There have been social media surgeries in Dudley for more than 7 years.
Since Melissa Guest organised the first on Dec 8th 2010 a varied group of volunteers have run 65 different events in Dudley, Halesowen, Stourbridge and Brierley Hill. We really didn’t expect this, in fact we expected pretty much nil, nada.
327 of you have signed up for some sort of help, and we’ve recorded 45 website and social media sites we’ve helped you set up and run. (although we reckon it’s much more than that).A network of committed people have run social media surgeries in Dudley, Stourbridge, Halesowen and Brierley Hill. We even made the news.
These posts are a chance to look at three things…
- What is a surgery and how does it fit in with other support for community groups in Dudley and..
- What you make of the format – the way of working
- What some of you have gone on to do, resting on the skills and confidence you’ve picked up through the surgeries
So lets start with the first…..
What are they?
A social media surgery is deliberately informal.
- It’s a place and a time where people with some experience of using social media can sit alongside local community groups, volunteers and charities and help them make better use of the web. These places are deliberately relaxed, typically a cafe, where you can talk and think and explore and learn together, and say thank you by buying the person who helped you a quick cuppa.
- It’s the opposite of training. You don’t get lectured at. Instead someone will ask you what you are trying to achieve, listen to how you already use the internet and offer suggestions. If something appeals to you you can dig deeper, together. And it is practical. People will help you set things up, there and then, wwhether on facebook, twitter, a new website.
- A social media surgery is a loop of generosity. The surgeries are much more than an expert volunteer surgeon supporting a local community group. They recognise that helping each other can be far more rewarding than passively receiving help. Whether you think you’ve come to learn or to teach everyone tends to end up sharing what they know with each other. This is a intentioanl, it’s the loop of generosity.
- They shrug off key performance indicators and unrealistic aspirations. Surgeries are run with zero expectations. They are built on a principle that expectations often lead to disappointment. If you think 20 people ought to come, but ‘only’ 10 do then you end up demoralised. You may even give up. Zero expectations means that even if one person is helped that’s a win, 10 turning up is a spirit-lifting-humdinger-of-a-fantastic-thing. By taking this approach they are more fun to do, so more likely to be there, so better able to help.
- A social media surgery is a platform. By providing a space for people to share skills the surgeries underpin so much other work. They help boost the flow of civic information within a neighbourhood and across the internet. This can be about local services, activities, events, campaigns. It can be information from the third sector or the public sector. It can also be the possibilities tied up in relationships people nurture through being able to share and support each other online. It can also be the unexpected happenings that spring up because people get to be in the same space and learn together. All this nurtures connections and grows the civic conversation online. Upon those connections and those conversations can rest a more vibrant, richer place to live.
The surgeries are run by a group of committed people, some may happen to work for the CVS, but the surgeries sit in a wider movement of people who simply want to share digital skills, for free, with local active citizens.
For your next social media surgery please look at www.socialmediasurgery.com.