‘Place makers’ are those working to bring a local community together

Do you want to create a greater sense of local community where you live or work?

Do you work with local groups, clubs, small charities and community businesses?

Do you think there are local people that these organisations could be reaching, who are not aware of opportunities to become involved in the community?

If you are well connected with these local organisations, you can help them to work together to represent themselves and your local community online, and reach a wider local audience.

Let’s start from the beginning.

You might work for a Council for Voluntary Service, or a local Borough, District or Parish Council, or you might represent a local Residents’ Association.

Whichever it is, you care deeply about your local community.

You know that the backbone of your local community is the organisations that bring people together. Clubs and societies, voluntary groups, places of worship, local charities, and those who provide activities such as yoga and fitness classes, dancing classes and kids’ clubs.

Many of these organisations really struggle to communicate with a local audience. They don’t always have the skills, confidence and time to get their message across online, and they feel they are alone and unsupported to promote themselves.

You want to help these local voluntary and community organisations.

And you know that if local citizens are more informed about opportunities to become involved, they are more likely to connect with others, and you will reduce social isolation, loneliness, and the health problems that result.

You’ve noticed that social media – particularly Facebook – has become the digital ‘placemaker’, reaching a huge local audience (especially where there are successful local Facebook Groups – some of which have thousands of active members).

But, understandably, you’re nervous and sceptical about embracing Facebook as a community, and encouraging local organisations to follow you.

There are still lots of people who don’t use Facebook, so it isn’t the whole solution and you don’t want to rely upon it.

You’re concerned about Facebook’s ethics and privacy – another reason not to rely on it.

Local organisations (perhaps including your own) haven’t always had a lot of success in the past in attracting followers to their own Facebook Pages. You know that posts to Facebook Pages are usually only seen by a few followers.

Facebook is full of ‘noise’ and distractions, and your posts are likely to be quickly lost in the newsfeed. 

You might have considered running a Facebook Group but you’ve been worried about the amount of work and commitment involved, both in terms of moderating comments and finding enough new content to post. You’d also be worried about the negative comments you might have to deal with. 

Yes, Facebook could be a great opportunity for your community, but it’s one that you are uncertain about how and whether to embrace.

But by not embracing social media, your local organisations are missing out on valuable publicity opportunities and losing their ‘share of voice’ to local businesses. 

What you need is:

  • A way for the local voluntary and community sector to build a shared audience on social media, so organisations are not struggling to promote themselves alone
  • A way to really help local organisations with all their communications – not just Facebook
  • A way for you to take more control, be proactive and demonstrate leadership as the ‘voice of the sector’
  • A way for you to gather, curate, and organise local information easily and quickly – so information doesn’t get lost in the Facebook newsfeed
  • A way to access Facebook’s huge local audience, without relying on Facebook

We can help. 

We help community and voluntary groups with all their communications, by providing them with a web tool that helps them manage email newsletters, maintain mailing lists, publish online, and post to social media – all in one place. It’s easy to use too. And free.

We aggregate the content they create into a single place – a community website, featuring a community calendar, a community noticeboard and a directory – where local information is organised, searchable, and doesn’t get ‘lost’.

We then help you to use this community content on social media – creating a Facebook Group which really engages local citizens. Local organisations don’t even need to have their own Facebook presence in order to be featured, and to take advantage of the shared audience created. We’ll walk you through what to do step by step, and support you to create a Facebook Group that’s easy to manage, easy to grow, and a real asset to your community.

We don’t make you rely on Facebook, however. Local citizens can sign up to receive an automated weekly community email, featuring a calendar of forthcoming events and all the latest news. 

And of course, there’s our community website, completely separate from Facebook, where information is well-organised.

We provide:

  • A web tool that’s free for community and voluntary groups to use. Helping them with email signups and newsletters, web publishing & social media posting, all in one place.
  • A way of pulling together online information about your place
  • An integrated set of shared community digital assets, managed by you.
    • A shared community website, noticeboard and calendar
    • A shared community weekly email newsletter – automatically created
    • Imported content from third party online sources eg Eventbrite, Facebook
    • All findable by Google
  • An easy way to engage safely with the huge local audience on Facebook
    • Either by creating your own Facebook Group or by using other existing local Facebook Groups (with full coaching and support)
    • Maintaining content outside Facebook so it’s easily shareable on other channels
    • Directing people towards your email newsletters
    • Removing the need for local organisations to have their own Facebook presence

How is it funded?

We aim to keep our service entirely free for local community and voluntary groups. To do so, we attract a community sponsor, and we ask for a small “place maker contribution” to cover support.

We also encourage community-based businesses to become members for a small membership fee (£20 a year) so that they can post their events and activities to the website and weekly email too, making these even more useful for local citizens.

What’s next?

See examples of communities where we already operate.

When you’re ready, get in touch by emailing helen@interests.me or fill out our form to register your interest.

Frequently asked questions

Is it really free to start and run a community calendar?
Is it really free for local organisations to use?
Who can start or manage a community calendar?
How much effort does it take to start or manage a community calendar?
What’s involved in getting a community calendar up and running?
How does interests.me interact with social media?
Does every community calendar need a sponsor?
Can we produce a printed version of the community calendar?
Who owns the community calendar and its content?
How does interests.me make money?