Tag Archives: club

Bushwalking 2.0 | Some Social Media Websites to Grow your Club

Once you have a social media plan to grow your bushwalking Club membership you may be wanting some ideas to help you implement it. Here are a few social media websites to help you get your message out to prospective members.

 Twitter

This website allows you to send short text messages (tweets) to other users. As mentioned in an earlier post,  it is a good idea to monitor what others are saying about you and other local bushwalking clubs so you can modify your focus if needed. Including the ability to “tweet” directly from your website allows visitors to tell others about your website and creates a snow ball effect. Tweets can attract traffic to your website and may appear in search engines.

Facebook

 A club Facebook page is a great way to promote your “brand” and allow “friends” to send messages and post news to your “wall”. Many bushwalking Clubs already have a FB presence and if you were really keen you could place an advert. You can add share buttons to your website to allow visitors to promote your web page via FB

Flickr

This is an ideal place to post photos and video from Club walks, which can then be used to promote your website, via links. They can be made publicly available or if you want kept private for only Club members. Flickr has limited value as a direct promotional tool but does help your Google ranking.

PS You could use the comments and ranking facility built into the site to administer your Club photo competitions.

YouTube

YouTube is a video sharing website to which you can upload small video clips taken by your member’s smartphones or cameras. What better way is there to show what a fun Club you have than to post clips from bushwalks and other activities? Links in the video description can very effectively link back to your website. Videos rank highly in search engines.

digg

digg is a social news site where you can place items, of news value to the bushwalking community, which can then be linked by other bushwalking sites and blogs. News items rate highly in search engines and can lift your prominence quickly if widely distributed.

StumbleUpon and Reddit

These are social news sites where web pages can be  shared and found by potential new members.

Del.icio.us

This is a social bookmarking site where you can share your bookmarks which might be of interest to other bushwalkers, instead of hiding them away in your website. If your bookmark list is comprehensive and has lots of keywords to help searching, you may attract lots of visitors. Have a link from your home page to your Club’s bookmarks on delicious.

For example: oz.bushwalkingskills bookmarks

Links

Twitter
Facebook
Flickr
YouTube
digg
StumbleUpon 
Reddit
Delicious

Acknowledgement: Some of the descriptions were developed from The CMO’s Guide to the Social Landscape (2011) pdf

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Bushwalking 2.0 | A Social Media Plan to Grow your Club.

Social media are familiar to everyone and can help your Club collaborate, share, welcome, energise, update, compete, promote, plan, collate, produce, discuss, record, and present, using well known web 2.0 interactive tools such as Twitter, blogs, Skype, IM, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, wikis and forums.

Web 2.0 tools can help you collaborate with other Club members to develop new resources, share the work load, make new members feel welcome, update guides and policies, run competitions, promote your Club to the public, plan events, collate, edit and distribute digital newsletters, promote discussion, and record events, skills and presentations.

Your members are probably already talking about your Club using social media. There are tools available to check what your target audience are saying about you: Google Alerts, Twitter Search, Technorati are but a few.

What are they saying? Is it positive or negative or simply non-existent? Do they have misconceptions? Do you want to capitalise on the opportunities available to promote your Club to new members?

The first step to grow your Club is to devise a social media plan, keeping in mind your goals and probably limited resources.

Some questions to be answered:

  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • What do you want to change?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What sort of relationships would you like to form?
  • How would you like to change your relationship with your target audience?
  • What resources (time, people, money) are available to implement your plan and maintain it?
  • What have you already tried and how successful was it?
  • How do you intend to promote the changes?
  • How will you know if it is working?

NB It is critical that everyone in your Club hierarchy is supportive and part of the development of this plan. 

Read more about using social media and web 2.0 tools

Acknowledgement
Some of the ideas here have been adapted from the Museum 2.0 How to develop a small scale social media plan and the Museum Social Media Strategic Planning Worksheet

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Bushwalking 2.0 Pt 3 | Goodbye Newsletter

Has the Club newsletter had its day? Do you struggle to find an editor for your club publications? Is there a better model for publishing today with the advent of web 2.0 tools? Should those who are prepared to receive a digital newsletter receive a membership discount?

The typical Club newsletter is published monthly or quarterly and contains articles contributed by a small number of writers and edited by the Editor or perhaps a small editorial panel. Usually the Editor has struggled to get sufficient articles by the deadline and has probably had to personally seek new contributors and “hound” those who have promised regular contributions. Quality articles rarely arrive on the editor’s desk without some begging or “arm twisting” having occurred.

The production and distribution of the Club newsletter can be both labour intensive and expensive, especially if it has to be posted to a few hundred members. More progressive Clubs will have already diversified and will be encouraging members to opt to receive their newsletter by email as a pdf. Some clubs only have their newsletter for download from the Club website, usually from a members-only section, but if they could see the promotional value of the newsletter, it would be there for anyone to download.

Producing a pdf is the first, but most important stage of going digital. It reveals a commitment to part with tradition at the cost of losing a few die-hards who want to live in the past. If you really want a quick transition from paper to digital, discount the membership fee, by an amount which reflects the cost savings, for those who are prepared to download their copies of the newsletter. The real costs include postage, envelopes, database maintenance, printing, collating, “stuffing”, sorting by postcode and posting.

Of course web 2.0 tools are designed to be interactive and collaborative, perfect for the job of efficiently editing a newsletter. Even better, with the correct selection of the web tool, you can facilitate concurrent editing of contributions by the panel or if you are really adventuresome, open up the process to anyone in the Club to both contribute and edit. They can edit as little as they want or as much, knowing that the “real” Editor can reverse any changes made if needed, reverting to any previous version with a click of a button.

The other benefit is that the process is transparent, so that members can see how the current edition is progressing and contribute if they feel or see a need. The final version has only been published when the Editor digitally locks the pages and exports the finished file as a pdf.

Suitable tools for this  publication model include wikis, online documents with user-contributed content that can be edited by any authorised person, Google docs shared in the Cloud and even some versions of Adobe Acrobat. All of these alternatives avoid the need to sequentially pass a partially edited document from one person to another.

Of course if you are going to fully benefit from web 2.0 tools, why convert your publication into a pdf at all, just leave your wiki online with the finished pages locked and an invitation to everyone to start on the next edition.

More articles in this series

Pt2: Is your Club Ageing?
Pt1 Pt1 Re-energising your Club

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Bushwalking 2.0 Pt 2 | Is your Club Ageing?

Does your Club have fewer members than it once had? Is your club ageing? Do you have fewer younger members than you once had? Is the proportion of younger members changing?

Many organisations are finding that their membership is dropping.

It could be due to a change in the way the community values membership. It could be because other commitments have reduced the amount of time individuals have to give community service or to be involved in Club activities. It could be because the traditional structure of Clubs does not meet the needs of younger members familiar with social networking and the ability to contribute on an equal basis without the traditional club structure.

There is no doubt that many community groups are finding that not only is their membership dropping but that it seems to be ageing. Committee members are being recycled with little new blood and where there are younger members taking positions of responsibility, they often only do so for a short period. A valuable exercise would be to find out why your younger members are not volunteering for positions of Office and especially why those who have experienced a short term on your Committee have not continued.

Another valuable exercise would be to look over your Clubs membership records to determine how the age profile is changing. Is the proportion of younger members really decreasing or are there just fewer of them because your membership is dropping? Is there also a decrease in the duration of membership, with younger members staying for shorter durations than they once did? Should we expect a decrease in the proportion of younger members to match the changing age profile of the population as a whole?

Whatever the cause, addressing this problem should be high on the agenda of any Club. Without tackling the ageing problem few Clubs can survive, as older members retire and are not replaced by younger and as the Committee workload falls on the same “old” people.

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Bushwalking 2.0 Pt 1| Re-energising your Club

Can web 2.0 tools reduce the workload on your Club Committee? Can using social media recruit and retain new members? Do existing Club hierarchies deter participation? Could a more democratic governance attract younger members? Do younger walkers expect different things from their Club than older “baby boomers”? Is your Club membership getting older?

Many bushwalking Clubs are suffering from an ageing club membership and struggling to find sufficient Committee members to share the workload. This is the first of a series of articles which will look at some of the questions raised and future posts will attempt to suggest some solutions.

By nature web 2.0 tools are interactive and collaborative and usually involve many-many interactions and user-generated content. They provide many opportunities to include Club members who previously may not have participated in any of the organisational aspects of your Club and, in so doing, take some of the workload from your Committee members.

Social media, generated using web 2.0 tools, provide the opportunity for Club members to develop relationships with others they may not have even met, develop a sense of belonging and in so doing welcome new members into your Club. Potential new members browsing the web will be comparing walking Clubs to get a sense of how easy it will be to join in  and become part of the membership. If they sense there is a “closed shop” attitude with “cliques” they will not join.

Often Club hierarchies may inadvertently discourage new members from contributing by “censoring” or “filtering” new ideas that don’t conform with the status quo. Web 2.0 tools encourage e-participation and are inherently more democratic and here lies the danger for some Committee members who may see such processes as a threat to their power. Change is often resisted by those who fear the status quo will change.

Younger generations often do not have respect for figures of authority who sometimes reside on Club Committees. They expect their views to be considered on merit and will often either actively oppose authoritarian, rigid and outmoded ideas or if they feel a lack of openness, may withdraw their participation or even membership. They are used to interacting via the social media with a large number of people, where their contribution is valued and not  filtered, according to their status in the organisation.

Does your Club have an ageing profile and if so why?

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Planning a Bushwalk | Using Dropbox and Google to Share and Store Information

Want to share a map or form with those who need it but not send it to everyone in your bushwalk group? Do you have a spreadsheet you want to share? Want to send a questionnaire or “survey” to your hiking group? Want to set up a group calendar, so you can see  when is the best time to plan a hike? Want to share your photos or video clips after the walk?

In Planning a Bushwalk | Using the Web to Share and Store Information Pt 1,  I discussed how the Web allowed us to share information so that only the latest version was available and easily accessible to everyone with a need-to-know. This post (Part 2) will help you to access specific websites and web tools which will help you to achieve these aims.

Want to share a map or pdf with those who need it but not send it to everyone in your group? One way is to upload it to the web “cloud” where it can be easily accessed based on need and is available 24/7 without your intervention.  Both Google and Dropbox and possibly others, with which I am not familiar, offer this free service but for a limited amount.

Dropbox

One such website where it is possible to do this is Dropbox, one of the  easiest ways to store, sync, and, share files online and which is available free for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Mobile. Watch the video about Dropbox. Dropbox offers free startup accounts with storage of 2GB, but larger accounts have a monthly fee eg 50Gb cost $99/year. By installing the Dropbox software on your computer or mobile, any file you add to your Dropbox, a folder on your desktop, becomes almost instantly available on any other of your computers, including mobiles, which has Dropbox installed or via a web interface if you don’t have access to one of your computers.

While I am embarrassed to admit I have succumbed to this Dropbox ploy, everyone joining Dropbox gets a 2GB account for free, but if you click this link both you and I will get an extra 250MB for free on our Dropbox accounts because of this referral!

There are mobile phone apps available for iPhone, iPad, Android, or Blackberry, although any phone with a web browser can always access the Dropbox website. Get access to critical files, such as booking confirmations, passport scans, drivers licence copies, route plans, emergency contact lists when on your bushwalk or while at local base, wherever you have a 3G service or wifi.

Now you can share the contents of your public folder for your latest bushwalk with your mates even if they are using a different operating system to you. It’s as simple as sending them an email, with the  link to the file.

Check out my Dropbox public folder, which contains the file How to use the Public folder in Dropbox.

It is easy top access your Dropbox from your iPhone using apps such as Dropbox by Dropbox.
 
Google

Google also offers “cloud” computing with the ability to save files for access from any computer, much like Dropbox. In Google however, the files can use templates provided by Google Docs which at this time include the following formats:

  • Document
  • Presentation
  • Spreadsheet
  • Drawing
  • Form
  • Folder

or can be uploaded in an existing format eg Microsoft Office and become part of your Google list in a public folder, just like Dropbox. This is explained in more detail in the Google Docs Blog below:

“Instead of emailing files to yourself, which is particularly difficult with large files, you can upload to Google Docs any file up to 250 MB. You’ll have 1 GB of free storage for files you don’t convert into one of the Google Docs formats (i.e. Google documents, spreadsheets, and presentations), and if you need more space, you can buy additional storage for $0.25 per GB per year. This makes it easy to backup more of your key files online, from large graphics and raw photos to unedited home videos taken on your smartphone. You might even be able to replace the USB drive you reserved for those files that are too big to send over email.

Combined with shared folders, you can store, organize, and collaborate on files more easily using Google Docs. For example, if you are in a club or PTA working on large graphic files for posters or a newsletter, you can upload them to a shared folder for collaborators to view, download, and print.

You can also search for document files you’ve uploaded or that have been shared with you just like you do with your Google documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and PDFs. And you’ll be able to view many common document file types with the Google Docs viewer.” (From Google Docs Blog)

A single Google account is much more versatile than Dropbox because it also offers you access to all of the following dedicated Google web applications:

It is easy top access your Google Docs from your iPhone using apps such as GoDocs for iPad/iPhone by Lightroom

In my next post (Pt 3) I will explain how to use these Google app and Docs.

For more info check out my other posts:
Web 2.0
Planning.

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Planning a Bushwalk | Using the Web to Share and Store Information Pt 1

How can bushwalkers share information? How can shared information be kept up-to-date?  Have you ever tried to set up an emergency and personal contacts list for a multi-day hike? Tried to get consensus on a route plan? Wanted to share maps, trip intention forms, routes or other documents?

In a recent post, Searching for Bushwalking Information on the Web | Search Engines and Social Bookmarking , I suggested that a free Google account was a good way to to find information using web tools such as Google Alerts and that the social bookmarking site Delicious was in some ways better than a web search using Google or one of the other alternatives. These are both web tools and the second is designated a web 2.0 tool as it involves a high level of interactivity and sharing of information.

One way, of course, is to have everyone email you their emergency and personal contacts and then circulate a master list by email.  This works to some extent, but you can spend a lot of time resending the master contact list every time someone changes a phone number or their NOK! How do you know  that everyone has updated the master contact list and given the correct list to everyone who needs a copy?

One way is to place your list in the “cloud” eg Google Docs so that only one list exists and this is always the latest. You can give those in your group read/write access and they can update their own details as required. Then you just give people who need a copy a web link to the master list or if you must,  print the only copy immediately before your departure. If you are separated from your luggage and have a smart phone or access to an internet cafe where you can browse the web, then this list is immediately available. Your Club’s Safety Officer will always have up-to-date access, too.

If you have a consensus leader, then your route plan will be a joint effort. Each change will of course necessitate sending out a revised version and before long you will have so many versions no one will know which is the latest unless of course you are highly organised and use version control. Why not have just one version in Google Docs and keep this version current?

Want to share maps or other documents then use one of the web storage sites where essential docs can be uploaded by one person and then downloaded by everyone in the group who needs a copy. Of course, you could simply send a copy to everyone in the group by email, which is how we used to do it. However, files sizes for maps and pdfs are often huge, making this method largely unworkable for most walker’s mail systems.

Part 2 of this posting will give specific examples of websites and web 2.0 tools which you can try.

For more info check out my other posts:
Web 2.0
Planning

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Bushwalk Leadership Training | How to Change a Club’s Training Culture

How do you change the Club culture? How do you encourage leaders to improve their skills? Should leaders be required to under take some training each year to retain their leadership “accreditation”?  What sort of training would be appropriate?

It would be rather presumptuous of me to suggest that there is only one answer to this complex problem, which has troubled many a Club’s Training and Safety Officer. Any solution will however need to recognise that this will be a significant change for many Club members and hence to be successful will involve proven change-management techniques.

No doubt any possible solution will include at least some of the following:

  • recognition by Club members that the Club’s leadership skills need to be improved.
  • belief in the need for training by the Club Committee, followed by adequate consultation to design the program and then promotion by prominent Committee members.
  • commencement with a small and carefully selected program which will be acceptable to leaders and can be successfully completed by all
  • involvement of respected “elders” in the Club, both as instructors and participants
  • recognition of those who have participated in, and provided, the training
  • awareness raising by having one of the participants outline what they learned at a Club meeting or newsletter

An annual accreditation requirement could be used to encourage  participation in leadership training, but this needs to be delicately handled to avoid putting “experienced” leaders offside. Leaders could be expected to gain a minimum of 10 points per year  (equivalent to 6 hrs training) to retain their leadership “credentials”.

Some non-threatening examples could be:

  • Senior First Aid Refresher  (10 pts)
  • GPS use (2 pts)
  • PLB use (2 pts)
  • Pre-trip planning ( 2-5 pts)
  • Stove types, use and maintenance (2 pts)
  • Dehydrator use and menus (2 pts)
  • Navigation refresher ( 5-10 points)
  • Ultra-lightweight backpacking ( 2 pts)
  • Lightweight cooking and menus ( 2-5 pts)

For those who want some more theoretical training

The accreditation requirement (10 pts)  should be incorporated into an annual  Leadership Training Weekend, with topics being rotated from year to year.

To make the process less threatening, some of this training could be carried out by “expert” Club mentors during Club walks or on a one-to-one basis. It should be possible in each Club to establish a list of “go-to” people who would be willing to make themselves available for specific skills training. Leaders who were prepared to give training sessions for other leaders could be credited with double the number of points that a participant would gain.

Some Clubs have a policy of subsidizing leaders who attend accredited training courses, if they are willing to pass on the knowledge and skills they have learnt. This not only encourages participation in training in a positive way but shows that the Club values training and this is an important step in changing a Club culture which is less than enthusiastic about the importance of training.

View other relevant posts in this Bushwalk Leadership Series

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Bushwalk Leadership Training | The Need for a Change in Club Culture

Which skills do Club bushwalk leaders sometimes lack? Why is there often a Club “anti-training” culture?

Over the years I have walked with many different bushwalk leaders and from each I have learnt new bushwalking skills. Sometimes I have noticed contradictions, but there is rarely the opportunity to question and if there is, it is sometimes difficult not to offend, appear to challenge the status quo or appear critical.

Formal bushwalk training, undertaken through organisations such as Bushwalking Leadership SA, actually encourages and expects participants to ask questions. The presenters welcome people challenging their ideas and because of their active involvement in leadership training are aware of differences in techniques and are able to offer alternatives, based on their own experience and that of others.

In my experience, many Club leaders sometimes have limited skills in group management and don’t see there is any need to develop them. They often believe that they are leading a group of peers who are able to look after themselves. They fail to recognise that most Club walks have new members who need to be made welcome and integrated into the group if they are to remain Club members. They fail to recognise that often walks have “dependents”, who despite their maturity, are inexperienced in terms of bushwalking skills and need to be actively “supported”. They often fail to accept, that as the “leader”, their personal needs become subservient to the group as a whole.

Have you ever walked in a group where the leader is at the front, sometimes a long way in front, and is oblivious to the needs of the unfit “newbies” struggling at the back, with their overweight packs? If they are aware, have they offered to redistribute equipment so the group as a whole can make more rapid progress? Have you often worried, as “tail-end-charlie”, which way the group has gone at the intersection and wondered why the leader didn’t wait until everyone had arrived before moving off. Have you ever arrived last at a group break and found that instead of the 10 minutes everyone else got, that you got just 3 mins?

Have you ever watched an inexperienced or unskilled leader waiting for the group to assemble at the predetermined start time? How do they treat the “new member” who has failed to allocate sufficient time in the morning to get gear packed, have breakfast and attend to personal hygiene? Do they offer to help personally, assign someone who is already packed to help or do they stand there impatiently and then make comments about the “regrettable” late start?

Risk management skills are often intuitive among bushwalk leaders. They have often learnt over many years, usually by trial-and-error, what dangers there are in particular locations and at particular times of the year. This works fine provided they don’t venture outside of their “known world”, but do they have the knowledge and skills to cope if the circumstances fall outside their personal experience?

Some Club bushwalk leaders would see any attempt to encourage them to attend training courses as a criticism of their leadership credentials and therefore a personal attack. Some are blissfully unaware of the potential risks of their leadership style while others would see their attendance at a training course as an admission that they have something still to learn and a reflection on their status as a “Club elder”.

Fortunately, there are many others who see their bushwalking “careers” as a continual learning experience, who are open to new ideas and are aware of their role and obligations as bushwalk leaders.

The task is to convince the less enthusiastic  leaders that there are still things to learn which will make Club walks more enjoyable for everyone.

Visit other relevant posts in this Bushwalk Leadership Series

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Bushwalk Leadership Training | Is it necessary?

Do bushwalk leaders need training from qualified instructors? Can you learn on-the-job?  Will formal leadership training spoil the informality of Club walks?

First of all, I have to admit that I need no convincing of the benefits of skill training for the outdoors.  I have always believed that training from qualified and experienced practitioners is the best and quickest way to develop skills and confidence in the outdoors. Whenever I have wanted to broaden my outdoor skills,  seeking qualified instructors has always been my first step, and I have then applied this training in my own environment and refined it to suit my personality and goals.

The argument about whether young adults should be taught to drive by their parents or by a qualified driving instructor is similar in my view to how you should learn a new outdoor skill? When I decided to get a small  bus licence a few years ago, my employer paid for some lessons and this taught me that parents are not the best instructors for a learner-driver to have. I soon found that I had developed lots of bad habits over the many years since I first sat for my own driving test, some of which would have been sufficiently serious to fail me in my bus driving test, if not corrected. What if I had tried to teach my own children to drive? Would I have passed on my bad habits to them?

Learning-on-the-job is often the best way to learn, but only if the mentor has kept up-to-date with recent advances and has broad experience outside the Club. Many Clubs have a leadership structure where “leaders-in-training” are assessed and coached by experience Club members, almost all of whom have had no formal training and most of whom, have learnt from other “senior” Club members, who in turn have learnt from other “senior” Club members. There is a real risk that bad habits are passed from one generation of Club members to the next and that this “in-breeding” becomes a Club tradition.

Some Clubs are openly antagonistic to ideas from outside which threaten the status quo and challenge the Club’s way of doing things. Sadly I can recall many years ago, when I was about to attend my first Club walk, being warned never to mention I had any formal bushwalking training.

In many Clubs things have not changed.

Formal leadership and skills training should not spoil the informality of Club walks, rather it should improve the enjoyment and safety of all.

Visit other relevant posts in this Bushwalk Leadership Series

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