Social & Digital Media Lead
Posted 1 year ago
Digital engagement. Digital experiences. Digital transformation. Digital first. Digital *yawn*.
Everything’s digital now. We can’t move for articles about it or emails from people pertaining to solve all our problems and making us successful beyond our wildest dreams.
Agencies are enticing us with free websites that tie you into long and costly contracts for support, and others offer to build you an app for free, with no wider thought as to whether this is the right thing for your organisation to do.
But because digital is everywhere, we know it’s important. We get that it’s how people interact and often expect to engage with us. And that the opportunities here are massive for all of us as a sector.
We know all that, but our organisations haven’t caught up with the reality; so we fall for it. Or we build products that just don’t meet the need of our users, or we post random stuff on Facebook just because someone asked us to and we couldn’t be bothered to argue that “NO JEREMY. THIS IS NOT THE BEST WAY TO ENGAGE WITH OUR AUDIENCES ABOUT THIS, THEY LIKE OTHER THINGS AND AREN’T HERE FOR THIS”.
Technology has moved so quickly in even the last 5 years, that our knowledge-base has yet to catch up. There’s a massive skills gap here that we need to quickly address, and we need people who understand it to help others in this space to think about the bigger picture and just be more sensible to make the most of opportunities.
There is excellent digital work being done by charities large and small up and down the UK. Cancer Research UK’s internal transformation as to how digital embeds itself across the charity is fascinating (and before you argue about how much money they have, get back in your box because there’s something from their efforts that anyone can learn from and implement). Stay Brave – at the other end of the scale – are doing great work and delivering to their mission, of which digital plays a massive part.
But what if we stopped using the word “digital”? What if we talked about users/supporters/beneficiaries/people and just worked strategically to do what’s best to meet their needs?
Perhaps we should stop using a word that puts certain areas of your charity’s work into a box, meaning that people begin to think that all these things are the responsibility of one person or one small cohort of your staff?
Really, we all need to understand digital. Not necessarily the techy development side of things. But if we can work to embed a user-focused approach to it into our charities and remove the label, would we have more success?
"Digital should be an enabler, something to integrate and enhance your work, not be a standalone product or some panacea" (with thanks to Lily at Barnardos for succinctly summing that up). It’s what CRUK are attempting. It’s what Stay Brave do. We all need to get the basics right. And the rest will come.
And so to discussion; what’s your biggest frustration with digital, and how do you feel about it in your charity? Do you worry about it, or do you feel you’ve got this nailed and are doing great things here? Are you fed up of hearing people (like me, admittedly) bang on about it?
Think of this as a therapy thread – a place to share your fears or concerns, or even to celebrate your success to help me and everyone else learn and do better. I’d love to chat about it, from all of you at charities of any size. Go!