Journeys. We're all on one in some way, shape or form - work or personal, large or small. One comms person shares her year-long social media journey with us here...
by GUEST EDITOR Emma Rodgers
I recently met up with Darren Caveney for a catch up. When we were talking about communications, social media, awards and other such things, he asked me when it was I first came to Walsall to meet him and Dan Slee.
It got me thinking and I realised it’s been just over a year since I started on my social media journey. I know that because I begrudgingly wrote about it here after Dan and Darren persuaded me to give it a go.
Re-reading the post has made me laugh and think in equal measures. In the post, I talk about standing up and being counted on-line, putting myself out there and starting to use twitter in particular as a way of improving how I do things. I was only five days into my own personal journey and ended with an appeal for people to follow me. Looking back, it’s hard to believe it was only a year ago as such a lot has happened since then.
So what have I learnt since then? Here’s some quick observations for anyone else who is still ummming and ahhhing about getting involved. It might also be a useful reminder for those who feel jaded or slightly frustrated by the social media barriers and progress that’s being made.
1. 1. A little encouragement goes a long, long way. Now don’t get me wrong I haven’t achieved a huge amount and probably compared to others it’s small fry but I do feel personally that I’ve come a long way in the last 12 months. A Best by WM case study, public speaking on social media no less, regular blog posts, organising the first Oatcake Camp and an article in the Guardian have all been significant for me. Critically I think though is that none of these would have been possible without the support of others.
People like Darren, Dan, Si Whitehouse, Andy Mabbett, Lorna Prescott, Nick Hill, Phil Jewitt, Ally Hook and countless others that are too many to mention. They’ve encouraged, cajoled, listened and pushed me forward. They’ve showed me how and they’ve made me feel that my views and what I do is worth sharing. So if you’re not sure about where to next, remember there is always someone out there who can give you that moral support to take that next step and you don’t have to look too hard to find them. As Lloyd Davis [founder of the Tutle Club ] tweeted to me recently: “It only needs a few good people and I can see you’ve got a few already.”
2. Share the sweets Dan Slee would say sharing the sweets is what it’s all about – People, particularly in the public sector are the best ever at sharing what they know with others. Whether it’s crowdsourcing via twitter, a phone call to others who you know do it well, an unconference or a brewcamp, absolutely everyone is more than happy to share what they know and their views for the future. This sharing is often rare in the communications industry so take advantage when you can - it makes a massive difference. Just remember to share back too.
3. 3. It’s ok if you fall down, you can get up again very quickly. This was probably my biggest barrier to getting more involved in social media. I was scared of being criticised and making mistakes. But if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn and the social media community is possibly one of the most forgiving to make your mistakes with. Its human face and social nature means you don’t have to be perfect. In fact showing you are a real person pays dividends in the end.
4. 4. The benefits are endless. I’ve gained so much in the last year; new friends, new ideas, new skills and confidence. It’s also given me a renewed passion in my communications role and means I really want to improve what I do back at the ranch so it’s benefiting my organisation too. Personal development in your own time isn’t for everyone but more and more it’s becoming the norm. And because I enjoy learning new stuff that’s interesting, I now don’t mind giving up my own time to do it but it took me time to come to this conclusion. You just have to find the balance that’s right for you and the time you have while focussing on the areas that really matter to you.
5. 5. There is always another way to get to where you want to be. Using social media more and being exposed to such creative people all the time has shown me that there is always a solution to whatever problem you’ve got. Someone, somewhere will have had a similar issue or concern and is more than happy to share. Be flexible, adaptable, listen to others and give yourself thinking space. It may not be the original idea you had but it is still going to get you to where you want to be. And it feels good not to be alone – a problem shared really is a problem halved.
So while I’m still only at the beginning of my social media journey, I’d like to think I’ve got out of first gear and am starting to build speed. I’m nowhere near cruise control but I’ve got my sat nav and I know where I want to be. I’d recommend it to anyone and I’m happy to share the sweets with anyone who’s about to set off in their car.
Emma Rodgers is Senior Campaigns Officer at Staffordshire County Council
Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons