Part 1: Is it right for you?

Young people talkingIs social media right for your organisation? It is vital to address this question because it forces an organisation to consider its readiness for such a project, as well as other issues such as costs and benefits. It’s important to find out about social media, what it is, its tools and technologies, how it’s used as well as how it could be used to help achieve an organisation’s aims.

This is a research stage, so it’s important NOT to get bogged down by too much detail. Think big, Start small and Act now. Identify a suitable person, someone who knows about the broader objectives of the organisation, to take on the responsibility for looking into and learning about the world of social media. This person is likely to become involved in advising and offering options to management during meetings about social media. Of course, this individual should be given time to do this research, using resources such as the INCLUSO manual and Social by Social.

This person should conduct an audit of its readiness for social media (this will include staff skills, management interest, computer facilities etc). The person’s aim is to try to match up the organisation’s outcomes with the potential of social media – using tools and activities. Don’t forget that social media activities can happen on all levels: from the smallest in which a volunteer takes the initiative to engage with a small group, right up to the large scale in which a youth work organisation employing more than ten people chooses to integrate social media into its work.

A vital step is for key individuals in the organisation to play the INCLUSO game and then meet to discuss the results and outcomes. This game is a learning aid and has been adapted from an existing social media game and designed with youth organisations in mind. Use the skills audit to establish weak and strong points when it comes to your readiness for engaging with social media.

Expect to have a series of meetings in which management discusses its objectives, and in which general staff are consulted. It’s important that the boundaries of the project are set for the future.

The purpose of this stage is to gather appropriate information in order to help the management of the organisation make a decision about whether to engage with social media. If the answer is ‘No, we’re not ready’, that does not mean the end of the line. Identify the challenges and hurdles and try to find ways to overcome them. If the management answer is: ‘We don’t want to engage after all,’ then you will have to address their reasons, or simply accept that their answer is No.

The INCLUSO pilots revealed lots of potential to engage with young people, and a brief search of the internet will show that many organisations are using it to benefit their interactions with young people. So, be positive.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Research the subject
    • Appoint someone with an interest or enthusiasm to conduct the research
    • Inform management and staff about the tools and activities of social media
    • Inform management and staff about the potential benefits to young people, staff and the organisation
    • The goals of your organisation should be supported by social media
    • Consider the risks and problems that could occur from social media
    • Give management adequate information to make an informed Yes/No decision
  • Analyse the impact and role that social media could have in meeting your organisation's goals
    • Conduct a SWOT analysis to assess how the young people, staff and the organisation could benefit
    • Establish what the organisation wants from a social media project
    • Use questionnaires to measure the buy-in or resistance to this kind of project from young people, staff and/or management
  • Assess whether the key skills and equipment required will be available
    • Undertake an audit of ICT skills and infrastructure (including hardware and software)
    • Look for staff who have the necessary skills and/or interest to be in a social media team
    • Estimate how much training is required
    • Establish whether there is adequate technical support
  • Assess whether management has the required skills
    • Project management skills are key to success
    • A clear and simple management decision making process will aid a social media project
    • Establish whether your aims can be achieved with existing office/communication tools
    • Consider legal and ethical issues – can you work with young people and are you allowed to
  • Play the INCLUSO game
    • Assemble a group of 6-8 management and staff to play the game
    • Focus on your organisation in the context of social media
  • Think about your users - the young people
    • Ask young people for their experience and preferences