London Wetland Centre goes digital
Jamie Wyver, PR and Events Executive at the WWT London Wetland Centre explains how they made the most of social media.
"Our Facebook group was started by - and for - staff but due to popular demand soon expanded its membership with volunteers, then regular visitors and other members of the public! We now have around 850 members.
Within the group, we share photos and links (either to pages on the WWT website or other interesting material). I send out messages to the whole group to let them know about wildlife sightings, forthcoming events, or even mentions in the media. For example, I messaged the whole group last night to give them a link to Birds Britannia on BBC iPlayer, as London Wetland Centre had featured in the show.
This year we finally started meeting in person! I have organised a series of Facebook group meet-ups, which have included a pond dipping session, a reptile walk and an autumn birdwatching walk. These have proved popular and it has been great for people in the group to get to know each other. For me, the opportunity to meet a mixture of our visitors at these meet-ups is very valuable as it can help to inform future events planning at the Centre.
On Twitter we have around 3,000 followers. But as any good Tweeter knows, the number of followers is nowhere near as important as the quality of interaction you have with them. So, in addition to sharing wildlife sightings, events and other news, we answer people's questions, set them challenges, comment on their tweets and Retweet some of their messages. Twitter for us has been very useful in drawing people to our website. Only yesterday a couple of tweets about our latest blog led to 95 clickthroughs (tracked through bit.ly).
Having built up a following of people who are genuinely interested in what we do, we are slowly beginning to see results in terms of raising income for the charity too. A small number of tickets for events are now being sold as a result of mentioning those events on Twitter and Facebook. I'm still very careful that I do not just use social media to sell things - that would lose followers and annoy group members. It is important to maintain a good mixture of interesting content and get people involved.
A lovely story from a couple of weeks ago... At this time of year, bitterns (shy, rare and very well camouflaged birds of the heron family) return to London Wetland Centre's reedbeds. Because they're hard to see, rare and, I think, quite beautiful, birdwatchers get very excited about them! I tweeted that there was one on site, and Bryony, a follower who'd never seen one, replied and asked if it was worth coming down to take a look. I told her it was - and sure enough, she got to see her first bittern, thanks to Twitter! Bryony is of course delighted and the Wetland Centre can now count on another loyal supporter to promote us and encourage other people to visit."
You can find out more about the WWT London Wetland Centre at http://www.wwt.org.uk/visit-us/london.
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