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Max St John

Social by the Sea: brain nuggets

Social By The Sea 2011 - Delegates

Last Friday, here at our Brighton offices, we hosted the first Social by the Sea conference on social media and the not-for-profit sector.

People from the digital, fundraising, campaigns, press and brand teams, from across WWF-UK, the RSPCA, Oxfam,Age UK and Marie Curie got together to collaborate around the challenges of embedding social media into their organisations.

We also had a few inspirational speakers from NixonMcInnes and some of our associates, to give us all something new to think about.

I’m really happy with how things turned out – from a few passing conversations between us and a couple of people at WWF-UK, RSPCA and Oxfam back in May, we ended up with a full-on conference, full of lively and interesting discussions.

We’ll be producing a report on the outcomes from the discussion sessions – the biggest challenges faced around social media and some of the approaches charities are taking – very shortly. If you’d like to make sure you get a copy, get in touch, but in the meantime, here are some of the day’s tastiest nuggets.

The discussions: integration, innovation and impact
We had two group discussions around integration of social media and innovation while maintaining impact.

In our integration sessions we talked about:
_Get the basics right: make sure all of the touchpoints with your audience (website, printed collateral, email) include your social spaces.
_Everybody is a spokesperson: social media means everyone can contribute to the organisation’s collective voice, give a broader representation and provide a more human face.
_Harness enthusiasm: seek out social champions, the people with natural skills and confidence, to bring social into their team – but make sure you provide them with the support they need.
_Everyone is competing for space: social profiles are now seen as the ‘golden landing strip’ for every team and corporate partner wanting to ‘land their plane’ (you had to be there for the metaphor) but we need to carefully manage this or we end up bombarding people with very different messages.

Our innovation and impact sessions included:
_ Innovation isn’t invention: a brilliant way of saying that innovation is finding new ways to do things, not necessarily inventing new technologies.
_Organic innovation: change driven by need, as part of the day-to-day, is often overlooked and this is sometimes the most sustainable change.
_ Work from the top: if we make sure we’re still working from the top goal(s) and strategy, we can make innovation more likely to create impact.
_Thinking small: driving change in a large organisation is sometimes best done iteratively. Take it step-by-step, small changes, one-by-one.
_Failure has value: get rid of the blame culture and allow people to fail as long as they don’t make the same mistakes – this is a great way to learn and builds confidence.

Storytelling and creating interactive narrative
Alexis Kennedy of Failbetter Games took us through some of the principles of narrative engineering – creating interactive stories through online, transmedia (stories told through multiple platforms) and their latest project with Channel 4 and ChildLine.

Social business: what if businesses couldn’t lie?
Ross Breadmore, consultant at NixonMcInnes, talked through some of his vision of a move from spin and hype to honesty and transparency, brought around by the changes large organisations need to make to thrive in a changing world of more open and social communication.

An introduction to behavioural economics
Standard economic models have repeatedly failed to help us fully understand or predict behaviour, but behavioural economics attempts to address this by treating people as humans, not rational economic units. Stephen Young, senior lecturer in economics at the University of Brighton, talked through the principles of this new school of thought and its part in social marketing for behaviour change.

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