Breaking out of the bubble

Bubble world

For many years my sister and I have joked about our parents living in a bubble. They have always lived in the same little town and most of the time seem to be completely oblivious to anything that’s happening in the world outside their bubble. Every so often they will venture out into the world beyond the bubble, but only if absolutely necessary.

Generally, as a rule, I’m a bubble burster but this last few weeks I’ve been firmly ensconced in my very own bubble. My current bubble is a work bubble, I’m beavering away in here tinkering with the Waverley Care fundraising database so that we can be a bit more clever about connecting with our donors. Every once in a while I pop the bubble and have a look around and do something different just to clear my head and its amazing how much that helps, a little bit of fresh air can give you a whole new perspective on things.

I’ve written before, over at opensourceCharity about the benefits of looking at things from a different perspective and I think that perhaps those of us working in the non-profit sector need reminded of this from time to time, I know I do. When your working for a cause that you really believe in sometimes it’s easy to get so involved in what you’re doing, and the message you’re trying to get across, that you don’t stop to think what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that message. Whether it be a poster, flyer, web page, tweet or blog its good to take a big step back and imagine you’re coming across it for the first time……you are that potential supporter. With that in mind I took some time this week to have a look at the Waverley Care wordpress blog which we set up initially so that we could blog about a trip to our project in Malawi. I’ve made a few changes to the layout and there are a few more in the pipeline with an aim to making it a bit less plain than it was. We’ll be launching the blog properly in the next month or so and we’re hoping to have regular posts from members of our board, staff and volunteers working in our project teams, and from the people we support themselves.

Now that is all great but I didn’t really have to pop the bubble to do that, maybe just stretch it a bit! I’ve found that when I’m really busy the best way to pop the bubble and see what’s happening is to use twitter, I have my own personal Twitter account @moptopp as well as our work account @waverleycare and I use my personal account to check out what’s happening in social media, in the city I live in, in the music I like, the films etc etc. I use Tweetie and Tweetdeck and have searches running on the various things I’m interested in. I learn a stack load of stuff about social media that comes in useful for work this way and I also get to see what local businesses are doing on Twitter via my city search. This has been a real eye opener for me and I’ve got lots of inspiration and tips from people who are not in the non-profit sector, that are not working in the HIV sector but that nonetheless have shared information that is helpful for me working in an HIV charity. I guess the take away here is this – break out of your bubble once in a while, stick your head above the parapet and see what’s going on, look outside your own niche and you might just learn something really useful.

There are lots of tools out there to help you pick through the rabble and pull out the relevant information, read my last post on building a social media listening post and set up a dashboard for your work listening for information from your niche, then set up another one to listen to what’s going on in your city or region. Make sure that you have Twitscoop as a column in your Tweetdeck so that you can see at a glance what the hot topics are on Twitter at any given time. These are just a couple of ways that you can break out of your bubble – go try them out, find some more and come back and share them.

Photo credit: Viking_79

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