For any community organisation, the major issue is usually how to grow membership.
The ultimate aim of most, if not all, community organisations is for people to become physically involved.
Content, or information, should be carefully targeted at the demograpic group(s) of interest.
Whether a person will engage with content may be viewed in a few ways:
Probably the biggest mistake made when using the internet as a means of promoting an organisation is thinking that social media is the be-all and end-all. On the one hand, when using social media (for example, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), it is very easy to create and publish content. However, there are two main problems:
From a community promotion viewpoint, social media channels preach to the converted. Such pages rarely hit three figures, let alone tens-of-thousands. Then they die, usually when the one person maintaining the page moves on."
On the other hand, social media does provide multiple channels to broadcast information cheaply and quickly. But, and it's a big but, social media sites must be viewed only as channels. The purpose of those channels must be to drive people through to websites, built on databases, that can truly engage people with the aims of the organisation.
Initially, building mailing lists of people's interests, and then providing regular updates and information to encourage people to physically engage with the organisation.
If social media is believed to be the "end-result" then that's where you're going wrong :(
A typical community organisation has its rule book and its procedures. It has a core group of activists (usually five or six) that form the management committee and leadership.
It has a couple of dozen, what may be termed, active members that turn up at meetings and support where they can. Then there is the remainder of the membership, and the wider general population that the organisation wants to reach. This is how you do it:
The Core members, the Active members, and the General membership must be encouraged to create content that may be pushed out (over all available channels - including social media) to the general population. The aim being to strengthen the interest of the general membership and to ignite interest in the general population.
Once the content has done its job and got that interest, the hard work starts.
As the global economy has created an inter-connected business world over the past couple of decades, many organisations have struggled to keep up. The gap has widen between those companies that understand how to leverage technology and those that do not. The largest get larger, and the rest stagnate, at best.
Large IT companies relish the profits to be made by locking companies into their technology platforms. IT staff shortages mean that less-experienced and narrowly-skilled analysts and developers are supplemented by project management methodologies that see senior developers exasperated and demoralised; either quitting or (at least) going where the money is greatest.
IT departments rely on the latest-and-greatest development frameworks in the vain hope that projects (complex or not) will be achievable.
In my experience, the focus of under-performing technical development projects needs to be on assembling a team of cross-discipline senior people that drive a project from the business requirements. That requires significant understanding of the operational functions of the business. It also requires the project team to have the autonomy to get on with the job.
Commercial corporations understand the importance of what they call marketing. Unfortunately, only the successful ones understand the importance of digital. Those that do understand, grow larger. Those that do not, remain, at best, mediocre.
The mistake is to view digital as a bolt-on to, or an automation of, an existing task or process.
A lifetime of experience generates a large amount of expertise. This is absolutely fundamental. For, without that knowledge, it is highly unlikely that any organisation management will grasp the potential; the organisation will be remain mediocre, and competitors will quickly out-manoeuvre and out-play you.
That’s why we see, in this age of digital revolution, the large corporates get larger, and the rest, eventually die. Plain and simple.
You can see evidence in the job market. Job specifications add “social media strategy” on to the end of a description. Not understanding that: one, digital is so much more than social media; and two, that digital should drive the specification itself.
Sadly, this applies to social, as well as commercial, organisations. More so, in fact. The experience and expertise is in short supply; it gravitates to where demand pays more: the commercial organisations. Social organisations are left with the “do we have a Facebook page?” mentality.
Job specifications are important because they highlight the way that management view their need for personnel roles within their organisations. It is common to see a mishmash of job titles: Media Officer, Social Media Officer, Public Relations Officer, Communications Officer, Policy Officer, Research Officer, to name but a few.
In essence, what they should all say is: Research, Policy, and Digital Officer.
Consider what any policy-driven organisation is trying to achieve: Lobbying to effect change.
As Wikipedia puts it:
Professional lobbyists are people whose business is trying to influence legislation, regulation, or other government decisions, actions, or policies on behalf of a group or individual who hires them. Individuals and nonprofit organisations can also lobby as an act of volunteering or as a small part of their normal job.
Whether you want to use the (sometimes negative) word lobbying; and whether it is solely government that your organisation is trying to influence, the bottomline is that your organisation is trying to effect other people’s views.
My work revolves around projects and initiatives that seek to build up effective activist-led lobbying fronts for organisations.
This can be broadly broken down into three (overlapping) areas: Research, Policy, and Digital.