1. there might be a little swearing...I’ll try to keep it to a minimum
2. ...social media, design, analytics, user experience, editorial, open data and ‘cultural change’...so not too much :) I am here in a personal capacity though today. Andrew who runs our social media team is lined up to talk about what we do at ONS in the future.
previously I worked at a couple of Research Councils (anyone here?), JISC (twice), Hefce and did a year working at a start-up just around the corner from here..
Feel free to tweet, take pics of the slides (some are quite pretty) and heckle as we going along..
The one thing I insist on is that if you mention me online - I sound like a pirate NOT a farmer
3. ..ok I’ll be honest the main reason for the title of this talk is so I could use these illustrations from the 99 Problems Tumblr :) I like them so much I have ordered them as prints for my office! I have managed to integrate the title in to the talk a little though as you will see later..
4. It is important to say up front that everything that I say this afternoon comes from a place of love. I love digital and social media in particular. I live and breath this stuff. I sent my first tweet on the 5th July 2007 - the riveting “testing Twitter’ and am now 32,000 tweets in. I’d already joined Facebook at the end of May that year and had already been on LinkedIn a year. I’ve been running my blog for six years as well (notice a bit of a pattern..)
5. ..because here is the thing. Social media in the way we think of it now has only really been around for six years - so that makes us Year 1s! Sure MySpace has been around since 2003 and Friendster is the veteran at 11 years old (anyone even remember Friendster?) but nothing before Facebook and Twitter ever really got out of the geek ghetto in the same way. Even ‘the Cluetrain Manifesto’ the blog turned book that underpins the thinking of so much of this stuff is only just a teenager.
6. ..so this is what frustrates me. In the last couple of years people, self appointed ‘guardians’ of social media, have been deciding what is the correct way of doing things. They lay down the law and call out people or organisations who do not fall in line. It seems to happen at every level from local initiative (I gave up on following the wonderful @Bristol52 idea because of the posse of ‘cops’ in that community) to big Government/Charity/NGO activities..
I firmly believe there isn’t a right way or a wrong way yet - that it is still too early for those kind of proclamations..
7. ...the Government Digital Service (no presentation is complete without some kind of mention of GDS) have published a wonderful guide called the Service Manual - within it there is a lovely description of the lifecycle of a digital product - discovery - alpha - beta - live - retire. It is my contention that as a professional digital community we are still in the Discovery phase and on the brink of moving to Alpha..
8. ..well as I haven’t had a pre-match beer (I’m being good) it won’t be that ranty but here are some things that are increasingly just treated as truisms and I’d like to challenge them...there were many more but I decided to focus.
This is intended to be a bit ‘devils advocate’ and I can’t guarantee the depth of my beliefs for the next few slides!
11. There are exceptions - and I know that at least one of them is a regular visitor to this event BUT the reality is that Twitter is a dreadful place for communities and discussions. It is not just the character limit either. The increasing spamming of any successful tag is a nightmare for any successful tag and the level of ‘noise’ these groups for other followers is immense.
If you want to look at successful, engaged communities - look at Money Saving Expert, Student Room, Mumsnet. The thing they all have in common? They are based on relatively old school forum software. At a talk I was at recently at DConstruct - the founder of Pinboard Maciej Cegłowski (whose name I cannot pronounce!) talked about the fact that often the quality of the online community was improved in proportion to how clunky the software and signup was - people who fought through the constraints and difficulties to contribute were much more likely to add value. Social media makes it too easy for the trolls and spammers!
12. ..this tends to come from the ‘powers that be’ and the ‘beancounters’ more than anyone. This idea that because these services are free there is no cost in doing ‘digital’. This is so short sighted it makes me look like I have 20/20 vision. Digital lives and dies on the quality of its content. Content creation needs people to do it. People need to earn a living. In some ways the worst thing that ever happened to the digital world was the idea of ‘crowd sourcing’ - such an incredible strengths of this whole thing - the ability to bring ad-hoc communities together to achieve specific goals - gets corrupted by people to become ‘free labour’.
13. Stephen Fry, national treasure. Twitter guru. Lovely chap by all accounts. Uses his social media power in the service of good. He can send up to a 1,000 users per SECOND to a site he agrees to tweet about. Wonderful you might say. I however blame him for destroying the soul of my beloved Twitter. The day he started using it in earnest is the day that the mainstream press started to take an ill informed interest (that continues to this day) he opened the flood gates to the Z list celebs, footballers, politicians and the trolls, so many idiot trolls.
He didn’t act alone though - he can only take the blame for the change in the UK - further a field the blames lay elsewhere..
18. I love this picture - in 2005 this was a collection of the latest ‘hot’ web 2.0 services that were going to change the world. I think only five are remaining.
Something that seems to have always been a factor since the dawn of social media is this need to be everywhere so that you don’t miss out. Facebook, Twitter, G+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Storify..and on..and on..and on.
I think we need to ask ‘why?’ a lot more. have one great channel rather than half a dozen barely maintained ones. Identify where the audience you want to communicate with is...it won’t be on all of them. Evaluate. Don’t be afraid to change your mind if the data supports that.
20. I’ve always been in two minds about this one. I’m often tempted by it and have acted on it on a few occasions but in general I think its terrible effing advice! if you work in a risk averse organisation then the challenge these days is as much about bringing people along with you, making the decision makers and experts get on board as it is about just proving a point. I think you have to be determined and enthusiastic and build an evidence based and most of all be convincing but I don’t think playing the social media maverick is anywhere near as successful as some people would have you believe!
25. this is my big thing for social media - it should be fun! if it gets burdened with all the nonsense of everyday work then it loses its power and people, your audience, they can tell. Like dogs smell fear! recently the Bristol City Council Twitter account had someone running it who genuinely understood the medium. They were light hearted, they interacted, they still communicated clearly and professionally and in a timely manner but it felt like they were enjoying it. For a brief shining moment I was a little proud of my Council...
26. ...but like I said at the start. I’m just like you. Just a child in this world, just finding my way.