Day Two of (unofficial) Yorkshire Social Media Week

Leeds Social Media Surgery 2nd Feb 10

Just back from Leeds Social Media Surgery, the second of three Yorkshire Social Media Surgeries this week. It was quieter than Huddersfield on Monday, but the snow and ice may have been a factor.

Nevertheless, as usual at Social Media Surgeries, the conversations were uplifting and inspiring. I feel privileged to be experiencing these feelings on a regular basis.

Leeds Social Media Surgery 2nd Feb 10

We have plans to increase attendance at Leeds SMS, by gaining access to offline channels which have been denied us to date. Watch this space for news.

And so, it is on to Sheffield on Wednesday for the third consecutive Yorkshire surgery.

What are Social Media Surgeries For?

First Huddersfield Social Media Surgery

This is a quick post in response to a conversation on Twitter this morning.

I’m responding to some criticism of the Social Media Surgeries we’ve been running in Yorkshire & the Humber, inspired by the Birmingham Social Media Surgeries.

I know the criticism is mild, but there is a couple of points I want to take up. These are:

  • that the Surgeries are not inclusive; and
  • that we are seeking to prescribe solutions.
  • On the first point, I would say that the Surgeries we are doing at the moment don’t set out to be all inclusive. They are about a small group of volunteers, who know things about social media, giving up their time to pass on their skills to people who work with communities. This is all still very small scale, they cannot be wholly inclusive, resources don’t allow. But, we won’t turn anyone away, and we will make every effort to ensure that those who want to attend are able to do so.

    The aim is that Surgeries will have a cascade effect, that those who come and gain some new skills will pass those on to the people they work with. At the moment, we are running Surgeries in central locations, and they are necessarily targeted at people who work in voluntary and community organisations, not to the general public. I would argue that it would be counter-productive to attempt to target the public, because people would not get the support they needed to maintain their use of social media. Birmingham started with centrally-located Surgeries along the model we are following, and have now, gradually, started to move out into neighbourhood surgeries which are much better placed to reach into grassroots communities. I very much hope that the surgeries we are stimulating in Yorkshire & the Humber will follow this model.

    Secondly to the accusation that we are prescribing solutions. I think we have to own up to being guilty on this score to a certain extent, because Social Media Surgeries are about exploring the potential of Web 2.0. But, if you don’t think Web 2.0 has anything to offer you, then don’t come to an event which is focussed on it!

    I have a particular approach to being a “surgeon” at a Social Media Surgery, which I would hope is shared by most other “surgeons”. I will not talk to you about particular social media tools until I fully understand what it is you are trying to say, and who it is you are trying to reach. Then we can start to explore what tools might achieve your objectives. Social Media Surgeries must not be about “surgeons” showing off their technical knowledge, that is a sure route to putting people off and prescriptive solutions which might not fit the message.

    An Exciting Week for Social Media in Yorkshire

    Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery -1st Anniversary

    At the end of my presentation at last year’s National Digital Inclusion Conference I said that we were aiming to make Yorkshire & the Humber the “Social Media Region”. I think quite a few in the audience realised that I hadn’t really thought through the path to this objective at the time. However, I think we may now be well on the road, as this week sees Social Media Surgeries in three of our major conurbations on consecutive nights.

    Huddersfield Social Media Surgery is on Monday 1st February, Leeds SMS on Tuesday 2nd, and Sheffield on Wednesday 3rd. With the second York SMS imminent, and plans in train for surgeries in Hull, Grimsby, Barnsley and Hebden Bridge, the idea spawned in Birmingham by the amazing Nick Booth and Pete Ashton is taking root around Yorkshire & the Humber.

    It promises to be an exhausting week for those of use involved in all three of this week’s Surgeries, but the cumulative satisfied glow that always follows a successful event will make it all well worthwhile.