Free social media support for local groups, clubs and societies

photo of a smartphone next to scrabble tiles spelling ‘social media'

Just a reminder that there are free social media surgeries taking place regularly around Dudley borough, thanks to the generosity of local business owners who host our sessions.

Halesowen – at the friendly Coffee Cups cafe (@CoffeeCupsHalas)
Thur 10 Mar 9.30am – 11.00am register
Stourbridge – at the beautiful Talbot Hotel
Mon 11 Apr 10.00am -11.30am register
Dudley – at the lovely Cafe Grande (CafeGrande Dudley on Facebook)
Thur 19 May 6.00pm – 7.30pm register

What is a surgery?

A social media surgery is an informal gathering of people who want to learn how to use the web to communicate, campaign or collaborate. They support voluntary and community groups, local charities, clubs and societies. Surgeries are deliberately relaxed. No presentations, no jargon, no-one telling people what they think they should know.

Instead you will sit next to someone who understands good ways to use the internet, someone who will listen to what you do, and then show you free, useful tools. If you like what you see they can also help you set up your blog, Facebook page or Twitter account. Social media surgeries take place around Dudley borough every few weeks, so you can keep coming back for help.

We’re always looking for surgeons

Think of a surgeon at a social media surgery  as a helper. A surgeon is someone who knows enough about using social media to help someone else. Some surgeons have spent years understanding the internet. Others started learning a few months ago but want to share what they know with other community groups and active citizens.

We have some brilliant surgeons, some work for Dudley Council, some run their own businesses, some work for charities, others are freelancers and volunteers in their own time. If you’re interested in helping and would like to know a bit more about it, please get in touch and we can chat on the phone or meet for coffee.

Contact me on twitter: @dosticen / facebook: lorna.dosticen / text or WhatsApp: 07501 722255 / email:


Why I love the informality of social media surgeries

One of the most brilliant things about Social Media Surgeries are the connections people make with each other. At this week’s Social Media Surgery in Stourbridge Catherine Growcott from International Cuisine Association popped in to bring along her colleague Sangeeta Rangwami. International Cuisine Association are an inspiring and dedicated group of people bringing their skills and experience from industry to a social enterprise which aims to change people’s lives through learning about food from around the world and developing confidence in cooking.

Sangeeta and I were working through the pros and cons of Facebook Pages, and the fact that under Facebook rules organisations and groups shouldn’t set up a Facebook Profile – they are only for individuals.

We were then joined by Aneela Hanif, who was fully sighted until her early 20s, and is in the process of setting up a new group called Vision Division to support people going through experiences similar to hers, or looking for something a bit different to more traditional groups supporting partially sighted people which tend to involve people who are much older and not necessarily facing challenges of working or getting work.

The three of us took a whistle-stop tour of twitter. On the spur of the moment I chose the National Trust’s twitter stream to explain to Sangeeta and Aneela how to write engaging and friendly tweets, use hyperlinks and what hashtags are used for. It was a rather wonderful place to start, I’d fully recommend delving in to the National Trust’s tweets – for their warmth of tone, amazing pictures and gentle awareness raising of relevant issues.

As is often the case at a Social Media Surgery, we spent as much time learning about each other’s work as we did about social media. Sangeeta and Aneela started to connect ideas about what they do, and Sangeeta invited us over the road to International Cuisine Association’s teaching space on the High Street in Stourbridge, which has a healthy take away and noodle bar on the ground floor, called Taste. Catherine showed us around and ideas were bubbling up about cooking sessions for people who are partially sighted. Sangeeta expressed a desire to learn about what support partially sighted people might need in relation to learning to cook. Catherine generously offered Aneela’s group free use of the space.

I can’t wait until both of these Stourbridge based organisations are using social media, as I am keen to see what collaboration and learning develops online and offline.


Connecting local business and community

tweetup logo with twitter birdStourbridge Tweetup (StourTweetup for short) is a free monthly social event held at Moochers Jailhouse in Stourbridge.

I recently met Phil Fellows, the driving force behind the events to find out more about what happens at StourTweetup and what it was that motivated him to organise Tweetups in his own time.

Phil is the Managing Director of Swinford Graphics and works hard to promote and connect local businesses in Stourbridge through a ‘best of’ franchise, the Best of Stourbridge. Phil explained to me that he wanted to do something that was for everyone, and that was different to the usual networking offer for businesses. He also wanted to create a platform for local charities and community groups to raise their profile and a little funding.

photo of Phil FellowsPhil wanted to create something which would bring together members of the community in and around Stourbridge, local business owners, business leaders, action groups, clubs, and organisations. He heard about tweetups from a colleague, and liked the idea.

A tweetup (twitter meetup) is a face-to-face meeting of Twitter users. As explained by, a tweetup involves the physical presence of twitter users and may be held anywhere, from coffee shops, to hotel lobbies, to restaurants. Attendees generally have not met in person and do not actually know each other, but have already been acquainted online through the various groups or lists they follow. A tweetup may be organised around a particular subject, or may be arranged just to socialise, make friends and establish contacts.

Phil is an active twitter user, but knew that not everyone involved in businesses and local groups in Stourbridge uses twitter. So he developed the StourTweetup website and promotes the events on Facebook as well as twitter, and of course face-to-face.

It is free to attend StourTweetup events, and they are informal, relaxed opportunities to build relationships with people who run or work for local businesses and people involved in local charities and community groups. You can arrive from 6.30pm, and come and go as you wish during the evening. A guest speaker from a local charity or community group usually takes to the stage around 8pm, with more networking afterwards. Raffle tickets are sold (for £5) and all the money raised goes to different charities or community groups in and around Stourbridge, often whoever it is that has spoken at the event that evening. Since StourTweetup launched this June Mary Steven Hospice (@MSHospice), Tidy Stourbridge (@TidyStourbridge) and GigCaritas (@GigCaritas) have had the opportunity to tell people about their work, and benefit from raffle takings.

A Tweetup is coming up!

This month’s StourTweetup takes place on Wednesday 18 September, with the guest speaker from Dudley Stroke Association. You can book your place here and follow on twitter: @StourTweetup If you don’t know anyone when you arrive, look out for Phil (pictured above) and he will give you a warm welcome and introduce you to a few people.