Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

OPAAL’s 5 take-aways from Social Media Exchange 2016

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In this post OPAAL’s National Development Officer Angela Broadbridge tells us about her recent attendance at Social Media Exchange:

Earlier in February I spent the day at Sounddelivery’s Social Media Exchange; an action packed training day themed this year around storytelling. The agenda spoke directly to the aims of our Older People’s Cancer Voices project:

“#SMEX16 puts you at the centre of the story. Find the right social media strategies, story telling skills and latest technologies to get your message out there and make sure it’s heard” (SMEX16 website)

We all had the opportunity to attend four structured training sessions, interspersed with bitesize stories from charities who are at the cutting edge of service user storytelling. I shared some of the stories we’ve been working on throughout the day:


These are my five top take-aways from the day:

  • Respect and Integrity

Rachel Jasper from Coram led a hugely thought provoking session on Managing Your Incredible Content – when talking about the challenges of managing often complex and challenging stories Rachel reminded us that whilst the content might be sensitive we shouldn’t assume that our beneficiaries won’t want to share their difficult or emotional stories. This echoed Soundelivery’s Jude Habib earlier in the day “we need to be braver at telling the stories of the people we champion.”

We might have to negotiate the content and work together to safeguard the identity or sensitive aspects of these stories, but it’s our responsibility to make these stories real, in OPAAL’s case to give a voice to older people affected by cancer, “as long as we help them to share their experiences with integrity and respect.”

  • Content for commissioners

I took the opportunity during a session with Darren Murinas from Expert Citizens to ask Darren and Jude’s advice about choosing content for commissioners. Often we’re given a very short time slot with commissioners and we need to make a big impact to make sure we get invited back for further discussions. Darren and Jude suggested using short 30 second soundbytes to maximise impact, and reminded us of the power of short audio recordings. We’ll be trying to do more of this in supporting older people affected by cancer to tell their stories (Darren recommends using the Audioboo app for this).

  • Youtube channel strategy

We got lost in Youtube for an hour with one of Youtube’s audience development strategists Olga Goodman-Stephens; my top takeaway for advocacy organisations with a Youtube channel is to check out the Creator Academy’s 10 Fundamentals for great advice on personalising your channel. We’ve taken on board some of the tips to give our own channel a new look, including using personalised thumbnails to give our channel a more inviting look. One fact from the day that really surprised me was that more and more of us are using Youtube as our primary search engine instead of Google, so if we want our content to be seen film will become increasingly important.

  • Blogging as a way to empower

We’ve been blogging stories for a long time on this site, it was really nice to get a reminder of how writing and storytelling can empower people who use our services. Darren from Expert Citizens talked in depth about his story which you can read here and how blogging brought new opportunities to him and opened doors; he went on to say “every bit of experience in my life was worth it because of those blogs.”

Seaneen Molloy-Vaughan from Mind who led the blogging masterclass set us a great challenge, to take five minutes to write five points on a topic and then draft a blog in five minutes. This take-aways blog post was borne out of my five minutes and reminded me to try to blog on the go more!

  • Explore new tools for storytelling

In our case exploring Storify as a great tool for curating social media content around a theme and turning it into a story – and here’s our first story, tweets and re-tweets of interest from Social Media Exchange 2016!

Ang Broadbridge, OPAAL



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