On Monday 8th February I attended the SoundDelivery Social Media Exchange (#SMEX16) in London. For a country Devon girl this was exciting, nervewracking and inspiring, and I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the day through a blog and share with you some of the excellent organisations I encountered through the event.
Hurricane Imogen was in full force when I arrived at the train station early on Monday and so unfortunately for myself and a few others travelling from the South West, I was rather delayed and frustratingly missed the event welcome by founder and organiser Jude Habib. This was of course unavoidable but it would have been great to settle in and hear Jude speak. However, I was told afterwards that the ‘surprise’ advertised in the programme was hardcore exercise, so maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing to miss after all!
I was very welcomed on arrival, and despite missing the introduction I was propelled into fantastic content delivery almost immediately. There were a large number of workshops to choose from throughout the day (it was actually quite difficult to choose which to go to) and my first was ‘Finding Common Ground’ – The power of Community, delivered by Kate Winthrop & Kelvin De Veth of ICUC Social.
The title of the day was ‘What’s the Story’ and the theme focused around storytelling, and how to tell those stories powerfully and successfully. It was aimed predominantly at charities, but as a Social Enterprise who work with a number of charities, it was good to be part of so many worthwhile and inspiring organisations sharing their stories. The theme of the day resonated really well with me as we are always talking about the importance of storytelling in your social media activity and using it to build trust in your followers and create an honest and authentic persona.
Kate & Kelvin started off the theme of the day really well, and spoke about a number of charities that they have worked alongside, such as Macmillan, Mind and Elefriends. Speaking about tone of voice on social media, differences between Facebook and Twitter and looking at their own experiences with dealing with safeguarding online and also, and very importantly, the value of peer support. We had an opportunity to discuss with fellow delegates of our own experiences when dealing with sharing stories online and building community, and it was good to hear others views.
Each workshop was broken up with tea and biscuits and a quick opportunity to meet and catch up with others. I met a number of people who I had connected with via the Facebook group beforehand and it was lovely to put names to faces and share our unfortunate travel stories!
The next workshop I attended was ‘Using Digital Platforms’ – To turbo boost campaign reach, and was led by Aytug Ozeli and Richard Lane, both from Scope. I found this session fantastic and it gave real insight into how Facebook campaigns work from a charities perspective. The main point I took away from this is how by boosting posts that are already gaining a strong reach, you can really nurture your already warm audience rather than trying to attract a colder audience. We saw some powerful videos that have been used to boost reputation and which were very moving. Scope’s knowledge of how to target their audience is vast and I really enjoyed the delivery of both Aytug and Richard.
Then lunch! Another great opportunity to engage with other delegates and enjoy a really tasty and varied menu, but also time to listen to some great lunchbite facilitators and lightning talks. I joined Dawn Newton’s lunchtime session which was friendly, welcoming and very interactive. We then all returned to the main conference room to listen to some incredible stories. Jonny Benjamin spoke about his mental illness journey and how his experiences have helped him help others and share his story through vlogging. Rachel Warwish spoke about MakeLunch, her fantastic charity aimed at feeding school aged children during school holidays. Both speakers were passionate and engaging and inspired all of us.
My afternoon workshops started with ‘Your Stories’ - Managing your incredible content, delivered by the equally incredible Rachel Jasper from Coram. Rachel was amazing – her delivery was quick, enormously educational and massively inspirational and I loved it! She was entertaining, informed and so very passionate. She spoke about case studies – how to find them, how to manage them, how to prep them, and how to deal with highly sensitive ones. Rachel spoke very strongly about gaining trust and always supporting those you are working with, as Coram works with families and vulnerable children, so they are very experienced in handling sensitive cases. I came out of Rachel’s session so invigorated and wanting more!
My final workshop was Jonny Benjamin’s session ‘Get Vlogging’ – Using video to tell your story. At Cosmic we are eager to start vlogging and so hearing first-hand experience was great. Jonny’s story was humbling and moving, and although none of us were initially keen to produce a vlog there and then (maybe a little too personal to do in front of strangers) there were already vlogs posted to our Facebook group the following morning. I am still yet to do mine however! I spoke to Jonny after the event and found him to be such a warm, genuine guy with real drive to support others in need.
The day ended with a fantastic keynote. Alecky Blythe is an award winning playwriter and screenwriter. She spoke in depth about her projects telling stories through the power of acting and music, and even performed with her friend and colleague Jason Barnett. Alecky explores the stories from those on the edge, gaining insight from those whose opinion may not normally be asked. To gain really personal stories from those who have been affected by issues such as homelessness, sex workers, riots and even murder was awe inspiring and incredibly humbling. I will be watching her film London Road very soon.
My day was long, and very tiring, but so, so completely inspiring and emotional and educational and entertaining. The stories that I heard were unique and incredible and I felt so honoured to be part of it. It was interactive, engaging and very informative. I just wish that I had the opportunity to attend each and every one of the workshops - it was hard making the choice as to which ones to attend! But I guess that is testament to how well it was planned and organised by Jude and her team. I look forward to next year!
Photos courtesy of @sounddelivery