Yesterday I finally managed to attend a #teacamp [original] in London – just weeks before the launch of the West Country version I thought was a good idea (in a moment of madness I fear).
As you can see from the pic below it was a pretty massive turnout and as such slightly different than I expected but Jane O’Loughlin did a great job of facilitating and managing the crowd and even without a mic and some rather funky background music it was easy enough for me to catch 95% of the discussion.
The topic of the day was social media guidelines though at times it drifted to wider implications of social media. To be honest I try to stay out of these discussions these days – not being a direct civil servant and being outside of London I don’t feel the scrutiny (or paranoia) that many people worry about and from a personal point of view I have clearly been pretty(!) open about my life on Twitter since day one and have never really felt a need to separate my personal and work personas (maybe because I don’t really have a separation point?).
I also have quite old fashioned (if anything to do with social media can be old!) ideas about where the strengths in social media lay and continue to find organisational/corporate attempts to interact on this level a bit jarring – though professionally I do continue to try myself as well.
Both Tim Lloyd and Steph Gray brought up the need for case studies and examples of best practice being what we need now more than anything and I wholeheartedly agree – the Digital Engagement Guide that Steph has launched is clearly a good step in the right direction for this but more is needed – particularly of engagement by and with [very] senior coleagues.
I have now written ‘social media guidelines’ for three different organisations in the last five years but I think the best quote of the day came from Nick Keane from the National Policing Improvement Agency (I paraphrase);
People who read social media guidelines don’t use social media, people who use social media don’t read the guidelines.
Never truer words spoken.
So a bit part of the point of yesterdays meetup was to help the Digital Engagement team at GDS with producing their social media guidance – which will almost certainly end up effecting all sorts of other departments and organisations all over the public sector.
For what it is worth I think the best thing GDS can do in this case is lead by example. A set of high level principles akin to their Design Principles wouldn’t go amiss and beyond that just keep doing what they are doing – especially getting seriously senior civil servants to take social media seriously (and I do think it is the civil servants who need convincing not the Ministers) – getting Sir Bob Kerslake to really use Twitter is the best ammunition for the use of social media I have had for years. For my corner of the world if Sir Adrian Smith suddenly was on board with social media then I’d be having *very* different conversations.