Closing the Social Media Gap

In a previous post about social media and councillors, @Annemcx picked up on the issue I highlighted which was about the increasing gap that is emerging between those people who are actively using social media platforms and those who have yet to dip their toe in the water so to speak.

Anne’s comment states:

The one thing that’s striking me more and more, and which you hint at in your opening sentence, is just how large the gap between those that have adopted social media, and those that haven’t yet, is getting.

I’ve faced the same conundrum you have, i.e. how to begin to cover the breadth and depth of knowledge that’s accumulating and keep it digestible to those who haven’t yet accessed and begun to find their way around social media.

Even with a basic familiarity of the tools, the finding of one’s social voice isn’t something that happens overnight. These are previously untaught skills and people need safe sandboxes in which to fully experiment, especially perhaps within the public sector.

I feel that in the public sector (and anywhere actually) anyone who is actively using social media has a “duty” to ensure that you do not move too far ahead of your own culture but in fact are part of changing your culture or you risk becoming so isolated that I suspect you would end up leaving feeling frustrated and actually do the organisation more harm than good.

My personal view is that if you are using social media and you personally get value from it then you don’t have an obligation to do anything. However if like me you are using social media for professional purposes then it is your obligation and your “duty” to ensure that your organisation and the people in it are at least on the same journey or moving in the same direction…

I’ve been using social media pro-actively for work purpose since 2008 and have gained huge value and I believe I can demonstrate value to the organisation as well through the development of the social media policy, web strategy, personal learning and development (i.e. training and development), access to learning materials, good practice from other councils and organisations, the list can go on….

One thing I’ve constantly done in that time is not to “over sell or even over state” the tools that I use, but to try to demonstrate practically what value it can provide for people and the organisation itself….I always come back to my first rule  “Don’t focus on the technology”.

I believe this is an individual journey and one which can involve battling issues of self-confidence to express yourself in digital ways, not everyone is comfortable with this in a global platform.

This whole issue came home to me at the session for councillors when I had to create a session which focused on the opportunity, challenge, whilst also allowing people to accept this new communications and engagement environment – believe it or not, this is NEW to so many people…

Sometimes however it is about reminding them of the things they do which don’t involve technology and allowing them the space to understand the similarities and – time-saving not time-wasting – opportunities.





5 thoughts on “Closing the Social Media Gap

  1. Excellent post, Carl.
    I tell people that it’s essentially just a form of communication that’s more like a telephone conversation than a letter or email.

  2. Carl,

    Another belting blog post and something that I had been thinking about further to our Leeds Social Media Policies & Strategies workshop where there were delegates from councils whose roles and responsibilities meant that social media tools and platforms were ideal yet were still having to request access from IT & Network Security.

    With “Digital by default” being a mantra in Local Government at present, you’d have thought that it would apply to access within the organisation first and foremost. Without it, the chasm that you describe will just get bigger and bigger.

    Keep up the good work and “Viva the Devon Way”!!!

    1. Digital by default is a mantra, but so are so many things right now….I think we are in the right direction, but for most councils just resolving critical organisational cost savings are enough right now…

      We need to keep plugging away and ensure that we maintain an entry level which is accessible to those who want to explore and then build from there.

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