As heralded, I ran one of the sessions today on: "How do you get people (involved in policing etc), who don't get social media, to get it?" (And I added on the day... "who need to get it")
We had a wide ranging discussion with me acting as 'Faciliateur provocateur'... as it were. Here are some notes and reflections from the workshop:
- The use (or not) of social media has to be about personal choice (although I later countered: would you employ someone who refused to use a telephone?)
- But I think we agreed, as the social demographics show, this is about a generational shift which will probably come along in time.
- The key challenge question proposed was "what do you need to know about social media in order to be effective?" A question worth pondering on.
- This led onto a discussion of how the police interacted with the public during 7/7 (apparently while the police were still issuing press statements about a 'power surge' someone had already uploaded a wikipedia page on the 'London bombings' with 30 minutes...) the 2011 riots and the Clutha helicopter crash. In simple terms, the importance of social media in such crises is becoming ever greater.
- We concluded that whilst some managers may well choose not to engage actively in social media, it is probably critical that they at least acknowledge their role in creating the milieu in which social media is deployed effectively.
- The conversation then diverted into a wider analysis of how managing the use of social media is just another example of how managers need to lead the future. This branched into the value of scenario planning and organisations becoming more 'intelligent' as defined in Piagetian terms as 'knowing what to do when you don't know what to do'.
- In other words, as was pointed out, strategic leaders have a 'duty to understand' all manner of things and social media is emphatically on that list. (Comparisons were made between police forces who were very active on social media during the August 2011 riots and those which struggled. Unproven perhaps but there is some anecdotal data to suggest that social media helped 'keep the lid on' in many places while its lack of deliberate use in other places, didn't.)
- Emma Daniel presented a model which argued that there are five main types of users on social media: creators, campaigners, connectors, curators and lurkers. Each group has a positive role to play online (which often connects to their work in the real world too) Each group has a part in triangulating the social media world and making it a navigable and accessible space.
- And (in what as I say was a wide ranging conversation) we touched the role of social media as a social weather: a way of sensing how the world is & predicting how it might change (social media meteorology, as it were). Research in this area is just beginning but perhaps we can look forward to a time when news bulletins will end not only the FTSE index rises and falls but maybe also an indicator of community well being... (drawn from social media)?