Social media toolkit: I have been complicating things far too much

Any of you following my blog posts recently will have seen my vague attempt to create a simple social media toolkit for people to use in order to join in the fun.

Whilst on holiday in Kenya, I spoke to lots of people about the stuff I do, particularly this: www.justicefortom.com.

Many of them considered themselves novices in all things web, and certainly thought that Web 2.0, or social media, was beyond them (except for Facebook, of course!). So, over many suppers with a variety of people I explained that it was not a thing, rather a more effective use of online communities – and your interaction with them. (I am a fascinating guest).

The theory behind your web presence is no different:

1. What are you wanting to do?

2. Who are you doing it for?

Now you need to find out where the communities are that exist online already. At this point I recommend you use a listening service such as Addictomatic. (In a previous post I have explained how to use this – although it is really simple so you don’t need to read the post unless you love my prose so much you can’t get enough – understandable of course :))

Once you have spent some time listening, finding the places where your target market are already conversing and collaborating, you can then begin to join in the discussion. This will enable you to really understand how you can effectively meet the needs of your audience and refine your own offering online accordingly.

At the same time as doing this, you are establishing a solid piece of online real estate – proving that you are not just shoving stuff out there. People will begin to recognise you if you join in the conversations online, (the simplest way of doing this is by commenting on blogs – yes it is that simple).

Finally, you need to start your own conversation.

An example

Let me run through the Soy Sambu conservancy online offering:

Kat Combes, the Director of the conservancy, had set up a website and was looking to start a blog to:

  • raise awareness of what the conservancy was doing
  • attract funds
  • share experience and learn from others

Kat is web savvy, however considered setting up and running a blog way beyond her abilities. In fact the more she googled, the more scared she became. I sat with her for about an hour and ran through Addictomatic and WordPress; showed her how I manage my own blogs and how simple it actually was – even for the technically impaired like myself. We then created the conservancy blog and I walked away. Kat has since then played extensively and here is the fruit of her labour: http://soysambuconservancy.wordpress.com/

Now, the blog will stay pretty much as it is, whilst Kat ‘listens’ using Addictomatic and a variety of key words. However, please do comment and send links to any other websites that you think would be good to look at, and keep an eye on how it grows from here (on the conservancy blog of course not here!).

Whilst talking about the conservancy site, Graham Vetch – the manager – spoke about how the conservation was not just about the land and animals, but also about the people living there. How part of the challenge was to take the indigenous people from poverty to self-sufficiency. He is frustrated as he has many plans and is not sure where to start. Now this is where I believe blogging really can come into its own. We discussed how Graham could just throw his hat on the ground, sit down and start blogging about his plans  taking us with him on his journey.

Now this will achieve two things:

  1. Share a journey that could help numerous communities and community managers
  2. Give Graham access to feedback on his plans – enabling him to find out where to start and learn from others’ experience

I am very excited about this and as soon as we have set it up – I will show you.

So, the tool-kit?

Addictomatic and WordPress are the tools I recommend for the moment. However, it is less about the tools and more about changing the way you think about your online presence – use the community, share your knowledge, take people on your journey with you rather than simply talking about it after it is done.

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.

TIM DAVIES:

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, Blip.tv etc.) with notes about why each tool.

Collaborate:
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.

PAUL WEBSTER:

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 http://www.icthub.org.uk/research/NewMediaCaseStudies2008.pdf. 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 – http://www.myguide.gov.uk/myguide/MyguideHome.do

Ning, customised social networks: http://www.ning.com/

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?