Social life

20 09 2012

Looking forward to Social Media Week in Glasgow next week. I’m booked up for quite a few sessions, just hope I’m able to attend given the local public holiday weekend and all the last-minute web stuff we’re getting at the moment. Events like these are really important as they give people a chance to step out of their normal work environments to see what their peers are doing in digital communications.

One of the big topics will be access to social media tools from within the workplace. Out of the few websites I find that aren’t blocked by security, about 90% don’t work properly in IE7 (including this one!). Who is Leading? is an event being promoted by my colleagues in the Scottish Public Sector Digital Group and should be well worth going to. Among those speaking at the event will be Gordon Scobbie, one of the best advocates of social media for the public sector I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. This event will be a Question Time style discussion forum talking about how organisational change and cultural change can influence each other. I can’t go to this one as I’ve got to stay home to look after my 10-month-old baby boy, but if it wasn’t for the timing I’d be there with bells on.

Among the events I’m booked to attend are Social in the community, How to build a powerful LinkedIn group and Get started with social media, though I can see this changing as the schedule gets busier. I just tried to check my bookings online and the SMW site doesn’t work in IE7, so I guess I’ll have to stick with these for now!

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Your Reppler is at stake

13 10 2011

These days, hopefully we’re all at least a bit careful about what we put up on social networks. As a Civil Servant I tend to err on the side of caution, as the press like nothing better than to bash a public servant about something they posted inappropriately. Recently we had another Tweetgate scandal involving Chris Huhne, but such stories are nothing new. From Sarah Baskersville to Stuart MacLennan, the examples of what can happen when the media scent blood are out there for all to see.

I was also vaguely aware that potential employers might want to “vet” candidates online, but I’ve never given the matter much consideration. There is now a tool called Reppler that allows you to vet your own social media profile, and the results are an eye-opener. Here’s a snapshot of my attitude according to recent Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn posts.

My Reppler score

My Reppler score

It’s not too bad, apart from showcasing my obsessive cat tendencies, but I’m left wondering why I didn’t get 100% or why my attitude is only “partly positive”. Will employers see that as a natural thing or will they prefer candidates who are super-positive about everything? Will expressing an opinion on an issue of the day come back to bite me a few years down the line? Is it still safe to sign an e-petition?

I tend to use different social networks for different purposes and adapt my postings accordingly. Facebook is for fun – catching up with friends, arranging meets and posting  jokes. I’m still a bit careful about what I post on there, but it’s not exactly how I would like to present myself in the workplace either! I’ve already gone off it a bit with the latest revamp of the interface, but if its content is destined to be forever engraved on my resumé I might have to think about ditching it altogether. A recent survey showed that 91% of employers are now screening candidates on the web, so think twice before you post about your nights out next time – post something about how hard-working and enthusiastic you are instead.





Don’t panic!

2 08 2011

I’ve been asked to take part in a research project looking into how social media can be used in crisis comms. It’s an interesting subject and one I’m enjoying looking into. Our task is to find innovative and effective ways of sharing information – both privately between internal stakeholders and publicly to inform the general population.

Webmaster's guide to the internet

Webmaster's guide to the internet

To start off with, I’ve been having a look at the various platforms the group could use to share our initial findings. As I looked into the pros and cons of each, I quickly learned that there is no one ideal solution – the platform you choose will depend on your group’s specific needs and goals. I broke these considerations down into separate categories: 

  • Security – is the information safe from unauthorised access?
  • Flexibility – can the platform adapt to changing circumstances?
  • Ease of use – will all participants be comfortable using it?
  • Functionality – does the platform do everything we need it to?
  • Scalability – if the project grows arms and legs, will the platform be able to cope?
  • Reliability/stability of vendor – will the app still be available for the project lifecycle?
  • Affordability – does the pricing fit in with project budgets?

A wiki might be ideal for a fairly open discussion between tech-savvy users, but if privacy is more important and the participants aren’t that comfortable using the web, then something like Sharepoint might be more appropriate. Horses for courses, really.

I’m now trying to find some good examples of social media collaboration between UK government departments. This is harder than it looks, but I have come across several excellent articles in the process…

Have you come across any interesting collaborative projects recently? Anything else to say on the subject? Get your comments in…collaborate!





Double plus good

14 07 2011

The Interworld has a new challenger! For anyone ‘lucky’ enough to get an invite, Google+ allows you to participate in a stripped-down version of Facebook. The big thing on G+ is circles. Rather than having to painstakingly set individual privacy levels for all your friends on FB, G+ forces you to group people into Venn diagram-like sets, so that you can choose for each post whether this should be shared with ‘family’, ‘friends’, etc.

Facebook - the end of the love affair?

Facebook - the end of the love affair?

To be honest, this feels like a chore. Every time someone adds you, you have to add them back and decide which circle they belong to. Every time you share a post, you must define which circles to share it with. Why not just email the link and have done with it? Besides, the sharing functionality means that anyone a post is shared with can then send this on to their own circles, or even to an email address, so there’s no real security benefit there.

I haven’t yet set up my own circles, again this is because involves too much effort. Do I really have to decide which people should go into ‘ex-partners of friends’, ‘folk I work beside but have no real connection with’, ‘people I’d like to get invites from’, ‘guys who think I’ve accepted them but will never get any posts’, etc? This kind of goes against the whole ‘social’ movement on the web and feels a bit mean.

At the moment all G+ consists of is a limited selection of the people I see on Facebook anyway, but instead of shooting the breeze the majority of posts are about Google+ itself. What am I doing here? Ooh, I got plus-oned! I prefer Facebook. Anyone else like the circles thing?

As you might have gathered from previous posts, I’m not always good at judging the merits of new platforms! I’ll give Google the chance to finetune the interface and wait for registration to open up before I decide whether or not it’s for me. Facebook certainly has its problems, so at the very least this development might force Mark Zuckerberg and co to raise their game. Having said that, if G+ goes the same way as Google Buzz and Google Wave, I won’t be all that surprised.





Waze and means

20 06 2011

Channel 4 news alerted me to a new form of social media today. I must be losing my touch…anway, Waze looks like an intriguing prospect. It’s a bit like a live-updated Wikipedia for road networks, whereby drivers use GPS on their mobile devices to build up road networks and add traffic flow, accidents, speed traps and suchlike to the Waze maps as they go along.

Here’s a demo of how the platform works:

http://www.waze.com/guided_tour/international_tour.swf

As someone who works in the transport industry I look forward to the time when Waze has expanded to cover the Glasgow/Scotland area, as it could have a huge impact on how we report transport news and developments. Not to mention the travel time it could save me! Watch this space.





Twitbook/Facer?

14 06 2011

This graphic shows up some interesting differences between the user demographics of today’s 2 main social media juggernaughts:

Digital Surgeon's social media comparison

Facebook vs Twitter

 

The first thing that strikes me about the graph is that 37% of Twitter users update their status using a mobile device, as compared to 30% of Facebook users. With the widely-held view that mobile web usage will overtake desktop-based browsing within the next five years, perhaps this points to Twitter overtaking its rival? The brevity of tweets certainly makes it easier to update using a numerical keypad.

On the other hand, the rising popularity of GPS-based social media is currently being expoited far more by Facebook. Users are able to “check in” to physical locations using their phones, tag friends with them and play location-based games within the Facebook interface. All Twitter users can do at the moment is add a location to their tweets but, as this is based on the location of their ISP’s network gateway, this is often wildly inaccurate.

Whoever wins the battle to get the most mobile users could well end up winning the social media war, so it will be interesting to see how things pan out over the next few years.





Post haste

14 03 2011

Today’s thought is about encouraging public sector workers in Scotland to blog more, prompted by this excellent post by Lesley. For me there are a number of obstacles to blogging: workload, worry over what is allowed and what isn’t, finding a decent subject to write about, embarrassment…then I look at the potential rewards. These are all a bit more abstract than the pitfalls. Nobody from IT is going to send me an email saying how great it is that I blog, are they?

By blogging about work I am forced to collect my thoughts and set them out in a (semi)-logical manner. It also improves my communication skills and sharpens my mind. It can be seen as a “luxury” activity, i.e. I will only do it when my workload allows, but that doesn’t mean that time spent blogging is wasted; rather, it is spent investigating digital media, keeping up with new developments and discussing these with fellow comms professionals.

If I had to list one major factor that would put me off blogging just now, it would be the current climate for public servant bashing. This, combined with the appetite for cuts, means that anyone who admits to the slightest bit of “down-time” in their working day lays themselves open to accusations of skiving, wasting public money and suchlike.

So I’m going to write a post that lays down some of the arguments against this point of view. To save me spending too much time on it, I’ll put them in a list:

I probably spent a total of 10 minutes writing this, although these minutes have been spread out over the space of a few hours (I do have other things to do after all!). I think it’s been time well spent. Hopefully others do too.