Using technology to improve Club Diving life

Jun 14 2016 Posted by Office Administraton

My favorite part of diving has to be the peace and quiet. Unplugging and shutting off the phone and removing  ourselves from this busy world we live in can do a world of good for body and soul.  If I could continue life on the surface  without the need for phones, traffic or deadlines wouldn’t that be the trick!  If we must use technology in our lives, it needs to make life easier and more enjoyable.

Traveling around the country I always take time to ask Clubs how they are using technology.  There are two main places tech gets used by all divers; to attract new members and to communicate with existing ones.  I want to talk about the most popular technologies in use by clubs, the benefits these technologies bring as well as the challenges they may introduce.

The Evil Facebook

Do you love Facebook? Do you hate Facebook? Keep reading even if the thought of being forced to Facebookjoin Facebook makes you want to give up diving all together.  Even though its arguably the world’s largest social media platform you will still come across members who have no intention of ever creating a profile.  Who can blame them?  There is a lot of junk on Facebook.  Let’s face it, the TV ad was killed by Netflix so they had to move them somewhere… now we scroll past the same ads we used to avoid with our t.v. remotes.  If your clubs members all have Facebook anyway – then it only makes sense to use this – and even if some members refuse to use it, there is still a need to choose Facebook instead of the old Webpage!

Facebook Page vs Webpage

Why did clubs create webpages in the first place? A Clubs home on the internet, a place to attract new members, advertise all the events happening and share pictures and memories of the past.  The problem with Webpages is they are static.  The moment they are created, like a loaf of bread they are fresh, but after a day or two they become stale.  They must be updated constantly otherwise the club no longer looks to be vibrant and active.

Facebook Groups or Pages?

Facebook solved this problem almost immediately by allowing the creation of Groups or Pages.  Many Clubs actually use Facebook in many different ways to attract new members as well as to communicate with existing members. You can start with a Facebook Page; where anyone can wander on and find out when, how, where, what, and when a Club is diving.

You can create a private Facebook group, and invite only the current membership – and allow every member to post pictures, share ideas, publish upcoming events, arrange dives.  This is similar to how WhatsApp works, I will talk about that shortly. As popular as Facebook is, it still has its haters. Some people will not want to join Facebook just to be able to communicate with the Diving Club; keep this in mind if you choose Facebook. The idea is to be more inclusive, not to exclude members.

What’s WhatsApp?

Live communication has evolved from telegraph to telephone, from mobile phone to text, and now WhatsAppto smart phones.  Everyone that owns a phone today has access to social media and instant communication.  We can now check the weather forecast, tide tables, marine charts all from the palm of our hand.  We can arrange a dive without ever needing to look out at the sea.

One technology that is sweeping Clubs across the nation is Whatsapp. Even though Facebook already owned its own messaging application; it liked the company so much that it bought WhatsApp for 22 Billion dollars in 2014. It’s not actually social media in the dirtiest sense of the phrase; so for those that hate Facebook, please don’t ignore this one.  It is certainly social, but it’s much more private then Facebook.  Much like walking into a room full of people, you can decide who you talk to, what conversations you participate in, when you want to walk away.

One to One, One to Many, or Many to Many?

WhatsApp is a one to one or a many to many technology.  You can start a chat with a friend on the app just like any instant messaging application, or you can invite a group of friends to a chat. You can carry on like a conversation; and instantly share thoughts, pictures, videos to just this group.  When the conversation is over, the group can disband.  In a day, a week or a months’ time, if you have reason to talk again, you can pick up the conversation where you left off, with the same people in the original group you formed.

Text or Email by comparison is One to Many or One to One only.  One of the strongest reasons to join and use Whatsapp; is the ability to hold open discussions, share lots of information, make group decisions very quickly and easily with WhatsApp.  A conversation naturally flows, with members speaking and listening and responding with agreement or suggesting alternative ideas.  If you use text or email; the message can get lost depending on how well the author is able to write. That message can also be passed on later, out of context and can lead to arguments or disagreements as there was no discussion allowed at the time.  WhatsApp is enjoying huge growth and has the potential to replace email and text messaging completely.

Examples for using WhatsApp in Clubs, Regions, and for Events

Personally I belong to several WhatsApp groups, each a separate group, with a different purpose.WhatsApp Chats  I am not inundated with any Ads or annoyed by too many messages.  If I want I can mute people or groups or the entire application.

Our Club uses a general membership Group.  We use this to plan dives or to share news about the club.  New members are welcomed to the group and some just lurk there, taking in the conversations without needing to actively participate.

Our Region has a WhatsApp group as well.  Originally this was just for all Diving Officers, then expanded to include Training Officers and active Club DODs depending on who a Club puts forward.  Every club in the region is represented and included, and its up to each group member to pass on the info shared.  We share spaces on dive boats, upcoming regional events and trips as well as general info on what’s going on in our local slips.

Sometimes, when a big event is coming up that needs a lot of coordination, the whole event hinges on one person.  Consider using WhatsApp to setup a one-off group just for the event itself.  Recently we wanted to run some Bag Packing. We had a small amount of volunteers, and a lot of time-slots we needed to cover across the weekend. Using WhatsApp was great. When a volunteer was working alone, sending out a message to see who was coming along next meant they didn’t just get frustrated and quit helping out; they worked on until the next shift arrived. The volunteers in the WhatsApp group were able to solve any issues, rather than relying on one person to make it all come together!

Using Teamer or Doodle to arrange an event

There are two more very popular technologies Clubs use to manage events.  One is formal (Teamer) the other informal (Doodle). Both are very useful, but both fall into the One to Many category and rely on a single person usually to use them;  it might suit the Diving Officer or Secretary in your Club.

Use Teamer to manage club events

Teamer is a popular choice for Clubs that want to schedule ClubTeamer events in advance, and to gauge how many member will be attending each event.  One drawback is there is no way for the members to chat between each other using Teamer.

A big advantage to using Teamer to manage a Club is that there is a shared contact database.  It can be used to keep all emails and phone numbers for every member or potential member in one place; and that info could be handed over to a new committee every year easily.  Each member is responsible to update their own preferred email or phone number; or they can choose to install the Teamer App for a small fee.  Its free to try out Teamer, and its free to setup a team.  You get 200 free text messages a month; so the best thing to do is try it out and see if it works for your own Club.


Use Doodle polls to get group agreement

Nothing could be simpler that Doodle.  It’s accessed via the web or as a free App, used to create a Doodle PollPoll for making a decision.  Many college clubs use this when trying to arrange a trip.  The organizer can create a custom poll, and choose the responses.  Anyone with a link can be invited – and can respond over email.  Doodle is an easy way to measure a groups interest in something.