Digital: Superb or Superfluous?

As someone who is classed as a digital native it is sometimes hard for me to comprehend that not everyone is on the same level as my generation. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine; the list goes on, all of these are familiar, exciting and important platforms in my life.

This is likely to be the same for you reading this, purely because you are reading this.

A difficulty that I’m sure many of us face on a daily basis is justifying the use of digital platforms, and the importance of it, certainly in the sector I work in. Our in-house communications team (made up of 5) are often referred to or introduced as ‘This is Team Comms, they do press, Facebook & Twitter’ the person, nods, smiles and moves on looking slightly bemused.

We smile, nod and laugh, but are often left asking the question: what if we didn’t do it? Would anyone notice? Would anyone actually care?

I read this article and what stood out for me was this line: “When we talked to charity chief executives, some acknowledged that digital was rarely, if ever, discussed at senior management meetings.” I think it’s clear that digital is not yet seen by everyone as the powerful tool that it can be, which is a shame, because what is digital if it isn’t a conversation; a platform to attract, engage, inspire, capture, thank people for their support? A community of people that want to engage with you is a warm community, people that want to support you and people you can connect with to get more out of; maybe they donated online last month because of an inspiring case study they read about on Facebook, that doesn’t mean we need to say goodbye, donations of clothes are just as important and in lots of cases just as valuable.

Patrick Nash wrote about the importance of digital in charity campaigns, he made reference to #Dryathlon and the undoubted success of fundraising that ‘fits with the habits of the general public’ making it as easy as possible to join, share, engage and most importantly fundraise for you, encouraging their friends to do the same.

So what if charities didn’t use social media platforms?

Thinking about the platforms we use to engage with our audience and what it means to us, we see that our online presence has grown considerably (and organically) over the past 18 months to something which I feel is an engaged, interested and committed community of supporters that are more likely to fundraise, donate or volunteer for us than if they weren’t viewing us online. As you may have read in a previous blog, we like to say thank you for their efforts and we like to cover as much of the work we do as possible, and on the whole, we do. We have fundraisers who came to us through Twitter, supporters who knew about our event through Facebook and hundreds of people engaging with us across both. If charities are not taking the opportunity to use social platforms to their advantage, I think they are missing out on a very important community.

Digital is growing, and it’s only going to get bigger. It’s conversational, it’s fun and it’s instant. Make sure your organisation doesn’t get left behind.

Follow me on Twitter @willdotbarker or check out @tenovuscancer

Here’s a little video with some interesting information about the growth of digital

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