Sunday, 3 February 2013

Social Fools

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @hotpixUK
or LinkedIn here

Many people who visit this blog tweet I know, many follow my ramblings on Twitter. Most people who have left a job or are looking to leave a job are on LinkedIn (if I receive a request to link I always wonder how close they might be to leaving...). Most of us have been pushed into Facebook by one route or other too. Quite often because friends or family members are on it and choose it instead of email.

It’s fair to ask yourself what SM (social media) is really for? Well, the graphic below just about sums it up:

How that relates to housing is a very diverse subject. We can look at it by following the way some organisations have used social media to relate and communicate to residents and share knowledge in what is one of the most challenging times we have been in for many decades.

Utilisation of any type of social media takes resources (people time) and some analysis of what is going to be achieved and how that might be measured. These days it seems that every HA or RSL seems to have a twitter account. Many are doing fantastic work by interacting with residents and customers, spreading useful information about the blizzard of changes coming down the line. Too often twitter can be left to IT or a young intern to manage (with disastrous results as HMV found when it crashed in Jan 2013  ).

It is important to look at each follower you have and follow back if appropriate. Remember this is a network and if you only have 12 followers you are only at best going to reach 12 people or organisations with your messages. Real followers rather than who you follow can be more important. I have had this same issue with the community library in Grappenhall, Warrington, that I have been involved in as a director & board member.  (watch the video of what we have achieved at On twitter, people will follow you if you add value and inform people about what is important to them.

In relation to my community library its similar issues to a housing organisation based in a tight geographical area. It is useful to find out who tweets locally. A great way of seeing this was through NearbyTweets and re-tweeting local info as well as following locals. Eventually, they will follow you. In the case of the library, teenagers now will eventually become parents that will use our facility, so the strategy slowly brings people to us. If you make it worthwhile, people will follow. Just tweeting ‘Hello morning everyone’ at 9.05 and ‘See you all tomorrow’ at 5.09 should be banned! Look for what is happening locally, road works, new properties you may be building, local news, tweet and re-tweet to increase your profile. So in essence, Twitter can be used to reach your customers, residents and catchment area. Remember though that Twitter only reaches a limited segment of your target audience. In the instance of the library, that is only possibly 20%. Be realistic about your penetration.

Other worthwhile tweet related software include Tweetdeck (great for timed tweets), Hootsuite, friend Or Follow and Contaxio.

The other big part about social media is to use it to network with your peers. LinkedIn and its groups offer an ideal method of doing this and making useful links in the process. This can done publically in groups or privately. While from the outside social media looks like a great means of telling people what kind of Krispy-creme doughnut you may be enjoying just now, the real value is in using it to ask questions. The search facility of Twitter can actually be more useful than Google. (Yes really). Try a search on something current like the ‘bedroom tax’ on Google and Twitter. Top hits on Google reveal news from channel 4, ITV, The Guardian and comments from the NHF.  On Twitter, a search reveals a bedroom tax petition, various blogs about it, a number of RSLs who are engaging residents about it and some with videos and other materials to tackle it. In the latter case a quick direct message (DM) can connect you straight to the people who put it together.

A few forward thinking organisations, such as Bromford Group encourage staff to break boundaries and use services such as Twitter just for that. Always be wary of where the twitter account might go in the future. Does the account belong to you or your employer? The name of the account might give you a clue. Also, the declaration that ‘Tweets are all my own (not my employers)’ may be needed to untangle personal from corporate. Often organisations do not actually understand what social media is for. This means that people can often easily fall foul of it, quite innocently.

LinkedIn groups can also be brilliant in connecting people and sharing knowledge. Join groups related to your area of interest. You are free to watch from afar or to engage as you feel. Either way it allows the potential to take advantage of others experience and share yours with others. Organisations need to understand that or ban employees from interacting in groups. It is doubtful however if organisations can ban employees from engaging in LinkedIn however. I am convinced that the benefits of it outweigh the downsides. Links within your area of expertise are of great benefit and also the means of spotting that new expert in housing just came from a sector nothing to do with it.

You can link with me on LinkedIn here - It would be great to connect !

Read on to, predicting the future:

Devo - Social Fools.

(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

PS If there are subjects you might like me to tackle on this blog, please get in touch and let me know!

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