Are we ready to catch the social media train?

From what i can tell the people who understand social media, understand that it isn’t a community itself, although the people around it create a community of interest, but social media enables communities to connect, collaborate, communicate and empower action among other things as well.

So if that is the case, then from a public sector perspective the technology is irrelevant and only a means by which we engage. On that basis i can see why social media is placed at the back or to the side, because my perception is that public sector organisations don’t understand the communities who are using these tools yet (well not across the whole sector anyway).

So my challenge isn’t just getting my organisation on the social media train, it is in fact getting it to the station first?

Interesting, i have started getting parts of the organisation on the train, but i need to get the whole thing there so projects become easier….

I am working with our Youth Service, as previously mentioned on this blog, about youth participation via social networking sites, the easiest part of this was actually getting them to appreciate that this is where young people are, the hardest thing is to explain what our engagement in that environment looks like and how we will manage it.

We will be running a consultation event at a local youth service organised festival, where we aim to consult on 2 main areas, with the help of Tim Davies.

  1. Code of conduct (complaints, confidently & privacy)
  2. Engagement approach

The other area which i am working on, and for me this is far more significant from the organisational perspective is getting a corporate policy agreed at our corporate management board which allows all staff to formally access social networking sites in work time. This naturally presents many challenges to us in terms of managing risk, but not as risky as ignoring it and pretending it doesn’t exist.  I will keep you posted on the progress in this area as we move forward.

But back to the train in the station. One of the main challenges I face, is getting a greater understanding of all aspects of the business, so that I can then become a “Service Shepherd” who herds (i would prefer to say Lead here!) the service areas into the station and onto the train.

It will then be a challenge to co-ordinate the activities so that we ensure we benefit the communities we engage with or just simply listen to, as well as adding value and knowledge to the organisation in terms of understanding our many communities.

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