It was talking to Pam Jarvis on the phone about our project that really made me realise what had really worked.
She had called to discuss our DMA project as part of the evaluation process (scary anyway as I feel we have only just started!). I found myself talking at some length (sorry Pam) about our challenge to commit time and energy to a digital project like this.
Despite knowing the ever growing reach and importance of social media, it is still incredibly hard to prioritise digital above (or even alongside) traditional media. So as our bOing! Family Festival – the focus of our experiment – got ever closer, we found our time sucked into producing maps, print, signs and trying to hold on to our social media ‘team’ of 4 staff and volunteers we had allocated to capture the weekend – one by one they were lost to other priorities, front of house positions, running a stage, managing an area etc.
Playing the DMA card
Thankfully this year we had the DMA card to play. We have signed up to this project and have to see it through! We have to report back to our group! We can’t just let social media be an extra this time!
So we put on our determined faces, dug in and identified one person (a member of the team – not a volunteer) to be full time focused on our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts over the weekend – supported by 2-3 others on their own accounts who could chip in. This person (Jess) had dedicated time away from the front line where she was able to focus without disruption.
This role was essential. We had a fabulous weekend, with thousands of people attending the festival and loads of social media activity. We had increased the profile of our social media on print, posters and welcome banners and without someone monitoring, replying and sharing we could not have coped beyond a bit of retweeting.
Did it work?
We have yet to analyse the social media content in detail (next stage), but we know that there are some things that went well – interaction, images, chatter and ‘noise’ around the festival itself. We also posted images of the festival the week after on our Facebook page and these were shared widely.
We had intended that Twitter specifically would work as a key information tool over the weekend – for changes in schedule and prompting what was up next – this did not work for us and our audience as you may expect/hope/celebrate wanted information through face to face interaction with staff rather than tweets.
We also realised that parents were reluctant to share images of their children on public hashtags, so whilst we saw people using our ‘photo opportunities’ and we hope there was much sharing of images amongst family/friends we did not see much evidence of this on our own channels.
Overall though, we were delighted with what we have achieved. Ideas generated by the team here, our mentor Ron, and through the DMA discussion forum have helped us to launch a new website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from scratch for bOing! and integrate them into our campaign to promote the Festival.
But as came out in my therapy/conversation with Pam – the main benefit to being part of the DMA project has been the ‘excuse’ or impetus to put digital at the heart of our bOing! communications and to make sure that we had the resource in place to make it work.
Next year the challenge will be to do the same … but with no DMA card to play.