Transcript for ‘100 amazing tips for bell ringers on how to use social media’

Transcribed by Emily Watts

[00:00:00] CHRISSIE: The fun and the personality of your account will likely start to come through after a while.

[00:00:06] CATHY: The post will become less stiff, less formal. You’ll start to understand the kind of vocabulary and the culture of social media. Hello, I’m Cathy Booth. And this is Fun with Bells. This month, we have a bumper episode. We’re going to be talking all about how bell ringers can use social media. First I’m interviewing Chrissy Van Mierlo and Katelyn Collins from the Loughborough Bell Foundry about their use of social media.

Then I’m interviewing Sarah Bower from the Worcester Cathedral about their very successful use of tik tok. And finally I’m going to be introducing Rebecca and Richard Steele. Bell ringers from Frittenden, who won an ART award for the way that they engage with their local community.

And some of this through very successful use of social media.

My first guests are from the Loughborough Bell Foundry Trust, Chrissie Van Mierlo who is the museum director, and Katelyn Collins, who is the engagement assistant. They took the decision to post both the Trust news and that of the foundry to social media under the handle Taylor’s Bell Foundry.

First of all Chrissy, I’m interested in how you use social media for the bell foundry, which platforms do you use?

[00:01:20] CHRISSIE: We are using the big three, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but the weighting of that has shifted a little bit over time. I’d say that we now use Twitter a little bit less and there’s lots of reasons for that.

Obviously there have been wider issues with Twitter and how users feel about Twitter. But it’s also just a reflection of us as a heritage site and our project, in that we’ve started to see how people engage with us and that Facebook and Instagram are two really good streams for attracting attention and holding engagement.

The new kid on the block is YouTube, which is something we’ve recently got into and that’s really being used to host longer video content that’s been created by Katelyn.

[00:02:17] CATHY: So moving to Katelyn. What are your aims when you use social media?

[00:02:21] KATELYN: I think at the moment we’re trying to interact with a variety of different types of audiences. So some posts might be about advertising what’s been going on, whether we’ve got a workshop coming up or a tour we use it in that way, or it might just be to share what’s going on in bell ringing community. Or it might just be just sharing what’s going on in general.

[00:02:48] CATHY: Do you take steps to evaluate the success of your social media strategy? Do you have a formal strategy and, what steps would you take to check that what you’re doing is achieving what you want to do?

[00:03:02] CHRISSIE: Yes I’d say that we have a semi-formal strategy.

We don’t graph and chart things in the over the top way. But equally we do use the facilities afforded by the different platforms for us to analyse levels of engagement, post reach, number of new followers, number of new engagements, etc.

 Before we began working earnest on the building project that we’re undergoing at the moment and our museum was in full swing , we did use, for example, Facebook paid advertisements to bring people into half term events, into tours. So again, we were tracking that to look at what kind of traffic and what kind of footfall was being generated, by our social media posts.

And again, at the moment that’s not as big a part of the project because we are concerned with a large program of renovations, but long term we will need to have very careful tabs on what we are putting out and how that directly impacts footfall to site because that’s the thing that’s going to sustain the Trust going forward.

So I guess it’s that balancing act that we want the social media to be fun and engaging, educational, disseminate our heritage assets and get people excited about what’s going on here. But then there’s the rather more boring and pedestrian level on top of that, which is a heritage site can have amazing social media, but if it’s not bringing in visitors and income, then it’s not doing what it needs to do.

So it’s that kind of twofold approach that we want to educate, engage, entertain, raise awareness, but we also need to think of what are the kind of business outcomes for that. Are we bringing in enough people to make the site sustainable for the future?

[00:05:13] CATHY: And you track that. Do you ever ask your visitors how they heard about you or do you get any feedback on that?

Do you get the feeling that they have found you through social media?

[00:05:26] CHRISSIE: Yes, definitely. We’re developing a standard visitor survey, which will probably kick in more fully when we relaunch the new museum and visitor center, which will have that very standard question of how did you hear about us?

Katelyn might have a different view. My view is that it tends to be the non-bell ringers and the non-specialist visitors who have found us through either Facebook or Instagram. So Mums looking for half term activities or visitors just looking for something fun to do. Whereas within the bell ringing community, I think Taylors is so established that there’s no way that an Instagram post is going to be the first time they’ve heard of us.

Whereas for an average person in the East Midlands who’s looking for a fun day out and something unique, it could very well be that they’ve clicked through to a post and that’s given them the idea.

[00:06:31] CATHY: But if you have something special on, maybe that’s when the bell ringers would pick up, a special tour or special event happening.

[00:06:40] CHRISSIE: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s why it’s so important to look at followers. Look at who you are following and who’s following you. We’ve worked quite hard to embed our social media accounts within the bell ringing community so that we’re engaging with other bell ringing organizations and they’re engaging with us because it just increases then that sort of reciprocal benefit of we’ll share your events and achievements and ideas.

And they’ll share ours. So it’s all about creating, which is what social media is at its best. It’s a community network that lets everybody engage with the positives from everybody else.

[00:07:24] CATHY: So this is a question for Katelyn. What tips would you have for someone who is starting to use social media?

[00:07:30] KATELYN: Definitely looking for inspiration, so say if you are a bell ringing group in a local area, looking to find other ones that are in your local area, groups in your county, looking for them as an example. Ok. What the sort things that as a bell ringer that I would be interested in that this other group are posting, and to start posting on social media, starting to find your own unique style and your own unique thing about your group that you wanna post. Say for example, maybe it’s that you’re a group that’s got lots of young ringers and maybe that’s what you want to target more is bringing in even more young ringers.

Or if you say, if you haven’t got any young ringers and there’s another group that have, what they doing on social media to encourage, the younger generations who are very much social media is their life almost, what they doing to get those ringers in? So I think almost don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Start small and you’ll eventually find what it is you wanna do and your way of doing it. Sometimes you have to almost experiment and take a risk and see how that goes and what Chrissie was saying earlier, who are interacting with and who is interacting with you.

[00:08:41] CATHY: One thing I’m thinking on that is, do you know which platform you would suggest somebody started with?

[00:08:47] KATELYN: I’d probably say Instagram would be a good place to start. Because then you’re say focusing on one element of media, you’re maybe just focusing on photographs first. On Instagram, you can do videos as well. But maybe just starting with just a basic image of your group, for example.

[00:09:05] CATHY: And can you tell me about hashtags? I’ve heard that those are important, can you tell me how you use those?

[00:09:12] CHRISSIE: Again, it’s platform specific. Obviously with something like Twitter, you are very limited by character count. Hashtags are important to index your posts and help people who aren’t following you to find you because people may be following a hashtag but not following your account. But on Twitter, you’ll be quite limited as to how heavily you can hashtag a post. There are ways around that, you can create a thread and add the hashtags into follow-up comments. And you can also tag other accounts in photographs, which is another way of almost shouting about your posts saying, I’ve posted this thing and I think it will be relevant to all these other things so you should click on it. I would say Instagram is the place for me where hashtags are the most important.

 Yes, you post your image and that’s the key thing to draw people in and the caption. But on a lot of Instagram posts, the hashtags can be, a third, two thirds of the post. I’d say hashtags have become almost a bit of creative expression within themselves. You get lots of in jokes, you get, ‘ Caturday’ would be a good one, but then you’ve got, ‘walkers of Instagram’ or ‘Foodies of Instagram’, whatever it might be.

These little subcultures have got their own hashtags and their own identities being played out in the sort of lower third of your post. Katelyn then may disagree with this, but for me on Instagram I go more is more. I really go “bell, bells, bell ringers, bell ringing, architecture, industrial architecture, Victorian architecture, heritage,” because you just don’t know what terms people are searching on.

So the more you can hit, the more likely you are, broaden the envelope of who’s looking at you. Again, Facebook for me is not a particularly hashtag heavy environment and I wouldn’t particularly recommend a heavy use of hashtags there. That’s just not really how Facebook works, but certainly for Instagram, certainly for Twitter it’s important.

 The other tip for using hashtags in terms of accessibility is to format your hashtags using Camel case. So capitalizing each word within the hashtag, and the reason for that is that it allows screen readers to parse your hashtags. So if somebody is playing their social media through a screen reader, it will make it legible rather than just one long list of characters.

[00:12:23] CATHY: Was there anything you wanted to add, Katelyn?

[00:12:26] KATELYN: yeah, Chrissie uses hashtags more than I do on the social media, but I almost didn’t realize how important they were until I was setting up our YouTube channel. Because especially about Taylor’s and long before we even joined the platform.

So for us, each time I’ve put these few videos up, I’ve really had to think about hashtags because it means we aren’t going to get lost in the YouTube sphere so like Chrissie was saying, I’ve made sure I’ve put things like “Bell foundry, John Taylor’s” knowing that our video is, hopefully in the algorithm. So yeah, I didn’t realize until YouTube how important they’re, and how helpful they’re to spread, your content and reach more people.

[00:13:06] CHRISSIE: This has really just occurred to me, Cathy. It goes back to the new users dipping their toes into social media. Certainly when I was first using Twitter back in 2009, hashtags and hashtag games if you would, played a role in shaping the social media week and the social media calendar.

I think that’s less the case now, but it’s still out there and it’s still a good thing to do if you’re just starting out and you don’t quite know how to structure your content. So for example, ThrowbackThursday. Is a really common hashtag. and that’s a chance for us maybe to dive into our archive and share some old images of Taylor’s.

 But for a ringing group, it might be ThrowbackThursday to last year when we completed this amazing peal or whatever else had happened that week. FollowFriday I think is less common now, but again, if you’re just starting out, hashtag #Caturday is a brilliant one. Cause as I mentioned to you previously, my top tip for all social media uses is to put a cat in your post because that will automatically bring traffic no matter what the post.

And yeah, Caturday. Again, it’s just look, every Saturday we’re gonna have a think about some cat content. So these things all sound really silly and fun. Which social media is supposed to be fun, but they’re good starter ways in, do I do just one throwbackThursday every week and one other post, that’s then quite a lot of output for somebody who’s never used social media before.

[00:15:02] CATHY: What are you looking for in an image when you publish it on social media?

[00:15:06] CHRISSIE: Katelyn’s the photographer, so I’m very much passing that one onto her.

[00:15:11] KATELYN: Image is definitely a very important, and definitely the type of images that you put out can impact who follows you and who interacts with you. I think it’s like anything, a first impression is really important. So an image that’s really composed that you’ve really thought about, is my image straight? And even if it isn’t straight when you’ve taken it, it can be afterwards.

But, things like that. Things like, making sure your image in focus. So things like if you’ve got a group of people and maybe somebody when you’ve taken a picture of a group of people, someone has moved their head. Or, and I know from experience, it’s really hard to take images of bell ringing cause the ropes move, it’s a really tricky one.

It’s one I’m still trying to figure out but just, making sure that at least something’s in focus, and that’s sort the point of image. That’s the thing that draws your eye to an image, what’s in focus.

Say if you are somebody who wants to, learn more in that way, there’s definitely things on the internet and YouTube where you can learn the very basics of photography, how to compose an image, so if you want to get better at it, there are resources out there, making sure it kind of all just looks nice and pretty as you can make it, but also reflecting who you’re, if you’re a bell ringing group as well, I mean they don’t all have to serious. If in your group, you like having a laugh , that’s the sort of thing you want to show people. If you want people to come and join you – ‘ah we’re a really fun group!’

[00:16:47] CATHY: And it’s so important because that is what’s coming across on social media, isn’t it?

 The first impression is through the images. Yeah. Okay. Do you have any other tips for Bell ringers who are or are thinking about managing social media accounts? Anything that we haven’t touched on so far?

[00:17:07] KATELYN: There’s one thing I’d say is maybe have a couple of you running it together, so for example, like I’ll maybe focus more on the images, but Chrissie might more focus on how we’d word it,

So there’s a team together.

[00:17:21] CATHY: Chrissie, did you have anything else to add?

[00:17:24] CHRISSIE: Yeah, when you are getting going it can obviously feel very daunting. It depends how almost corporate you want to be. There’s a very formal way to do this, where you put a lot of work into your profile image, your banner image, you are almost establishing a brand and you can do a social media planning grid and have all your posts for the month ready to go. That’s certainly one way to go about it. And I think for some groups that would be beneficial because that’s how they operate and they want to have that security of knowing that they’ve got the content locked in and it’s all ready to go.

 Probably as you feel your way in. You’ll want to change those things, and that’s okay. I don’t think you have to feel like, we’ve set this up one way, so now we’re going to stick to it. As Katelyn was saying, the fun and the personality of your account will likely start to come through after a while.

The post will become less stiff, less formal. You’ll start to understand the kind of vocabulary and the culture of social media a bit more. And I think that’s fine to just roll with it and to let it evolve. And again, social media is constantly changing. Again, when I was starting on this project, I’d say Facebook and Twitter were still two dominant forces, whereas if you look at the diversity of outputs now in terms of reels, in terms of video content, in terms of the kind of rising power of TikTok, that landscape is changing all the time and it’s really up to you. I think as an organization, as a charity or as a business, you need to have your finger on the pulse and you need to make sure that you’re using the affordances of social media to their maximum ability and that you are penetrating all the audiences in all the markets that you can.

 But as a bell ringing group, you might just think, we love Instagram. It’s what we do. We’re having fun here. And we’re just gonna be very playful, and enjoy it. So yeah, just to echo all the things Katelyn has said, no pressure. Enjoy it. There are plenty of social media, experts, consultants, branding professionals in the world. Who can do the corporate stuff, but for me at least: what I love about social media is the non-corporate stuff. It’s the way that you get to see that real behind the scenes view and get to know people in a way that you wouldn’t ordinarily.

So I think, for most bell ringers, that’s the thing to sell because someone is looking at that post thinking, would I like to join this group? Would I like to join this team? And if you’re true to your personality, then that’s gonna be the thing that shines through and that pulls people in.

[00:20:26] CATHY: That’s a great summation but I always ask this until you say no. Was there anything else that you want to say?

[00:20:31] CHRISSIE: Yeah, just follow us at Taylors Bell Foundry @JTBellFoundry. I believe, you’ve got our link tree as well. Yes we’d love to see you on there.

[00:20:43] CATHY: Thank you Chrissy Van Mierlo and Katelyn Collins from the Loughborough Bell Foundry Trust.

Next I’m interviewing Sarah Bowyer, who is the PR and Communications manager at Worcester Cathedral. Whilst the cathedral has a wide social media presence, I particularly wanted to interview Sarah about the use of TikTok, where they have just under 3000 followers and the posts have had over 400,000 likes.

Firstly, can you let me know which social media platforms the Cathedral is on?

[00:21:12] SARAH: Yeah, sure. We’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

[00:21:21] CATHY: And what are the aims of the Cathedral in using social media?

[00:21:26] SARAH: The social strategy is very much part of the overarching Cathedral strategy. So it covers all of our visions and values. And for me social media, particularly TikTok, is really about showing off all of our amazing heritage in a friendly tone, sharing the best bits. Hopefully, helping our followers to learn something along the way, as well as promoting our eco agenda, talking about social justice issues, raising awareness amongst the younger audience, but also obviously aligning with the values that we are first and foremost, a place of worship. But mostly it was about showing people that Cathedrals are fun and incredibly diverse places with so many amazing things going on behind closed doors everyday.

[00:22:18] CATHY: I particularly wanted to talk to you about the TikTok channel because I came across it whilst looking for bell ringing channels and I came across yours and I really enjoy the sorts of things you post.

[00:22:28] SARAH: -Thank you-

[00:22:30] CATHY: Why do you think that having a TikTok channel is important when you are already on the other main social platforms?

[00:22:38] SARAH: Yeah, I think that TikTok is just so different to the other channels. We obviously want to appeal to audiences of all ages, but I do think that is particularly where the younger audience are. And that’s very much part of our strategy at the moment to try and reach that younger audience as I said before, to show them that cathedrals are fun and all of the things that go on that people might not realize. So it’s just somewhere obviously to try and reach that audience and also to show off everything that goes on in cathedrals how amazing it is and it’s not somewhere that you’d necessarily post the same content that you would post to Facebook and Twitter, which can be perhaps more operational, about trying to sell tickets to concerts and events or about partial closures or whatever else is going on day to day.

It’s more about showing the personality of the place. And it just works slightly differently in that it’s all video content, and that, it’s following trends and whatever is viral at that time. And it just, it’s a lot of fun. I’ve found it to be a lot of fun.

[00:23:46] CATHY: And I noticed that you use great images, text on the images, catchy sound, a lot of humour as you’ve mentioned. Can you describe some of the posts or the sorts of things that you have there?

[00:23:58] SARAH: Yeah, sure. I started the channel up in December 21, so it’s relatively new and it’s all just been trial and error really, and experimenting with lots of different kinds of things to see what works and what doesn’t. So we started off with videos of our apprentices, to hook onto National Apprenticeship week, just to show people the behind the scenes of perhaps they might not have realized that we’ve got a team of Stone Masons and we’ve got a carpentry apprentice. We did videos of our annual pancake race, tried to engage with other organizations, joining national and countywide campaigns, hooking onto National Awareness days, just generally trying to show the breadth of all the amazing things that go on day to day in the cathedral.

And trying to collaborate and engage with other creators as well, who’ve got large numbers of followers, who were interested in perhaps history or something else that the cathedral’s got going on. And to help to share the story and share in their content. I found that history has worked really well.

The first post we had that was really exciting and got, in the thousands of views about the three times Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, whose ashes are interred here in the cathedral. So then I realized, oh, people like history. So we’ve also got Prince Arthur Tudor’s Chantry and King John’s tomb.

So started to do a lot of things about those and they were really popular. and then realize putting people in front of the camera as well works really well. People like to see a face and hear a real voice and a real person. So we did a series of bite-sized tours with one of our brilliant volunteers, just covering lots of little hidden gems, points of interest, hopping onto trends, viral sounds and filters, but maintaining the fun side of things, just keeping it all really lighthearted. And, then realized that people love animals and the huge success that was Pablo the goat who went ridiculously viral.

[00:26:01] CATHY: Tell us about that one.

[00:26:03] SARAH: Yeah, so we hold, an animal blessing service every year. It’s usually, over the summer, but we had Songs of Praise get in touch and ask if they could come along and record it and do it a little bit later. So we agreed to that and we invited some animals from a local farm to come along. One of whom was Pablo the goat, who absolutely stole the show and appeared to be singing along to the music, the organ music, and the choir singing.

 And I just took a really simple sweeping video of going past the choir with the music in the background and the goat just singing and it got over two and a half million views and he went global. We had him all over the news nationally. He went to South Africa, America all over the place. So yeah, that was fantastic.

And that’s when we started to gain a large number of followers. And as you said, we’re up to nearly 3000 now. We just really jumped on the back of that success as well and realized people like quirky, silly things like that, we started to do some little snippets with our librarian, cause there’s so many amazing things in the medieval library.

We had nearly 400,000 views on a medieval book with monk doodles in there. And they were fantastic doodles. They were works of art really, but, Just as they were studying, just drawing little doodles in the margins. So yeah, it’s a good, fun platform.

But then at the same time, on the flip side, we are doing posts about King John and Prince Arthur and historical things that people find really interesting as well. Oh along with the Peregrines who are very popular, we have peregrine falcons nesting here. People like animals, we’ve learned.

[00:27:48] CATHY: And I know you also have some posts that start with the toilet flushing.

[00:27:52] SARAH: Yes. So we decided, with our learning team, that we would do a series called Toilet Talk, because in the undercroft toilet there are little posters on the backs of the wall that teach, cause it’s used mostly by school children on school visits,

 just teach little snippets of information about monastic life cause it’s a former monastery, what the monks used to get up to. And we thought that would be really good fun to just give some little snippets of information, about that they didn’t drink water, they drank ale in those days because it was safer than drinking water and yeah, little snippets of information like that. Yeah. And that was good. That’s been well received and good fun to make as well.

[00:28:35] CATHY: How do you come up with all these ideas?

[00:28:38] SARAH: It’s very much a team effort. I collaborate with all of the teams here and we talk things through and try to come up with quirky, fun ideas, but also keeping the, learning at the heart of it as well.

 Watching what other people do on TikTok, what’s popular, what isn’t popular. And just as I said before, trial and error. Really just trying things out and seeing what works and what doesn’t. And, just jumping onto trends if you can, and using the viral sounds and filters if you can.

 Yeah. And, it’s very much just, a lot of them come off the back of silly conversations in the office, really.

[00:29:15] CATHY: And how do you keep up with all these trends?

[00:29:18] SARAH: It’s time consuming. You do have to put

the effort

in. There are, newsletters that you can subscribe to. There’s one that’s called social media today. Which if you just google it, you should be able to find the signup link. And I try to keep up with reading that as often as possible. It covers all of the platforms, not just TikTok. And it’s really just, trying to find that time, put that time aside each day, each week, however much you can spare to sit and just really try and work out what’s popular this day, week, month, whatever.

It changes so quickly. And you can follow a lot of professional creator accounts as well, and they give really good tips and advice, and even TikTok itself pings up with little notifications. So this week it’s telling me to make videos over 60 seconds, whereas a couple of weeks ago it was telling me to make videos under 60 seconds.

 The algorithm just changes so much all the time. It’s hard to keep up with, but it’s just making sure that you do put that little bit of time aside to, try and keep up to speed with what’s going on.

[00:30:26] CATHY: And how often do you post or should you post?

[00:30:29] SARAH: I would say that you should be aiming to post every day if you can.

That’s advice by professional content creators. To begin with, it is time consuming when you start a new channel up, I did have to put a lot of time and energy into it and post every day and even if you don’t get particularly high views on a post, try not to be disheartened just keep going.

See what works, see what doesn’t. and have that bank of content ready to go as well. Don’t just start posting and then run out of things to talk about. Just have that ready to go. But the legwork before that, putting together a plan and coming up with your content ideas, you’ve got the filming and the uploading and the coming up with the captions and the choosing the sounds and perhaps trying to liaise with other people to come and present. And yeah probably, I put in a few hours a week now into TikTok. And then there’s the other side of keeping up with all of the latest developments as well.

There was something the other week about it was favouring accounts that were posted daily, the algorithm was but as I said, it all just changes so quickly.

It’s really hard to keep up with, but worthwhile doing. Making sure you keep up with it all.

So it’s time consuming, but once you’re there and you’ve got it up and running, then it just fits in with all of your other social that you’ve got going on as well and You can share the content across other channels. You can share it directly to a linked Instagram account so you can make it multipurpose.

[00:32:00] CATHY: And how do you measure your success in terms of meeting your aims?

[00:32:04] SARAH: Yeah, it’s really good. The TikTok app has got its own, analytics tool. So you can check in daily, weekly, monthly.

You can customise the time period you want to check in at, and it’s really based on, how many likes you’ve had, how many new followers you’ve gained, how many views you’ve had. So you can easily keep track of those and just maybe keep however you are comfortable with, keep your own little record of that.

So that you can compare it month on month and make sure that it’s all going in the right direction.

[00:32:32] CATHY: And do you get any feedback that people are visiting the Cathedral because of TikTok?

[00:32:37] SARAH: Yes we do, yeah. But particularly when you manage to get a big video that goes far and wide, particularly on the back of Pablo, we had a lot of people who came in and wanted to see where he’d stood and, Where was Pablo? And also the farm that brought him along had people visiting them specifically just to see Pablo the goat. So yeah, it’s worth the effort definitely.

[00:33:02] CATHY: Do you have any tips for Bell Ringers who want to start to post a TikTok or want to improve their TikTok presence?

[00:33:10] SARAH: Yeah. I would say that, spend some time getting used to the platform.

 Obviously it’s very different. They all are different in their own ways. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, so just get yourself on there. You don’t have to have a public profile. You can just have a private one, but just get used to it, how it works, find what interests you, because that’s what’s likely to interest like-minded people, other bell ringers. But also think about, your target audience, what age they are and how you could relate to them and what they’re interested in. And have a look, have a search around for accounts that are relevant and content that you enjoy and that is similar or that would interest people similar.

Because the more you look at it, the more it will appear on your feed, and then you can find more and more accounts to follow. And then when you start to post, as I said, get that plan in place, get your content all ready so you’ve got a bank of it ready to go. And then it’s just to start with, post frequently every day if you can, or Monday to Friday if those are your working days, or if you’re a bell ringer and you ring on a Sunday, just as often as you can and just keeping going no matter what.

Don’t get disheartened if it doesn’t do as well as you’d hoped because inevitably, it’s never the ones that you think will do really well. It’s always the little quirky ones that you don’t think anything of that just explode and go viral. Yeah, how you get your strategy sorted, work out who you want to target, what you want to get across, the personality that you want people to see.

 And just set that time aside to really devote yourself to begin with, to building it up and getting out there and getting in front of the right accounts, following the right accounts. Follow the professional creators, listen to what they’re saying. Keep up to speed with the trends.

And then just think about the really unusual, quirky, interesting stories that are going on. Show off the talent that’s there and just find the really interesting stories that people might perhaps not realize, actually go on. They hear the bells, but what goes on behind the bells to make the bells ring?

[00:35:24] CATHY: Thank you , Sarah Bowyer from Worcester Cathedral.

 Next I’m interviewing Richard and Rebecca Steele, who won an award from the Association of Ringing Teachers for making a significant contribution to the promotion of ringing in their local area. Hello, Richard.

[00:35:38] RICHARD: Hi, Cathy. Thanks for having us.

[00:35:40] CATHY: You’re welcome. And Rebecca, hello?

[00:35:43] REBECCA: -Hiya-

[00:35:43] CATHY: So part of that award was promoting bell ringing via social media, which is what we’re talking about today. Can you tell me why you post on social media? What are you hoping to achieve by doing that?

[00:35:55] RICHARD: I think really all of our communications that we do are, there’s three different reasons for all of it. First and foremost really is public relations and making sure that our neighbours around the tower look favourably upon bell ringing.

And it gives them, an insight into the interest of bell ringing. And so the PR side of things and making sure that our neighbours, are happy with us really is I feel the most important aspect. Then we have, the recruitment of new ringers side of things and actually making people aware of what is a,


pastime for all age groups.

And so the recruitment and education of people into ringing is the second aspect. And of course the third aspect is letting other towers know what we are doing. And giving others other towers an insight and hopefully, maybe inspire them into doing similar sorts of things, and maybe even attracting ringers who might move into the area, to ring with some of the towers, that we talk about as well.

[00:36:55] CATHY: And what social media platforms are you on?

[00:36:59] REBECCA: Yeah, so we’ve got online and then we’ve got an offline, as it were, social media, which is more, like Dad was talking about public relations with the village, letting them know what we’re doing. So with the parish magazine, we write a monthly article just talking about bell ringing and getting people interested in knowing what we are doing. And then we do a similar thing online with Facebook and Instagram where we make posts about things we’re doing like quarter peals or ringing for services or if we’re ringing for a wedding or just advertising, come up and see the tower.

We’ve got a tower open day. Come up and see what we do. It’s, just spreading the interest around targeting the different groups around the area. So like on community pages and stuff.

[00:37:49] CATHY: I notice you have your own Facebook page. for each of these towers, is that right? And then you’re saying you post to community pages as well?

[00:37:58] RICHARD: Yes. what we do, we have, as you say, a Facebook page for the actual tower itself. So if anyone is interested in a particular tower, they can go onto that.

And then that page posts into community groups if for example, with our own tower at Frittenden, although it’s a small village, we’ve got a very strong community in Frittenden and quite an active, community group, which everyone looks at. And so it’s a very good channel to be able to talk directly to all of our neighbours around in the village and let them know what’s happening and what activities are going on. With the group structures, we find that Facebook is a very good way to talk to a particular geographical group of people, in that way. And it’s the same with the other towers that we help out with their social media with Staplehurst bell ringers with Benenden bell ringers. Each have got a community group based upon the village that they’re in.

And they all talk about the village fetes and all of the football club and things like this. And so it’s great to be able to interject into that conversation that people are having in the village, about the bell ringing as well.

[00:39:02] CATHY: You’re saying that you have a page as well as posting on these community groups?

[00:39:07] RICHARD: Yes. What we generally do is that, we’ll put the information onto our own Facebook page and then we’ll share that post into the community group, which means that people see the information in the group, but they can also follow it back, into our own page to see information just about us. So that it hopefully attracts people back into the bell ringing Facebook page so that they can then read a little bit more just about bell ringing.

[00:39:31] CATHY: So that’s about Facebook. Rebecca, can you tell me why you are on Instagram?

[00:39:37] REBECCA: Yeah, although the audience of Facebook is very wide and we’ve got a wide audience of people that we can talk to and give information about what we do at Frittenden with bell ringing, The audience on Instagram is generally younger, so looking at, school-aged children.

So we started up a DofE group at Cranbrook School, and we post about that on Instagram and a lot of them saw it and were interested by it and came and said, “Oh, this looks interesting, can I do it for my DofE?” And a couple of them have successfully gone and done it. And it was because they saw it on Instagram and they thought, “Oh, that looks interesting.”

And it is just spreading it to a younger audience who might also be interested in just bringing up the young generations in bell ringing to keep the tradition going.

[00:40:35] CATHY: So you’ve mentioned some of the things that you post there. Is was there anything else to say about what things you are looking to post to Instagram and Facebook?

[00:40:46] RICHARD: I think we try to make the posts that we do eye-catching.

So we try to use lots of good images and lots of short, interesting videos which will catch people’s eye, and then bring them in to read the information that we’re doing.

But again, the information really needs to be very short. Bullet point, gets the message across quickly. People aren’t going to sit and read, great essays on social media. It’s all about having, short videos, really interesting photos that catch their eye and then draw them in. So that’s what we try to do.

[00:41:22] CATHY: And who takes all the photos and videos? Who puts those together?

[00:41:26] RICHARD: I think it’s between us really. And now that we’ve got the Len Roberts Award drone as well, we’re able to get some aerial photos around the towers and things like this, which, again, just give a different viewpoint and you can get some fantastic pictures of towers and spires around that people just don’t usually see. And with it being, their local church as well, that they can easily recognize, it brings them in because, they see a familiar church, which they’ve walked past all the time, but taken from a slightly different angle, especially the people living nearby where they can try and glimpse their garden next door and things like this.

And you find out, you get some very positive comments coming in.

[00:42:04] CATHY: And you mentioned, it was a Len Roberts drone. That’s the ART award that’s what you spent the money on, was it?

[00:42:09] RICHARD: We did, we took the money from the Len Roberts Award prize and put it towards a small, quite pretty high quality drone that, we can get good, images and videos with it.

[00:42:19] CATHY: Now we’ve talked about Instagram and Facebook, but there’s other social media platforms. Why are you not on those? I’m thinking of Twitter and TikTok and those sort of things.

[00:42:30] RICHARD: I think we find, other people might think differently, but we find that Facebook with the community groups enables you to target a particular geographical audience.

Okay it’ll be a particular age group, and it isn’t necessarily the youngsters anymore because the numbers of the youngsters are falling off a little bit. Likewise with Instagram, we can put hashtags against our posts. So we can have hashtag Frittenden against the Instagram posts, which means anyone who’s following the Frittenden hashtag will get to see our posts in their Instagram feed. So as long as you get your hashtags right, you don’t have to have people following your particular account in order to make sure that your information gets across their screens. And again, if you’ve got the good pictures on there and you’ve got the good eye-catching videos on there.

Hopefully they’ll stop when they see your picture and find out a little bit more about it.

The other side of things on the Twitter and the TikTok. I feel personally that Twitter, you need to have people following you before they really see your posts so much. It’s harder to be able to target a particular group of people using Twitter I feel. Whereas Facebook and Instagram, it’s quite simple to do that.

And of course, the parish magazine that we have our articles and pictures in as well, that falls on the doorstep of every house in Frittenden. And so again, it’s another age group again that read it. It’s generally the older age groups that will flick through the parish magazine and read it from cover to cover.

So with each of these different channels, we’re aiming at a different age group of people broadly. and hopefully in the process getting quite a bit of coverage.

[00:44:11] CATHY: And Rebecca, could you talk about why, as a youngster, you are not thinking of using TikTok?

[00:44:18] REBECCA: I don’t personally have much experience with using TikTok.

I’m much more on Snapchat and Instagram, so I’m a lot more familiar with those platforms. The quite close connections and similarities between Facebook and Instagram are quite useful because we can share posts between the two. So it’s quite useful using that platform instead of TikTok because of the ease of talking about and advertising bell ringing.

Also it’s doesn’t have so many community groups as such that we want to target. So there’s not like the Frittenden community hub that you’ve got on Instagram, Facebook. Yeah, so we’ve just stayed with using Instagram and Facebook for our advertising.

[00:45:09] CATHY: Yes. And as you were saying before, you have managed to hook in some youngsters through Instagram, haven’t you?

[00:45:15] RICHARD: We do actually have a Twitter account as well, and we do put some stuff out on it, but don’t really see it as being as easy to target, people with that. And also we’ve even got a TripAdvisor page for Frittenden so that Frittenden bell ringers are on TripAdvisor, and so you could see all the most exciting things to do whilst you visit the village of Frittenden.

And there is Frittenden bell ringers at the top there.

[00:45:37] CATHY: – Oh brilliant!-

[00:45:38] RICHARD: Along with the Bell and Jorrocks which is our local pub.

[00:45:43] CATHY: Excellent. Okay, just moving on to the feedback that indicates that your, social media presence is worth it. You’ve talked already about hooking some youngsters into the Duke of Edinburgh award, that must be great as feedback, but is there any other feedback that you’ve had?

[00:45:59] RICHARD: We get lots of comments back and to a degree, because there’s so many positive comments coming back from the local community. I think if we did have neighbours who weren’t so keen on bell ringing and might be wanting to make negative comments, they can see that a lot of the village around them is actually behind and supportive of the bell ringing. And, I haven’t actually heard any bad comments about bell ringing from the village at all at the moment, touch wood. And you do get all of those good comments coming back that show you that people appreciate it.

And then as Rebecca said as well, we also advertise, some of the things that we can do through Instagram and Facebook, and I think in particular the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme that we ran an after school club for with Cranbrook Grammar School. We put a little video advertising that this was going ahead and we ended up having eight 14 year olds coming along for an afterschool activity. And some of them have now taken up bell ringing with the local towers and brought their parents along as well. So that Staplehurst at least has gained five new ringers with two of the students and three of their parents who have taken up ringing as a result of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme that we ran at Cranbrook.

[00:47:11] CATHY: So just moving on to what tips you have. You’ve already mentioned some tips, like where you post and use of hashtags. How do you add a hashtag? Somebody’s writing a post, how do they add a hashtag?

[00:47:24] RICHARD: You can either put the hashtags within the text. If you are using some of the particular keywords in the comments that you are making, you can add the hash sign in front of the word, which will add the hashtag in the middle of the text.

Alternatively, you can put them in down the bottom, or you can even put them in as a comment after you’ve posted your main post.

We usually use, things like hashtag bell ringing, hashtag church bells. I’m afraid everyone will hate it, but hashtag campanology. Because, people that are non ringers, would use campanology as a way to find things.

And then we also then use the hashtag Frittenden or hashtag Staplehurst for the area and things like this, and hashtag KCACR for our local Kent Association of bell ringers. So that all of these things are indexes they’re keywords which enable people to find our posts and which will enable our posts to find people who are following these particular subjects.

[00:48:22] CATHY: And you’ve also talked about using images and videos and a drone if you have one.

[00:48:27] RICHARD: Yeah.

[00:48:27] CATHY: These are all great tips. Are there any other tips that you can think of? Would you recommend using social media to somebody who’s not using it at the moment?

[00:48:35] RICHARD: Yeah, definitely. I think really the crux of it is that you need really good images, and you need to think carefully about what you are going to say and get the message over in a few words as possible, so that people can get the subject that you’re trying to bring over to them, without spending too much time on it, because at the end of the day, they’re browsing through on their phones or iPads on the way to work or sitting at lunch, at school. And you need to catch their eye and you need to get the message across quick before they move on to something else.

[00:49:05] CATHY: Thank you to my guests, Chrissy Van Mierlo and Katelyn Collins from the Loughborough Bell Foundry Trust, Sarah Bowyer from Worcester cathedral. And Richard and Rebecca Steele, bell ringers from Frittenden.

If you’ve enjoyed this episode, then please share it. This podcast was put together by a team. Special thanks go to Anne Tansley Thomas, Emily Roderick, John Gwynne, Emily Watts, and the Society of the Cambridge Youths for the recording of their ringing.

[Bells ringing rounds]