I often get asked how you make a social media surgery. Below is a list of ingredients and how you use them.
This recipe is for a standard social media surgery and is ideal for community, voluntary and neighbourhood groups.
Last year I would have said this is enough to serve a city, but since then I’ve got a bit greedy and think that every neighbourhood should have a surgery much like this one. I’d recommend you read all the way to the end before starting to mix the ingredients.
A diary: This should be full of dates and used to avoid clashes with other things.
Lists of people – 3: Here in Birmingham we use three lists of people. One is a list of people who care about where they live and get things done (some people call them active citizens). This list can be any size, although bigger tends to be better. These are our patients. We have a much smaller list of people who themselves have bigs lists of people who care about where they live and get things done. We send the dates (see above) out to these people who circulate them to their lists. Finally you need a list of people who care about where they live and get things done and know about the internet. These are your surgeons.
As you get better at this recipe you will find that people who first appeared on the patients list will move across to the surgeons list. That’s exactly the result you’re looking for. In fact those people are the sweetest part of the whole confection. Also if you are making different social media surgeries for different neighbourhoods you will probably find yourself acquiring a whole range of different lists. That’s normal, but do keep them in separately labeled jars.
A room (with corridors): This is the standard size social media surgery so you just need a standard sized room. Most rooms come with corridors, please don’t discard these. We have found them very handy as marvellous overspill spaces.
Tables and chairs: Some people like their tables and chairs in neat rows. I prefer them just how they come. So scatter these around.
Tea and coffee: Let people help themselves.
Wi-Fi: Never skimp on this. A good social media surgery will be drenched in wi-fi. If you find yourself tempted to drizzle the ‘nets the whole thing will certainly turn out flat. Some types of wi-fi come with a key. If you have that sort make sure everyone can easily find it.
Organiser (1 or more): You must have at least one of these so dates get set, rooms get found, wi-fi checked, lists updated, emails sent out. It also always helps to keep a couple of spares in your store cupboard. Don’t use too many organisers though, that can spoil things.
Welcomer (1): People really don’t believe that a surgery can last between 90 minutes and 2 hours and nothing formal happens. So it’s good to have someone to welcome the patients through the door, take their details and explain to them what isn’t going to happen (you’re not going to get lectured at, speeches won’t be made, you won’t be made to do or learn anything your don’t want to). The welcomer also introduces the patient to their surgeon.
Social capital: This is the most important ingredient. We started with Birmingham Bloggers Group social capital, which had been simmering for a good 20 months, thickened by all sorts of strange ingredients. Think of social capital as the stock pot of your social media kitchen; you need to keep it constantly bubbling away. By the way, it has to be home made and hand made. In an emergency you can borrow some social capital from your neighbour, but please take care to return it as soon as you can. Some people are tempted to use shop bought social capital. It never works.
Note: Some of you may be surprised to see that I have not included Expectations in this recipe. I use zero expectations when making a surgery. Anything more than that can sour things.
This is the Birmingham standard social media surgery. Other recipes may be available from Sheffield, Solihull, Brighton, Nottingham, SCIP in Brighton, in Dave’s head, a Solo Bassist, Pete Ashton, Manchester, Mosman, Australia.