A day at the Social Media Exchange – 1

I’m spending the day at the Social Media Exchange, an opportunity for people to come together and learn more about social media tools and how they’re being used in the sector.

The day is packed full of practical sessions, the first one i’m going to is from Kate Fox from the Mersey Basin Campaign (MBC), looking at how they use blogging, pod casts and other tools to engage people (both locally and internationally) with their campaign.

The MBC’s early approach to new media was much the same as other people in that they heard about blogging and decided they wanted to give it a go.  It wasn’t until Kate arrived as the new media manager that they started to look at what they wanted to achieve and then matched the available technologies to that.

MBC started their journey with blogging, using the blogger.com platform.

Some of the useful snippets that came from Kate’s session …

  • To encourage people to blog who have never done it before, get them to pretend they’re writing a postcard to a friend
  • Once they started the blog they made sure it linked to others using through the blog search engine Technorati
  • It’s important to take time to comment on other people’s blogs – it lets them know you’re there and drives traffic to your site
  • Use other blogs to get your posts out to a new audience, they may get picked up by local news agencies
  • Regular posts to blogs keeps people interested and coming back
  • MBC eventually replaced their staff newsletter with a blog, forcing people to use the blog and familiarising them with the blogging format
  • The success of the event focussed blog prompted MBC to create a more general blog – hosted on typepad.com for a cost of £7 a month

What worked well for Mersey Basin Campaign?

  • Blogging worked really well when it was linked to a specific awareness raising campaign
  • One example was the adventures of sammy the salmon, celebrating the fact that salmon had returned to the Mersey for the first time since the industrial revolution
  • Contributors in particular felt to write in the persona of Sammy the Salmon
  • When Samantha the Salmon (Sammy’s sister) went missing on an international journey, she turned up again at www.travellingfishy.com – the further adventures of Sammy!
  • MBC started using their blog for consulting with people on issues that affected the mersey and then used comments from the blog to feed in to formal consultation responses

Next up for MBC was using audio

  • MBC was involved with www.riverthatchangedtheworld.com, a project featured audio content from local people
  • The audio has been showcased at local museums, on BBC Merseyside and it also led to further interviews and exposure

Tips for creating audio content

  • choose the right interviewee
  • plan your interview – give people a copy of the questions
  • take stock of your surroundings – are there any background noises?
  • get people to answer questions in complete sentences
  • double check that the recording has worked!
  • keep hold of your raw audio
  • get your podcasts transcribed so that everyone can benefit from it
  • why not issue talking  press releases? – ready made content that can be used on local radio

… right, off to another session …


I’ve just seen this post from Laura Whitehead, (who in turn was re posting form Beth Kanter) on Voice Thread.

Laura’s blog – http://laura.popokatea.co.uk/2007/07/07/voicethread-a-great-new-tool-for-pictures-and-voices/

Beth’s blog – http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2007/07/sharing-my-lear.html

Voice Thread allows you to upload a pictures (or series of pictures) and add an audio commentary.  It also allows people to leave comments as either text or audio commentary.  With my Hub conferences in mind, there is great potential to upload the dreaded PowerPoint slides (saved as JPEGs) and ask the workshop leaders to expand on the info with audio snippets.  Having had a look at the website, it seems like quite a simple process to create and share a video thread, all you need is a microphone.  I’ve been reading a bit about screencasting, essentially the same sort of thing but with moving images and a commentary, and this looks like an easy way in.

Laura had some good ideas for ways of VCOs using Voice Thread: 

  • make a tutorial for their volunteers;
  • find a creative way to let others know the work of their organisation, but not wanting to keep up with the maintenance of a blog;
  • provide something real and live for potential funders and supporters to show the work they do,
  • and also a group of young people wanting to collate their knowledge and share a project they’ve been working on together.

On a slight tangent, I’m very much enjoying looking out of the window to the big blue sky above, hopefully it will stay there for my first proper match in the London charity netball league later this afternoon.  Fingers crossed.