Some fantastic stories of digital use across the Scottish third sector. Read on to be inspired.
Important: Opinions expressed by Digital Pioneer interviewees are their own and don’t represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.
Graham Murdo, Community Support Officer at iConnect North East tells us more…
Graham: iConnect are a local North East of Scotland charity based in Aberdeen, offering two core services: (a) helping people with their Self-Directed Support and (b) supporting people develop Life Skills. To this end, we provide free independent advice, information and practical support to all client groups, no matter their age, disability group or culture.
All our services actively support individuals and carers to have more choice and control over their lives and become part of communities that recognise and celebrate their individual skills, abilities and differences.
Within our Life Skills offering, local people with limited or no basic digital skills can be supported to learn digital life skills in either a community (small groups) or home-based (one-to-one) environments.
Graham: We’ve always used digital as an organisation; it plays an important role for us to get the day to day work done. From using Office 365 to manage our documents and emails, social media to engage with our community and peers to our website which offers lots of Self-Directed Support information. The internet in general is a very useful tool to empower those we support to find the answers their looking for whilst improving their digital skills (self-management).
Graham: The most recent digital opportunity we’ve taken up has been the use of Facebook Campaigns to promote Self-Directed Support opportunities (Becoming a Personal Care Assistant) on our website and using Google Analytics to help measure the impact of website traffic.
We’ve run several to date which have all been successful. One of our recent campaigns was in relation to our Digital Participation Charter funded Project ‘Online Employment Support’ which is looking to remove barriers for those unemployed who may have no or limited IT Skills. Our Facebook Campaign promoted the project and advertised community bases sessions in locations around Aberdeen.
Over the 10 day campaign we had up to 100 people click on the ad which generated a spike in our website traffic to the ‘Help with Employment and Training’ section. They also doubled the time they spent on the website from over three minutes to over six minutes. We also had over 30 new people come into our office asking for help with employment related digital skills.
A 10 day Facebook Campaign currently costs £100. With this small investment we were able to maximise our marketing budget to reach thousands of new people. It would certainly cost significantly more to have the same impact if we just used traditional communication methods like print marketing or running events.
Graham: We wanted to reach more people across our community to take advantage of Self-Directed Support opportunities. We were aware as existing Facebook users and that the social media platform has the potential to reach and engage a lot of people in a targeted way. From having a website at the core of the Self-Directed Support we offer we were also aware of the need to measure impact and Google Analytics has allowed us to do that. With the potential to raise awareness with clear measurable impact on more people using our website and foot fall through the door asking for support it’s clearly working!
Graham: As a team we agree the outcome we wish to achieve from running the campaign, define the target client groups and geographic area we want our messages to reach. Basically Facebook Campaigns supports us to target our messages to the right people in a localities we deliver our services in.
For example, we ran a recent Facebook Campaign to recruit Personal Care Assistants. We were able to target working aged people within a 10 mile radius of Aberdeen. We had over 2000 new visitors to our website and over 40 people applied for the positions. Over 50% of applicants who applied for the positions were selected by their prospective employers and are now making a real difference to people’s lives in the local community.
Graham: As with all our work at iConnect North East it’s a Team effort. With a mix of marketing, social media service delivery and website know how, we’ve used Facebook campaigns as an effective part of our marketing communication strategy.
Graham: For us, we’ve seen a spike in website traffic and people coming through our doors seeking opportunities to get involved or to find support.
For our community it’s meant more involvement and empowerment; people have been able to find solutions, support and ways they can play a role in helping others.
We view our ability to raise the profile of Self-Directed Support as potentially lifesaving. We’ve had people coming through our door ready to give up and feeling suicidal and our intervention has helped change their mind-set.
Graham: We’ve learnt a lot along the way and have always applied our learning to the next campaign. For example, we found that words on our campaign cover image were blurred out and no longer legible so we were careful in future campaigns to select the right image that conveyed the opportunity rather than relying on words. It’s these little things you come across as you have a go that allow you to improve each time.
Graham: We’d encourage others to dip their toe in and have a go and take the lessons learnt and apply them going forward; it’s an evolving process. The main thing is to make a plan of what it is you want to achieve and get the right people in the team to input.
Graham: Many people are isolated at home because they are unable to leave their home to attend community digital support sessions. In the main this is due to poor mobility, health problems and in some cases because of their own caring responsibilities for another.
For these people, growing isolation puts in jeopardy their ability to maintain independent living at home. However, where they can be safely assisted to be connected and supported via the internet the isolation can be reduced, their independence increased and overall health and wellbeing greatly improved. If they are a carer the benefits knock-on to the ‘cared for’ person.
We’re really interested in assistive technology such as devices with voice control and text to speak reading programmes like Text Help . These are really relevant to our homebased service users and have the ability to transform the way they interact with the wider community.
Thanks to Graham from the iConnect North East Team for sharing how they’re using digital in the third sector. We hope you’re feeling digitally inspired after reading it. Don’t forget to share it with your networks to keep the inspiration flowing and tell us what you think @digiscot using #digiscotpioneers.
If you’d like to help spread some more digital inspiration across the third sector then get in touch with us @digiscot and [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you and share it with our networks!