We hear all the time about the evils of Social Media … how sitting on a computer or permanently glued to our mobiles turns youngsters into zombies and normally rational people into bigoted passive aggressors hiding behind a witty avatar. Is it really like that or are there some positive aspects to this whole technology?
I have to admit I have never really been a huge fan of this medium. I do not need to know that my acquaintances are now going byebyes with their snookums … (eughhh … yes there is such a thing as too much information!) But is it the medium that is at fault or is it the way people use it? Increasingly businesses are using Facebook to keep their dialogue fresh – often to link to the detail on their corporate website. I can see it has potential and I think for a Social Enterprise possibly more relevance than some other businesses. I can see it being a soft marketing tool for a café based business and it makes the business more accessible in an area with low internet take up because people can access it on their mobile phone.How will I use it? Marketing, regular short updates, pictures, invitations Commitment? Update it several times a week but try not to be regular in which days it is updated. Make good use of links and pictures.
I dislike this even more than Facebook. I do have a couple of accounts – one is totally private and is quite useful for leaving myself a brief note of a day’s events or activities or thoughts. I have used it for a charity but you have to have a good audience so if your local area doesn’t offer that it is a lot of work for little return.
Hashtags are a way of getting something trending which might be useful in marketing a business and getting everyone talking about it. You have to be disciplined to short pithy messages.How will I use it? Not sure I will at this stage – maybe a tool later on to field FAQ (Stagecoach East Scotland use it this way for service updates which seems quite popular) Commitment? Update it frequently with good use of short sharp messages and hashtags
Despite what I have indicated about the low levels of internet activity in my area I think virtually any business can benefit from a good website these days. The advantages for the business I plan is that some people will be nervous about just turning up and interacting with the assistive technology so if they can see it online first it could help them feel more comfortable. It can also offer a tool or service within the café to allow people to order items using our internet facilities.
A website is a way to place a high volume of information in an organised way so that people can readily access just the bits they need. I have a draft in progress using Google Sites to start up with. It is not difficult to populate and create the content I think is right and there are some really good style looks to choose from.How will I use it? As a virtual version of the business; okay it won’t serve tea or coffee but people should be able to do most anything else online – whether they are seeking training, information, demonstriations, discussion or resources. Commitment? Of course a website needs to be kept up to date, but if it is well set up that should not be onerous and especially if other media are used for the marketing, etc and linked to the website
This is something that many people will not know about. Briefly it takes a website and ‘translates’ the format so it can be presented to viewers over Digital Interactive TV. Why would we do that? well people may be slow to adopt internet access and skills locally but the do like their interactive TV services (and all our TV is now digital) – this allows people to access technology they do not normally interact with using their TV remote control. It does not require a whole new website to be set up it creates a special version of the website and uses that.
If you are reading this you are reading a blog so you likely have a good idea what one is. One of my incentives for blogging is ‘telling stories’. I have used blogs in the past to share images of renovations and tell he reader a little detail of what is going on and more recently I have started a blog looking at how building good design can can avoid someone having to move because their health deteriorates … this will be linked to the business website and I hope generate discussion.
I like to make interior designs but the site at MyDeco has reduced our ability to tell the story – we can no longer save our rooms to folders to organise them; the descriptions we used to be able to add to each room are gone; and more recently the comments are reduced to one unformatted paragraph. This is frustrating so I started a blog to share the rooms and tell the story behind each design.
And of course you know that this blog is about me making the journey from employed, through some painful bits, to setting up a social enterprise . I expect this to link to the website too eventually as my personal blog about the business.How will I use it? To share news and marketing, to tell the stories comnnected to the business and our people; and to share my thoughts on the direction of the business Commitment? Well I write this blog every day – it can be time consuming but I would like to keep the discipline of writing it daily. For the design blog that could be less frequent or could be co written by staff or volunteers.
Photographs and Images
These are not necessarily always thought of as Social Media however they are and I get quite a lot form networking on them plus they can be a store for the images that then are used in blogs, websites, facebook, etc. I do have a Flickr account but do not use that or Snapfish too much; my main photography site is deviantArt and for interior designs MyDeco is my home.
Apart from these having a business use I would hope in time that they will be resources that visitors to the Café might like to explore if they are interested in art and expressing themselves and I have a vision of having a deviant Group that customers and staff can contribute items too.
Discussion Groups and Fora
Of course it is important to have two way dialogue and so there needs to be some form of fora to allow that. Many of the media already described have their ow comments facilities but sometimes it is good to offer a dedicated comments/discussion section. Bespoken is a recent social network established in Scotland which shows a really good example of this and I would invite any of you to visit and see this as it grows from a small seed. To be realistic these need to be ‘nested’ within the website even if they also have a separate location.
But that is a lot of different places to look for things?
Yes it is and I had been resisting what I think is the answer for me – Pinterest
Pinterest allows the creation of pinboards where items can be pinned in an organised way to suit the individual. I started using this very recently having resisted adding a new medium to my collection. What eventually prodded me into registering was the lack of ‘story telling’ facilities on MyDeco but I have very quickly started to add boards for the business as well as myself. The beauty of this being that I can create a separate user in the name of the business and ‘repin’ the relevant items from my boards.
Again I could see this becoming a tool for staff, volunteers and customers to use in the café and it could become a very positive social media for the people in the business. With a little thought and planning this could provide some of the marketing function and reduce the pressure on me as the business owner and chief IT bod.
So does the media offer Strength?
There are many other possibilities – e-mail, bookmarking services which can be shared, reader services which can be shared, Google+ is trying to compete with Facebook, Google Drive provides shareable document facilities, Google Calendar to organise us and on and on. I have not talked today about such things as SEO (search engine optimisation) and the science of making the social media work for us … that is for a future post … but I hope I have started a discussion here about the possibilities and the challenges (and as you know in my world challenges offer opportunities!)
I don’t agree with the opening statement … it is not the Social Media that does harm – it is the way it is used. If we as adults allow our children to become totally immersed in an online world of course that places them at risk, BUT, used well these resources offer us endless possibilities. I have online friends around the globe who I have never met, and possibly never will but with the help of social media we find shared interests and experiences and it brings a big positive to my life.
They generally reckon that a Pup can get away with stuff until about 6 weeks when adult dogs become much less accepting of the nonsense. We have an interesting development right now. Pup clearly thinks that Dog is the Dogs dangly bits – he is the cool dude and Pup follows him like a little shadow. However Pup is now imitating Dog – Dog has been instigating play by rolling over like a puppy and stealing Pup’s toys; So Pup will play rough and then go fetch a toy and poke it under Dog’s nose to invite him to play some more. At this point Pup is, very precociously, starting to think that he is himself the dog’s dangly bits!
But the ultimate in puppy blunders was running up from behind and nipping Dog’s dangly bits … Dog whipped round and gave Pup a clear warning! I suspect that Pup is running out if his puppyhood licence a little early! Here are a few more pictures …
But be honest … could you resist this earnest little face? No and neither can I or Dog!