and their digital expertise/interest. It showed me that there are no limits on engagement and no barriers to connecting with our existing audience online – as long as we have content that they are interested in. Content is always king.

 

It’s D-day

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Today is the day that the digital revolution begins at the National Osteoporosis Society.

As communications manager three months in post I’m now setting myself a digital challenge – and I’ll be using this blog to document the process and hopefully get some people interested in the charity along the way. Maybe you can offer me advice? Or perhaps my experience will inspire your own digital evolution?

So, let’s get started…  From this day on, digital communications are going to be at the heart rather than the periphery of everything we do. That’s not to say that we are in the dark ages here at the National Osteoporosis Society because solid foundation stones have been laid in the shape of:

  • a functional and informative website (netcommunity linked to raisers edge)
  • facebook and twitter following (but not a lot of conversation)
  • newsletters going out to special groups (but we don’t have a general interest one for visitors to the website to subscribe to)
  • Donate Now and text giving facilities
  • a new blog to help market our conference
  • committed enthusiastic staff throughout the organisation who are willing to learn and keen to do more, time and resources allowing

My first step is to write a digital strategy that will:

  • map out the development of social media channels and mobile communications
  • help focus our communications with well-directed content and quality conversation
  • explore ways of bringing older followers along with us on the journey rather than disenfranchising them
  • support the charity team in finding its ‘voice’ – staff need to engage with social media to help embed it in our culture
  • utilise the best knowledge and technology
  • be operationally realistic and measurable in terms of effectiveness and ROI  

This, I hope, will help achieve the following goals:

  • increase our network of new followers to help build our supporter base
  • enhance our relationship with supporters through better targeted communications
  • help the charity engage with a younger, broader audience
  • raise awareness of osteoporisis and fragility fractures
  • support our work and reputation in the political, academic and healthcare arenas
  • embed digital communications in the wider communications and strategic plan so that it is fully integrated across the charity

So, D-day is here. I’m going to London tomorrow for a Digital Strategy for Charities event, I’m reading Social Media for Social Good, following Heather Mansfield’s blog and signed up to the Guardian’s Voluntary Sector Network. Any other tips welcome…

I’m also extremely grateful to Richard Hudson from the Meningitis Trust for his time and advice. It’s hugely impressive what they have achieved with social media in the last two years. If we can do the same I will be delighted. ;-D