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#Talkingaboutbabyloss: Working with the M.A. on Babyloss Awareness Week

This review of the 2014 Babyloss Awareness Week was originally written for the Miscarriage Association Newsletter.

Babyloss Awareness Week is an annual opportunity to remember all babies lost in pregnancy, or during or shortly after birth, and also to start conversations about the impact of baby loss. So, from the 9th to 15th of October last year – on the internet, in the media and in the community – that’s what we did.

Drawing on some inspirational ideas from creative agency LIDA, the M.A. staff and trustees developed a range of activities that our supporters could take part in over the week.

Badges and Twibbons

For a week or two, the M.A. office turned into a mailing house as we shipped out 550 pink and blue Babyloss Awareness pin badges that had been ordered via our website.

Just ordered mine. Glad to support such a wonderful association. Just wish people didn’t find the subject of miscarriage so taboo!

Another 731 people added a virtual version of the awareness badge (known as a ‘Twibbon’) to their Facebook or Twitter profiles, while also posting an explanation of why it was there.

Babyloss Twibbon

Photos and Video

Here at the M.A., we know that miscarriage doesn’t just affect 1 in 4 pregnancies. It affects people. As such, we asked our supporters to upload photos of themselves holding a sign saying “I’ve been affected by babyloss” to their social media profiles. Some shared their photos with us, some more privately with their friends. As the days passed and more and more submissions came in, we created an online gallery, then a video. Through our supporters’ comments, we were made aware that, both publically and in private friendship groups, conversations about pregnancy loss were happening.

I have never been in this unfortunate position but admire everyone of you for being so brave and feel so sorry for your losses x

Wave of Light

Every year, on the 15th of October, the last day of Babyloss Awareness Week, people light a candle at 7pm in their local time zone in memory of babies that have been lost too soon. This creates a wave of light that spreads around the globe – and across social media.

Wave of Light candle

Thanks to our supporters on Facebook, our Wave of Light candle, shown here, was shared over 4,000 times and reached over 320,000 people. On Instagram, Twitter, and on Facebook page and groups, others also shared their photos and our feeds glowed with pictures of hundreds of other beautiful memorial candles.

So moving to see how far ‪#‎TalkingAboutBabyLoss‬‬ has come through the ‪#‎WaveofLight‬‬ today compared to previous years and it’s not yet over as it continues to spread around the world. The support shown is truly amazing.

The candles, the pin-badges, the photos and the twibbons, the media stories and the willingness of our supporters to share their experiences, all helped in starting conversations about pregnancy loss across the UK and beyond – conversations that continued long after Babyloss Awareness Week itself came to an end.

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7 ways to promote peer support in your online community

So you’ve set up your online support community. You know the benefits of peer support. It helps people feel more understood and less alone in their experience.  It builds self-esteem in those able to help others.

But how do you encourage and promote positive and helpful peer support? These are some of my suggestions.

1) Train your moderators

Are your moderators there just to ‘police’ the community – to approve and reject posts? Consider training them in online support as well. Trained moderators can encourage community members by giving helpful responses and adding signposts. They can highlight and promote existing peer support and encourage other members to add their experiences.

2) Give the right guidance to community members

Providing the same online support training to members as you do to moderators can change the nature of their use of the community. Members may start to feel a moderator’s responsibility – and worry about posting their experience, replies and support in case they ‘get it wrong’. Instead consider light touch guidance focussed on how members can look after themselves and get the most of the community. This can be combined with a ‘good manners guide’ (develop these with the community if possible). Make sure new users feel welcome.

Peer support builds community

3) Post moderation is often a long-term investment in peer support

Pre-moderation can feel less risky – you see everything before it goes public. But unless you have a moderator available to approve posts 24/7 then peer support is stifled. People will find other places to exchange messages in real time. Allowing post moderation is playing the long game. Yes, it is initially a riskier proposal. You need to invest time in the community to help people understand what is acceptable and report what is not. But ultimately the interactions and discussion that post moderation enables means you’ll see greater engagement, ownership and peer support.

4) Make your community a fun place to be

People will return regularly and give support to others if they enjoy their experience. Consider sections with lighthearted discussions, quizzes and photos. The better community members know each other, the more personal the support they can provide when it’s needed.

5) Clarify responsibilities

People are more likely to stay involved if they feel safe.  Who should people contact if they are worried? How should they deal with things that make them uncomfortable? Make it clear. Without this clarification things can sometimes get out of control as people try to resolve things themselves that should be managed by a moderator.

6) Create a journey for long-term users

Having moderators who are also members can sometimes cause problems in terms of their own boundaries and how the community views them. This really depends on the nature of the support offered by your community. Either way, creating welcoming, buddying or spam management roles for long-term users who might otherwise leave can help keep them engaged and supportive.

7) Ask the community

 What do they like? What don’t they like? Why are they here? People like to be asked for their opinions. You can use a survey or, for more in depth engagement and results, an online focus group or workshop. Not only will you get lots of information and ideas but it is also a chance to help members feel involved and invested in the future of your support community.

Of course, every community is different and things that work brilliantly in one place might not suit another. What is your experience? It would be great to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

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Why isn’t my Facebook like box showing?

Facebook like box for Taskforce Digital as set up in the Facebook DevelopersLate last week, I was working on a couple of Shopify tweaks for a new client, including adding a Facebook like box to the footer. It’s not something I’d done for a while, but I managed to create the HTML5 and Javascript code using the Facebook Developers Like Box tool, insert that code into the right places in the template files, and great, it was done.

Until, I swapped over to Safari to check out all the changes I had made that day. On Safari, the like box wasn’t there.

Where had it gone?

I checked that the Javascript and HTML was still in the source code for the page. It was.

I changed the URL for my Facebook page in the code from https://www.facebook.com/taskforcedigital to http://www.facebook.com/taskforcedigital. The like box still didn’t display.

Finally, after a bit of Googling and reading through comments on forums and blogs, I worked out why.

It’s not me, it’s Facebook

The fact that the client’s like box had disappeared was nothing to do with my code, but rather how they had changed the settings for their Facebook page. As I’m not an administrator of their page, I’ve replicated the issue with the Taskforce Digital Facebook page below.

What had happened was that, when I set up the Facebook like box and tested it on the page, I was logged into Facebook in another tab of Chrome (this is not unusual). The Facebook like box appeared on the page as it should.

Now it's here.

Now it’s here.

However, when I tested it on Safari, I wasn’t logged into Facebook on that browser – and that’s what made the difference.

Now it's gone!

Now it’s gone!

Eventually I worked out that this was because of settings for the page on Facebook. In the Facebook page Admin Panel, you can click on ‘Edit page’ then ‘Edit settings’. Halfway down, you’ll see ‘Country restrictions’ and ‘Age restrictions’. In setting up the Taskforce Digital like box today, I tried setting these restrictions one at a time.

Restricting to the UK.

Restricting to the UK.

Restricting to people aged 17 and up.

Restricting to people aged 17 and up.

It seems that the Facebook like box is accesses these settings and comparing them with your Facebook account settings. When I was logged on, I could see the like box (on any browser I tried). However, when I wasn’t logged into Facebook, Facebook didn’t know that I was over 17 and the box didn’t appear. It wasn’t even using my IP address to guess that I was from the UK. It just wasn’t showing the box.

Remove the restrictions on Facebook, the box on my website reappears – even when I’m not logged into Facebook.

Anyway, hope this helps someone else out there. Perhaps it may even save you some time in trying to find a coding solution for the issue.

I’ve taken the Facebook like box off our sidebar for now, but if you do want to like Taskforce Digital, you can do so on our Facebook page.

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What’s ahead for 2014?

I’m writing this blog entry on the 27th of December from the upper floor of a stone cottage, looking out over the fields and hills of North Devon. On arrival, we were teased by a sticker on the kitchen wall with a wifi code, but so far this combination of letters and numbers has not enabled any sort of viable connection to the internet. Yesterday, in Dartmoor, I couldn’t even log into FourSquare to say I was there.

Husband and child in Dartmoor on Boxing Day. Resolution for 2014 is to take photos of things – such as the view from the cottage – that I actually write about in my blog posts.

Husband and child in Dartmoor on Boxing Day. Spectacular views but no internet access.

While I know that this entry can be synced via Evernote later and posted to the blog later still, I’m used to an immediate, fast internet connection these days. As such, the times without it – the hours travelling north on the train, the week my husband and daughter had to connect at Australian internet cafes, this Christmas without Skype – seem somehow unnatural. It’s hard to remember that, in the grand scheme of things, even the web is new.

For now though, the sun is unexpectedly shining, the child is unexpectedly sleeping, and I’m sitting atop a very high four poster bed thinking about all that’s to come in 2014.

We’ve got the launch of two websites on Taskforce Digital’s schedule for January already: one in WordPress, one in Shopify. I’ve quickly set up this blog using Woothemes’ Canvas, which seems to be fairly flexible in getting the basics of the site layout done. Now I’m looking forward to trying out the portfolio and testimonials modules, and to using the Woothemes framework for a new client site. Perhaps later in the year, I’ll look into Woocommerce as an e-commerce platform as well, but for now, I’m happy on Shopify. I’m keen to try out some of their recently released features, such as gift vouchers, early in 2014.

I’ve spent less time on Facebook in 2013 than I have in previous years, and that’s probably a trend that will continue. I think it’s still a useful platform for those sort of brands that people love – charities that they care about, products that they enjoy using – but for many other companies every change in Facebook’s algorithm makes it harder and harder to have stories seen without paying for the privilege through advertising and sponsored stories. Facebook competitions remain a good way to build up an opted-in email list – but in my experience this year, the call to action works better in the subsequent emails than in a Facebook post. There’s a recent LinkedIn discussion here where a number of social marketeers have expressed their views on Facebook as a marketing tool.

Using the improved Facebook Insights, we may now be able to get more data about our pages’ engagement levels than we could in 2012, but it’s still no match for the combination of AdWords and Analytics in tracking ROI on advertising spend. Features introduced this year, such as bid adjustments based on time, location and device combined with remarketing techniques, have allowed further optimisation of already well-performing campaigns. The addition of the ability to cut and paste keywords, ads and adgroups, not just in AdWords editor but also in the online interface, has definitely cut down on my administration time.

Cutting down on administration time will definitely be a theme for me in 2014, with a new baby due to make an appearance in January. I’ve recently swapped the Taskforce accounts to Quickbooks Online (from the software version), and I’m enjoying the dashboard which gives an overview of what’s earned and owed, and the ability to send invoices with the click of a button. After years of resisting, I’ve also made the move to using a Mac laptop. It’s nice to not have to blow into the air vents to get my business computer started, and the syncing between the laptop, iPad and phone is useful too (though I did manage to delete most of the phone numbers in my phone contacts in the process of doing so).

I think mobile internet’s time has well and truly arrived, and while I’m on maternity leave, the plan is to spend some more time looking into responsive web design and app development. These days I have some clients who get more web traffic from mobile phones than PCs, particularly when the content being accessed deals with health or other sensitive topics. This audience deserves some focused attention too.

Apart from that, I foresee the early months of Taskforce Digital’s 2014 being about MailChimp and Survey Monkey, Salesforce and, as always, the creation of great content. Beyond that, who knows? I’m looking forward to seeing those tweets that link to articles that tell me about things that I’ve never heard of before, I’m looking forward to new videos on Treehouse, new app discoveries, working with new and existing clients on whatever their online challenges will be. I’m excited about building the Taskforce team and increasing the range of skills we can offer.  I’d love to read your reflections on 2013 and predictions for 2014 in the comments below.

Merry Christmas from Taskforce DigitalOutside the window, there are white fluffy clouds and white fluffy sheep on green hills; no sign of December snow. The star’s starting to fall off our Christmas tree. I’ve almost eaten all the mince pies. The year is coming to a close, and we’ll soon be heading back to London.

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful festive season, and wish you all the best through whatever this new year brings.

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Your charity Facebook page – a marketing space or a support forum?

Online support communities are growing organically in social media spaces all over the Internet. We’re not only seeing them develop in spaces set up specifically for support but also in spaces originally intended for marketing or advertising. Sane – the mental health charity – say that people contact them for support through any space where text can be submitted on their website, regardless of its original purpose.

An obvious example is on Facebook. Many charity Facebook pages are initially set up as a marketing tool. Yet administrators soon find that those who like the page will write on the wall looking for expert support from the charity and peer support from others on the page. Someone who feels alone in their experience and who connects online with a charity that could help them, suddenly finds a group who understands or shares their needs, all gathered around the charity logo. Most people who like a marketing page do so because they have some personal experience.

Mind’s Elefriends community initially started as a campaign profile and grew so fast that Mind chose to invest in the development of an entirely separate community platform for online peer support.

An online support space usually thrives with a different kind of moderation to your marketing approach. It’s no longer just about speaking directly to your audience and them back to you. It’s not enough to simply delete upsetting, argumentative or negative posts. A good online support community is created through members speaking to each other, with the page admin there to facilitate and encourage this discussion. Your page admin needs to be comfortable providing support or signposting. They need to be able to explain to a distressed user why their post has been removed and mediate disagreements.

Figurines holding hands

Some organisations choose to separate these spaces as they develop. Users looking for support on the marketing page are directed to a group set up specifically for support. You can direct people to an entirely separate platform – perhaps a forum – but in general, a different space on the same platform works better. Let people access support where they look for it. That’s probably where they feel most comfortable.

If you’re just getting started, creating distinct spaces from day 1 can help. On Facebook, a page for marketing and a group for support are common. While people tend to be more comfortable posting about sensitive issues online than they used to be, you might find that a private Facebook group can help people feel more able to post. Bear in mind that, unlike a public Facebook group, people won’t find a private group organically. They will have to be invited.

Think about creating guidelines and ‘About’ info that helps people know what to expect in each space. Make sure your page admin or moderators feel comfortable dealing with the issues they might come across. A number of charities have been forced to re-examine their organisation and training as their marketing team unexpectedly finds themselves becoming responsible for a support community as well.

Many people choose to involve volunteers in moderation. My next post will explore how you can encourage peer support in your community and the issues to bear in mind when training community members.

Feel free to share you experiences of managing a charity Facebook page or any examples of good practice by leaving a comment below.

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Pinterest has got my interest

One from the old blog…

So I’m back on the blog today after a long absence. I’ve been busy with baby and business, and suddenly it’s February 2012. Facebook’s rolled out timelines, Google Plus has launched pages for business, and the next big thing in social media seems to be Pinterest.

For the uninitiated, Pinterest is basically an online pinboard where you can share photos or images from around the web with your followers and other Pinterest users. Each photo is pinned to a particular board, with a theme you’ve defined. So if you’re planning a wedding for example, you can have a wedding style board. If you like to bake, you could have a cupcake inspiration board with recipes you’d like to try. You could have a quotes to live by board or a infographics board; the possibilities are fairly endless.

As an example, here’s my Need to Read board. Over the past few weeks, when I’ve been browsing online bookstores, I’ve pinned the books I’d like to read here – just in case I ever get time to read again.

Pinterest screenshot

At first, I thought this was all a bit of fun, but somewhat limited compared to other social media channels which allow a greater focus on text. Then I read a Shareaholic study showing that in January this year, Pinterest referred on more traffic to the websites in their sample than Google Plus, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined.

Therefore, if you operate a business that deals in products or has a strong visual element, you may want to investigate Pinterest as a way to bring new visitors to your website. Of course, the fundamentals of social media still apply here. Social media is all about connecting and communicating with others, and if you just use Pinterest to pin photos of your merchandise, you’re unlikely to get results.

Think about how you can bring value to the Pinterest community. If you run a local business, can you use Pinterest to showcase the best of your town? If you’re a photographer, can you pin photos and add your tips? Follow others you’re interested in and learn from how they’re using the tool.

For more tips on how small businesses can use Pinterest, take a look at Sarah E. Needleman’s article from The Wall Street Journal Online: 6 Tips for Tapping Pinterest’s Surging Popularity.

If you’ve seen a great use of Pinterest, whether it’s by a business or personal user, feel free to share a link in the comments below.

 

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Are you promotion ready?

From the old blog…

Congratulations to local team AFC Wimbledon! After a tense penalty shoot-out, you’ve been promoted to the Football League. You’ve caused great excitement in this living room and far beyond that. In fact, right now, you’re trending on Twitter worldwide. Thousands of people are talking about you. Oh, and your website has crashed.

My husband was checking it out just after the game, and got the following error message.

Error message on AFC Wimbledon website

We then went looking for the AFC Wimbledon Twitter account. There’s @AFCWimbledon but that hasn’t been updated since November 8. There’s also the much more active @WimbledonAFC, which is run by a fan and a member of the Trust*. There’s an AFC Wimbledon page on Facebook, but the default view is the events tab – where you get a message saying ‘You have no upcoming events’.

AFCWimbledon trends on TwitterOf course, some people will know enough about Facebook to click through to wall tab and leave a message for this fantastic team.

A lot of people will continue to talk about the victory even if there’s no updates from an official voice.

Some may even come back to the website later and see if it’s back up and running.

But to some extent, the ability to fully capitalise on the moment of victory may already have been lost.

I think there’s a lesson in there for all organisations. Are you ready for your big moment? Will your website cop with the sudden influx of traffic? Are your e-commerce systems in place? Will you be joining in the discussion? Will you be able to take advantage of your seconds in the spotlight, and use your new following to take your organisation to the next level?

 

* Update: We’ve just found @AFCWNews, which is the official Twitter page. Unfortunately it’s currently got a lot less followers than the other two.

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Fair Tweets for Fair Trade Day

From the old blog.

Today, May 14, 2011, is this year’s World Fair Trade Day. The day is an initiative of the World Fair Trade Organisation whose mission is to enable producers to improve their livelihoods and communities through fair trade.

A certain favourite ice-cream company of mine is raising awareness of the day by asking people to donate the spare characters of their tweets. On the Ben & Jerry’s Fair Tweets site, you can type in a tweet to send out to your followers – and any of the 140 characters that you don’t need will be used to add in a message about fair trade. Here’s a promo video, explaining the concept:

And here’s a recent post of mine demonstrating a #FairTweet.

Fair Trade Day tweet

There’s been a lot of preparation here. There are different messages available depending on how many characters are left over. When I experimented with a one character tweet, the website added:

World #FairTrade Day is May 14. Now you can share all your unused Twitter characters to spread the word. #FairTweets http://fairn.es/6tu

When I only tried a longer message with only six characters left over, it just added the #FT hashtag.

This could’ve easily been a promotion campaign for Ben & Jerry’s – but their positive PR is coming from stories about the application, such as this one on Mashable, rather than the tweets themselves. It could’ve also been used as a fundraising exercise, with every tweet linking through to a single donation page. But instead, those shortened URLs point to a range of different Fair Trade websites and articles: Fair Trade USA, Catholic Relief Services, the Fair Trade Resource Network, and so on.

For me, this makes it more interesting. I want to see what the different-length messages say. I want to see where each of the links will take me. And I’m learning a whole lot more about fair trade in the process.

To tweet your own message, visit www.fairtweets.com. Happy World Fair Trade Day everyone!

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When everyone’s twittering, how do you get yourself heard?

Sleeping birdsGrowing up on an orchard, I didn’t need an alarm clock. Instead, in the early hours, the local birds would start their morning chorus: singing to the sunrise at an unmissable volume.

While that was usually enough to wake me up and make me take notice, it was almost impossible to pick out the sound of an individual bird.

Over the weekend, as I was putting together a list of social media suggestions for a friend’s music group, it struck me that this is what Twitter is like today. Millions of people, sending out billions of messages, a timeline that renews itself in seconds. In that sort of noise, how do you make yourself stand out?

Two ways.

You can do something unusual.

There’s a Big Ben twitter account, for example, which broadcasts the appropriate number of BONGs every hour – and that’s all it does. But when I’m reading back over the tweets that have flooded my timeline overnight, I find those BONG tweets a useful way of separating the messages into hourly segments.

But perhaps a better strategy for most Twitter users is to be engaging.

Twitter works best as a conversation tool, not as a one way broadcast. I recommend tweeting regularly, of course, and tweeting at hours when your intended audience are most likely to see your message. However, it’s important to realise that your followers may be following hundreds, or even thousands, of other people, that they may only use Twitter for ten minutes a day, and as such your one message could easily be missed.

In an ideal world, of course, all of your followers would be looking back along their timelines to find your tweets, to retweet them, to click on your links. For most people, this isn’t a reality.

However, there are strategies you can use to increase your visibility.

The first is to create great content. Tweet things that your followers will be interested in, whether that’s useful links or your latest deals. This increases the chances that they’ll be looking out for your tweets.

The second is to create great relationships. Follow interesting people. Talk to them. Send @ replies and retweet their messages. Perhaps they’ll do the same for you. Perhaps they’ll add you to one of their filtered lists, which gives your messages a higher chance of being seen. This takes time, and it may seem a lot of effort, but in the end you should see the results.

There’s a whole lot of birdsong on Twitter, not just in the mornings but 24 hours a day. Are your followers awake and aware of your messages?

If you’ve got any other tips to increase your visibility on Twitter, feel free to leave a comment below.

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Social media and live events: Tips from the Royal Wedding

From the old blog.

According to Wikipedia, back in 1981, approximately 750 million people watched Princess Diana’s wedding on television. This Friday, when Prince William and Kate Middleton marry, the television audience is anticipated to be closer to two billion. While I’m likely to be included in those 2011 statistics, I’m much more interested in how the wedding preparations are shaping up on social media – and how the use of these tools can be adapted by those running live events on a smaller scale.

Royal Wedding Facebook event

Create a Facebook event

It’s really easy to create an event on Facebook – either using your personal profile or your Facebook page – and it’s a great way to bring together potential event attendees. The event wall can become a place for updates and photos of the venue, as well as a networking space for guests. If it’s an open event (such as watching the Royal Wedding on television), then information about the event can spread virally, as those ‘attending’ invite their own Facebook friends.

The official Facebook event for the Royal Wedding was created by the British Monarchy page. As of this morning, the page had 357, 843 likes. The number of event attendees wasn’t available.

Have a hashtag

Hashtags are a way of filtering information relating to a particular event on Twitter. Clarence House, the official Twitter feed of the Royal Wedding, is predominently using the tag #rw2011.

Of course, you have no control over how the internet population uses your hashtag, but by defining it yourself, choosing something that’s not immediately obvious and getting the word (hashtag) out to attendees, you can attempt to bring together discussion that is specific to your event.

This is not only useful during the event itself (as a way to get realtime feedback), but also during the planning stages. Could potential attendees could use the hashtag to tweet in questions to your conference speakers? Could they use it to identify other attendees and start networking before the event begins? Check out this blog post from Blue State Digital for more tips on using Twitter at a live event.

Consider video

As the television viewing figures suggest, people like to see things. This Friday’s nuptials will be live-streamed on YouTube. While you may not have the camera crew or the budget to do something similar, it’s worth thinking about how you can use video to promote your event or capture it for people who are unable to attend. Video can bring to life the need for your fundraiser, build the profile of your speakers, spread your message or share the experience.

When I was working at YouthNet, for example, we filmed popular YouTuber Charlie McDonnell speaking at a launch event about how he got started with vlogging. It’s not a great quality video. It was filmed on an inexpensive FlipCam and the editing is minimal, and yet, as of today, it has had almost 19,000 views.

In the interest of keeping this post to a suitable blog length I’ll stick to those three points: Facebook events, hashtags, video. However, if you’ve got other examples of what can be learned from this royal use of social media or how web 2.0 tools can be used to enhance live events in general, feel free to leave a comment below.

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