Many of the speaker touched on themes I harp on about a lot: Colin Jackson noted that the Internet has always attracted and fostered community; Chris Brown argued that social rules and mores are as important online as off; Nathalie Hofsteede talked about the web and transparency, and how it can work for you or against you. It was really interesting though to hear the issues, strategies and experiences I live and work with discussed through the lens of another sector.
Andrea Walker is the Online Communications Manager at Oxfam NZ. In her presentation she talked about Oxfam's experience of using social media sites, focusing on Facebook and Twitter.
One of the stories she told was about their Twitter account.
When the Twitter account was launched, Oxfam mostly focused on ways to drawn attention to our spread their key messages. Then one night the partner of one of the team came along to team drinks, and said that he thought the stream was good, but he'd like to know more about what's happening in the office. He thought he'd find this interesting.
Now Oxfam does tweet about workplace stuff - like birthday cake - in a way that still subtly draws attention to key messages (birthday cake made with fairtrade ingredients). It adds personality to their stream - it brings out the real people behind the brand, and it encourages real, human connection.
I enjoyed Andrea's presentation, and I was really glad she made this point. It matches with a point I feel like I keep banging on and on about - that people *want* to be your fans.
As an example; I've recently become a little bit obsessed with Berg's weeknotes blog posts. Berg is a London design consultancy who do things that are, frankly, a little magical and (often) a bit beyond me. [Tangent: Berg's work reminds me of Clarke's third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic only it's not just technology, it's the thinking and the way they communicate those thoughts]
Back on track. The weeknotes posts are recaps of what everyone in the office is doing. For example:
I’m liaising with builders to get quotes for the conversion of the new studio space, with accountants to answer queries on the year end and move to better book-keeping software, and researchers for: Ashdown; Silicon Roundabout; cybernetics. There are two contracts to chase and two proposals to complete. I know I say this every three months or so, but I’m busier and more productive than I’ve ever been.
I love this kind of detail. It's a little irrational (I'll never work with these guys) but I do. The same could be said for Stamen. I guess the nub of this is: I'm interested in their work, and they give me stuff to be interested in - not just the final ready-to-ship product or campaign, but the human side, the stuff that explains what they do and how they do it. The stuff that makes me feel involved.
Why can't more museums and galleries do this? Some people would doubtless argue that they're to busy working to blog or tweet about it. To which I'd ask: are you really too busy to engage with the people who you're working for?