A foam finger makes all the difference and 6 other things I learned at commscamp

red foam finger sitting on train seat

Yesterday I had the good fortune to attend the commscamp unconference in Birmingham for the second year in a row.

For the uninitiated, commscamp is about people giving up their time to talk, listen and think about how communications is changing across the public sector. Being an unconference rather than a traditional conference, participants are expected to play an active role in shaping the day, sharing and exchanging information and helping each other change the way things are done.

In the spirit of commscamp, I’d like to share with you some of the things I learned yesterday. I also recommend you check #commscamp16  on Twitter to find other useful tips (and see all the lovely cakes you missed).

1. A foam finger makes all the difference

This year I volunteered to meet people at Birmingham New Street and make sure they didn’t get lost on the way to The Bond Company in Digbeth. The foam finger worked a treat and in next to no time people were flocking towards me.

2. You should repost your blog posts on LinkedIn Pulse

LinkedIn Pulse blog post by Dave Musson
LinkedIn Pulse blog post by Dave Musson

@davemusson ran a good session where he told us how he regularly reposts his WordPress blog posts and is impressed by the thoughtful comments he receives on them from people on LinkedIn. Furthermore, posting on LinkedIn lends credibility to your personal brand (shudder), showing people you know what you’re talking about.

There’s some disagreement over whether reposting the exact some content in multiple places negatively affects your SEO but the real-world evidence seems to suggest the benefits of doing so outweigh the downsides.

3. We need to talk about Snapchat

Meme with text: 'Y U know like snapchat?'
Don’t let your fear of Snapchat hold you back

As a 30 something living in Bournville, Snapchat isn’t something that comes naturally to me but that’s no reason not to use it if it can help you connect with the right audiences.

I was really impressed by a story @HelReynolds  told me about how she’d used Snapchat as part of a project she’d recently developed with LGBT school pupils to promote respect and tolerance.

Helen explained how she’d paid a small amount of money (less than £100 I think) to have a branded Geofilter. School pupils were then able to use this filter to tag the snaps they took to mark the event. The decision to use Snapchat greatly enhanced pupils’ enjoyment and engagement in a way that wouldn’t have happened if the school had opted to use more traditional social media channels. For a flavour of how pupils used Snapchat, check out their Chepstow School Tumblr.

4. Video is a massive opportunity for organisations

As a trainer for the Digital Action Plan, I’ve been telling participants they should be using video more but I’ve been guilty of not making the most of video, despite doing a fair amount of video projects with Ark academies.

@danslee reminded us all just how much video people are consuming online. He also talked about how people, particularly young people, are producing and sharing their own videos using just their smartphones.

Given this trend, organisations who wish to engage effectively online can’t afford to ignore video.

Fortunately, organisations don’t need to spend lots of time and money to make good videos. The good people from @filmcafe explained how organisations can use low cost mobile apps such as iMovie and Kinemaster to edit the footage they’ve shot on smartphones.

5. There’s no quick fix for social media monitoring

Listen by Ky licensed by CC By 2.0. Image shows descending row of ears.
Listen by Ky licensed by CC By 2.0

With careful customisation, social media dashboards such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Musterpoint can do a good job of monitoring relatively open social media platforms such as Twitter but they do less well with Facebook.

This is because Facebook’s privacy settings makes it hard to surface comments. To truly find out what’s going on on Facebook, comms people need to manually search the platform as an individual, looking out for groups and other places where relevant conversations are taking place.

6. Signing a corporate social media post can reduce aggression

Media law trainer @davidbanksy shared this and other great tips for dealing with trolls. The takeaway message was that antisocial behaviour online can quickly escalate if left unchecked. Furthermore, Brexit has the potential to weaken the legal protections publishers have in relation to comments made by others on their site, which means it’s more important than ever organisations manage their social profiles effectively.

7. Failure to take privacy seriously could cost your organisation dearly

Privacy written in tiles.
Are you sure you got permission to use that person’s email? Photo by Owen Moore, freely licensed under CC BY 2.0.

As well as giving helpful advice about managing trolling and antisocial behaviour, @davidbasky explained that judges are increasingly awarding substantial damages for privacy violations.

As a result of this trend, David told us we can expect to see more lawyers encouraging people to take organisations to court over privacy-related issues. David advises organisations to be extremely careful about how they manage personal information such as email lists. Best practice is to operate an opt-in policy, making it clear how you plan to use the information collected, and offering a simple means to unsubscribe from newsletters and other updates.

Want to be part of commscamp17?

If commscamp sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, you can sign up to be the first to know when tickets for commscamp17 are released.

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