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!





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.





Life, the twitterverse and everything

11 05 2011

Today marks 10 years since Douglas Adams died. His writing was always an inspiration to me. This article of his, How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet, is almost as relevant today as it was then. The following extract strikes me as especially apt:

1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Apply this list to movies, rock music, word processors and mobile phones to work out how old you are.

If you listen to the news (and god knows I try not to, but unfortunately it’s a part of my job) you will regularly come across reporters dumbfounded by the use of Twitter or Facebook or online dating as part of some sinister crime or contributing towards the breakdown of society in some way. The emphasis is often not on the story itself, but ends up concentrating on the “newfangled” methods used by the participants.

Are we really still at the stage where web technologies are considered novelty items? These news stories don’t emphasise the roles that cars or phones or photocopiers play, so why keep highlighting the web?

This effect continues when it comes to public service provision. When the question of whether it would be cheaper to move services entirely online is asked, this is often discounted as an option in case citizens are disadvantaged by not having an internet connection. The same consideration is not given to the possibility that they might not have a phone, or a car or even a bank account, any of which would leave them similarly disadvantaged.

The launch of the Alpha.gov project will mean a further move towards digital provision of services by the government and the case for replication of these services under older phoneline-based models grows weaker with each passing year. I hope we can all work together to make web-based tools and services the best option for citizens to use and, in doing so, remove the need for duplication of effort.





Getting social about media

4 02 2011

I attended an excellent social media conference/workshop on Wednesday, run by Learning Pool‘s Dave Briggs and Breda Docherty. You can find Dave’s write-up of the event on his blog.

Me and Gerry at the SocMed event
Hands up if you love the Internet!

It’s always interesting when you meet fellow webby staff from across different areas and discover how much you have in common. The problems we face in delivering good content to our websites are much the same, I won’t bore you with the details but most of them involve different methods of communication within different sections of an organisation. That 150-page feasibility study might seem like the most important and interesting thing in the world to one branch but…well, you get the picture.

As well as being able to commiserate with my fellow delegates, I also managed to get some inspiration. I was particularly intrigued by the #testittuesday Twitter campaign. Councils and fire departments encouraged their followers to retweet and use their hashtag to promote the message that people needed to test their fire alarms, and it spread like wildfire (oof). This is an example of shaping a message around the media rather than the other way round, so no wonder it worked so well.

I hope to use this and the other examples of good practice to kick our own online presence up a few notches. Watch this space.





Sorting the Tweet from the chaff

29 09 2010

Twitter is the new black. It’s everywhere: on the news, in political satire, in books, on the TV…if it wasn’t for Twitter and QI, who would still care about Stephen Fry? Despite this, I have to admit that I’ve still not quite got to grips with the platform.

It’s all very well in theory – 140 characters, converse with celebrities and other strangers in real time, follow important trends…I just don’t find it very engaging. The ephemeral nature of each tweet means that if anything particularly profound ever gets said (either by me or one of my followees) I’m likely to miss it. There’s always the retweet of course, but these depend on the Tweeter’s popularity as much as their content quality.

There’s also the problem of the Twitter interface. This has recently been retweaked but it still leaves a lot to be desired, with most Tweeters preferring to use 3rd-party apps such as Tweetdeck to post their updates. The process leaves me cold.

I’m going to keep trying with Twitter but, like Coronation Street, it’s not something I can ever see myself getting excited about despite its widespread popularity. This won’t stop me from trying to improve my work’s engagement with Twitter, but when I’m back in the house I’ll stick with Facebook.