Next week the VerseOne Events team will head back to London for the latest installment of VerseOne's Digital Strategy seminars. Taking place at The Home of Cricket (Lord's Cricket Ground), the subjects of online marketing and social media have both proved to be as topical as ever as the session has over 50 delegates set to take part. Amongst the audience—which will contain representatives from the Housing, NHS and Local Government arenas—there will also be some familiar faces present, as a significant portion of bookings have come from people that have attended events with us in the past.
Given this, @VerseOneComms thought we'd put together a post that captures what its like to attend our events first-hand. As our events program has been running for a few years now—rather than turning to the M1/M6 battle-weary veterans—we thought we'd seek the perspectives of the public-speaker (and finger-buffet) loving newbies within the VerseOne Events team.
Callum on proceedings at #HousingHT
I arrived at the National Housing Federation's Lion Court Conference Centre not really knowing what to expect from the day. I knew the agenda, who would be speaking and what they would be covering, but not a lot else. Guests starting arriving from about 0950. We directed them into a side room to grab a cup of coffee, a name badge, and a chance for a quick chat with colleagues from the sector, before leading them into the main room ready for Andrew Harris, from Cross Keys Homes to kick things off with a talk on Digital Inclusion, and how it affects those in the Housing Sector.
Andrew presented some very surprising figures, such as 8.2 million people have never been online, of which 4 million are in social housing, and 72% of employers wouldn’t consider interviewing someone without basic IT skills. This was a real eye opener for me – as someone who works with computers every day, I tend to take even the ability to perform a Google search for granted.
Andrew’s talk really opened my eyes to the challenges that Housing Associations are coming up against when building a digital inclusion strategy. The session also contained some great tips and useful resources for any Housing Associations that are looking to advance the digital inclusion agenda. Andrew also gave some great insights into how Cross Keys Homes have pursued digital inclusion themselves.
If you’d like to access the slides, follow the link at the bottom of the article or let us know in the comments
Following a quick coffee break, and some enthusiastic discussion on digital inclusion, the dynamic Ben Locker was next to present. True to form, Ben set out his talk with a more interactive, workshop feel: armed with a handful of trusty handouts, and some witty one liners, Ben broke down copy writing for the web into its most basic elements, guiding the guests through the pitfalls and common misconceptions around writing copy for a website.
During Ben’s talk he actually came across one of our guest’s tweets via the #HousingHT tag. @BristolJames had recently written a blogpost that highlighted some of the key points that Ben was keen to get across to everyone in the audience. The post in question makes the case why public sector and non-profit organisations need a blog, what content should be covered, and also how to structure and start a blog. It was certainly great to see the audience getting involved in such a topical fashion. Given the highly interactive element, Ben’s talk ended in what seemed like no time at all—although the facts begged to differ, as my head was crammed with fresh information on web copywriting strategy!
After an amazing lunch, we came back into the room for the final part of the day—discussions on Online Media Strategy with Andrew @VerseOneComms and a case study from Anna Lambert, from Halton Housing Trust (HHT) social media being put to good use within a Housing Association. Before I joined VerseOne, Anna had in fact featured at a Digital Strategy seminar in November in Liverpool. It was great for our audience to hear that since then that the @HaltonHousing's twitter account has grown from 1,047 to 1,553 followers under Anna's stewardship. Accordingly, her advice on using social media channels, that also covered the use of Facebook in promoting local community projects, such as the recent launch of 'street snooker'.
With a quick show of hands, during his session Andrew gauged how many guests were on Twitter, and I manned TweetDeck to monitor and respond to the tweets coming in from the discussion, again using the #HousingHT tag. Even Ben Locker joined in, from a train on the way back to Essex! Splitting the guests into groups, things such as which social media to use, and the best way to target an audience were discussed, with some good points being made, and, I think, all parties feeling a little more accepting towards the idea of utilising Social Media at the end.
James' view of #NHSHT
On 23rd March VerseOne held a Hot Topics event looking at online communications in the NHS. It took place at the fantastic Weetwood Hall in Leeds, who provided excellent service and fine catering to help keep the delegates comfortable throughout the day.
The event was a great success with delegates benefitting from engaging presentations as well as an interactive session, focusing on social media, in the afternoon. VerseOne created a hash tag on Twitter, #NHSHT, to be used to follow live tweets, so delegates could give live feedback to their organisations about the session.
Presentations in the morning came from Henry Cook of the Care Quality Commission and Fraser Woodward, the Chair of AHCM. Henry discussed the importance of the CQC’s website and their strategy to increase their brand awareness online. The organisation implemented a new digital strategy in 2010 in order to rectify this. He also made clear what the CQC is trying to achieve as an organisation—focusing on the outcomes of patient care and how it is delivered—and explained their objective that the website become the source for discovering this sort of information.
Meanwhile Fraser’s presentation helped define how NHS organisations should review their online and digital presence. He examined how the sector can improve its websites, offering tips on how to keep content engaging and well written. He also stressed that it is vital to have your digital strategy more integrated into the whole organisation’s communications and marking strategy.
Karsten Rowe, a VerseOne web designer, presented on the importance of design and branding before lunch. His humorous presentation was well received, with many quips about what makes good and bad web design. Many delegates were receptive to his idea that simplicity is key. Karsten made it clear that when building a new website or intranet, an organisation needs to trust a designer to make their vision happen. Any sort of ‘design by committee’ should be well avoided.
The rest of the day focused on digital marketing and social media in the NHS with an interactive session run by Andrew from @VerseOneComms. This in particular made use of the Twitter hash tag #NHSHT. He asked the delegates to discuss in groups how they are looking to utilise social media, focusing on their target audiences, objectives and which mediums they prefer to use. A couple of groups understood that Facebook is a great way to engage with young people, whilst Twitter is helpful on a more senior and professional level.
There was also a case study on NHS Bradford & Airedale from Rachel Rutherford about how her organisation uses social media. She told us about how @NHSBradford have used Twitter, Facebook and Youtube to run various campaigns. For example, their NHSVDay campaign attracted a huge following as they provided sexual health advice via humorous poetry in the run up to Valentine’s Day. Rachel emphasised that using social media in the NHS is an ever-changing venture, and trusts must be ready to provide resources to manage it properly. She is always looking to progress and be innovative with.
If you'd like to find out more about the hot topics events or to receive the slides get in touch with us here