On Saturday me and Mike were lucky enough to enjoy a day in the sunshine in the name of work, giving something of a mini social media surgery under a tent in a field. We spent the day introducing people enjoying Fulham Fest to the new community website for the London W14 & SW6 neighbourhoods, a ning site which manager Annette Albert has built up into a fantastic local resource that covers local events, news, groups and information.
We got a fair few signed up to the site and many got cracking with adding to it straight away by poll voting, posting events, starting discussions and joining groups. What was most rewarding was inducting people who initially had reservations, either because of a fear of the technology or because they could not see how it might be used. It was just a few simple steps to show people how easy the site is to navigate and discuss issues important to them that the site could help with.
Getting people there who were at first quite reticent enthusiastic about the site really highlighted the benefits of holding a social media surgery as part of a larger, community event. Many of the people I met on Saturday wouldn’t have come to something solely about social media or using a community website, but by being part of a fun and informal family day we were able to teach in a relaxed, ‘non-training’ atmosphere and get past preconceptions they may have had.
So now I’m all for a social media tent becoming a staple part of local fetes and fairs. Next time you’re organising a community festival or gathering, think about making space for a couple of laptops next to the face-painters. It’s a great way of raising awareness of a new hyperlocal site and you’d be helping people discover something new, get involved with local activity and carry on communicating long after the party’s over.