We are the [digital] champions!

The power of adding value at every opportunity, having fun & eating cake!

This week is my last at the University of Warwick, so it’s probably not surprising that I’m in a somewhat reflective mood.

Looking back on my three and half years in Coventry (you mean your institution shares it name with the settlement in which it is located? How dull!) there are plenty of things I’ve been involved with that warmed my soul; our Instagram account is really great, our Induction social media campaign in 2014 was shortlisted for a Comms2Point0 unaward and I’m still pleased with how the social media framework pages I put together – which included a proper social media policy and some, hopefully, useful, pages of social media guidelines and tips on how to respond to incoming messages – came out.

But, above all of that, the thing I’m most pleased to have been able to help grow has been my network of digital champions.

Fuelled by a passion to learn, network and eat cake (thanks to Dan Slee for that inspiration), my digital network has met once a term since the Autumn of 2014, while being kept ticking over by email as and when I had useful stuff to share.

In short, the group has been invaluable; having a network of people across campus involved in various departmental social media accounts meant that we were always able to hit the ground running in any social media campaigns and made a big contribution to things like our graduation coverage regularly trending locally on Twitter.

The group has also been a great way to offer training and development to staff with some sort of digital remit but who aren’t part of the central marketing team. We’ve covered things like copyright, LinkedIn basics, social media reporting and it was very useful to run through our new brand and how it would be implemented digitally back in 2015.

The network welcomed guest speakers too – with The Student Room and Comms2Point0 both joining us for cake and learning.

It was also a friendly and engaged group for people from across campus to present to. We welcomed sessions from Warwick Retail, IGGY and Warwick Library – the latter then going on to present at this year’s CASE Europe Social Media and Community Conference. It was always wonderful to hear about what different people across were up to and what we could learn from them, as well being able to shout about the great work they were doing that we might not have heard about otherwise.

On top of that, it was a network, so it allowed people from across our campus community to meet fellow colleagues doing a similar role in another department – something our members really seemed to value. You’re only as good as your contacts list after all!

Lastly, we also did something delicious for a great cause; I’ve already hinted that our meetings involved cake and, whenever someone helped themselves to a piece of baked goodness at our meetings, they donated a few pence to our collection box, which was then donated to the Grace Research Fund, which helps premature babies and their families. It was only a few quid each time, but every little helps!

As I head off into the sunset and my new adventure with Net Natives, I’ll definitely be ensuring the distribution list for my lovely digital network is part of the stuff I hand over. I can’t recommend enough just how worthwhile it is establishing a group of digital champions.

Good organisational social media comes from having more voices involved than just the central team, and having your own group of champions is a great way of pulling those voices together and making them feel empowered and supported to get stuck in.

By being open, engaged and helpful, you’ll build a network of people who will actually pay attention when an email from you lands in their inbox and will actually get involved when you ask them, while only meeting in person three times a year is not so much of a time commitment that people would be put off.

Why not give it a go at your institution? Just remember to make sure you add value with every email or meeting, to give your members the opportunity to get involved and shape the network, and to make it a fun thing to be part of.

Oh, and cake helps loads too!

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