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Social Media: No Collectors Card
Thursday, 27th January 2011
I am involved in an organisation that has recently been debating whether to join the ‘twittersphere’. In fact there has been quite a heated discussion – and I say quite rightly so.
I am reminded about my kids' trading cards strategies when I think about engagement in social media.
If you are six (like my youngest) then it is just about collecting as many as possible because all your friends do it. It is a tick in the box. When you are older, like my eight year old, you realise the power these card games can bring. They facilitate play with the older kids and other kids you never knew before. You become smarter and more focused on your collecting strategies and seek out particular themes that interest you – this may lead you to new friends, to learn new skills and become quite the expert (and leader) in your chosen card themes. But the key is always participation and exchanging.
It is easy to get a Twitter or FaceBook account. I have seen many organisations jump into that social media pool just because their peers and industry colleagues are. They create a short term working group to create the accounts and may even produce some company procedures for staff and there is an initial flurry of posts. The working group has been a success, job done and they are now disbanded. Somewhere in that organisation, someone ticks a very large box – job done, what now?
In many instances what happens next is the creation of a ghost town – a social media ghost town. You should check out Tom Fishburne’s cartoon where he comments – ‘it is free and easy to set up, but takes time in investment to do well’ (http://digbig.com/5bdgmk). Have a think about your own personal and company social media presence – how much tumbleweed is blowing around your conversations?
I have been following the conversations (and joining in too) at #smiph conference (social media in pharmaceutical) this last couple of days. I know this group quite well and follow them with great interest as an industry striving to truly engage with all healthcare stakeholders. We can all learn from their process because many of the takeaway points are relevant to many of us irrespective of industry sector.
Here are some of my favourites and I paraphrase the general themes and points contributors have made (in no particular order).
- Acknowledge mistakes, then you can move the boundaries
- Don’t wait for processes – drive change
- People want to hear, engage and converse with real people – not an organisation
- Content is king – but allow people to engage
- Knowledge is not equal to power unless you apply
- You can’t control
- Cross pharmaceutical (or insert your industry) and outside curation of information of valuable information
- Social media is not a strategy but a cultural thing
Someone at the conference used the John Maynard Keynes quote ‘The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones’. I believe it is apt – social media technology tools are fairly new, but it is what we will do with it that is more exciting.
By Joanna Ptolomey
Joanna is a freelance information consultant and analyst. She started her career in information as a clinical librarian in the NHS before moving to global consultancy group DTZ. Prior to working in the information sector Joanna was a project planning engineer in the construction industry for 10 years.
She hopes to help people use information for assessing risk, making decisions and in governance. She is particularly interested in inequalities issues such as accessibility, information literacy and the information divide especially in the healthcare sector. She is the author of a chapter 'Digital divide and accessibility' in Government Information Management in the 21st Century. She is also the author of the book Taking charge of your career: a guide for library and information professionals.
You can follow Joanna on Twitter.
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