Part 2: Define your outcomes

This stage is about strategic thinking. It comes after the decision to proceed has been taken, but before you begin implementation. It is the stage in which you set the foundation for your social media project and as such it is absolutely vital to spend time here and to be crystal clear about which outcomes you wish to focus on and how you intend doing that.

In Part 1, you should already have made some sort of evaluation of what social media can offer your organisation, and identified goals for a social media project. Keep in mind that it is not the technology that should be ‘driving’, but your plans that should determine the shape of your project. Look at what you want to achieve first and evaluate how the use of social media can support that.

The Big Picture

The figure above illustrates the range of outcomes which the INCLUSO project identified as common among youth work organisations, and it was against this scheme that INCLUSO pilots chose their tools and activities. This scheme does not limit the possible goals, it merely sets a framework to start a discussion.

Literature suggests social media can be used as a tool to develop, explore and enhance the creativity of youngsters. The options for communication through text, music, pictures and movies have expanded enormously, however attracting young people to a site you may create for them will not be easy. Offer them fun, by all means, but consider making visiting your social media site or tool a necessity for important information such as timetables, news and so on.

The individual who carried out the research in Part 1 will be indispensible in this stage. This person should work alongside the management to compare and contrast the potential from social media with the organisation’s outcomes. Consult widely in the organisation because you may be surprised about who has opinions. This will contribute to the feeling of consultation, ownership and enthusiasm for social media.

Online activities should not be competing with ordinary life activities. Social workers pay a lot of attention to real life contacts. Social media tools should not get in the way of this. The INCLUSO research showed that young people prefer life contacts with coaches and counsellors to online contacts but on the other hand, if possible, they have a lot online contacts with coaches and counsellors as well. Online contacts strengthen face to face contacts.

As a general recommendation we suggest you start slowly and safely: get started with those things that have the most chance of success and build from there. This is also what we learned in the four pilot projects.

Try not to get too complicated. This stage is about your organisation getting it right, so take time to think about your objectives and how they can translate online. Try to keep it simple.

And remember, all this should lead to benefits which may not come immediately. They may come in the long term, and you should prepare for that.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Write down your organisation's goals
    • Determine how you currently go about reaching these (without the use of ICT and social media)
  • Define which of your organisation's outcomes could be further developed by the use of ICT and social media
    • Consult staff in defining the outcomes
    • Consult young people to find out:
      • Which tools they use and what they do with them
      • How they would feel about interacting with you through these tools
  • Do a realiity check
    • Make sure that implementing ICT and social media are actually a benefit to the organisation’s goals
    • Keep it simple (don't try and achieve too many outcomes straight away)
    • Unrealistic expectations can demoralise an organisation when spectacular results do not appear
    • Try to create a buzz and optimism