Yesterday was the NCVO Information Conference, focused on how organisations can make best use of recent developments in social media to meet the changing needs and expectations of their audiences. I had the pleasure of presenting with Laura Whitehead (in person) and Beth Kanter (via skype). Our session looked at using social media tools to share information inside your organization, and out:
Could better knowledge sharing and closer communications inside your organisation create stronger relationships, efficiency, insight and effectiveness? In this workshop you will discover how the latest tools for online collaboration and sharing can offer opportunities to improve the way you work. Social Media tools such as wikis, social networking sites like Twitter, FriendFeed, using Tagging and RSS feeds can enable organisations of all sizes to best use and build on its existing collective wisdom and innovation.
Here are the slides that Laura and I used:
Here are the slides that Beth created but we couldn’t actually use during the session as the wifi wasn’t quite holding up for us (and we were using all available connection to keep her on skype!):
Paul Henderson even streamed a bit of the Beth’s presentation with Qik! You can watch the video here.
Some terrific sessions were taking place at the same time as ours, including Dave Briggs conducting the social media game, and Andy Gibson exploring how to make better use of your most valuable information asset: people.
To start the day, Euan Semple brought all participants up to speed on social media and information sharing online, and shared some great insights with the group. Here are some of my favorite points from Euan’s talk:
- “Tidying up the noise means you lose the quiet voices.” – When organizations think about ‘cleaning up’ their information, whether it is internal, external or a mix, they risk ‘cleaning out’ the quiet voices that could be really valuable but aren’t necessarily heard enough to stay after the cleaning.
- “Breathe life into information by allowing people to point to it.” – Wherever your information is (if it is in a wiki, a server, a shared drive, Google Docs, or elsewhere on the web), let your staff or even the public point to it, link to it, quote it and more. Making your information available at least to your staff to reference easily means it will actually be used! Not end up in an “information coffin.”
- “You have to get your hands dirty with this stuff if you want to deal with it, even if you don’t like it.” – There is no way to really understand social media tools and the ways they could be applied to your organization’s work without diving in and trying them out yourself. This is true even for staff or executives who wouldn’t be directly responsible for ongoing social media management for the organization. You can’t make an informed decision on use or strategy without having some dirt on your hands!
- “All that you have had up to now is the pretense of control; these tools give you influence.” – The most common fear about using social media tools is that the organization will lose control over their message, their ‘identity’ and more. The truth is, organizations don’t have control over it now! People are already talking about your sector, your services, your work or your organization and not engaging with them online means you are a part of the conversation at all. Those conversations, criticisms, ideas, and passions are what is forming your message and brand. You might as well be a part of it! Social media tools don’t mean you get to have control, but they do give you influence over the direction of the message and the conversation.
- “Obama focuses on positives when faced with someone who disagrees with him and that’s the same thing to do in forums,” etc. – This is a great lesson to keep in mind for organizations with forums, comments on blogs, or other feedback mechanisms. There is always something positive in common that you can focus on to keep things moving forward!
NCVO’s Information Conference may have only been one short day, but the conversations that were started there will certainly keep going.
Were you there? What was the biggest question you didn’t have a chance to ask?