Wednesday 19 May 2010

How to do social media

On the way back from Podnosh meeting with my digital mentor, suddenly everything became clear. I understood why Nick had been a little vague when trying to answer my questions, what steps to take, framework, everything. Once in a while you need someone to give you a slap to see the painfully obvious - it took me a while, but I'm there now.

Whatever you do with digital media, it is just that - digital media. The important stuff is the conversations it supports. No conversation, no point to digital media. You have to have something to talk about first - goes without saying, but it is more than that. Laying out a too prescriptive system, too directed, moderated, controlled, censored, and the conversation breaks down. I try and promote 'youth voice' in my work, and there is great potential in using digital social media, but not if you try and lay out how and which people you can and can't talk to. No one likes that.

It's that little bit of Thatcherism that was OK. Not the 'trickle down' baloney, or the every man for himself, but the importance of ownership, the ability to make your own choices, or 'individualism'. That, linked with a genuine desire to share knowledge & experience (I think Thatcher missed this bit) has made some of the most incredible sites - Facebook, Wikipedia, all of them.

It's easy to get blinded by the 'newness' of it, and that everyone else seem to 'get it'. It's also easy to fall into the trap of creating a flash website, setting out everything for you, thinking all is done. Often the answer is right there in front of you - small networks, people linked more naturally and owning their own 'space', collaborating based on each of our own interests, rather than any hierarchical organisational approach.

To 'successfully' use social media it seems you need nothing more than to make any type of conversation. You need to listen, show respect, follow basic etiquette (means you reply to emails quickly as poss, follow links people give you, keep to arrangements you make, update). It's a big world out there, but on the internet can we really be individual and equal?


  1. great post, You Get IT.
    We are all individual, unique and equal. Digital is making us more so.

  2. Ah yes - if only that understanding was infectious

  3. Hi Marcus, enjoyed this post. I was kinda in the same place as you. From talking with Nick@podnosh & Nicki & Mike @talkaboutlocal I realised that I just had to start DOING. So I am. It's far from perfect but learning & doing as I go is better than doing nothing.

    I agree with Chris, digital is making us more equal & it is easier for people to share their uniqueness on many different platforms. The understanding will take time but it is infectious. Pauline

  4. The internet is not equal for everyone - some are disenfrachised by fear, lack of access or other barriers. The 19th Century philanthropists who set up schools where there had been none - is that us now? What does a 'digital school' look like if we were going to build one?