Social media surgeries are coming to Dundee. This is a little of the how and why.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
Not my words of course, they’re Albert’s. Albert Einstein’s. His statement for me sums up the essence of what social media surgeries generate: creativity and ambition, trial and error.
I’ll be honest. Social media surgeries are great.
They’re fun, rewarding and interesting. Social in every way. Walk into the room and you’re welcomed with chat and learning. And that’s just between the ‘surgeons’!
I would say that of course because I’ve been involved in Edinburgh’s monthly surgeries since they reinvented themselves at the end of last year. The surgeries are free, informal and consist of people who want to learn about how to use the web to communicate, campaign or collaborate.
I’ve chatted with people of all ages and backgrounds, from jewelry makers to those in IT, communications professionals in housing to a supper club, charities seeking to raise their profile to community groups aiming to attract funding. Storytellers. Bloggers. Librarians. And many more.
I don’t believe there is one person among them who has left without taking more knowledge with them than that with which they arrived. Having seen the positive impact, I’d now love similar surgeries to blossom in Dundee in the same way as they have in Scotland’s capital. And why not?
From the people I know through the Chartered Institute of Public Relations to Dundee Tech Meetups, from Chartered Institute of Marketing and Dundee Chamber of Commerce events, it is clear there is a jumbo jute-sack-load of talent in Dundee. We truly are a City of Many Discoveries. I’m never very clear why the central belt doesn’t get that. We need to SHOUT LOUDER. Showcase.
I have a hunch there will be many startup businesses, community groups, volunteers and people in the Third, creative and maybe even public sectors keen to seek advice and reassurance around their use of social media. Or perhaps just help guiding their mouse to launch their first digital profile.
That’s the thing about social media. Creativity and conversation is already happening. It’s out there. You have to ask yourself, do you want to be a part of that or just stick to what you know, what you’ve already got. Whether social media is a missed opportunity or just a misty cloud to be avoided is your choice but when you’re having that debate with yourself, just remember Einstein’s words.
As a result of the #DundeeHour tweet chat on Wednesday 17 July (9-10pm, third Wednesday of the month @DundeeHour) a few of us interested in putting this idea into practice agreed to meet next week: @CreativeDundee, @GScobbie, @garyshort and @Poorboy_theatre. It will be interesting chat!
Ahead of our meeting I was pondering what’s needed to kick off a surgery. Here’s what I came up with based on my Edinburgh experience (thoughts welcome):
- Some interested people willing to keep things ticking along
- Demand (or the ability to create it)
- No pre-conceptions or expectations
- Enough surgeons with a range of digital experiences and the will to help others
- A (free) venue
- Free WiFi
- An engagement plan to help reach out and raise awareness
- A hashtag
- Tea and cake, sometimes (preferably more often than not)
- A website (always)
As it seems to be a growing but not insurmountable list I’ve already taken my first steps toward ticking some off. I’ve created a social media surgery microsite http://socialmediasurgery.com/surgeries/dundee and considered one option for a hastag could be #DundeeSMS.
Through the site people offering assistance and help will be able to express their interest in specific events and those interested in popping in for advice can register.
I then went a bit wild and created a Twitter account, @SocMedSurgery. Premature, probably. Exciting, oh yeah.
Where to ultimately meet in Dundee has given me food for thought too. It needs to be somewhere accessible with good public transport links, and preferably parking too. And free or secured through sponsorship. Much will depend on which other individuals and parties we draw interest from. I can see benefit for host venues too.
Picture of Success
So what does a successful surgery look like? I was speaking to @prettysimple (James), who is basically one of if not the key person in organising the Edinburgh surgeries, and extremely knowledgeable about digital too. He reckons that if we could get people who came along seeking help to one day become those offering it, then that would be a real achievement. I like that.
Personally, I’ve met some great people, and that’s another sign of success. Ally, Milo, Graham, Ciaran. I learn something from them all. There are others too including Leah who may also be doing a blog about social media surgeries. So if you’re on Twitter give @LockhartL a follow and look out for her sharing that post.
I’m not claiming to be the first person to have thought of organising a social media surgery in Dundee. Infact I’m sure they already exist in different guises. For James & co though I’d suggest that another indicator of success could be, in itself, a Dundee surgery spawning from the energy of our Edinburgh group.
Notably, Dundee is its own city, with its own character, personality, demographics, needs, wants and vision. There is lots happening with interest growing around creative industries in our City of Many Discoveries. So I think that dynamic may also be expressed through Dundee Social Media Surgeries, it certainly was in Wednesday’s tweet chat.
What is clear however is that there’s no mistaking the benefit even a compact Social Media Surgery of this type can offer local groups in our city, and beyond, especially in the run-up to the bid to become UK City of Culture.
So if you’re interested in participating then do comment below, follow @SocMedSurgery, or any of those I’ve mentioned who are interested – and do please spread the word!
Ready to get Social?