In the second of our charity leaders blog series, Lisa Cohen from See Me explains what happened when her organisation took a digital risk. If you are inspired by her story, come and join us at the first 3rdsectordigicamp on 2 November.

See Me is Scotland’s national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination. Since October 2014, a major part of our strategy has been to attract new supporters and engage more frequently and meaningfully with existing supporters.

We also use digital technology to promote our campaigns and key messages. We have had fantastic success with our Power of Okay campaigns and our latest Instagram campaign #myunfilteredlife.Thanks to technology, the response has surpassed all our expectations, our reach on social media has increased dramatically.

We are lucky in See Me to have a lot of freedom and little bureaucracy, which allows us to be innovative and try out new approaches. We are on a steep learning curve but are up for the challenge, and are not frightened about dipping a toe into the unknown. And that is a key lesson for other charities and third sector organisations.

At the start of 2016 we had a low following (170 followers) on Instagram, but we knew it was one of the most popular social media channels for younger people, and we wanted to engage this audience more.

stop worrying about what can go wrong, and get excited about what can go right

We are also fortunate to work with one of the best creative talents in Scotland. The team at Something Something came up with the concept of #myunfilteredlife which goes against the grain of the perfect world usually seen on Instagram.

Our goal was for people to share an image and story which shows ‘real life’ and share how challenging life can be when you are struggling with your mental health. This concept struck a chord with us, as well as the people we ran the idea by.

But it’s always a worry before you launch a campaign, no matter how well thought through and tested it is. Will it hit the mark? Will it gather energy and momentum? Will it get a reaction? Will it touch people and get them talking?

I had all of these thoughts and many more before we launched #myunfilteredlife in August 2016. But we took the risk.

I needn’t have worried so much. The campaign has already done everything and much more than I’d hoped for. It has succeeded in getting people from all walks of life to share pictures and stories they never normally would and supporting each other – even those they have never met before.

I am in awe of the people who have opened up with posts that are honest, raw and moving. They touch the heart and have reached out to others in a way that I’m sure they couldn’t have hoped for when they started offloading.

Sometimes social media gets a real bashing. People are accused of being tied to their phones instead of talking to each other face to face. But when social media is used well, it is a fantastic way for those of us who are feeling isolated and living through the ‘hide under the duvet’ days to stay connected.

There have been over 1000 posts about #myunfilteredlife and we have 3231 followers on Instagram, and it’s growing every hour.

Check out some of the amazing posts yourself by follwing the #myunfilteredlife tag, follow Seemescotland on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and start living by my motto: stop worrying about what can go wrong, and get excited about what can go right.

Lisa Cohen is National Programme Manager with See Me Scotland.