This is the first of a few posts which the VCSS Camp team and our colleagues will be posting to get the conversation started before the 25 June. Below Lorna Prescott shares her thoughts on social media use by staff and volunteers in an infrastructure organisation.
I’m a senior officer in an infrastructure organisation (Dudley CVS) who forced myself on to twitter about 3 years ago because of a trustee role I had for a national charity. At that time Dudley CVS weren’t doing much with social media, and for some time I was definitely the odd one out – turning up to meetings with my iPad, tweeting from our events and running around asking people what they were doing at 3.15pm so that I could share it in the #1515vcs stream. I don’t know what changed, and I’m fairly certain it was nothing that I did, but in the last 12 months or so there seems to have been a bit of shift internally, with more and more of my colleagues dipping their toe in to online social networks or – in the case of Eileen in our Volunteer Centre – diving in (I love her blog and DudleyVols tweets).
My thinking a couple of years ago was that it might be worth finding out what staff in the organisations felt about social media, what popular platforms the knew about, used and/or wanted to learn more about. (I never got around to doing this.) Then about 6 months ago I was thinking that a way for Dudley CVS to be firing on at least a few online cylinders would be to nominate people to lead on content generation and conversations for specific platforms that they liked using and then support others to start using it. So I guess I started out thinking about training needs, and then shifted to thinking about a communications need.
Then last weekend I was reading a blog post by David Wilcox which linked to this post by Steve Dale which (some way down) explains Personal Knowledge Management – or learning in networks in less fancy words. The description of it being a continuous process of seeking, sensing, and sharing made a lot of sense to me. I thought the concept of a Community Manager was helpful, and the diagram below got me thinking about what I and others could to together in our organisation to fulfill aspects of the role. Something which feels really important in working with my colleagues in relation to social media is the part of the role about signposting useful content; developing and sharing resources and best practices. This shifted my thinking from skills gaps and communication channels to thinking about how to get the great, useful stuff online in front of people and demonstrate the value in sharing.
I also thought that this short questionnaire (also from Steve Dale) might be useful for people to get a feel for whether they are more of a collector than a connector, or perhaps a creator, a critic, a communicator or a consumer. I reckon if within a team we each knew each others strengths and preferences in this way we could work quite effectively together online.
I hope to unpack this a bit and get other ideas and inspiration at VCSS Camp. In the meantime I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences of thinking about and/or using social media across your organisation, and whether Personal Knowledge Management feels like a skill that staff and volunteers in infrastructure organisations should be developing.