Learning by doing – Parklife 2014

Last weekend I helped out at my council’s biggest event of the year, a sports-based family fun day at our local country park. It was great, even though we had to close early due to a torrential thunderstorm. Lightning plus watersports and climbing walls aren’t a great mix.

Here’s a Storify of tweets and other links from the day. It was the perfect event to use social media to encourage people to attend, talk to people and organisations who were there on the day and showcase highlights. It was also a learning curve:

  • Vine is a brilliant app and dead easy to use – I made a few videos of set-up and activities during the day, Owned by Twitter, Vine takes six-second looped videos you can easily share. You can shoot continuously or film shorter chunks in a stop-motion fashion that run as one video. I was shown how to use Vine in less than ten minutes at LocalGovCamp by Albert Freeman (thank you again!). If I can use it, anyone can. Honest.

  • Hashtags help – our event hashtag of #Parklife was a great way to find other tweeters at the event, making it easier to chat with them and retweet their information and photos. So much more fun to have conversations than seemingly talking to yourself. Easy to speak in ‘human’ at this kind of event too.
  • Hashtags can be problematic – a drawback to our use of #Parklife was that a music festival was also using it – and it’s in general use as a pop culture reference – so the timeline needed a bit of sifting. A learning point for future events.
  • Photos, photos, photos – pictures and video really are worth a thousand words, especially when you’re limited to 140 characters. We tried to tweet photos where we could, and it was fantastic to see and share photos from other council staff, volunteers and activity organisers. Here are a few of my favourites.

  • Video and photos use up battery life super-fast – fantastic as video, photos and social media are, boy do they gobble up your battery. I got to the event at 9.30am with 84% battery life and my phone ran out of juice by 1.30pm. There was nowhere to easily recharge. This was an issue, especially when the decisions to postpone activities, and later call it a day, were taken. Luckily, a colleague generously handed over their smartphone and I was able to log on to Twitter and Facebook. I’ll be investing in a portable recharger for the future.
  • Storify is an easy way to collate and share content – as a way to capture online content from different sources,  I’m enjoying using Storify. It’s not flashy but is fairly straightforward to use and you can quickly create, share and update a timeline of an event. Handy as reference guide for repeat events too.

All in all it was a great event, which even the rain couldn’t take the edge off. I’m looking forward to next year when I think we’ll improve again on the social media side. After all, there’s always room for improvement.

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