Just 5 months ago I was warmly welcomed to the world of digital engagement. I’m a Fast Streamer working within the BIS Agricultural Technologies team on a 6-month posting to manage the team’s digital engagement and comms and have led the team to become one of BIS’s greatest fans of all things digital.
Broadly, my role has involved communicating and promoting the Agri-Tech Strategy through digital means, and increasing the engagement we have with our stakeholders through these channels. I manage the blog, Twitter account, monthly newsletter and website, and I’ve introduced a Facebook page recently too. Although these channels were already set up when I arrived, there was much more to be done to create a digital strategy – to get it clear in our own minds what we wanted to achieve through these mechanisms, how, and how we would know we’d been successful. I drew up a comms strategy with digital engagement right at the core, and have delivered new and innovative content through each of the channels, tailoring it to their very different styles and tones.
There have been 2 key challenges within my role – the age old one of ensuring frequent and interesting content on a daily basis to maintain the interest of Tweeters, and up-skilling the team so that we are all keen and able digital users. My own digital skills weren’t brilliant when I started, but with a bit of time and effort and some great support from others in BIS, I’ve quickly got up to speed and been able to share what I’ve learned with my team. I’ve conducted one-to-one sessions with everyone to go over the absolute basics, setting mini bits of ‘homework’ that people feel they can handle. One of the biggest hurdles for people is just confidence, so taking small steps toward new technology has worked really well. We’re all now active Twitter users and many people are able to blog independently too. I’ve also volunteered as a digital buddy in BIS, so people can come and ask me questions about anything (and if I don’t know the answer there are plenty of others around keen to help!).
I’ve introduced a couple of other things that have helped us make the most of digital tools, one of which is the ‘digital wall of fame’. Though it might seem odd to have a non-digital method of highlighting digital successes, the wall of fame helps to keep digital in the forefront of our minds. It’s all too easy to get out of the habit of browsing Twitter every day or actually reading those blogs when the notifications come through, but the ever-changing wall display with images of the digital channels, best Tweets and ‘digital star of the week’ award is a gentle reminder every time we walk past. It has also generated a lot of attention from others walking by, and helped us to identify others who use digital methods of communication, link up and share ideas. Plus everyone obviously wants to be the star of the week!
The other tool I’ve introduced is an evaluation ‘dashboard’ which presents data on each of the comms channels to provide an overview of their usage and help us monitor and evaluate them on an on-going basis. At a glance you can see page views, number of re-tweets, number of followers, most popular blogs, and much more. Our stakeholder ‘following’ is growing all the time, so this tool has been extremely helpful in providing an evidence base on which we can base decisions such as content type and timing of messages, as well as helping us demonstrate the impact of our communications.
‘Digital’ is one of the core skill areas we, as Fast Streamers, have to cover in our development programme, and it’s certainly not going anywhere. Digital skills and awareness generally are clearly becoming so much more important, there’s more to learn every day, and it has been great to be part of the wider BIS digital family driving this forward.
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