Rules of Engagement

Get the message out - titleOn March 2nd (2012) Sustain Dundee filled the Hannah Maclure Centre, Dundee with volunteers and enthusiasts of the Dundee Community Gardens initiative.

Having designed the flyers and graphics for their WordPress site I had been asked to talk about ‘Getting The Message Out…‘.
For many it was their first step into blogging and social media and so I focussed on three simple rules, what I call “The Rules of Engagement”; although they are not exclusively mine but simply guidelines gleaned from my experience; and a tip to support each rule.
This page is a summary. It is still in the context of ‘community gardening’ but I’m sure, with brains in gear, you’re all bright enough to draw parallels to your own work. So here we go:

The rules of engagement - title

Rule 1) Update or Delete Your Page: How often you blog or update your page is up to you – however, visitors to the site will stop coming if they keep seeing the same content.  No one heads out on Saturday morning for last weekend’s newspaper! So keep up to date – content is King!
If activity is going to be spars then establish a pattern or schedule and let your community know when to expect updates.

Tip 1): Here are three simple steps for ‘starting’ a great website or blog: 1) Find a site that you really like. 2) Think about what makes it great. 3) Do the same!
It’s sounds like pinching but its NOT, because you’ll bring something of yourself to it and make it your own..! 

Rule 2) Social Media: There are dozens of online social platforms for all tastes. Find one that allows your to share the Dundee Community Gardens message in a way that interests you. If you’re into photography maybe you’d like Instagram or Flickr. If you’re a frustrated Ken Bruce or Jeremy Vine then check out AudioBoo or Twitter!… If you like scrapbooks or collections then Pinterest could be the one for you…

social platforms logos

Just as ‘in-person’ word of mouth is effective in then social platforms can fulfill the same function in online. At home, at work at college, we listen to people we trust. It works exactly the same online. Just as you develop trusting relationships in person, so the same is true online… you see? More importantly you may become a trusted source yourself, so don’t abuse it!

Tip 2): The Key here is that you don’t have to be using every social media channel available. Find one (or maybe two) that you really enjoy and use them effectively.

Rule 3) It’s NOT all about you! It may be ‘your’ business. It may well be your website. It most certainly is NOT all about you… if you want to engage with the on-line world. The clue is in the name, so be ‘social. Have you ever been in a group where one person dominates the conversation – talking about themselvesDo you want your twitter feed or website to be the online equivalent of that person?

At the same time you are an individual, you are unique, and it’s here where we see potential interest. You will have a skill, expertise or interest that can be shared with your audience. Are you known for being the expert ornithologist? Are you particularly good with marrows? Bring ‘your’ subject to the blog, share advice, tips and pictures or videos; find relevant news, write a quiz or do a step-by-step, etc, and so on…

Be politetalk about other things and share..!

Tip 3): Just as the jobs in the allotment/garden are spread across the team, don’t expect just one person to look after this web-site. It takes a lot of work so spread the work around!

Finally, there are two rules that, ordinarily, would be amongst the top three. But I left them out for good reason. It’s essential that bloggers understand these two rules, but I suspect that you may already have a head start…:

a) Passion: When you write about something it should be clear that you’re passionate about the subject. Clearly, being at events like this, and volunteering for community garden projects, demonstrates a level of passion! Translate that into your blog and the audience will keep coming back!

b) Community: Similarly, websites such as this one are built around ‘community’. Clearly you understand community, you’re part of one! ‘Dundee Community Gardens‘ community. The rules and skills that apply/applied to building that community also apply to establishing digital communities. So apply them to this website and you’re #winning!

One last thing…

Your projects are outdoors projects. You are outdoors people.

Why not try taking YOUR social media outdoors too? You’re not Radio Four, your content doesn’t have to be polished or broadcast quality. Think about how you can make interesting videos and/or capture interesting audio outside; make an effort to have the ambience of outdoor life in the background. Birds tweeting chirping, dogs barking… make it authentic!

You have award winning garden projects. There’s absolutely no reason why your digital projects shouldn’t have the same impact!

You can read more about Dundee Community Gardens here

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