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Connecting Up 2016

Matt Ranford, Marketing and Communications Coordinator shares insights from his recent attendance at Connecting Up.

I was lucky enough to attend - for the third consecutive year - the Connecting Up Conference in May. Connecting Up is an organisation that supports the non-profit sector by facilitating relationships with business providers, particularly technology suppliers. The conference brings together staff from non-profits and service providers alike, to share ideas and technological advancements that can assist with the important and vital work of the sector.

The 2016 conference was titled Advance:2020 Connect. Innovate. Change. Almost 350 delegates met, learnt and discussed technology in the non-profit sector over 3 days in Melbourne. Themes discussed included current and upcoming trends in technology, digital marketing and social media.

Delegates represented non-profit organisations from every corner of Australia and a wide spectrum of causes. I met numerous passionate professionals, and also had the chance to reconnect with my colleagues in the HIV/BBV sector.

Mark McCrindle, of McCrindle Research, and Laura Walker, CEO of Social Impact Lab, delivered the keynote sessions. McCrindle provided a fascinating insight into the current demographics of Australia, as well as the projections for population growth to 2050. Similarly, Walker discussed the differences in how the various generations use technology.

I attended a digital media master class, where themes around websites and social were discussed. It was proposed that the website remains the online hub for any organisational, with social media channels providing a means to link back, rather than an end in itself. The importance of a solid social media strategy was emphasised, in a time when ‘shiny new things’ may lure marketing managers, as new platforms appear. The value of ‘traditional’ tools such as Google and Adwords was also discussed.

Some surprising statistics were presented at the Conference. Despite it being used consistently in journalism and reporting, Twitter is used by less than 20% of Australians, and that number is getting smaller. Instagram has now more users than Twitter, but is still well short of its parent company Facebook.

Review sites are very important – consumer-to-consumer reviews generate twice the sales of advertising. Apparently we respect the views of strangers on the internet more than brands and advertisers. Cathy Basterfield from Access Easy English presented the frightening statistic that 44% of Australian adults (15-65 years old) have non-functional literacy skills. This means 7.3 million adult Australians have low literacy skills. The implications for health organisations can be significant, particularly in regards to treatment adherence.

One of the most rewarding sessions was the World Café; an opportunity for delegates to discuss a topic of their choice and share stories ‘from the field’ – the activities that are, or perhaps are not, working. The discussions were justifiably robust, with the Hawthorn Town Hall full of people passionate about their work, sharing ideas and strategies.

Attending the Connection Up Conference is a highlight of my working year, and I look forward to returning in 2017.

Matt Ranford
Marketing and Communications Coordinator

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To minimise the impact and further transmission of HIV, other blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections. To reduce social, legal and policy barriers which prevent access to health information and effective support and prevention services.