In this post Lorna Prescott considers ways that infrastructure support to local groups could facilitate offline networking and collaboration.
Officers from Dudley CVS have been hosting and/or helping out at Social Media Surgeries since December 2010. The 28 surgeries to date have involved 22 volunteers helping 167 people from local groups and charities to connect, share and campaign online.
Social Media Surgeries come up in conversation quite a lot. For example I was recently part of a panel assessing nominations for Green Spaces Awards, part of an annual recognition event at which Dudley MBC invites celebration of the work and dedication of volunteers of Friends of Parks and Friends of Nature Reserves groups. One of the criteria for judging groups was their use of new technology. In looking up the websites and Facebook pages of the groups I spotted a few things which, with some basic support, could be improved quite easily (such as websites having links to Facebook and or twitter accounts). I discussed with council officers ways that we could promote Social Media Surgeries to the Friends groups, perhaps even taking a surgery to one of the parks.
Later that same day I was involved in planning a Sports Clubs networking evening, and heard from a colleague from Black Country BeActive that in some research they had carried out with local sports clubs a demand for support with social media was clearly articulated. Later the discussion moved to ways to link up small sports clubs with other local groups, such as those with an interest in activities in local parks.
This got me thinking. What if we held Social Media Surgery type sessions in different parts of Dudley borough, specifically to bring together sports clubs with Friends groups, and other groups with an interest in health and activity in the locality? Might this help to make connections that we’d struggle to facilitate otherwise? (It’s hard to get volunteer led groups to networking events). I reckon it’s worth a try. I would keep expectations low, let serendipity take it’s course, and hopefully as a minimum help those that want to use or improve their use of social media to do just that.
Does you have examples of how infrastructure support around social media has bought groups or people together in new ways? Or how bringing people together has changed the conversations online?