Hub developments

This page is something of a first - evaluating a project online, and in an ongoing way, for all to see and comment on. I've created this page as part of the legacy of the hubbub media resource project, to show what has been achieved by local people and organisations over the life of the project. This part of the blog also forms an evaluation of the aims and outcomes of hubbub and what it achieved - and didn't. And where it goes next!

It's ongoing so please check back again. Local residents, groups and organisations who have used hubbub will be featured on the main page of this blog.

Disconnected Downham
If I had a fiver for every time someone said 'there is nothing going on in Downham for me/young people/elderly' over the years I would be a rich woman. (I used to say something similar about the clock that went backwards on the Kings Road).

I wanted to find out why local groups and organisations weren't getting their message across about the numerous activities, most of them free or very low cost, across the wards of Downham and Whitefoot and see if they could be helped to promote their events and services through new media. 

I like listening to and finding out what people have to say - an off the cuff remark can have more insight and meaning than any research I've done on the internet or otherwise. If someone says to me 'there is nothing for me' I want to find out why they think there is nothing and what can be done about it.

I wanted to know why there were only a few posters for the events or activities in the immediate area, generally surrounded by other posters (some of them well past their sell by date), when there was a whole world out there of potential punters. From personal experience, I named it 'poster fatigue'.

The hubbub project was a natural development of Community Voices, a media project funded by the Media Trust.

Setting up at the Phoenix Festival in Forster Park, May 2012 - collaboration in action
The project has taken some unexpected turns, one of which is the community garden that now has a blog and life of its own and demonstrates the reach and power of social media.

Tweetie pie - setting up a twitter account on the netbook

One of the aims of the media resource project was to show how communicating via new media, in free and low cost ways, could raise an organisation or group’s profile enabling them to attract new enquiries and members, gain support from existing users, promote their events and activities to a wider audience - and fundraise.
Goldsmiths Hub Facebook page
The potential for dialogue and interaction with new and existing users, supporters and funders is considerable and can aid monitoring, impact and evaluation. In addition media savvy funders use the very same internet tools to find out information about an organisation that does not appear on a funding application, for example.

Put the name of your organisation into Google and spend a few minutes looking at the results.

Inspect a gadget
There is nothing like a flashy new gadget to get people's attention. For the project I've used an Asus Eee netbook, a Sony Android tablet pc, mi-fi (that's mobile wi-fi) and a wireless printer which meant I could set up anywhere. No need to use someone's desk bound PC or ask for the login to their wireless network - if they have one. I also use a smartphone, a pocket camcorder and a digital SLR camera courtesy of the Community Voices project. The portability of this equipment makes  outreach viable and interesting, and easy to pack away! At the media resource base in the community centre they take up very little space, freeing up the room on other days of the week.
Initial feedback
Many organisations and groups I talked to spoke of rising costs, shortage of time and dwindling resources. They are actively looking for new ways to communicate their services and activities, and creative ways of raising funds. They also see the benefits of skilling themselves or their employees and volunteers. Those who are actively engaged already, either themselves or through members of staff/family, were the most receptive to new ideas.

Time is of the essence
I was asked about the time element involved in keeping new media up to date and contrasted the time spent printing letters, stuffing envelopes and posting them, or printing loads of leaflets and distributing them with 5-20 minutes posting information, events, photos and posters online. All of it bang up to date and relevant.
Photo taken at Whitefoot Big Lunch on an iPad and emailed 20 minutes later
Most of the people I spoke to had internet access either on their phones or at home (or both) and could access these tools anywhere. The tools are straightforward to use, with a shallow learning curve. There is undoubted value in traditional ways of communicating but now these alternatives are available it can be seen as just one of a range of methods that organisations use to get their message and services across to a wider audience.

Can you afford to ignore them - the statistics
With a user base in the UK of nearly half the population (31 million registered users) on Facebook and 10 million on Twitter, these social networking tools provide free ways to promote services and activities, listen to and engage with users and build an audience of supporters. 
Nearly one in three mobile users now access the internet on their phones. Over a quarter of adults (27 per cent) and almost half of teenagers (47 per cent) now own a smartphone, according to Ofcom’s latest Communications Market Report. Most (59 per cent) have acquired their smartphone, which includes devices such as iPhones, Blackberrys and Android phones, over the past year.

Over a quarter of people use their mobile phones for internet access. In the first three months of 2011, 28 per cent of UK adults said they accessed the internet on their mobile, up from 22 per cent in 2010.

Nearly six in ten (57 per cent) mobile phone internet users visit social networking sites on their mobiles, making it the most popular activity ahead of sending/receiving emails (53 per cent).

Nearly half of UK adults (48 per cent) said they used social networking sites in the first three months of 2011, up from 40 per cent in 2010.             Source: Ofcom
This report was published last year, and there are many more smartphone users now.

  • 96% use search engines on their phone
  • 78% of smartphone users frequent social media sites
  • 84% of UK users search for local information on their smartphone
  • 80% of information seekers take action after looking up local content (51% contact directly or visit, 49% visit website)
Ignore this information at your peril.

 Creating the perfect donation experience
Nomensa, 2012
Embracing social media. I am puzzled when I hear there are organisations who still have Facebook banned or have a 2 day turn around to approve a Tweet. Gone are the days when you could rely only search engines or your website address on printed materials to attract supporters. Although it is still difficult to analyse the direct return on investment from social media, the risk of being left behind is far greater than the opportunities to expand your network of supporters online.

Being mobile. The way we access websites is changing. It is predicted that soon half of all web visits will be made from a mobile phone. When it takes a couple of clicks to buy a book, an app, a song or watch a movie, online giving should be straight forward. An email address is all you should need to start an engagement journey.
Moving away from the traditional “donate” model. A few organisations are asking supporters to “invest “in their work or a specific project making it a more rewarding and fulfilling experience. Supporters receive regular and engaging updates (including blogpost, Facebook updates, tweets, videos) encouraging them to share the progress of the organisation with their network. You didn’t simply donate, you joined a movement. The online experience should to be adapted to this “citizen social responsibility” trend.
Cost considerations
It's costly making telephone calls to and from a mobile (smartphone or not) as anyone with a pay-as-you-go phone will tell you! Add in the time of callers trying to get through to you, or you to them and costs start to mount as does frustration.

Lewisham Toy Library online - on Facebook, on Twitter, on Brockley Central

It's costly designing flyers, posters, newsletters and leaflets and printing them out or having them printed, add to that the time involved in putting them up or posting them through letterboxes. If you don't know who lives there, you also don't know if they are interested or not in what you have to offer and whether it goes straight in the bin (recycling, preferably). You may never get feedback about whether it has worked or not.

Once upon a time, and not so long ago, to target the people you want and may be funded to attend your activities would have cost a fortune in marketing expertise and time. Online, people who are looking in their local area can seek you out. If you're not there, they may go somewhere else - or worse...

A word... on word of mouth
There is nothing like a word of mouth recommendation - good or bad! Word of mouth is about trust; reliance on a trusted person or persons; friend, relative, neighbour, social circle, group or organisation. Trust is the foundation of shared values and social networks, off or on line.

Accentuate the positive
What are the positive benefits of using new media? I gave a demonstration of various media tools and in some cases helped set up their Facebook page, blog, login to forums, add activities to the shared calendar, put details on eg Netmums and help set up a Twitter account. Where they could see it, they were enthused and for me it was useful to be able to track what they were doing online and provide support and encouragement; 'liking' and commenting on their Facebook page, leaving comments on their blog, giving feedback by email on their calendar entries and retweeting/replying to their tweets.

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