Posts Tagged ‘Social Networking’

What it’s like to go to your first Social Media Surgery

Posted on 25th February 2010 by
Social Media Surgery February thestudio

The surgeries are informal place to find out about social media

So what if you’ve never been to a social media surgery? You might have a few questions, right? We thought it might be good to answer a few.

So what is a social media surgery?
Social Media Surgeries are just a fun, informal way for people to meet and learn how to use social media for social good.

What is social media?
Social media is a loose term that is applied to a range of tools that use the world wide web to bring people together and communicate – including blogs and social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook.

How do social media surgeries work?
Our surgeries consist of patients (the people who come to learn stuff) and surgeons (the people who can answer their questions). We pair surgeons with patients, so that the patients can learn all about how to use social media.

Who should come to social media surgeries?
Our surgeries are for anyone involved in community and voluntary organisations who is looking for new, more effective ways to communicate about the work that they do. Patients don’t need to know about computers. It’s much more important that you are keen to learn and that you have something to say!

Who are social media surgeons?
The surgeons are all terribly nice people who’ve volunteered their time for free to help people. They come from a variety of backgrounds, but they all want other people to be able to make good use of the power that comes from effectively using social media.

What happens when you get to a social media surgery?
Imagine a big coffee morning, except it’s probably in the evening! We pair surgeons with patients after quickly finding out what people would like to learn. You get to sit with a surgeon who can help you with whatever question or issue you’ve got.

What can you expect to get out of a social media surgery?
Well, that’s entirely dependent on what you want to get. Lots of people who come want to set up blogs – simple websites where they can publicise what they are doing. Other people are interested in using Twitter, or other social networking services. Often people come back to learn more and more. Sometimes people who first arrived at surgeries as patients become surgeons themselves.

Is there anything I need to bring?
No. The surgeons have computers, so you don’t need to worry. Of course, if you have a laptop and can carry it easily then please bring it along.

Where can I find out more?
To find out how the surgeries started you can read this post. John Popham, who runs surgeries in Yorkshire, has done a good job of explaining things in this podcast. This site, Podnosh, gives details of new surgeries in Birmingham and elsewhere.

Where are the social media surgeries?

You can mostly fine them here:

Local blogs for neighbourhood managers in Handsworth and Birchfield

Posted on 16th February 2010 by

Screenshot: Be Heard in Birchfield website

Let me introduce you to two new blogs about neighbourhoods in Birmingham, both run by public servants

Hands on Handsworth is written by Tracey Thorne – the neighbourhood manager for Handsworth in Birmingham. Be Heard in Birchfield is being nurtured by Yvonne Wager – the neighbourhood manager for that particular part of the city. (Click here to see Tracey’s explanation of neighbourhood management.)

Both Yvonne and Tracey are in jobs funded by Be Birmingham – the local strategic partnership. They were inspired to start a neighbourhood blog by their colleague Kate Foley who had been running Life in Lozells – a site set up originally to address the problem of all the bad news you find when googling Lozells. Kate explains in more detail in this video made by the Chamberlain Forum.

What do they do?

They talked to us about helping them develop these sites during the social media surgeries we ran in Lozells last year. Both are built on WordPress with some changes to the backend that make it a little easier to blog and listen to what the web is saying about your neighbourhood.

There’s also a simple events system with mapping, and the sites include a facility to easily turn plans into commentable  consultation docs. We also provide a service that ensures the software stays updated, plugins don’t clash etc, plus training and support on using it well.

Tracey is a natural – she really enjoys writing for the site and is on a roll. Yvonne is equally enthusiastic but needs a different sort of support, so it is taking a little longer.

Why bother?

The sites are the neighbourhood managers’ home in a wider web conversation. It’s only fledgling at this stage. The point is that over time they help the neighbourhood managers share information, ask questions, pool expertise and begin to collaborate in new ways with their community.  I’m not convinced they should attempt to become THE site for their neighbourhood.

Such an idea concerns me, because if THE site gets switched off or someone begins using it to be self-serving that’s a problem for the whole neighbourhood. Instead I’m interested in how we can nurture a range of online resources and voices in a place. These blogs form  part of that process – providing a tool that can also help neighbourhood managers link to and encourage the wider conversation.

What do you think?

It will take time and patience for these sites to bed in – but what do you think? Could you encourage them by commenting a post or do you have any advice for Yvonne or Tracey?

Camera crews and new venues: January's Social Media Surgery

Posted on 10th February 2010 by

As we look forward to February’s Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery tomorrow, I thought I’d reflect quickly on last month’s.

One obvious highlight was the arrival of television cameras. Since the last event I went down to was November’s – where a German Camera crew was shooting – I’m beginning to think the presence of a film crew is a pre-requisite to a proper surgery!

This time the crew was there to see that social media can be used for a good cause as well as a bad, as part of a BBC Midlands Today piece that concentrated on how protest groups – including the English Defence League – have boosted turnout at their rallies by using sites like Twitter and Facebook. There was a good turnout or our own for them to film and Nick Booth put them straight, pointing out that in the right hands social media can do an awful lot of good.

I got a taste of this myself as I sat in on a session helping out the blog for Danny Reeves’ and Dave Morris’s climb to the top of Kilimanjaro. Danny and Dave, as I can see from looking at the blog, have reached the summit now – and raised more than £11,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support – exceeding their own combined target by more than a thousand pounds.

We were also in our first surgery in thestudio. Yep, it’s called thestudio, not The Studio, which might seem a lot more sensible, but is presumably a lot harder to trademark. The most brilliant thing about thestudio, aside from the fact that the venue has offered itself for free, is that it is in central Birmingham. Smack bang in the middle, in fact.

Hopefully that will ensure we meet the trade descriptions act – and that it makes it easier for more organisations and people to come down and get involved. And there’s a pub right across the road. Not a bad a location, then, really.