Joining up the social media pixels

We are privileged to have a small team dedicated to making film. To some it may seem like an indulgence but having seen its results I think it’s a necessity these days.

What makes it work is the people in the team, a bunch of talented and driven communicators who know how to get difficult messages across quickly and clearly. They use interviews, animation and techniques I don’t even know the names of, to tell council news and policy. They tell the stories of council officers’ everyday jobs. Jobs that keep society ticking over – home care workers, school crossing patrollers, bin men. They also train voluntary organisations to use the cameras and editing software so they can tell their own stories.

Here’s a great example of their work – Election Information: At the polling station.

More and more they are working on films for our online training modules and if you take a step back, not only is their work invaluable, it’s a microcosm if the entire work of the council.

They’ve had a Twitter stream for a while now but so far it’s only been used to broadcast when they upload a film onto their YouTube channel but the New Year will see a new dawn for our film unit.

Once we’re all back in 2012 they’ll be joining me on Media Funnel so that they can use Twitter to tell you what they’re up to.

Please follow them on @SLYouTube. I can guarantee that once they’re into the swing of it you’ll be hooked the projects they’re working on and look forward to seeing the finished film that you’ve followed from planning, through filming and editing. Feel free to ask them technical questions – I’m sure they’ll be looking for advice from other film makers too.

Work 2.0

“Every generation needs a revolution.” – Thomas Jefferson.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately.

I have an 11-year-old who brings homework from school to be done on the internet.

I am doing a masters, distance learning, at Robert Gordon University after a long break from education. I was amazed at the transformation social media has allowed to happen in our universities.

I am responsible for my council’s social media presence.

The quickening pace of all this excites me, yet scares me.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about this over the last few years and a recent presentation at Tayside Police made me unravel all my research into some semblance of order so I’ve translated my Prezi into a blog.

The internet and social media are changing everything – the way we consume news (we write it ourselves), the way we shop (we review before we buy), the way we meet our partners, the way we look after our health (NHS24 before a doctor’s appointment), the way we bring up our children (MumsNet before phoning mum), the way we learn, and the way we work.

When I first saw Shift Happens  four years ago, it blew my mind.  When I watch the 2011 version it still blows my mind and makes me realise that pretty soon I’ll feel like my gran did when cashlines were invented.

By age 38 most people have had 10-14 jobs, half have been in post for less than five years. There is little company loyalty these days – people pick up skills, learn and move on.

What sometimes feels like information overload for me in normal for my daughter but it is having an effect on how they process information. Jamie Bartlett and Carl Miller’s research for their paper Truth, Lies and the Internet shows that our children are beginning to look at information, not just online, more superficially, their research is less deep and they are more likely to be convinced by a well-designed web page than one  from a trusted source but not well designed.

Digital literacy needs to be taught in schools but not in IT. Digital literacy goes hand-in-hand with critical thinking which should be taught across the syllabus. Both should also be taught at home, along with internet safety, but that’s a whole other blog.

Social media is all about collaboration and our children are used to this. It does backfire though. David Stevens and Kieron O’Hara, who wrote Inequality.com – power, poverty and the digital divide are both economics professors and have noticed the same piece of work being handed in by 30 students who took collaboration a bit too far.

Not only is social media changing the way our children learn and the way we work, it’s raising expectations about the hardware we use in the workplace. Now I don’t know about you but when I come to work I go through a technology downgrade. Our PC is a year old running the latest version of Ubuntu with along with the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome. We have a netbook, and two smart phones between us. My daughter has an iPod. I come to work to a PC running Windows XP and IE8 and the only reason we have IE8 is so we can use our CMS – most other public sector organisations are still on IE6. The only reason I have access to social media site is because it’s now part of my job, the majority of employees are Websensed.

Just last month Cisco published their New Workplace Currency, research they undertook with students and young employees the world over.

Young people entering the workplace expect to be able to choose the devices (note the plural) they use.

At interview most will ask about social media policy and if they aren’t happy with the answer they’ll think twice about taking the job.

If they don’t have access to social media at their desk, they’ll use their own device to get on anyway.

And here’s the real Big Brother bit.

If Personnel and IT departments thought it through they’d open social media up to every employee. It’s easy to track who’s doing what, who’s using it properly and who’s abusing it. Let’s face it, that’s easier to manage than the person who wanders the building with a piece of paper in their hand pretending they are busy.

Older generations have always played catch-up but we’re at a tipping point with technology and social media. If you add tech-savvy to life experience and the ability to communicate well you get a pretty powerful mix. To see it at its best read some Seth Godin, Euan Semple or Dan Slee.

Oh, and maybe send some links to your Personnel and IT departments.

Trust me, I’m a follower

On Friday I hosted my first unconference on behalf of the Scottish Improvement Service. The theme was social media in the Scottish public sector and you can check out #smuncon of you like.

I knew the discussions would be lively and I knew I’d learn a lot. What always amazes me though is the innovation going on in the public sector – Everyone assumes that the private sector drives innovation and that wherever they lead we will follow but I reckon they could learn a thing or two.

What we’re not good at, and this could be a Scottish Calvinist trait, is shouting about how good we are so I thought I’d have a bit of a shout out here on everyone’s behalf.

During the conference we covered all the usual topics – which social media channels for which job, community engagement, security issues, publishing and monitoring tools, social media use in emergencies, QR codes and location tools etc.

However the line that blew me away came from the Gordon Scobbie, the Deputy Chief Constable from Tayside Police (@DCCTayside). He encourages his staff to use social media, even bobbies tweet on the beat!

“I trust my staff with a baton. I trust them to remove your liberty. Why wouldn’t I trust them with a Twitter account?”

When I tweeted this line after he said it @jonbolton came straight back with “We trust social workers with care & protection of most vulnerable people. We need to trust them with socialmedia”. We’d obviously hit on something.

Trust has to go hand-in-hand with great training but why are managers so reluctant to let staff share their day? Some council jobs lend themselves perfectly to Twitter – environmental health, trading standards, animal welfare. Put the right person on Twitter and you have an ambassador for the organisation.

Who’s the right person? Usually the one who approaches you, showing an interest. Usually the one who speaks animatedly at team meetings. Usually the one who can write like they speak. Usually the one with a bit of ooomph. Usually the one who obviously enjoys their job.

Social media isn’t rocket science and neither is trust. As a manager you shouldn’t have to take a gamble, you should know without a doubt who is sociable enough for social media and if that means learning how to do it yourself you should. You never know – maybe you’re the right person for the job.