10 years, 500,000 people, 1 campaign - Happy Birthday Get Online Week!

27 Sep 2016

This October it’s national Get Online Week - an annual campaign which targets the 12.6 million Brits who don’t have basic digital skills.

Get Online Week (17-23 October) celebrates it’s 10th birthday this year, and over the last decade has engaged more than 500,000 people - encouraging them to get online and see how the internet could make life easier, cheaper, healthier - and more fun.

The campaign is managed by Good Things Foundation, the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity. Since 2010, they’ve helped 1.9 million people to gain digital skills - and Get Online Week has been key in helping them raise awareness of the benefits of being online, and the network of 5,000 community-based UK online centres on hand to help.

The campaign model sees national publicity backed up by local activity, with local event holders given marketing packs, training and advice to advertise and run events out and about in their communities.

Communications Manager Chris Andersson explains: “Like many charities, we don’t have a lot of money to spend on big flashy marketing campaigns - and what Get Online Week has taught us is that we don’t have to. We raise awareness through national PR and social media, but the conversions take place at a local level - and that’s what gives our brand it’s true power. People might hear about ‘Get Online Week’ as an abstract concept, but what makes them take action is the poster in their local church, supermarket or hairdresser, advertising an event that’s going to take place just round the corner from them.

“We trust the UK online centres network and other event holders know their area and their community. They’re best placed to make local partnerships with trusted intermediaries and tailor their events to their unique audiences. All we do is provide the framework, the training, and the materials they can tailor to drive footfall to online taster sessions.”

During Get Online Week itself registrations on Good Things Foundation’s award-winning online learning platform, Learn My Way, tend to increase by between 10% and 15%. Over the whole month of October, registrations can be up by around 40% - as the people engaged through the campaign come back to learn more. That means that the message is not only getting out to new people, but that the campaign helps event holders create lasting relationships with the people they engage.

Leicester Libraries have taken part in Get Online Week since it very first began, and are looking forward to their tenth campaign. Development Librarian Sally-Anne McIntyre says: “For us, Get Online Week is an opportunity to get new people involved in our sessions, and involved in their local library. The marketing materials are great - otherwise we’re stuck with homemade photocopies which simply don’t have the same impact or get the same response. It’s a great and easy way to boost digital inclusion activities.”

This year, campaign packs will be boosted by sponsorship from Lloyds Banking Group, allowing Good Things Foundation to add balloons, badges, pens and notebooks to help event-holders brand and celebrate their sessions. Funded through the Department for Education’s Future Digital Inclusion programme, Get Online Week is normally subject to marketing restrictions - limiting publicity to activity generated by the in-house team, and limiting packs to paper-based posters and leaflets.

Each year, Get Online Week campaign concepts and key messages are developed and tested by Good Things Foundation’s Marketing team, and for the last few years marketing materials have featured real life learners and their stories of how getting online has changed their lives. The idea is to inspire people to follow in the footsteps of someone they can relate to, and to show the breadth of how digital skills can change lives - from improving job prospects to helping people stay in touch, keep healthy, or manage their money.

One of the star’s of this Get Online Week campaign is Rob Smedley, 40, from Doncaster. Learning new digital skills through Learn My Way at UK online centre Edlington Hilltop helped Rob get back to work for the first time in three years. He says: “I can’t tell you what a good feeling it was to finally get a job. I’m really proud to be one of the poster people for Get Online Week, because I know how important digital skills are, and how important it is to have a helping hand when you need it.”

Chief Executive at Good Things Foundation is Helen Milner, OBE. She adds: “Get Online Week not only effectively encourages people to get online, it creates more than 1,000 community events, inspires 2,500 volunteers to help out at them, it galvanises new community partnerships, and it helps grassroots organisations meet their digital inclusion goals and targets. What’s more, typically it does so at a cost of 60p per person engaged.

“Mass marketing on a budget to an offline audience was always going to be a challenge, but one I think Get Online Week has risen to meet. We’re incredibly proud that Get Online Week has engaged half a million people over the last ten years, and we’re looking forward to another successful campaign in 2016.”

It’s still not too late to sign up to be a Get Online Week event holder. Visit www.getonlineweek.com to find out more.

If you know someone who could benefit from getting online, or if you’d like to get a bit of help to brush up on your own IT skills, you can look up an event near you on www.getonlineweek.com, or call free on 0800 77 1234.