Using social media in Community Forums

Apologies for the lack of posts at the end of last year, I don’t know where the time went!

Our social media surgeries in November and December bought together people doing brilliant things in their communities and organisations, and helped them increase confidence and skills in using social media to help them. The next social media surgery coming up is on Thursday 20 February, from 6pm at Cafe Grande in Dudley – click here to register.

BostinCamp on 5 November was a great success, the 100 tweets shared during the evening are archived here. Something we heard about during the evening was Tim Sunter’s experience of using social media at a Brierley Hill Community Forum meeting organised by Dudley Council.

local saying "community forums, a new way to have your say"

logo from Dudley Council website

The 10 regular community forums held across Dudley borough are designed to “give people direct access to councillors and Dudley Council through regular drop in public meetings” (from Dudley MBC website). During consultation about the community forums when they were first proposed there were hopes from active citizens that social media would be integral to the process (see this report from a participatory workshop at which people voiced this aspiration). However as the forums were rolled out this time last year, use of social media wasn’t being actively encouraged or facilitated.

I was therefore really pleased to see that Tim Sunter (@Brierley _Hill) was live tweeting from a community forum meeting last July. I was also intrigued that in doing so Tim had prompted a discussion during the meeting about using social media. You can see the conversation in Tim’s Storify archive (go down to the sub-title use of twitter in future meetings). I just love that the simple act of sharing a contribution made by someone using twitter and not present at the meeting impressed and changed the views of people at the meeting who had thought that using twitter at the meetings would exclude those who didn’t use it.

photo of people at BostinCamp

BostinCamp in November 2013

Tim shared this story with us at BostinCamp, and also another really interesting continuation of the story. Knowing that a number of people who are interested in what is going on in Brierley Hill don’t use twitter, Tim emailed his curated Storify archive to everyone on the mailing list for the Brierley Hill Community Forum. 21 individuals replied to Tim’s email, including 2 local councillors, with responses being very positive, aside from the 5 people who couldn’t access Storify through council computers.

Tim generously prepared a wonderfully mind map of all the responses which you can see here. Below are a couple of responses he flagged up to share with us:

“I think it is really good way to open the meeting up to a bigger audience. would be really good if the council did it safe you doing it for them and people can give live feed back to issues.”

“I think that life has made attending meetings like this difficult, but this allows people to be in the room if they care and not just if they can make the meeting. Certainly a huge leap in transparency. Thanks for sharing.”

And here’s a great response from a local councillor demonstrating openness to sharing and to figuring out which social media tools to use (which can be rather confusing) :

This is really good – how do you link into it – do you have to be on twitter or could I go in through one of my Facebook pages?”

The next BostinCamp will take place on Tuesday 5 February from 5.30pm – more details and online registration here. Do come along and join us, it’s great to drink coffee, eat cake and talk about social media.

BostinCamp: the launch!

photo of hot chocolate with #bostincamp written in chocolate sauce on the froth

photo credit: Joy Clarke (@joysuzannexo)

It’s here!

Hot on the heels of a successful Brewcamp excursion to Dudley we bring you BostinCamp – the launch event!

BostinCamp  mixes cake, tea, coffee, and ideas about social media, public services and voluntary organisations. It’s a chance to learn things, meet people, listen and contribute and make our corner of the world just a little bit of a better place. Anyone can come. It’s free to book, you can do that here.

Our first ever event starts at 5.30pm on Wed 7 August 2013 and runs until 7.00pm

You can grab a coffee from around 5pm and there’s free wifi. There is free parking at the venue. The things we’ll be hearing and talking about:

We’ve got three fantastic women lined up to share some quite different experiences (I did ask a bloke to contribute, but he’s having a lovely long holiday so you’ll have to wait for the next event for that fantastic story).

  • Joy Clarke will share with us what she has been doing to develop online communications for a local charity (@i4cs)
  • Laura Broster will discuss with us ways that she is developing social media use in the NHS for @DudleyCCG
  • Jo Orchard-Webb will share exciting news of a research proposal which Dudley MBC and Dudley CVS are involved in around social media, local government and citizen participation.

Fancy joining us? You can register here – it’s free to come along, drinks and cakes are yummy and reasonably priced. If the conversation is too good to stop we can go on for curry. Don’t forget to tell your friends and colleagues. We’re using #bostincamp on twitter.

What’s this all about then?

Have you noticed it?

People from community groups and voluntary organisations across Dudley borough using twitter, Facebook and blogs more. Connecting with others that have similar interests, sharing news in neighbourhoods…

Officers who work in Dudley Council tweeting in their own time about work stuff!
Dudley Libraries doing the great things that they do on twitter, including starting a twitter reading group (#readindudley)…

Dudley Local Policing Unit and Neighbourhood Teams being as brilliant as the whole of West Midlands Police is at communicating using social media. It’s part of their job. Even our Chief Superintendent Stuart Johnson will tell you how useful he finds twitter! …

Health and Social Care officers using social media in new ways. I’m thinking here of all the great things Dudley CCG are doing, and Healthwatch Dudley and Making it Real

People in Stourbridge launching a tweetup

Citizens using social media to report in real time from meetings in which people are having discussions and making decisions which affect communities (for example Tim from Brierley Hill Blog)…

women looking at digital tablet

Stourbridge social media surgery

As I’ve said in the about page of this site – something has shifted in the last year or so. Where I previously looked to (and frequently physically went to) Birmingham for great social media based networking related to my work I am now overwhelmed and incredibly excited about all the good stuff  originating from people who live, work and/or volunteer in Dudley borough. This site is a place to bring together and celebrate all these good things.

My aim is to post at least weekly to highlight what’s coming up, share stories from things that have happened and share thinking, reflections and practical stuff in relation to our uses of social media to make things even better in Dudley borough. Please do add your ideas of what should be shared here.

My first question to you is: do you know anyone who lives, works and/or volunteers in Dudley borough who is a social media star for you? Let me know:

  • who they are
  • where we can find them online
  • and why they are a social media star for you

From this a social media stars page on this site will be born!