A relatively new way of reaching people. If anyone has any other experiences in this area, please let us know.
When I’ve run Tower Open days or a ‘Learn to Ring in a Weekend’ course, we’ve always advertised them on Where Can We Go and other events listings, such as ‘What’s on in Buckinghamshire’.
Advertising a ‘Learn to Ring in a Weekend’ online brought in loads of people, I think we had about a dozen, but 8 or 9 of them were from London – people who had started but were unhappy at the limited time they had at each practice, they flocked to the opportunity of a learn to ring in a weekend. Because I had advertised it so well online, it attracted people from miles away, rather than from Marsworth which is what we were really hoping for.
We used Streetlife.com which has now been taken over by Nextdoor. We got fourteen responses. Two decided not to take up our offer because of church commitments. Ten of of the remaining twelve made a promising start. Four dropped-out through health problems (not ringing-related) and a further two because of family commitments. All of the original twelve had a thoroughly good time while they were with us! We got two excellent and two good ringers out of the exercise. I would use a similar channel if I were recruiting again.
Searching under ‘hobbies and pastimes’ on Google reveals a number of social media that introduce people to new activities in their local area. We therefore decided to advertise our practices on one of these – meetup.com – which caters for all sorts of activities including wine tasting clubs, walking, dance and sports groups. A total of 61 people joined our meetup ‘group’ and of these about a dozen came to one of our practices for a ‘taster’ session during the year.
Only one came past the initial ‘taster’ session and they needed to give up after a few months because of a problem with their hand. We never got to the bottom as to why many of the others did not come at all, or why those that did come for a ‘taster’ did not come again. One of the issues was that ‘meetup’ was advertised across London and the people came from quite a wide area (from as far afield as Sydenham to Romford and Highgate). The problem was finding suitable local towers that we could refer them on to.
The interface on meetup.com was very good and allowed the organiser to message individuals and the whole group. We should have made more use of this facility. In addition we noticed that quite a few people joined quite a number of groups, so we needed to do more to make our ‘meetup group’ stand out. In addition users could see how many people were coming to each session. As none of our existing ringers were on our meetup group it seemed that only one person was coming each week.
Whilst ultimately meetup was not success for us, we learned a lot. We could see that there was a lot of potential and it could work very well if we were offering something along the lines of the Birmingham School of Ringing in London. In addition, the messaging interface on the site was very good and it would be very good if something similar could be developed for ringing. There also other sites offering similar services and we plan to experiment with these in the future.
Work in progress
It’s a shame that Streetlife folded – I would have used it again, because it did seem to be very efficient for recruitment in our area. I think you’re right about how Streetlife worked. You needed the right signed-up, online community in place before you could do anything. But once you had that, you just “said” something and everyone in your local group heard/saw your message.
I don’t use Facebook, but I’m guessing that only those people who have already chosen to link to your local page will hear your message. I think Facebook is modeled around existing relationships, rather than communities.
The problems with Nextdoor seem to be:
It seems to me that meetup.com might be a better online model. It’s very well established and it’s modeled around communities of interest (with local filtering). That seems to be a good start!
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