Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Spellink and grandma - social media and organisational risk

This blog post has been mulling in my mind for a while, but an impromptu lunch with Ian Eliott today and this tweet:
Got me thinking about things, so rather than concentrate on the stuff that pays the bills, I thought I'd bash out my ideas here.

One thing that fascinates me about social media is the perception of risk around it, especially among large public sector organisations. I'm fascinated, firstly, by the way that many of the people on Twitter I follow maintain both personal and "work" accounts, essentially "being" the organisation in the social space of Twitter. I'm also fascinated by this perception of risk - that somehow twitter and Facebook will be the downfall of these organisations and everything they stood for. It was interesting listening to Dominic Sandbrook's history of the postal service and how there were similar moral panics about the penny post. Like post, the telephone, and increasingly email, I know that eventually social media will just become something we "do" with social norms around its use. The scare-stories around its use I think are beginning to create that. The only barriers I see to this are if the technologies move faster than the social norms can develop and the impact of capitalism - Facebook needs to have shonky privacy policies to make its business model work and generate the revenue required. 

But the tweet above from the BBC got me thinking about organisational risk in terms of spellink and grandma. The Edinburgh Council neighbourhood office near our campus has been experimenting with giving Environmental Wardens access to their twitter account while they're on the beat and they then tweet with the hashtag #edinclean. Not the most riveting of reads, but an interesting experiment. But one thing I did notice early-on was that some of the grammar was not perfect - nothing massive, usually incorrect your/you're or their/there/they're being mixed up. My initial thought was "ooh, I'm surprised they don't get them checked in some way". On reflection I thought instead how in terms of social media this was probably a good thing - you actually want to know the person behind the account - this is why Orkney Library and their trips to Steps concerts, among other things, are so popular. So, in this case, I'd say let the bad spellink and grandma go, introduce us to the person behind corporate account so we can say "hello".

Although this does lead me onto thoughts about the high levels of literacy needed to successfully engage in the world of Web 2.0.

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