Oh dear, I’ve been part of the team at BrightLemon for two months now and I haven’t even written a blog…
Why is that quite so awful? Well, it’s kind of at the heart of my job. Oops.
I’ve recently joined the team here as a Community Services Manager – ‘what on earth does that mean?’I hear you cry! Don’t worry, having spent years in the charity and public sectors with job titles that invariably include the words ‘engagement’, ‘networks’ or ‘services’ I am well versed in the challenge of explaining what I do for a living and why it matters. As a Community Services Manager at BrightLemon, I help new and prospective clients serve the needs of their communities and audiences in the best way possible.
Yep – OK – that doesn’t really mean much does it? (The best test I use to see if I am just spouting jargon is to imagine if my 13-year old nephew would grasp the concept.) I look at various bits of research, theory and real-life examples about people and relationships – what makes them tick, how people work best together, what inspires people and so on – and I help clients understand how they can apply this online. Usually this is to increase some sort of participation e.g. getting people to take part in something, pay for a service, volunteer their time etc. More often than not it’s a complex web of all of the above!
Why is this important? Well, understanding the motivations of individuals and groups
is becoming increasingly more important when thinking about how your business or charity presents itself online.
Websites are more than just a collection of pretty pictures or persuasive text about why what you do is the best/so important. In fact at Drupal Camp London on Friday (more on that later this week) one of the delegates said ‘a website isn’t a book – it’s not made up of a collection of pages’. Sounds obvious doesn’t it – but you’d be surprised at how many people still approach their digital presence in this way. Anyway, my role isn’t really about how a website is designed, or what it is that you use it to broadcast – although I usually have a few opinions on this!
No, instead, I spend my time understanding how the connections that are made online (between a company and its clients, between a user and content, between vendors, between a volunteer and a charity, between different volunteers, the list goes on…) can help increase participation in whatever it is that you want to do.
What I mean is that these connections are no longer the sole responsibility of your customer service department, your account managers, your volunteer managers, your marketing team – or wherever that responsibility sits. Instead, these connections are an inherent part of your digital presence. This means combining all the knowledge of people and teams that are great at building meaningful relationships and understanding how this translates into an online experience.
BrightLemon we use this knowledge to build amazing online communities. This isn’t just of relevance to the charity or education sector either you know, we’re seeing its importance being understood by commercial industries more and more.
My hope is to not only use this blog as a platform for our awesome developers to share some of the tools and techniques that enable better connectivity or digital engagement but to also share some musings and ideas about the relationship between digital participation and community. If you have any requests for stuff you’d like to know more about, just drop me a line.