We were blessed, quite surprisingly, with a large number of people happy to help others, which was great to see. Nick Booth helped the Civic Centre Residents’ group with their efforts to use Scribd with their residents’ blog, which they set up a few surgeries ago.
Karen Caine was helped by Andy Mabbett and learned about using data sets in conjunction with her long-established site, BrumCityCentre.com, for Birmingham City Centre Neighbourhood Forum.
John Newson was helped with his blog by Danny Smith.
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.
The site www.givv.org is simply brilliant. It allows us subtle control what we give and to whom. When you offer someone control it tends to make them feel better about doing something.
As a charity donor it allows you/me to make one single monthly payment into an account then choose how to apportion that.
If this month I want to support disaster relief I can, next month I split it between that and a home based children’s charity. In fact I can split it as many ways I like – picking up local charities for a while, changing my interests from young people to building sonervation.
I can then decide whether I let those charities know I’m supporting them or not, either joining their netowork or avoiding it. That means I can also have some control over how many times they send me daft envelopes with silly pens in.
As a charity trustee or administrator I get one lump sum payment a month from givv.org rather than lot of different payments. Especially for the smaller charities (such as my favourite, Birmingham Conservation Trust) it may improve the chances to get small yet manageable donations from a much wider group of people. When someone opts to share information with you the chances are that will also be a more fruitful relations – better rewarding the effort put into nurturing it.
It’s very clever and I hope something similar comes to Britain soon. Of course don’t let the wait put you off making a donation here 😉
Beth Kanter is the social media expert for non profit organisations. Last year I made this promise to pay more attention to her prolific blog output.
Today is her 53rd birthday, and in keeping with a small tradition built up over the last 3 years, she is again using her birthday as an excuse to show how social media and trusted networks can combine to help charities. She is raising funds for her favourite charity, the Sharing Foundation.