I wrote this article at short notice for Suzanne Piper the Editor of Naturist Life when one of her contributors was unable to provide the four pages of promised copy. It was quite a feat because my business was really kicking so entailed a lot of late nights and early starts and culminated in quite a backlog but the subject was too large to do justice with cursory input.
I realise it’s long, very long but for those of you who are interested in social media and would like to utilise it more, this should give you the grounding to start your own mini social media campaign. Let’s all of us try to spread the word!
From Naturist Life, June 2014, Edition Number 168, Emma James, “Naturist networking – Emma James is spreading the news through social media – Facebook, Twitter and blogging”
I’ve been networking actively online and offline since 2004, after being invited to a local business networking group for a breakfast meeting where I had my first taste of formal offline networking. After the initial welcome, everyone around the table introduced themselves briefly and one member was given the opportunity to give a short presentation about their business to the group. Business cards and flyers were passed around the table, along with neat little vinyl covered folios diligently updated with the latest offerings. Then the highlight of the meeting, a full English fry up, after which we could network more informally and those who had the scope and wished to, could stay back and network a bit longer.
At this stage in my life I was quite isolated as as single parent to two rumbustious children, by now aged fourteen and twelve, having started divorce proceedings from my husband three years previously, so I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction.
I stayed behind. Typically at these meetings, there’s a wide range of professions represented. Some groups will lock out competitors so that only one person is represented from each industry, some are less rigid. Through the wide bank of clients and contacts I’d built up through my work as a massage therapist since starting my Practice in 1996, I was immediately able to link three of the people at the group with other business owners where I felt there was synergy. I realised I was on to something. Not only was I able to promote my own business, I was helping others in the process.
A few months previously, an invitation had popped into my inbox for an international online networking group from a Client who thought I might find it of interest. That link would have taken me to Ecademy, a social/business networking site which I finally signed up to in December 2004 after the breakfast meeting and it’s where I cut my teeth networking. Early in 2005, I began to blog, tentatively, encouraged by one of the co-founders of Ecademy, Thomas Power.
Ecademy gave me a portal to the outside world where I was able to interact with other people, day and night. I have periods of insomnia and tend to be quite high-energy anyway so it’s not unusual for me to be tapping away on the keys at all sorts of odd hours.
Most of us thrive on contact with other people. It’s how we learn. It shapes our character, develops us as people, builds our confidence and offers us the ability to confide in others and gain a support structure. We can interact solely online or offline but even with online interaction, you can get a real sense of the person you are communicating with, which only serves to enhance any subsequent offline communication.
Some people will open up much more online than they will in person and some will behave in a completely different manner. They can be abrasive and hostile online and yet in person they can appear quite docile, otherwise known as disinhibition, where someone behaves uncharacteristically, perhaps venting a vile torrent of abuse at another individual or group, safely shielded behind their computer screen.
If there’s one thing I find utterly repellent, it’s online bullying and people who masquerade under false personas; trolls or sock puppets as they are referred to. In the naturist community, the pressure of societal pressures means that some naturists feel more comfortable using a pseudonym and while most will behave with the same decorum they would as if they were operating under their real name, some use their online identity to wage a war of attrition against other individuals or groups, in common with any community. I’ve seen a lot of ‘flaming’ and bile spewed online since I’ve been networking. However, if we’re to increasingly bring naturism into the public eye, we need to provide a cohesive voice. We need to network together more, locally, nationally and internationally.
ln our own way, if we feel able to be open about our naturism, we do our best to let other people know about naturism and what it means to us. For some naturists, this isn’t easy, within the teaching profession for example or for those who hold high public office because society at large still doesn’t really understand naturism. The more we spread the word through naturist networking and relay the benefits and what a strong, supportive community we are part of, the greater the reward for us all.
picture taken at Kings Langley with the Diogenes Roadshow in 2012
This year, British Naturism is celebrating its 50th anniversary and as a consequence, naturism and naturists are more newsworthy than normal. A recent and very positive article in the Daily Express by Sadie Nicolas on 26 April 2014, “The Naked Truth, 50 years later and British Naturism is still going strong,” was well received by the naturist community.
It’s encouraging to see positive messages about naturism being conveyed by the mass media, as opposed to the routine salacious portrayal of sexualised flesh which society finds largely acceptable, whilst at the same time decrying women who breastfeed their children in public, or lambasting activists who post up beautiful images of men and women brandishing their surgical scars in haunting, naked pictures to celebrate the human form, in its myriad forms.
We each of us network in our daily lives, perhaps through our hobbies, going to church or with friends and family. Sometimes our networking creates stronger bonds and ties if we network within a specific group, or we share similar ideals and principles as evidenced in the naturist community.
For many naturists, the goal is for naturism to be more widely accepted and understood and it’s up to us to get that message out. We can help to spread the word about naturism to much greater effect if we employ online and offline networking.
Naturist Life and British Naturism, both of which are run on a subscription basis, offer online interaction, via Facebook chat for Naturist Life, while British Naturism has a dedicated website with member-only community access, in addition to the special member-only and open invite events, which both organisations set up and oversee.
N.A.G., The Naturist Action Group, is closely linked to Naturist Life and in recent history, has formed a consultative alliance with British Naturism. They understand only too well in order to succeed, team effort is required.
Reg Barlow posted an excellent article “Engagement” on the Naturist Action Group website on 19 April 2014. N.A.G. have regular meet ups and encourage discussion with their supporters online, via their very informative website.
There are a number of naturist groups which operate on Facebook. Some are special interest naturist groups, some are regional naturist groups. If you start to look, you’ll be surprised how many naturists are out there who want to communicate with each other and some do so very powerfully through the medium of blogging which is one of the most effective means of raising awareness, both within the naturist community and to the wider public.
I network universally, from a business, social and a naturist perspective but it’s something that I enjoy doing. Over the years I’ve build up a big network of colleagues and friends I can learn from, interact with, ask questions of and lean on when I need support.
For international naturist networking we have the I.N.F., the International Naturist Federation and we can network via groups on Facebook or via a free international networking site called The Naktiv Nook which was founded by Richard Foley, an English ex-pat Naturist based near Munich in 2013. Naktiv is a derivative of Naked and Active.
Facebook’s policy on nudity is well known to most naturists/nudists. Provocative, sexualised pictures barely raise a glance, indeed you can express a preference for MILFs for example and while graphic images glorifying violence don’t raise the Censor’s hackles, non sexualised, relaxed nudity is akin to committing a cardinal sin to the Facebook Moderators. I’ve been booted off Facebook three times so far. The third time it wasn’t even a misdemeanour, they booted me off for a spurious reason to do with some inoffensive naturist links I had posted. However, you can share naturist content on The Naktiv Nook and on the closed forums of Naturist Life and British Naturism. The Natkiv Nook has the option of being public facing, although you can choose for your content to be visible to friends only.
picture taken in the grounds of Diogenes Sun Club on Sunday 22 June 2014
If we are to gain wider public acceptance, I believe we need to gain the trust and acceptance of the business community. It doesn’t befit our community to be secretive and closed about our naturism, it befits our community to be proud of and open about our naturist beliefs and principles.
The more we speak out, the more we will be heard. Ultimately there will be less lampooning and more genuine understanding for naturism and the wider issues naturism can address, body acceptance, body understanding, campaigning against the sexualisation of the human body in the media, opposition to archaic responses to the female breast and breastfeeding and hopefully with greater body acceptance, a reduction in eating disorders and body dysmorphia etc.
We are part of our local communities and need to interact with them, not hide away if we are to move forward with confidence. At Diogenes Sun Club, where I help the PR Manager Andy Cremer with Social Media and Ladies Recruitment, we actively work with the local community, taking the Diogenes Roadshow to community fetes and complementary health fayres.
Andy Cremer, Diogenes PRO and Emma James, Andy’s Social Media Support at the Feast of St Peter, Saturday 28 June 2014 with the Diogenes Roadshow
We help to support local businesses by flagging them up on Twitter and ascribe to relevant Twitter campaigns which highlight the values of our family-friendly club.
I’m passionate about getting the word out about naturism, particularly in relation to women. In order to do that, we need more women who are prepared to speak publicly about naturism and women who are happy to work with the media, taking part in radio and TV interviews.
I network on Britmums and to a lesser degree Mumsnet where I’m also a member. They’re great vehicles for budding writers, writers and bloggers and have a friendly infrastructure. You don’t have to be a Mum or even a woman to join up but both help, since it provides a common bond. That said, there are some very successful male writers and bloggers who are at the very heart of both networking sites.
picstick compilation Day 2 of recent BritMums bloggers conference,BritMumsLive 2014
Being a member of niche female networking groups, helps me to get the message out to other women about the benefits of naturism and it also means I can highlight the wonderful facilities we have at Diogenes Sun Club where we have a growing membership and a number of young families and younger people, contrary to the aging, mainly male demographic, which is fairly typical of naturism in the UK and in some countries overseas.
When I first started my business in healthcare, Reiki healing was not widely accepted or understood. Over the years I’ve networked, I saw a distinct change in the perception of Reiki, as the senior executives I networked with began to try Reiki out and feel the benefits. Likewise NLP; Neuro-Linguistic Programming, of which I know little, was adopted by the business community and both Reiki and NLP have become commonplace terms, where historically they might have been viewed with little or no understanding or derision.
So the basic tenet is, network to your heart’s content and it will provide the seedbed for change. Support your fellow naturists, we are after all a community and by working together we will gain more recognition. Encourage naturists who are prepared to be interviewed about naturism and those who utilise social media. The more people who are willing to do so, the greater our reach and influence. It does come down to engagement as Reg said in his article.
Social Media Metrics are now assessed on the basis of engagement, more than activity. When online networking and blogging was in its infancy, activity was king. Now content is king and people who generate more responses will have more impact than those who are churning information out but not being heeded.
Fresh content is more effective than recycling old content in the rapidly changing world of real time social media updates, where fresh news becomes old news very quickly. Attention spans are diminishing, as people become accustomed to the immediacy and brevity of digital news and marketing.
Social media is very reactive, as evidenced during natural disasters and for example, during times of political unrest or as a means of rallying supporters to a demonstration in countries where governments seek to lock down channels of communication.
Responses to breaking news and campaigning issues, should also be reactive for maximum impact. If a BBC Radio Producer covers naturism, the broadcasts are generally only live for seven days and if you feel the coverage merited a response or was negatively predisposed to naturism, the sooner the response, the more likely it is to be featured. Better still, phone up if it’s live radio to put your point across and get to know your local radio presenters so you understand their presenting style. Most presenters will run a Twitter account, aligned to their employer. Reading these Tweets and interacting with presenters via Twitter, will give you valuable insights into their attitudes towards naturism and their personal belief structure which is always helpful if you subsequently face off against a presenter in a live debate.
Nowadays, individuals can have as much reach and influence as a brand if they choose to harness social media to maximum effect. Brands are having to jostle to be heard in a sea of noise and people who engage openly and honestly with interesting content, who are prepared to show a little of themselves and their humanity, flaws and all, will have a louder voice.
leg-selfie or leg-gun in support of Ai Wei Wei http://www.cnet.com/uk/news/leg-gun-the-new-selfie-trend-started-by-ai-weiwei/
Social Media has been around for a number of years but it’s only very recently, the business community at large and brands have woken up to how powerful and effective Social Media is as a communication tool.
These are the avenues I would recommend for those of you who want to venture into social media more actively. Used in combination they are even more powerful
Naturist Groups/Organisations, Business Sites
Naturist Life @Naturist_Life offers online information via the Naturist Life website and a chat facility via the closed Facebook group and Facebook messenger. Quarterly magazine. A varied programme of member only events during the year. Subscription based model.
H & E Naturist, the UKs mainstream naturist publication, available in newsagents, is a monthly publication covering a range of UK events, venues and campaigns along with regular overseas contributors. Available both online and in magazine format, it’s a vital source of naturist information for those already within the community and intrigued observers.
Naturist Action Group @Naturist_Action A group seeking to campaign for the rights of naturist in the UK. Not afraid to challenge the status quo, there are some excellent articles on their website. Without challenge, there can be no change and change is fundamental to progress.
British Naturism @British Naturism has a dedicated website with a member only, community forum, comprising a number of special interest groups, i.e., photography, sailing, cooking etc. Daily updates with campaign issues highlighted, requests from journalists and general chat about naturism. The public facing website provides a very useful resource for naturist information which you can direct interested parties to. Quarterly magazine. Member only events. Subscription based model.
Y.B.N. Young British Naturism @ybn_official The younger arm of British Naturism for naturists up to the age of 30 with a separate forum under the umbrella of the British Naturism website and with their own programme of events and activities.
The Naktiv Nook @NaktivNetwork an international naturist networking site with over 2,490 members which is growing exponentially (as of 9 May 2014). A great means of getting to know your naturist colleagues in the UK and overseas.
The I.N.F., International Naturist Federation @WorldNaturism which British Naturism members automatically become members of, upon signing up to British Naturism.
Clubs, Community and Engagement
Used wisely, you can promote events and your clubs/websites via Pages or Clubs which you can create publicly on Facebook, SunZu (Alliances), The Naktiv Nook, and privately on the Naturist Life and British Naturism community forums.
British Naturism have a superb website, run and managed expertly by their Webmaster Edward but unlike the other websites, you are not able to set up Clubs, known as S.I.G.S; Special Interest Groups, without first asking permission via the Office. British Naturism’s reasoning behind this is that they need to know the Club will be active, before it’s set up. Clubs can wax and wane as people join and leave. Sometimes Clubs will go through periods of intense activity and then become dormant for a while. It depends on the membership, the Club Leader and the Moderator/s. The same is true of the feel of a forum. Leadership and Moderation are key to how welcome people feel on a forum and whether they feel protected and able to network without fear of attack or reprisals. It should be possible for a Club Leader to hand the reigns over to another member of the Club if they decide to move on, reduce their workload or resign.
If you infantilise people, online or offline, they are far more likely to act accordingly. People will largely self-moderate once community spirit is established and Clubs are a great means of engendering community spirit, enhancing engagement and networking out naturist news.
Social Media – Spreading the word
Use individually or in combination from a naturist or business perspective, remembering how key the business community is to uptake. Bring on board the CEOs and COOs (Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer) and the rest will follow!
The more Followers you have across a range of forums, the greater your reach and consequent influence but content and engagement are also key.
Twitter @twitter Which, in my opinion, is the most effective marketing tool out there right now. A recent article in the Telegraph “Twitter rolls out new profile designs to all users,” by Rhiannon Williams on 23 April 2014, produced this startling fact (to me anyway), “Twitter’s user base in the UK increased 34.1 per cent in 2013 to reach approximately one-quarter of all UK internet users, according to eMarketer.”
Use bit.ly @Bitly and owl.ly @Ow.ly to shorten your links so that you can maximise your content within the permitted 140 characters, by hyperlinking to other sources.
Hootsuite @Hootsuite Another free App which enables you to run multiple forums under one banner.
Foursquare @foursquare This is a location based App which may seem like an odd choice for inclusion but the more information we can disseminate about naturism and where naturist venues and events are/are held, the greater the awareness about how widespread and popular naturism is, within the non naturist, textile community. It takes a matter of seconds and electronically checking in to a new location, will literally pin somewhere on a map, notifying other members of your foursquare network and the wider public where you are.
Since foursquare is used widely by networkers and business owners, it’s another very effective tool for highlighting naturism to the business community.
Facebook @facebook Featuring a whole plethora of naturist groups in the UK and overseas.
WhatsApp @WhatsApp Recently bought out by Facebook, WhatsApp is a very popular free chat App favoured by the younger demographic and is a growing force internationally, especially in developing countries.
SunZu @SunZuSocial is an excellent medium to integrate yourself into the business community. You will need to be respectful of the fact this is a dedicated business site,with a social slant. Overt nudity isn’t welcome, whether pictorially or through an over-zealous naturist message being deployed. Registration and basic membership is free.
UK Business Labs @UKBusinessLabs is an excellent, informative, well run business networking site on a smaller scale than SunZu, founded by a former Ecademy member. Registration and basic membership is free
Linkedin @LinkedIn which used to be very much directed at SMEs but with social media opening up the narrow business confines, now houses sole traders as much as the corporates.
Very influential in social media terms right now when it’s harnessed fully.
Very important towards getting the naturist message out there. We are all, men and women, visually driven. It’s often how we make our initial impressions and base judgements about people and companies etc.
A free mobile App owned by Twitter that enables its users to create and post short, looping video clips, comprising a 6 second video from footage uploaded via your mobile. If you take three short clips, the App will amalgamate them to a 6 second compilation or you can elect to have one 6 second clip. Clips can then be shared to Vine’s social network or to other services such as Twitter and Facebook.
Used widely by the younger age groups, Vine is a great means of reaching out to media savvy individuals and networkers and it’s an ideal tool for marketing your naturist club/events or simply promoting the naturist message.
Instagram @Instagram Simple to use, this mobile only App enables you to select a picture from your mobile. You then have the option to crop the picture, manipulate the picture, add your comments and hashtags to prioritise text and it gives you the option of locating where the picture was taken. Upon Sending, Instagram will ask you (delete to determine) whether you want to Send it purely to Instagram or concurrently to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and foursquare, singly, or in multiples. Instagram followed Vine’s lead by adding a video facility in the summer of 2013.
I’m only focusing on a few sites which I feel are particularly useful at present. There’s an overwhelming choice out there and sites which are very popular at present, may be swiftly supplanted by another site or App, thus losing their market position and relevance in social media terms.
Instagram doesn’t encourage nudity, Facebook are notoriously bad and Twitter isn’t too bad. You can upload naturist pictures for your profile picture on Twitter but if you use Twitpic to upload naturist content to your Twitter feed, it will be pulled, promptly. Both Twitpic @TwitPic and Ow.ly @Ow.ly enable users to post pictures up via Twitter.
Excellent resource for posting pictures with an integral networking facility, enabling members to comment on other pictures and create special interest groups.
A site where you can Pin articles you might find of interest and create Boards e.g. Naturism in the UK, Body Image. Once created, Pins or Boards can be Tweeted out and in common with Tweets and Blogs, can be RePinned, meaning that other individuals can copy over your Pins to their Boards or Tweet directly from your Boards. Demographically, Pinterest has a higher ratio of female to male accounts.
Be cautious about what you upload. Discreet naturism can reach a wider audience. Whilst the naked form is entirely natural and thing of beauty to naturists in whatever shape or form it comprises, the naked form can shock and repel others.
I believe it’s also better to encourage people to try naturism by employing humour. A defensive posturing stance in the face of antagonism or ridicule which we can be subjected to as naturists, only serves to alienate and subtle nudity is more effective to get the message across in textile environs. Besides which, the more you show on some sites, the more likely you are to have your content removed and a watch placed on you. Most active naturists are in Facebook’s beady eyeline and most of us choose to retain a presence on facebook, personally and professionally.
YouTube @YouTube a very powerful means of sharing content
Vimeo @Vimeo no advertisements, strong privacy settings, high quality playback
Is easy to use and enables readers to Reblog your content, plus comments are automatically held pending approval before being added to the site. A useful facility in some instances, to ensure sexually motivated jokers don’t spam your blog site!
Another easy to use blogsite and in common with WordPress, has a range of visual styles to choose from.
Has very relaxed rules regarding nudity so naturism is represented on Tumblr, along with sites which err towards soft/hard core pornography.
If you have any Social Media questions, feel free to Tweet me on @SocksOff1, @Little_RedHen_ @MassageBucks or @Emma_James but bear in mind, my response time can be a bit erratic, depending on the demands of my diary. I’m always happy to help where I can.
I’ll add some useful URLs and change/add pictures later (always a time-consuming element). I have guests here at present and need to get over to Diogenes for our Friends and Family Day where we have a photoshoot taking place this afternoon so typically, I’m against the clock. I was just keen to get this online today, having stated I’d do it weeks ago! It’s been busy recently.