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Blogging your way in – BCC and why it’s good to talk

We’re delighted to have just been officially unveiled as one of the magnificent seven Bristol agencies working on the new Bristol City Council web project.

We’re even more delighted that this has come about because BCC actually did something many councils talk about but rarely do in such a meaningful way – consulting with industry.

Conversation starter

Last year, BCC announced that it was going to take opinion from Bristol’s digital community on the re-development of the council’s website.

Naturally, we were interested and attended a round-table discussion on the project, after which I wrote a blog piece picking up on the fact that I felt the engagement was missing a trick.

I was delighted – and the cynic in me a little surprised – when I received a reply from the council’s communications and marketing director Peter Holt opening up a dialogue about the subject we’d raised.

Benchmark

The discussions that followed led to our engaging with the procurement process for approved suppliers to work on the project – at the end of which we’re extremely pleased to have been selected.

It’s been a refreshing process to go through – and a rare one in procurement – where a public sector body has gone to industry happy to say it doesn’t have all the answers and asking them to contribute ideas to a project rather than presenting them with tender documentation for a fait accompli.

Having gone through the process with BCC, I’m convinced this approach has led to a much more carefully thought out and strategised web project than would have been the case if consultation had not occurred on the same level.

It’s a very exciting project to be involved in, and hopefully one that will set the benchmark for similar projects across the UK.

Public sector ICT: is the age of the dinosaurs over?

The Government has just published its new ICT strategy – its plans for central government ICT over the next two years.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there, including new thinking (for the government at least) on cloud computing.

But the part that caught our eye was the section on procurement and open standards.

In a nutshell, government procurement processes are so byzantine and the projects they implement so large that contracts inevitably go to a very small group of multinational IT giants.

There are two problems with this:

  • those giants can pick their own – ridiculously high – costs
  • they frequently do an appalling job

Which all means that for ICT suppliers like ourselves, we are constantly banging on a closed door. Not upset for us? Ok, well for you it means you fork out millions of pounds more than you need to in tax to pay for often inefficient, proprietary ICT systems.

So, as part of its drive to improve public sector efficiency the government is now saying that open standards (non-proprietary) software is the way to go, and that big projects (over £100m) should be split down into smaller pieces and worked on by more than one company.

Which should hopefully mean, more opportunities for small, efficient ICT companies and less waste.

We’ll watch this space with interest – and in the hope that this very laudable policy is extended into local government as well, where the issue of lumbering ICT giants with very small brains and even smaller turning circles is just as bad. Roll on the meteorite!

Snow boarding at HorseWorld

Our shiny new advertising board is now on display at HorseWorld in Bristol – set off nicely by the recent snowfall!

We’ve worked with the charity for a number of years now and wanted to advertise our work with them to visitors to their attraction – as well as supporting a client we’ve enjoyed working with.

We think it looks rather fetching in the snow – and well worth seeing if you’re looking for something to do in the Christmas holidays (of course you can also see the animals, run around in the play barn and straw den, enjoy the aerial runway, take part in workshops, visit the museum and the other fun things at the visitor centre while you’re there!)

Resistance is futile – how the Social Media revolution overthrew your website

Social Media RevolutionThe world’s biggest annual social media survey has just been published, and it shows that, for charities, the tipping point in the communication revolution has now been reached.

Among the figures the Wave survey – published by ad agency Universal McCann* – throws up are these:

  • Over the last two years, the proportion of Net users visiting brand sites has dropped 10% (down to 74%)
  • Over the last year, the proportion of Net users connecting with a brand in social networks has increased 20% (to 30%)
  • Just under 50% of people have joined an online brand community

Brand? That means you. It means any organisation that seeks to create a community of engaged and connected followers. For businesses, it means potential or actual customers – for charities, it means potential or actual supporters.

It’s the end of the WWWorld as we know it

What do these figures mean? Along with all the other figures showing the sheer scale of social media engagement, they mean that your website has stopped being the centre of your online world.

For most charities and businesses, their web presence has been defined by their website. It’s where the “brand” lives online, how they communicate online, where they point people to for information – it’s the “official” web presence of the charity.

All that is about to change – in fact, it already has. The web is no longer about sites, its about content. Content doesn’t live on a site, it lives online – in social media, in tweets, on Facebook, emailed between friends, mentioned, social bookmarked.

Conversation not destination

It is no longer enough to concentrate your online marketing around your website, with perhaps a cursory nod to Twitter or Facebook. Your charity no longer exists online as a destination, but as a conversation.

Social Media is becoming the first place that people will find you online. It’s becoming the place where they will donate, fundraise, discuss you, support you, engage with you.

The way people use the web is changing radically – Social Media is intrinsically wound up in the way people move around online. They can Like content in Facebook without being on the Facebook site. They can sign into discussions via social sign-in, or write or comment on blogs. They can follow discussions and topics on Twitter. The revolution is being televised – on YouTube, which has become the second biggest search platform after Google.

Increasingly, they’ll stop searching for you online, and instead you – and the issues that matter to your charity – will find them.

All this is breaking down the walls that kept content – and brand – tied to a single website.

Not an option

Social Media is no longer an add-on, or an option, or a means of driving traffic to your site. It is your site – it’s everyone’s site.

When you are thinking about your website you now need to think of your web presence – the way you engage online is changing, and so must the roles of the people in your organisation that support your website.

Just like you did for your website, you need a strategy for social media engagement that directly supports your organisation’s aims. You need measurable goals, and people to ensure that those goals are met. As much as anything, you need a change of mindset away from having a website manager or team and towards having an online engagement team.

10 years ago, there were still charities that didn’t have a website. Now, no serious charity would be without one. In a lot shorter time than that, no serious charity will be without a web presence that has social media at its heart.

* apologies for those of you who clicked the link to UniversalMcCann – yes that really is the world’s most unusable site

Social Media Training for Charities

Tickbox Marketing are marketing and web specialists for charities and the arts. 

We regularly run marketing and web strategy planning, training and implementation workshops for our charity clients.

On the 28th of November we will be hosting a taster workshop at our Bristol offices for local charities. 

The workshop will cover:

  • Charity user engagement strategies
  • Which social media tools will work for you
  • How to measure resource allocation to drive your social media marketing
  • How to … guides for Twitter, Facebook and other social media apps

This will be a practical hands-on workshop and will enable you to evaluate or plan your social media marketing strategy for your charity, give you some practical tips on using the technology as well as looking at best practice and latest research in charity marketing.

Date: 28th of November
Venue: St Brandon House, 29 Great George Street, Bristol, BS1 5QT
Times: 10am to 1pm
Cost: £90 + vat

Lunch and refreshments provided

Please book in the first instance by e-mailing: training@tickboxmarketing.co.uk or call 0117 325 0091.

Numbers are limited due to our policy of holding smaller workshops to enable a more intensive learning experience for the delegate.