PP Gets Technical March 2015

PP Gets Technical.

As I write, it occurs to me that WGAR has now been up and running for six months. How we let that little milestone pass by without a big fanfare I can only blame on how busy I’ve been this last month as we are forced to find new ways to promote our little project.

When we started the Facebook page, we accrued a thousand likes in a short space of time and the number continued climbing steadily. Those of you who admin on pages will know that Facebook very helpfully provide ‘Insights’ which let you know how many people are reading your posts and interacting with the page. Before Christmas I could see that what we were posting was being seen by about eighty percent of our followers.

After Christmas Facebook introduced a new algorithm the details of which I won’t bore you with and some changes to pages, meaning that less and less people saw what we were posting, whether they had liked the page or not. 
Facebook have what is called Organic Reach which basically means how many people see your page updates and content by it appearing in their news feed or by them stumbling across it via their friends news feeds etc. To give you an idea of how these changes affected us, our Organic Reach dropped from about eighty percent to less than ten percent.
That’s right folks, those memes people post saying Facebook is hiding your favourite pages from you are all true!

As you can imagine, I was pretty hacked off having spent a lot of time building a following, only to find out that they weren’t seeing what we were doing unless they actively sought us out. That’s fine for our regulars who might check the page every few days, but the people who had liked us in passing would now forget all about us. I decided it was time to take all of our eggs out of the one basket and look at the other Social Media sites available. 

Now, there was a time when I used to be called upon to program the video recorder for my parents (!!) and used to consider myself fairly clued up technically speaking. Those days are gone! Google informed me that WGAR needed to create a ‘Social Media Marketing Strategy’ and ‘Build Our Web Presence.’ So I’ve been reading everything I can find and taking notes – a bit like being back at school – and trying to get our little project out into cyberspace.
All this means really is that we are now on Pinterest, Flickr and Instagram and I’ve been trying to increase our Twitter followers, but it is all a bit complicated and there has been much head scratching and consulting of Google 😉

We have today purchased a domain name which is making us feel very grown up here at Pebble HQ. Put simply, www.whogivesarock.co.uk is now a fully functional website just for us. It brings proper, grown up Email along with it, (@whogivesarock rather than whogivesarock@ – there is a difference!) but this needs to be configured, so give us time to get our heads around that one…

And lastly we have decided to sell our souls to Facebook and allocate a small portion of our donations to advertising. It makes me cross to have to do it, but give them their due, it really does work as we’ve gone up by a thousand likes in a fortnight.

*Note from PP, please note this information is out of date. To keep up with WGAR please follow us.

So, that’s what has been taking up all of the time here the last week or so. Personally I’d just like to get back to painting and let the rest of it take care of itself, but that’s just not how it works any more.

Big Pebble Love to you all

PP xxxxxx


A Rocktastic Winter March 2015

A Rocktastic Winter

As I write, the wind is blowing quite determinedly and heavy clouds are hanging around looking menacing, but a solitary Daffodil is bravely showing its face in the Pebble HQ garden
and it won’t be long before the Primroses and Bluebells follow suit… that’s right, Spring is here!!

Spring always brings a certain sense of optimism with it and excitement that we’ve broken the back of the long dark nights. Of all the seasons, Winter is my least favourite – once the excitement of Christmas and the New Year have worn off there never seems much to look forward to. 2015 will go down in history for us as the year that broke the mould!!

After the bedlam that ensued here in the run up to Christmas and the whirlwind of painting and deliveries, Rocky and I took a well earned week off and started painting again in the New Year. It was a bit of a worry as it was the longest quiet stretch we’ve had since September when it all began and there was a chance our followers might have lost  interest or forgotten about us… not so!
We started the year with Dry Athlete pebbles and a series inspired by the wonderful Meghan Traynor song ‘All About That Bass.’ Regular followers of WGAR will know how much I love my song lyrics and these lent themselves perfectly to the time of year that everyone feels under such immense pressure to lose weight after the excesses of the festive period. We wanted to send a different message out to the world, an antidote to the adverts for slimming clubs and diet aids that seem to saturate the media, and so came the ‘I’m here to tell you every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top’ pebble, complete with yellow tape measure. We posted a picture and it was extremely popular, so it went up in our brand new auctions group and was won by the lovely Lin from St Agnes.

We also designed a new range of pencil drawn pebbles with brightly painted lyrics, all along the same theme, which got a mixed reception as they were different to anything we had done before. Some of you loved them, others weren’t so keen.

The new group was set up so we could post updates about auctions and have a place where people could bid that was separate from the WGAR page itself, that way anyone not interested in the auctions wouldn’t have their news feed clogged with updates each time someone placed a bid.
The auctions brought in a small cash injection which, as always, went straight back into the project on fuel, paint, brushes and varnish costs. We decided to use our WGAR Paypal as our project bank account, withdrawing money when we need it for supplies and keeping receipts for everything spent.
Having been a success, we decided to hold the auctions on a regular basis. It meant that anyone wanting one of our pebbles who hadn’t found one or been nominated could bid if they wanted to, knowing they were supporting our project along the way.
It was and still is very important to both of us that you didn’t think we were selling out in any way or losing sight of our original vision that this would be a free project and we are still fully committed to continuing with as many free pebble drops as possible and ‘You Have Been Rocked’ campaigns where people can nominate others.

*Note from PP The You Have Been Rocked Campaigns finished in 2015

The auctions are still the smallest part of what we do at Who Gives A Rock, used mainly to fund our other work, but also for charity when we are able to. As some of you will remember, back in the Autumn we managed to raise £100 for The Cove MacMillain Cancer Support Centre being built at RCH Treliske by asking people to donate money in return for one of our ‘Remission Rocks.’ 
Just before Christmas we were contacted and asked to paint a pebble for a couple in Penryn who had lost their toddler to a sudden illness just after his first birthday. It was an honour to be asked to contribute something, but felt so futile after the terrible tragedy. We then saw there was a Just Giving page set up in his memory and so decided to run a charity auction to raise money, which was being donaed by his parents to Fleet Air Ambulance Trust and to help equip all local ambulances with essential Paediatric Resuscitation equipment. As always, our lovely, loyal pebble buddies didn’t let us down and we were proud to raise £70 for another wonderful cause.

The next huge event in our calender was Valentine’s Day. We decided to make it our most ambitious pebble drop yet and agreed to spend the entire day delivering Valentine pebbles around Cornwall. Obviously we would need to fund a day’s petrol, so we auctioned off half a dozen red rose rocks with the promise that they would be posted or delivered and arrive on February 14th. We also painted a range of Valentines themed pebbles to recognise those not happily ‘coupled up’ for one reason or another and dropped these every day in February on the run up to the 14th itself.
We painted a whole range of love hearts, vacant hearts and love messages and asked people to nominate themselves or others to receive a free pebble on the day. The majority of them were parcelled up with chocolates and heart confetti and our mission was underway!
Saturday 14th February we started at 09:30 and stopped at 19:45. We delivered a grand total of thirty eight messages of love around the county and agreed it was our most successful pebble drop yet, made all the more special by the happy messages and comments that came flooding in as we went.

Both Rocky and I are still loving being part of’ Who Gives A Rock,’ and have no plans to stop what we are doing. Things have been made a little trickier by the introduction of the new Facebook algorithm that has cut the reach on our posts down dramatically, but we are devising ways to work around this. More on that in our next blog.

We are currently finishing work on our Mother’s Day pebbles, then have exciting plans for Spring. As ever, keep an eye out and see what we have in store…

Big Pebble Love to you all

PP xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx