Help me open up my village’s local history project

Barcamp Berkshire session

This was the name of a session I ran at Barcamp Berkshire at the weekend.

It was the first time I’d proposed and run and session at a barcamp so I was pretty nervous but luckily six other people came to join me.

I’m involved in a local history project that will generate a lot of digital pictures, audio, text and reports.

The default of the project team is to put them on to a hard drive that locals can access but I really want to see how we can get all of the material online so as many people can see and use it as possible.

I ran the barcamp session as a way to pick brains and get some ideas on how to do this.

I’m so glad I ran it. As a result of the session I found out about:

It was also suggested that a great local history project is one that links the online with real life, perhaps using something like QR codes in the village so that people can access the material when they’re there.

These are all really useful ideas and I really appreciate people taking the time to come to my session.

If you’ve got other ideas for how I can open up this image, audio and text content then please leave me a comment below.

A quick look at targeting your Facebook page posts

I mentioned on Twitter yesterday that I’d only just found out about targeting your Facebook page posts by different audiences.

I was surprised to get quite a few replies from other people who had never heard of this functionality.

When it is switched on (and that’s the tricky part) you can target by gender, relationship status, education, interests, age, location and language.

Targeting your Facebook page posts

This is how to target posts on your Facebook page. This is NOT for posts on your personal profile and it is NOT paid for posts.

Edit the page and then select Manage Persmissions.

At the bottom of this screen is the option ‘Post privacy gating’. Tick this box.

Facebook page settings

Once you’ve turned this on you will get a compass icon in your page post boxes.

Click the icon to add your targeting options.

Targeting options

Doodle for charities

Doodle logoIn the next of my posts on really helpful tools I’m going to look at Doodle, surely the king of all low effort/ high impact online tools.

I’m sure there are already lots of you that know, use and love Doodle but there are lots and lots who don’t and I want to do what I can to spread the Doodle word!

What is Doodle?

Doodle is an online tool that revolutionises the way you schedule meetings.

It’s best explained by looking at two different scenarios…

  • Old scenario: You pick out 10 possible days and times that you can make a meeting. You write an email with the possible dates and send it to your five colleagues (some of who aren’t on the same IT system). Two days of reply-all emails come your way as people two and fro about when they can and can’t make. One of your colleagues thinks someone else should attend so forwards the email on, they are left out of the reply all loop and don’t realise that a couple more possibilities have been suggested. You get annoyed and just walk round to each person’s desk and look at their diary with them. Arrrrgh!
  • New scenario with Doodle: You create a poll in doodle that lists all of the possible dates and times you can do. You get an email link to send around to everyone. They all fill in the poll online and you can see clearly there’s one day and time that everyone can do so you call to confirm. Easy.

How can Doodle be of use to me and my charity?

Doodle is not an earth-shattering money saver, it’s not going totally revolutionise the workplace but I guarantee that as soon as you start to use it in your office, everyone will be amazed at how much easier it makes things, they always are.

You really notice how easy it makes things when you want to schedule a meeting with people outside of your organisation, who don’t see your shared calendar.

If ever I run a workshop on new technologies Doodle is the one tool that continues to amaze.

How do I get started?

Using Doodle is an absolute doddle (sorry).

  1. Firstly sign up to a free account so you can administer your polls at www.doodle.com.
  2. If you want you can link Doodle to your own Outlook, Gmail or other calendar. The benefit of doing that is that when you come to select options a bit later, you see you calendar in front of you.
  3. Once you’re logged in, click on the big ‘Schedule an event’ button.
  4. The first screen is where you include information about the event. The more you put in here the less people will bug you for details.Create your Doodle
  5. The next thing you need to do is select the dates. If you’ve connected your calendar then Doodle will show your own meetings here rather than just a basic month view.Choosing the dates
  6. Once the dates are set, pick out some times. It’s totally up to you whether you use specific (15:00) or general terms (morning).Meeting times
  7. Once you’ve finalised your poll you can choose to either get a link that you send around or add all of the email addresses and get Doodle to email it out for you.
  8. As people complete the poll you’ll get a notification email. This can be turned off in the settings.
  9. If someone can’t make any of the dates and wants to suggest an alternative then they can leave a comment on the poll.
  10. It’s easy to see what the best date is from within the poll as it adds up all of the responses.Doodle Poll Results

MeetMe is another free tool from Doodle that allows you to create a public facing calendar – showing slots that you’re available – so people can request to meet with you. This might be useful if you want to arrange a yearly 1-1 meeting with each of your trustees or other stakeholders from outside the organisation.

BookMe is a paid for service that allows people to book onto your services online. There is a charge but you can try it for free for 30 days.

How do you manage the booking of meetings and events in your organisation? Are there any other tools you’d like to share?

Social bookmarking for charities

Delicious logoIn the second of my useful-tools posts I am throwing the spotlight on social bookmarking.

What is social bookmarking?

Social bookmarking is favourites for the 21st century. It’s a useful way of saving information you find on the web in a place you can access from anywhere and in a format that encourages sharing.

Favourites were a really handy tool when we first started to use the internet. Every time you came across a web nugget you could add it to your favourites for easy access the next time you wanted it.

The problem with favourites though is that it assumes a very static use of the web; one person on the same computer every day.

Now we’re more familiar with using the web on the move; on our phone, on a tablet, on a laptop, in a café, hot-desking in someone’s office… but probably not the computer you were using yesterday.

This makes the idea of favourites redundant. What we really want it to be able to access our favourite sites or useful resources from any device and at any time. That’s social bookmarking.

How can social bookmarking be of use to me and my charity?

  • Information you need at the touch of a button – As long as you are connected to the internet then you can access your links. From any device at any time.
  • Find what you need quickly and easily – By using tags to describe the links you save, even if you can’t remember exactly what the list was called, you can retrieve it quickly.
  • Share useful information easily with others – Because you’re saving your links online it makes it a lot easier to share them with others. There are even ways to automate this process, so if you save links that would be particularly useful for your trustees to see it can be sent straight to them. I look at this at the end of the post.
  • Create a library of online information for your organisation or cause – You could use social bookmarking as a way to signpost your service users to relevant information online, use tags to categorise the links.

If you’re going to do your job well then you need to be able to access the right information quickly, and that’s exactly what social bookmarking is perfect for.

How do I get started?

  • You’ll need an account with a social networking site. I use Delicious, just because it was one of very few when I first started but there are others out there.
  • (I’m going to focus on Delicious as that’s what I use) To make it really easy to use, add an Add to Delicious button to your internet browser. This will make it easy to save links with one click.
  • Add link – You don’t have to use the button, you can just go to the Delicious site, log in and then add a link from there.Add link to DeliciousTags
  • Once you’ve added the link you’ll be able to put in more detail.
  • Link title: This will fill in automatically based on how the web page is set up but you can edit it to make it easier to refer to next time.
  • Your comment: This is your place for making any notes about the link that will help you in the future; where you heard about it, why you think it will be useful etc.
  • Tags: These are keywords that you can use to describe your link. Once you’ve used a tag once it will be suggested when saving other links. You’ll be able to see a list of all your links to find others tagged with the same keywords. Make sure that your tags are descriptive so they’ll mean something in a month or years time. If you were saving a link to the match report of Liverpool v Manchester Utd you might use the tags; Liverpool, ManU, result, 2012/2013, home. It’s worth checking if the site you’re using allows spaces in tags, Delicious does.
  • Public/ private: It’s up to you whether your links are public or private. To get the most from the social side of a tool like this you should aim for having most of them as public but if you are saving information about a surprise birthday present or researching a medical condition, for example, it’s easy to make them private.
  • Tag bundles – As well as using tags you can create a bundle to group together sets of links. You might want to do this for the key areas of your work, or one of for each issue you deal with.
  • Share – The great thing about social bookmarking is the social side. If other people you know are using Delicous (for example) then you can include a tag for:louisebrown to send it to them.
  • Discover – The Discover Delicious page shows what popular links people are saving right now, you can even search to see if other people are using the same tags as you. This can bring up information you didn’t even know existed.

Ways to link your social bookmarking site to other online tools:

  • Twitter – If you use Twitter then you can use a tool like Packrati.us to save your tweets automatically to social bookmarking sites. It’s up to you how you set this up, it could be all links you tweet, all that you favourite or when you use a specific hashtag.
  • IFTTT – You can set up IFTTT alerts that will carry out actions such as sending a text, an email, adding to a Google doc, sending a tweet… whatever you want when you save a bookmark with a particular tag. I wrote about how I though this could help to take the pain out of reporting to trustees.
  • Pinterest – You could use Pinterest as your main tool for bookmarking, in a very visual way. The only constraint is that your online resources will need to contain an image for you to save it to Pinterest.
  • Website – If you are using WordPress for your website then there are Delicious plugins that allow you to easily show your bookmarks. There are also more techie things you can do with the Delicious API.

Do you use social bookmarking in your work? Are there any other tips you can add?

Other things I’ve written about social bookmarking:

Google Alerts for charities

Google Alerts logo

There are so many great little online tools out there that can make a big difference to the way we work.

In the first of – what I hope will be – a regular series of blog posts I’m going to look at Google Alerts and how they can be used by charities.

What are Google Alerts?

To start at the beginning, “Google Alerts are emails sent to you when Google finds new results – such as web pages, newspaper articles, or blogs – that match your search term.”

You should assume that every piece of information you need to know – sector updates, government policy, funding programmes, campaign news – is firstly being published online. If you were able to get hold of this information as soon as it was made available, just think of the advantage your organisation would have over others.

Using Google Alerts well could save you money as it removes the need to subscribe to paid for news services.

Once Google Alerts are set up they can be left to their own devices, allowing you to get on with the work that really matters.

I would call using a tool like Google Alerts “listening” on the web, and I’ve written about how important I think that is elsewhere on the site.

How can our organisation use Google Alerts?

Google Alerts is a tool that will notify you about information on the web as soon as it appears and as such is relevant for every member of staff.

Some ways you could use Google Alerts include:

  • As a substitute for newspaper cuttings. Set up an alert for the name of your organisation to find out when it has been mentioned.
  • To follow the progress of your campaign. Set up an alert for the name of your campaign to find people writing about it or doing their bit.
  • To keep track of a piece of policy. Set up an alert for the name of the policy or paper, restricting it to the relevant government department website if appropriate (see tips below).
  • Keep up to date with developments and discussions in your sector. Set up an alert for the medical condition name, local area or sector name.
  • Monitor your competitors. Set up an alert with the names of other organisations or services.

Setting up your Google Alerts

Google Alerts form

Google Alerts form

  1. Go to www.google.com/alerts and start filling in the Alerts form.
  2. Search query: This is where you type in your search, just think about what you would put in a normal Google search. There are tips for being smarter with your search below.
  3. Result type: You can specify what you want your search results to show; Everything, News, Blogs, Video, Discussions or Books. Unless you know exactly what you are searching for it’s worth setting this to Everything initially.
  4. How often: You can decide how often you get your alert; As-it-happens, Once a day, Once a week. As-it-happens is useful if you want to know as soon as a funding programme is opened or a paper is published. Once a week is probably a better setting if you’re just searching for general terms. Start with Once a day and make a decision about whether you want your alerts to be more or less frequent.
  5. How many: You have the option to choose between ‘Only the best results’ or ‘All results’. When you start out with your alerts it might be best to set this to ‘All results’. If you find you’re getting too many results back then you can change this.
  6. Your email: This is where your alert will be sent to. If you already have a Google account and are logged in this box will be pre-filled with your address. If you don’t have a Google account then you’ll be sent a confirmation email to your chosen address.
  7. Review your alerts: After a week or so of getting alerts review the information you’re getting. If you haven’t received anything then perhaps your search criteria is too narrow. If you have been totally inundated with alerts then it might be worth narrowing your criteria. Have a look at the search tips below. If your search topic suddenly hits the headlines you might also find you need to review your alerts. This is where having a Google account comes in useful as it’s easier to log in and manage your settings.
  8. Share what you find. There’s no point keeping all of this information to yourself, share it with colleagues.

Tips for perfecting your search

If you’ve never really looked into setting up smart searches then you might be surprised by how much you can do to refine your results.

Here are some tips:

  • Use “quotes” to group together words or specify spelling, for example “National Trust” or “colour” (to remove American spellings from results)
  • Exclude terms using a -, for example Walkers -crisps
  • Search just specific websites using site:communities.gov.uk, this will just search the DCLG website
  • Exclude specific websites from your search using -site:bbc.co.uk, this will search all sites, except the BBC. This is useful if you notice your alerts are returning lots of irrelevant results from a particular site
  • Search for more than one term by using OR. This can be useful if people use different terms to describe the same organisation or issue, for example “London 2012″ or “Olympics 2012″ or “London Olympics”.

Do you use Google Alerts in your work? Are there any other tips you can add?