The British Society of Amsterdam has been around since 1920. Like most older expat groups it had begun to lose its role, identity and purpose. And had a number of competing expat groups that attract a younger, more fleeting audience. The insight we gained was that the needs of long-term expats are often ignored in favour of newbies. Established expats often feel left behind as other expats leave the country. New expat Brits don’t always want to mix with other Brits in the beginning of their expat journey, and often come full circle and seek them out after a few years in the country. Which is how I found the British Society.
Judging by the low number of visitors to the site, it was not fully supporting the needs of the established British expat community who had joined the society— many as much as 30 years ago. But on average most members have been here for 5 to 10 years. The Society came to me to completely overhaul their marketing and communications channels.
Zest, relevance and purpose
The new site www.britsoc.nl has helped to put some zest, relevance and purpose back into the society, enough to attract new members, while not alienating their long-standing members. Numbers of visitors to the site have quadrupled.
We’ve achieved this by focussing on the needs of these smaller, longer-term groups by linking them to social activities that often include common interests like theatre, the arts, classical music and weekend excursions. And sports that are not too strenuous or physically challenging.
Young at heart in an old city
We also look at the bigger social picture of Amsterdam and try and find interesting social events for the members. Of course, mature Expats are often young at heart and share interests with younger people. So we provide links to quite a diverse range of events. Plus a range of online resources and directories that provide essential information and insights into expat life across the Netherlands.
Loneliness, alienation, missing family and friends, difficulty meeting new people…
It’s not easy being a new expat. And it doesn’t automatically get easier the longer you live here. The British Society website is aimed at both these groups. Like a fine wine locked in the cellar, I would say that it takes longer to discover, but once they do the riches pour out.
By John Richardson
Related: As part of the rebranding exercise we also produce the ZINE , the monthly e-magazine of the British Society.