Facebook, WhatsApp, Forum debate

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Facebook, WhatsApp, Forum debate

Postby silvergull » Sun Sep 01, 2019 11:37 am

Thought I would open a thread for this ongoing discussion. and see where it takes us! Here goes:
(Some of this is copied from my post in another thread, but thought it needs its own place, and as I am no longer involved in the officers core group/committee, I can do this, speaking only for myself, and posted in the open section of the forum: )
A couple of points here- so called 'Hampshire off road ' are not actually a TRF Group- they have in the past posted their runs on our Facebook page, which are now no longer being accepted. They are not a formally constituted or recognised TRF branch.

The Forum is the best place to post all legitimate events, runs etc, as this is where all members can access it, not everyone does use facebook, that fact has to be accepted too, for all sorts of reasons, but this does not mean runs, posts, or events cannot go on facebook as well, but not only on facebook.


The reason the runs were moved to the members section was to prevent non members organising runs using our forum, which was happening- This causes all sorts of issues, for example relating to insurance by the TRF for our officially posted runs, and other ride related insurance issues, which is why the rides were taken out of the public area. This seems to make sense, after all this is a club, people pay membership, if non members can get all the benefits that members have why would they join up? ( this apart from the legal reasons already quoted), eg: any member would expect to be covered and backed by the TRF as a member if there was a byway related issue, an accident, a legal claim, etc. and non-members using our forum muddy the distinction, and give the false impression it is 'official' , when it is not. These non members simply need to do what most of us have done, ie join up, and pay the membership fee, and commit in some way, at which point all access is opened up to them. All clubs work like this.

Members area:
Many TRF groups in fact run a totally closed forum ie no members of the public or non members can access any of it- our forum is remarkably open in an effort to keep balance between members issues, and at the same time show non-members a part of what we do, and hopefully steer them to why they might want to join. Personally, I feel it is fine as it is, with a good balance being found.

WhatsApp groups-
Many of us were unaware that this method of posting runs was operating within the club, until a post in another thread ( August, to do with Sweetlamb training) on this forum about a month ago. This sort of private system basically destroys the openness and transparency of the club, not to mention the 'fellowship' element which forms part of our name, ironic really as it seems the very people using this have also complained about secrecy within the club. (It also explains why lately runs from some run leader 'regulars' disappeared from view- now we know.) My personal view is that if it is to continue, then all members should be invited to join these groups, all of them, openly and not hidden from members view. The non-members who might be using this, ( and it is not known right now who uses these), should not be allowed to partake in this as it is not part of the open club, and they are not members! Simple! This does not mean that Whatsapp ( and it has its uses, true) cannot be used to arrange runs etc, only that it should be kept open and clear to all. Why the need for secrecy?

So, yes to Facebook and WhatsApp for the who want it, but only as an add on, we are not corporate, we are not a commercial operation, we are a club, with paid-up membership.

'Committee' , or Officers Group- what do they do for the group? This question is often asked, and here are some activities the group do on behalf of the whole:

Well here is a brief list, not by any means comprehensive.
Collect run fees, for use club benefit.
Keep the accounts and bank account in order,
Raise funds for the group and the wider TRF.
Manage membership annually.
Arrange events for the whole group. eg pathfinder, curry evening, speakers, manage facebook, forum, and membership , trials training, film nights, leader training, liase with council, monitor byways and impending byways closure issues, receive reports and monitor lane closures for whatever reason, lane clearance organisation, Longest Day event, runs for new members, runs for any members, runs for non members even, arrange club night and keep the venue booked and paid for, attend meeting with councils and other groups on behalf of the group, attend the TRF AGM, attend Bike shows, Countryfile etc, all of which carry considerable personal costs, publish newsletters, attend group officers meeting, (open to anyone 4 times a year,) liase with other TRF groups, and the list goes on-----. ( sorry for any activities and actions left out, there will be a few more-----)

Do they do enough?
What do you think?
Can you help?

Only my view. What do you think?

EDIT: Thank you for the 2 posts so far very positive and constructive, and hopefully the officers can use this to take the club forward.
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Re: Facebook, WhatsApp, Forum debate

Postby Stewie » Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:42 pm

The thing with WhatsApp is its quick and most use it for group rides of similar abilities, there's lots of crossover from the TRF and all the other groups there are out there, I have on several occasions removed rides from the forum ( and not just big bike rides) as there had been no interest, I quite often post my rides on multiple media platforms, if there was a TRF WhatsApp group it just wouldn't work as rides would just get lost in the chatter.
Alot of folk organising rides on WhatsApp are not offering to lead, their just heading out with mates.
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Re: Facebook, WhatsApp, Forum debate

Postby kris » Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:14 pm

agree with stewie

whatsapp works well for small groups and many of us have been using it for years as it is an extension of modern office instant messenger working practice so there is NO going back.

That said whatsapp is dreadful for larger groups

The forum and the trf is fabulous for getting people set up and forming riding relations but agree with Stewie that run leaders should still keep their runs (even if they are full) on the forum as it helps keep the roads alive and the club buzzing. I am not doing much green roads these days but when time allows (roll on retirement) I will definitely pledge to post pre /post run info on the forum

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Re: Facebook, WhatsApp, Forum debate

Postby stevent » Wed Sep 04, 2019 7:57 am

Brian, thank you for sparking the debate, it’s good to still get your thoughts and input, as a member, now you’re no longer an officer.

Luke, Stewie, Kris, Gary, Alex, thank you for all your thoughts as well, on the various threads.

Regards Facebook, WhatsApp etc, there are a lot of opinions and good to see debate happening— it shows up the passion we have for TRF and our desire to make it even greater.

It’s good too when it’s positive and respectful. There are lots of opinions and there is validity in every single one I’ve read.

Luke, and Gary, regards putting the “First Saturday” post on FB, I think the point you are making, if I read your message correctly, is that we TRF will grow in membership and in strength if we got more about what we do onto Facebook and other social media. HO has gone from zero to 1000+ “members” shows there are potential members to connect with.

I’ve not asked Nigel, who is leading on the first meeting this weekend, but I am sure he would welcome your help promote it on FB? Would you be happy to help out in this way?

Regards how we promote ourselves more generally, there are lots of downsides to Facebook (addiction, poor mental health, subversion of elections, data harvesting, sharing data without consent, the Myanmar genocide....) and as Brian helps set out there are lots of other considerations too... like -
non-members leading runs, giving a false impression they are TRF and then who is liable if someone injures themselves and decides to sue TRF?
and the spate of thefts and the extent to which putting content on FB is advertising is to criminals.

So yes let’s use FB to reach out and promote ourselves

But many members who help organise TRF stuff do not use it and I don’t think they should all be expected to; and it doesn’t seem to me to be the answer to all our needs including the posting of runs and club discussion etc etc.

Interested in other thoughts.

Will pick up on other threads of the debate inc WhatsApp, as it develops...

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Re: Facebook, WhatsApp, Forum debate

Postby Voldemort » Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:10 pm

I'm not sure there is an argument to use any one platform over the others but Facebook is clearly a better tool to reach potential new members through advertising events.

Forum generally works fine for me, even on mobile, but I am not able to find a way to subscribe to new posts in the Rides and Meets forum. I can subscribe to the individual topics inside a forum so I am either being thick or maybe this feature is not enabled?


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Re: Facebook, WhatsApp, Forum debate

Postby coolhand » Fri Sep 06, 2019 10:10 am

In Follow up to Stevens message.

The point I am trying to make is that we are not using facebook very effectively to attract new members.

Most non-members or maybe all non-members are just people looking to find other people to go trail riding with, the TRF are no longer needed as much as they used to be for this. All you have to do is get a route from somewhere (easy) pop it on your smartphone or whatever and off you go. If you want to find other people to go riding with then just jump on facebook join a free group, message them or look at their events section on facebook and off you go, easy.

So imagine you are a non-member looking around at your options, you find the Surrey TRF page look at events and their is nothing.....why bother joining not much going on it seems, although there is we just hide it and don't promote it well.

This monthly run for non-members is a great idea but it should be an event of facebook inviting non-members and maybe be entitled "TRF taster run" or "A day out with the TRF" I really believe all it takes is for a non-member to come on one or two rides with us and then they will join.

As a platform to arrange social events and for promotion it works well, I personally think all runs should be events of facebook to show that we are a thriving club and to make it easy to find them, I appreciate this probably will never happen as some people just don't want to do that and that is their personal choice I am just saying its helpful for marketing and for ease of seeing when and where the runs are.

I personally don't see any negatives and I don't understand the whole we don't what non-members riding with us mentality, each to their own, you wanna join, then join, if you don't then don't but just think we always want people to speak positively about us as a club people coming on taster rides we can use as an opportunity for some positive PR, I ride with non-members we do not have a great image and that could easily be changed by being more inclusive.

This is just my opinion and it comes from a place of wanting to make the club a better place (and from understanding a bit about marketing and PR) and I believe we all want that, so lets see what others think, I am not suggesting not using the forum to post runs that seems to work for most people and i respect if you don't want to use facebook, I myself refuse to use Twitter, one step to far, each to their own.

Luke A

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