Helping member pioneers and local causes get to grips with social

The Social team has been running online tutorials to help colleagues, new member pioneers and people from local causes use social media to create a community.

You can join our tutorial about Facebook communities on Thursday 6 July from 5pm.

Working together

Part of a member pioneer’s role is to get people talking about what matters most in their local community through meetings and events, and to encourage people to volunteer and co-operate on worthwhile causes.

My role as part of the Social Media team has some similarities. Our team’s purpose is to spread the word and encourage people to engage with their Co-op, but we do it online rather than down the local community centre. It made sense that our team shared some of our online community management skills with the new member pioneers. We wanted to help them promote their work and talk about what being a co-operative means in a wider sense.

Figuring out how we could help

The Social Media team met our member pioneers at their induction day to get a feel for how we could help them. We wanted to speak to them to find out their level of knowledge around social media before we spent time and money on designing training materials we thought they might need.

Photograph of a table with post it notes with notes from member pioneers written on them. Notes include: 'when to use @ handles' 'can we use co-op in the account name' and 'what can we use asset wise on social?'

The things they wanted to know more about were:

  • which social channel is the right one for them or their cause
  • how to set up a new Twitter account
  • how to find people in their community on Twitter and who to follow
  • what ‘trending’ means
  • what type of thing they should tweet
  • what a hashtag is and how to use one
  • how to get started with local PR

Live broadcast tutorials

When we knew where member pioneers needed support, we could put together tutorials to help. We’ve been hosting them on YouTube Live then making them available on YouTube for anyone who missed out.

We broadcast our first tutorial ‘Getting started on Twitter’ a few weeks ago and welcomed around 30 live viewers including colleagues, member pioneers and people from local causes. People could ask us questions in the live chat as we were going along and we’ve had over 400 views of the recording too.

Our second stream was about ‘Creating content to share with your community’. In it, our social media content planning manager, Cat Storey, talked about what makes good content and how to present it.

You can watch these videos on our YouTube playlist and give us feedback to help us improve.

Join our social community of practice

We’d like to keep the conversation about effective ways to engage with people going. We listened to member pioneers and set up a Facebook group where we can chat and share advice and ideas. If you’re a member pioneer or work closely with one of our local causes, join our social community on Facebook. Hear from you soon.

Scott Bennett
Social media community manager

Join our tutorial about Facebook communities on Thursday 6 July from 5pm.

Steve Foreshew-Cain: paying £9 million to local causes and hosting our first digital operations show and tell

Steve: Hello and welcome to the weekly Digital update. Now the eagle-eyed amongst you will recognise that I’m not Mike Bracken but given that I have shaved my beard off for Easter this week you might also not recognise who I am. So, I’m Steve Foreshew-Cain and I’m the Chief Operating Officer for the Digital group.

As is the tradition in these updates we start with a big number and it’s important big number this week because this week marked the day that we gave away £9 million to our community local causes nominated by our members.

And there’s another big number associated with membership this week which is that we have welcomed 800,000 new members to the Co-op since we launched our renewed membership proposition. An impressive achievement by any standard.

The other important thing to call out for those of you who are interested in the community work that we do is an opportunity to get directly involved in that by joining as a Member Pioneer. The deadline for that, to sign up, for that is the 26th of this month so less than a week away, but if you’re a colleague or if you’re a member of the Co-op you still have an opportunity to join that important work.

Another important activity this week was the first of our digital operations show and tells where we talked about platforms, we talked about service management and we talked about security and how those capabilities form a part of the digital services that we deliver and we operate.

And as is also traditional in our weekly update we say a big hello to new members of the Digital Team to a big shout out to Ian Thomas and Michael Davis who’ve joined our data team and a big hello to Debbie Roycroft who’s joined as a software engineer in our digital engineering practice.

And of those of you who are watching this because you’re interested in the work that we’re doing here at the Co-op as ever the opportunity to come and join us exists so please look at all of the opportunities that we have out there and get in contact.

Steve Foreshew-Cain
Digital Chief Operating Officer

Giving local causes the £9 million our members have earned

Co-op members earn 5% for themselves and 1% for their local cause when they buy Co-op own-brand products. The local cause funds have been building up since we launched our new membership in September and have reached approximately £9 million.

Six months on, we’re now starting to pay that £9 million to the 4000 local causes over the UK.

To celebrate, we worked with director Shane Meadows to show some of the projects our members have been supporting. Here’s his film.

Thank you to our members for helping us make a difference to your local communities. Like George the Poet says in the opening line of the film, “Great things happen when we work together.”

If you haven’t already, join us and become a Co-op member.

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer

Members, have you chosen a local cause?

This Saturday, 8 April, is the deadline for Co-op members to choose which local cause their 1% will go to. If you haven’t chosen already, sign in online and you’ll be prompted to choose one. You’ll see this: 

screen shot of what the page looks like in a member's account who hasn't chosen a local cause yet.

From this date we’ll have a new set of projects in your community for you to choose from.

How it all works

Each time members buy a Co-op branded product and swipe their membership card, they earn 5% for themselves to spend at the Co-op and 1% for their community. They can choose which local cause their 1% goes towards.

And things are going well. At the time of posting, Co-op members have raised over £4 million for local causes. Co-op supports up to 3 local causes in over 1,500 communities across the UK. You can learn more about how we’re getting on on our local community fund page.

We talk about the 5% and 1% stuff regularly on the blog but we haven’t spoken in much detail about how everything works behind the scenes. So here’s what happens next.

Paying out after 6 months

We let the funds from the 1% build up for 6 months, so in this case it’s from September when we launched the new Membership, to now.  

At the end of each day a member’s 1% balance is checked and one of 2 things happen. If a member has selected a cause, the 1% earned goes into that pot. If they haven’t, the funds stay put in an unallocated pot.

At the end of the 6-month cycle we’ll do the number crunching. Then we’ll split the 1% balances for anyone who didn’t choose a cause equally between the causes in their community. We’ll then send the sums over to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and they’ll process the payment so each local cause gets what they’re due.

See where your money’s going

Very soon we’ll have a new page on the Membership website where you can see your giving history. The page will show a list of the causes that you’ve supported. From here you’ll be able to see how much you’ve contributed as well as revisit the profile pages of the local causes to see how much they raised.

A new set of projects from local causes

If you’re a member you’ll carry on supporting the cause you chose until 8 April or until you choose a different one. On 9 April however, we’ll have a new set of projects from local causes for you to choose to give your 1% to. Between November and January, local causes applied to be part of the new round of funding. Since then we’ve checked the applications are eligible and have given our colleagues a say in which local causes they want to be part of the Local Community Fund.

You can become a Co-op member online or pick up a temporary card in store.

You can see the latest data on the 5% and 1% rewards on our Membership data page.

Liam Cross
Agile business analyst

500,000 new members since September

We’ve passed the 500,000 new member mark since we launched our new Membership in September last year.

With the additional 500,000 members (531,000 is the latest figure) we have 4.16 million active members. This is fantastic because it means that there are now 4.16 million people who are earning 5% for themselves and 1% for their local cause when they buy Co-op branded products.

Celebrating 4,000 local causes with films

There are now 4,000 local causes which members can choose to give their 1% to and we were lucky enough to work with Shane Meadows on a series of films about some of them. On Monday we held a screening of the director’s cut – a combination of all the films in the series. We invited some of the people Shane featured in the films as well as local Co-op colleagues and Co-op Council members.

photograph of people watching the join us film at the screening

Hard work is paying off

I’d like to thank the whole team for their hard work making things better for our members and the local causes our members support. Of course, we’re not finished yet. We’ve already said  we want a million new members in 2017 and Channel 4 news anchor Jon Snow is one of the 90,000 members who joined us since 1 January.

Channel 4 news anchor Jon Snow holding up his Co-op membership card next to a Co-op colleague

You can keep an eye on our progress on our Membership data page.

If you haven’t already, sign up to become a member. Join us.

Rufus Olins
Chief Membership Officer

Join us! We want a million new members in 2017

In 2017 we want to recruit 1 million new members to our Co-op. That’s a million more people who can join us in making a difference to causes in local communities.  

Picking up where we left off

We made big changes last year. Our return to a brand identity rooted in the Co-op’s history meant we went back to being Co-op’. We also went back to putting our members and their communities at the heart of everything we do. Since we launched the new Membership in September, our members have already earned around £16m for them and £3m for local causes. We update the figures each week on our Membership Data page.

Nothing made up

If you become a Co-op member you get 5% back on anything you spend on Co-op branded products as well as 1% to put towards a cause in your local community. In 2017 we’ll be spreading the word so more people know about the difference that choosing Co-op can make and more people will want to join us. To achieve this we’re changing the way we’re communicating with our members and potential new members.

‘Nothing made up’ is one of our communication principles and that means we show real people in real communities who can benefit from becoming a Co-op member. It made sense then to make the people who keep the local causes going in communities the stars of the show.

A young man in a wheelchair playing basketball in a sports hall.

We also wanted to strip back the gloss of advertising and make something unembellished and emotive and show people being completely natural in front of the camera. We were thrilled to work with director Shane Meadows who does all those things superbly. He also shares our values.  

Real people. Real communities. Real causes

So Shane has created a series of short films that show some of the 4266 causes (at last count) that are being supported every day by Co-op members. You can see the films on our Youtube channel.

Here’s the director’s cut which will be shown in cinemas across the UK from 20 January.  

This is just the start. 2017 marks a new way of advertising our Co-op. We offer value with values and we’re going to shout about it.

You can keep an eye on our progress towards the 1 million new members on the Co-op Membership Data page.

Join us. Sign up to become a member.

Helen Carroll
Head of Brand

Local causes and location

Charlotte King recently talked about the changes that we’ve made to make it easier for our members to select a local cause to support with their 1%. I’ve been looking at those local causes, what type they are and where they are in the United Kingdom.

Image showing the spread of local causes being helped by Co-op Members

This image is a scatter plot of those local causes that our Co-op Members are supporting when they buy products and services from us. 

This shows the relationship between the people who live in the UK and the Co-op. The Co-op is supporting local causes right across the nation so where there’s a community, there’s likely to be a good cause that our members are supporting.

What do the colours represent?

When a local cause applies to receive support, they’re asked to classify themselves into a category like ‘Health’ or ‘Environment’ and the colours above are distinct for each category.

I’d love to give you an interactive map where you can explore the data for yourselves but I can’t do that today so instead, I’ve done some exploring for you. 

This scatter plot below just has the categories Health (yellow) and Community Development (purple).

Image showing the spread of local causes being helped by Co-op Members

Both types are widely spread but something I noticed was that there seems to be a split between the urban centres of Greater London and Northern England. London appears to be more densely covered by Health causes whereas places like Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Leeds, Tyneside are more balanced with Community Development causes.

Here’s another plot, this time with Social Inclusion (black) and Young People (blue).

Image showing the spread of local causes being helped by Co-op Members

Social Inclusion causes seem relatively concentrated in certain areas of the country. These tend to be the main cities. Causes within the category of Young People are both numerous and well spread, there seems to be a nation wide concern for causes that will help the next generation. 

Don’t forget we’re looking for the next round of good causes to support in May 2017, the closing date for applications is 16th December.

Alex Waters
Data Science.