Last Tuesday Mark Brown @MarkOneinFour, Paul Taylor @PaulBromford and I hosted “What can social media do to make social good better?” We wanted to discuss the potential of social media as a place where social good could happen. One of the big questions as Mark so delightfully puts it “how do you move social media from a broadcasting medium to a space where relationships grow and where, sometimes, magic things happen?”
It was a risk for us not just in terms of the finances and resources required but because we all have a strong social media presence. What would happen if no one wanted to come and join in the conversation? Happily there was a lot of interest in #socialconvo which we see as the beginning of a very different social conversation.
It sounds so obvious really that every event costs money to put on. If it is free for attendees it is because an organisation or organisations are providing the resources to cover the costs of venue hire, refreshments, staff time and promotion of the event. So a big thank you to the people who sponsored places at the event.
What made this conversation special for me is that Mark, Paul and I first connected through Twitter. Where else could I have met one of the smartest thinkers in the worlds of social media and mental health and the dynamic Innovation Coach at Bromford a social business providing homes and support to over 80,000 people? We have a shared interest in how social media is defining care, support and community engagement in a digitally connected world and we recognise the importance of seeing social media as part of a core vision to transform organisations rather than a marginal activity.
As Mark said “with the growth of mobile technology like smartphones and tablet PCs; social media feels less like a set of websites that we visit and more like a layer of communication, community and interaction that sits over our everyday lives. The growth of social media has led to an expansion in the self-production of media and to a blossoming of public debate”.
Social media has played an enormous role in giving a voice to people and organisations who previously had no platform and offers the opportunity for sharing different stories. The potential to build more connected communities both online and offline who can debate everything from the impact of welfare reform to how digital technology in transforming our lives is immense.
Social influence and digital leadership is now coming from a much more diverse group. The new influencers use Twitter, blogs, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social media platforms to reach thousands of people. Connections are built on relationships and they are grown through conversations which can involve many different people from across the world.
Social media provides endless opportunities to be creative and challenge artificial boundaries especially between the generations if we are brave enough. Social media is also a great leveller because it is not dependent on status but rather the value each of us brings to a conversation. Despite what the pundits say about older people not being that digitally savvy the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64 year old age bracket. 189 million users of Facebook are only using mobile devices and 25% of smartphone owners aged 18–44 say they can’t recall the last time their smartphone was not next to them.
We were very touched by the support we received both from people attending the event and the conversations taking place online. I thought it would be useful to provide links to the resources generated through our very social conversation.
Social Media Social Good Mark Brown’s Presentation
Social Media Social Good Mark Brown’s Notes
Due to the very lively debate we did not have the time to answer all of the questions asked through Twitter and we are pplanningollow up post to respond to the questions
Thanks to Dave Pearce for sharing his reflections on attending #socialconvo
The context for Social conversations, social media and social good
The way forward?
The digital revolution is about people, social networks and connections not the technology. Technology is most effective when it is invisible. It is an enabler and what is important is what it allows us to do. I believe our challenge is to use social media to do something greater than what we could otherwise accomplish.
As Paul Taylor rightly observes “if social media can lead to social good it requires us to build relationships with others who share our passions and interests . These relationships are no longer restrained by physical location , our immediate peer group, our employers, or our sectors.”
Social media is not free and whilst it costs very little to set up a social platform it needs time, money and people to maintain your presence and have your voice heard in an increasingly crowded space.
Get the basics right – make it easy for people to connect with you. This may sound obvious but if you are an organisation with a responsibility for promoting social good you need a strategy for responding to questions and comments online. A tip for any organisation is to make it easy for people to find you by promoting your social media presence!
One of my favourite quotes from Mark “Without a response plan social media is just an answering machine for messages you have no intention of listening to”.
Value and respond to feedback and comments. Having a Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn profile, never responding to comments and rarely updating shows a real lack of interest in being social. Strangely some organisations do not appreciate that all social media communications are in the public domain.
An idea does not care who has it – share generously your knowledge, passions and links to resources you have found useful, enjoyed reading or even just made you smile.
People are looking for more openness and transparency in the social age. This has many implications for organisations who are not used to this level of accountability and public debate.
Being able to tell a story is a powerful and compelling element of social media. With so many competing influences you have to work hard to build and sustain trusted relationships online. Each of us has a unique voice do not be afraid to use it to tell your story.
If you would like to explore the benefits of social conversation in your organisation to explore how to use social media for social good do get in touch!