Social media tool-kit part 2 – nearly there, gang

This discussion is intended for those who are trying to encourage the use of direct engagement online as opposed to communicating online only through websites. Might bore anyone else 🙂

Chris, Digital Pioneer (who ARE you?!), posted a reference to me on his blog, mentioning some of the comments I have received after my previous post about a toolkit for social media engagement. It made me think that perhaps I should shove up some of these comments before I make this into a package that you can all use.

I believe that the solution is incredibly simple, ’twas ever thus, but you might find the following comments informative.

So here goes h/t digital pioneer.


Interesting discussions. I’d slightly refocus the Engage, Influence, Consult to ‘Engage’, ‘Inform’ and ‘Collaborate’ – as real influence in communities is arguably the result of informing and role-modeling once one has built up social capital – and that can’t be done at a quick hit. In the first instance, a newcomer into an online engagement space can at best expect to inform. The switch from consult to collaborate is a both a personal and political preference for deeper forms of engagement – and a recognition that the ‘we ask, we go away, make decisions, feedback later (if you’re lucky)’ model doesn’t fit with the online community space. So – what would be toolkit be trying to focus on. Perhaps some of:

Engage: Tools and techniques for listening – in some cases that might even some down to a ‘phrase book’ and a ‘rough guide’ to certain online spaces to help newcomers work out the flow of conversation and community.

Inform: Different ways of inputting and presenting ideas from the stream of twitter posts through to video, audio and shared slide-shows. Focusing on the method (video) then suggesting possible tools (YouTube, etc.) with notes about why each tool.

Guidance on participating (a la civil service code add-on or examples of the voice used by other organisations in different online engagement spaces) and guidance on how to fit online engagement into organisational decision making. Looking at the changes in offline process that are needed – both explicit changes that need management etc., and ’secret underground changes’ that a online engagement lone ranger can try out.


If its to help people in communities then its essential that its designed from the bottom up to Engage people with example situations and how they could and have been addressed through use of Social Media – Paul Caplan wrote something for us at the ICT Hub earlier this year – PDF is here This does just this through various social media tools by asking “Imagine”, “How you can”, “Whats good – whats bad”, “Tips” and a “Case Study”. These hooks get people interested – can’t stress enough … unless people see its for them they won’t engage.

Inform through single “easy to get” techniques – something like “My Guide” is a good example –

Ning, customised social networks:

Last time I spent any real time thinking about this (a long time ago so undoubtably overtaken by events) my headlines were observe, interact, initiate

PETER ASHE – from the NHS

Quite by co-incidence there’s a useful post just recently on RWW about the role of (and need for) ‘Community Managers’ to support the engagement between any organisation and its customers/stakeholders/etc.

Various caveats, but..
– It’s all a bit online-only-oriented, to be sure, but, surely some useful pickings, I hope.
– It says it’s for start-ups (and Whitehall Depts aren’t exactly new) but perhaps could be read in terms of ‘new to this approach’?
– Also the material’s not to be taken literally of course, but I thought I’d point you to it in case it helped people think about what they might need to do differently – it’s quite a switch mentally to move from “I’m here to ship product (a.k.a policy)” to “I’m here to garden(?)/shepherd(?) my community”.

Plenty of useful links in the material if it sparks any interest, for example to a role outline/job spec from Connie Bensen (noted CM). Again, perhaps one could mine various elements from this for different people, rather than we all think we just have to write a cheque for another specialist.

As an example of the (maybe implicit) application of a toolkit, not too far away (as an outsider, can I hope this is not at all too ‘inter-departmental’?… ;) perhaps Steph Gray’s own commentary on DIUS’ new ‘Science and Society’ consultation may provide some useful food-for-thought?

12 responses

  1. Emma et al,

    Just one further pointer, in case what they are doing is the same sort o toolkit that you have in mind? Have you seen what Beth Kanter and her NTEN crew are up to across at ‘We Are Media’?

    I wondered whether “…build[ing] a toolkit and instructional guides about how social media strategies and tools can enable nonprofit organizations to create, compile, and distribute their stories and change the world” might have some resonance, if one elided ‘nonprofit’ into ‘public’?

    cheers – it’s far too nice out to be indoors typing this,

  2. Peter,

    I am aware of what Beth is doing, yes it is definitely something we should be looking at.

    Agreed, it is far too nice to be inside. Am plugged into very loud music to drown out the misery 🙂


  3. [wild-eyed idea] Would a version of Beth’ and her NTEN crew’s We are Media kit be something that could be worked on collectively, for use within the policy community? Perhaps linked with a Pageflakes page as a tour d’horizon/front door? It could educate via both content, process, and medium?

    Sorry – you’ve surely considered this quietly already!

    But keen to pitch in if it had any legs.

    cheers now

  4. Yes, I think that is a good idea. I have thought about it, needs to be done at the same time as a written paper for me – but would be good. Will sort this weekend, I think

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  6. Emma,

    just one other thought re toolkit scope, in case there’s still space?

    Fledgling onliners, once they’ve accepted the idea in principle, may perhaps need hand-holding in how to converse, look at other’s contributions etc. etc., so it may make sense to plan some structure into early exchanges.

    Academics have developed some experience with this, having had to welcome annual waves of new bods for some years now, and Gilly Salmon’s 5-step model is a well-known example of the sort of framework within which you can set simple tasks, deploy conversation pieces, etc etc. (There are bits & pieces of useful material of these types needing to be collated, perhaps?)

    I wouldn’t at all wish to hype it – it was an initial experiment locally – but the online communities ‘course'(?) that we participated in here late last year might indicate the sort of thing that it’s easy to set up and run. The Learning Technology team at a href=””>IRISS, who are the small-but-perfectly-formed crew who ran this, have done more since, and would be well worth contacting.

    Just a thought,

  7. Hi Emma,

    I have been reading your posts with great interest and wondering how i could contribute. Its maybe that i am unclear as to whether my thoughts woudl add value to this discussion but i thought i woudl share them anyway. I was thinking about this alot and how i have been trying to engage people in my authority around this stuff, so i share my loose approach with you.

    1st – we listen, we can use many tools to do this but the important things is to listen..your dave fleet signpost was a great example of how we can actually go about doing this.

    2nd – we participate, we start to get our feet wet and try different tools and see how we get on, your posts some time ago about your expeince with twitter were excellent examples of this.

    3rd – we let go of any control we feel we had and allow the conversations to flow. This is the most difficult bit for people and is quite hard for local government.

    4th – we engage, we actively seek to start dialogues in these spaces, the work Tim Davies is supporting us with around youth participation with SNS is a good example of how we are moving in this direction.

    5th – what can we actually use to do the above – I guess the toolkit you refer to will provide some of this? or have i misunderstood?

    Anyway good luck and i am happy to trial or get involved with this should you feel i could add something.


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