Where are the tenant digital leaders?

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What did you do last Saturday? Well I got up at 5am, hopped on a train to London and spent the day at HousingCamp with, what turned out to be a relatively small, but very engaged, bunch of housing professionals. It was a great day, with lots of interesting discussion, and I left feeling, as I did at HouseParty in June, that, events like this provide spaces where those who retain a sense of optimism, despite the turmoil the social housing sector is going through, can come together and find common cause with others of a similar mindset.

I shot the video below of the final session where those who had stayed to the end expressed their thoughts on what they would take away from the day. It includes my assertion that the day had provided the opportunity to launch a nationwide network of digitally savvy tenants.

This is something I’ve been working on for some time now. I firmly believe that one of the most effective ways of countering the negative propaganda put out by some of the mainstream media, and some politicians, about the people who live in social housing is to ensure that tenants are empowered to tell positive stories about their lives and their communities, and to use digital media in doing so. So far, in the work I have done on social media with tenants I have tended to work with the existing tenant representative structures. I’ve met some lovely people doing this, and have seen a number of lightbulb moments as they have “got” social media. But, by and large, it is not the traditional tenant activists who are going to provide digital leadership. There are lots of, possibly younger, tenants who are active on social media, but they probably tend not to associate themselves with tenants associations and the like.

I have met a few digitally savvy tenants. Some face-to-face, and some online. But, as far as I can see, they don’t generally organise around housing issues. There are, of course, some very notable exceptions to this rule, some related to the causes embraced by Russell Brand in London. But I really want now to start on creating a national network of digitally savvy social housing tenants to provide a social media voice for tenants and their daily concerns. If you are such a tenant, or you can help with support, money and resources in getting the network going, please get in touch.

3 thoughts on “Where are the tenant digital leaders?

  1. Thanks John – I’m struck by the insight/idea in your last paragraph: “I have met a few digitally savvy tenants …. as far as I can see, they don’t generally organise around housing issues … I really want now to start on creating a national network of digitally savvy social housing tenants to provide a social media voice for tenants and their daily concerns”.
    I’ve found in other fields that the people who may be good on community group and association committees, and face to face, are not generally the most digitally savvy. And the digitally savvy and engaged online aren’t often on the committees.
    Huge generalisation, of course, but if there’s any truth in it, then organising a national network of tenants – or say older people seeking to find a voices online – won’t be done through the traditional national organisational networks. I think there is scope to use network mapping to do that, together with the ad hoc connections of social media. That would involve starting with a set of enthusiasts that you know, asking them to share their connections via a simple questionnaire, and rippling out.

  2. Hello John, I wouldn’t call myself a tenant digital leader, as have ended up asking questions in this largely professional Housing Twittersphere by default. I’ve entered the Sphere by trial and error and an expert like yourself would be able to scroll the 300 plus tweets and see my development. In my own slow way,I would say I have used it successfully, as in engaging with this unique environment. Anthony Ford co founder H.I.N.T

  3. Hi John,

    We have some tenants in Caerphilly who are doing some fantastic things on social media . They have a much bigger following than our ‘corporate’ pages and other tenants seem to have far more trust in them than us! As they’re independent they can give their own viewpoint on things, but are also fantastic advocates for us as a landlord and play a key role in sharing messages to wider tenant body.

    I’m sure they would be more than willing to join a national network:
    https://www.facebook.com/CaerphillyTenantsAtCaerphillyHomes
    https://twitter.com/CaerphillyHomes

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