Social Media Surgeries – JFDI!

Leeds Social Media Surgery - July 2010

I’ve had to abort plans for two new Social Media Surgeries recently because other people got cold feet about being able to attract sufficient numbers of participants.

Now, while I wholeheartedly agree that it makes no sense to take up time and resources if no one is going to come, and I have cancelled a session myself in the past because of this, I also think that this is an activity where waiting for the perfect moment is counter-productive. My experience with Leeds Social Media Surgery, for instance, is that, even though we started there with quite low numbers, the Surgery has built its own momentum.

Going ahead and launching a surgery works so much better than waiting for the perfect moment for two reasons:

1. It gives you stories to tell. Even though you might only have a few takers at first, every episode of assistance at a Social Media Surgery is a story in itself. Surgery organisers can tell these stories as examples of the benefits people get out of attendance, and this is great publicity in the local area.

2. It builds word of mouth We have found in Leeds, as elsewhere, that people are now coming to the Surgery because they know someone else who has attended and got something positive out of it. This is a very important factor when many of the people we are trying to reach with Social Media Surgeries are (a) not necessarily online that much, and therefore relatively immune to online marketing; and (b) nervous about social media use, and thus more likely to take the next steps if they know someone else who has done the same thing.

So, if you’re thinking of starting a Social Media Surgery, I’d say, “do it!”. There may never be a perfect moment, and a slow start is better than no start at all.

Oh, and if you do start a Surgery, don’t forget to register it here

3 thoughts on “Social Media Surgeries – JFDI!

  1. When I wrote the (now quite old) recipe for a social media surgery I said at the time it was best to have zero expectations.

    The point you make is also why I’m keen to encourage people to chose a venue where it will be open anyway, there’s already wi-fi and tea and coffee and you don’t have to pay to hire the room.

    The more money, energy and time you invest in organising a surgery the more concerned you become with needing success to be measured by numbers. (That’s also why I habitually resist people saying we should create a curriculum or learning material. No thank you – questions and the internet perform both those functions brilliantly) has been designed to make it dead simple to organise these things, make sure they don’t clash with each other, write a report on what happened, record who help who do what and share that straight onto your wordpress blog etc etc. The whole thinking behind the site is to minimise effort put in.

    The easier they are to organise the happier we can be with them regardless of whether 1 person turns up or 50

    Surgeries work because they are simple, cheap and informal.

    1 person sitting in a cafe on their own but happy to be there is a fine outcome for a surgery! 2 people sitting in a cafe together and learning from each other is a brilliant outcome. More than that is downright world changing!

  2. I think we are holding social media surgeries all the time, just that people don’t know that is what they are. On a train, in a queue, at a friend’s house. Like Nick says, two people having a brew in a cafe can be a social media surgery. In our village its called a computer club, but the name doesn’t matter. We found for the first year we were inundated and could hardly cope. But as time has moved on the people we showed went on to show others, mini social media surgeries in their homes and places of work. Its a bit like the web, it spreads out far futher in invisible strands, so nothing we ever do is wasted, it populates itself. The main problem I see is getting the policy makers engaged, as they don’t seem to get it and don’t try hard enough to find out what it is all about. The people are moving on without them and that isn’t a good thing.

  3. Pingback: A New Approach for the first Rotherham Social Media Surgery « John Popham's Random Musings

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