How do you champion authentic storytelling?

Last week, I attended the Social Media Exchange in Newcastle. An event bringing change-makers together to discuss the importance of storytelling. I wanted to share our key takeaways. 

The Social Media Exchange is an annual creative day for the charity sector curated and delivered by digital storytelling organisation sounddelivery. Digital storytelling has potential to have a positive impact on the world around us. The event brought together 210 changemakers – fundraisers, campaigners, volunteers, outreach staff, social entrepreneurs, funders, experts by experience and other socially-minded individuals to learn new skills, form partnerships and share insights to ultimately tell powerful stories to create social change. We attended five masterclasses and workshops, here are our top tips:

Campaigning for change: 5 tips
Organisations of any size can create change. Jen Laws of Asylum Matters and Katie McSherry of Activate Collective shared their experience and top tips of how to use campaigning resourcefully:

  • Have a simple ask – a direct call to action and be aim driven
  • who can we speak to that may be interested in joining the journey? Who is campaigning on this already? Foster smart partnerships-are there any unexpected spokespeople we can approach?
  • be in it for the long term (it can take years – be patient)
  • understand the problem that may persuade people. Can you use some existing statistics, data or messaging? Use Stories and case studies-they are emotive
  • what resources are available to you? It doesn’t always have to be expensive. Be realistic, think about where you can start, then test and review

Some of our favourite campaigns are: Extinction Rebellion, This Girl Can

 

How to harness the power of blogging: 5 tips
Blogging is resourceful, easy to do and a good way to build audiences. Seaneen Molly of Mindwise presented an engaging workshop, that showed that it can be much easier than we make it out to be:

  • Focus on being human, conversational, reactive and relational: but have guidelines if you use contributors
  • they don’t have to be long – 500 words is very easy to write!
  • blogging can be used to demystify industries and sectors
  • be human – sharing your own experiences encourages others to do so
  • be the answer – give value to the reader. What problems are people searching for? answerthepublic.com is a great tool

Some of organisations that are doing blogging well: NSPCC Digital, Shelter, Time to Change

 

How do we connect with young people?
Abbie from The Key led an insightful discussion about removing barriers and connecting with young people more meaningfully. There was a debate over whether we should be in young peoples online spaces, or whether that is a space they can get away. That is an ongoing conversation, and we will only know the answer by involving young people. Here are the nuggets of wisdom that were discussed:

  • Have consistent messaging-know yourself and your purpose. Be clear.
  • don’t always try and get into spaces where young people connect with each other, there is often a reason young people don’t want to engage with adults, let them make that choice
  • you don’t have to give access to your organisation instagram account-this is often counter productive. Instead, let them create their own – this gives ownership and pride
  • involve young people. If you are trying to connect to young people, ask and foster ideas together

Going Digital
Matt Haworth of Reason Digital is a UK leader on tech for good. He is also author of the ‘Digital Fundraising Book.’ Matt shared some valuable insights and tips on how to foster tech, and also explained innovation doesn’t always mean tech. The importance of fostering digital and tech:

  • audiences spend most of their time on digital platforms – if you are not represented in this space you are missing a big opportunity
  • we can be more meaningful through innovation – i.e, how do we be more than a website?
  • spend your time understanding audiences, they already use tech, we do everyday – from alarms to earphones. The audience may have solved your problem already. Conversations are invaluable. Ask, sometimes it isn’t what you think
  • tech is only useful if it makes a difference to what you need – what can digital do to enhance your mission?
  • remove inhibitions, encourage thinking, there are no bad ideas
  • innovation doesn’t just mean tech – prototypes are often started on bits of paper
  • be agile – understand the goal and do step by step. Whats the simplest thing you can possibly do? Iterations are key to validate ideas. The car didn’t come into fruition overnight. It started with a horse and cart.
  • we must be comfortable with the unexpected and allow for risk

It was a very valuable yet engaging and action provoking event. I’d like to finish on this:

 

Listening is key to build trust, trust is key to build communities, communities are key for change.

 

Have conversation and make change.

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