The annual CharityComms Digital Conference brings together hundreds of people working in charities to share best practice, explore the latest trends and talk about digital innovation.
Digital technology is fast paced and constantly evolving. With a mix of inspiring presentations, practical activities and real-life examples, the event looked at the latest changes, trends and innovations to help charities get to grips and thrive in a digital world. Head of Charity, Elspeth Massey, and Collective Consultant, Kellie Smith, share their top takeaways from the day.
Whatever content you are developing, always think about what your audience will get from it. Whether it’s something to make them laugh, inform them or contains a shared experience, your content needs to be a positive exchange for your audience. People will be captured by your subject matter and mobilised to take part in your call to action.
A truly inspiring session from Greg Owen, HIV campaigner and co-founder of iwantPrEPnow, looked at how digital communications empowered him to change lives. Working from his bedroom with no digital expertise, Greg talked about his journey in building and motivating a whole movement that created policy change.
Test, test and test again
Make full use of analytics and test content to see what performs best. Try different headlines and images and find out from your analytics what your audience likes. This is particularly relevant for charities who are resource limited, ensuring that any advertising spend is going to give you the best return. Dignity in Dying’s director of fundraising and marketing, David Pearce, said not to make assumptions about what will resonate with your audience, as inevitably you’ll be surprised by what works!
Target your audience
Know your audience and target them specifically was the message from Shirin Zaid, digital communications manager at YoungMinds. The charity has worked hard to hone its messages and content for its 14-25-year-old audience, using a combination of third-party content, their own created content and relationships with influencers. By creating powerful and relatable content, the organisation grew its Instagram followers from 1.6k in January 2017 to 68.7k in November 2019.
Look after your wellbeing
Digital technology is a powerful tool for charities to communicate their messages. However, we now have an “always on” culture which makes it difficult to draw the line between work and homelife. With one in four people experiencing a mental health issue, we need to think about the impact that technology is having on people’s wellbeing.
It was positive to see wellbeing emerge as a reoccurring theme throughout many of the day’s sessions. Twitter’s EMEA vice president, Bruce Daisley, and author of The Joy of Work and producer of a podcast called Eat Sleep Work Repeat, spoke about some of the ways in which technology impacts our workplaces and how we can avoid burnout. He said that senior leaders need to model healthy habits to encourage their staff to step away from their computers.
Consultant Kirsty Marrins ran an insightful session on Wellbeing in the world of digital communications, where she spoke about social media managers being on the frontline of abuse and negative comments. Recent examples include the RNLI and NSPCC. The session also looked at how to manage WhatsApp groups, so people don’t feel pressured to be working in their personal time.
About the Author
Elspeth is a former journalist with over 10 years’ experience working in communications and public relations, with a focus on consumer health, medical and not-for-profit.
Elspeth honed her skills as a newshound working as a journalist for a regional ITV news network and has spent the last decade in the communications teams of three national charities – The Stroke Association, Samaritans and Beating Bowel Cancer.