Thursday, 9 January 2014

Ain't gonna be no social media guru no more

It's that time of year again. Time to get angsty about all that stuff I've not achieved since this time last year. And about all that stuff I want to achieve (but know I won't) before this time next year.

Guru Adi Shankara
So, here I am, right on time for my annual angst about blogging. Or, more accurately, about not blogging. Blogging is a very good thing. That's not up for discussion. When I'm doing it, I find it a great way to get stuff out of my head, to clarify my thinking, to get feedback on ideas, to start discussions. And I've spent a lot of time over the past few years encouraging (some might say, 'nagging') people to blog, so I feel like a complete hypocrite when I'm not doing it myself.

I've not blogged properly for over six months. There are several reasons for that. I'm working on those right now and hope to start writing more about what I'm doing soon. In the meantime, to get me back on the blogging pony, I thought the least I could do is say something about what I'm not doing.

Social media, digital engagement, digital communications. None of that stuff has been part of any job description I've ever had. I started out on my social media journey because I was intrigued by this shiny new way of using t'internet to connect with people. I could see ways of using it to support things I wanted to do: for my own professional development, but also to deliver policy outcomes.

As an enthusiastic early adopter and advocate, I got involved in supporting colleagues on their own social media journeys. In recent years I've helped develop policies, guidance and training for my organisation and elsewhere. I've acquired a bit of a reputation for being a 'social media guru'. Yes, I hate the term too, but if I had a fiver for every time someone has referred to me as such, I'd be able to retire. Again, none of this appeared in my job description and a lot of it was done in my own time.

In my current role, which I've been in for a year now, I'm tasked with helping to create the conditions for creativity to flourish in my organisation. That includes supporting colleagues to think about issues and problems in new ways, spreading good practice, testing new approaches to policy development, (eg design thinking) and so on.

Now, you know me, I'm not a "I'm not doing that. It's not my job!" kinda gal. But. Still. There are two of us in the team. We have many ongoing projects. Lots of people want to work with us. There are only so many hours in the week. So there has to be some focus to what I spend my time on. It's getting increasingly difficult for me to justify spending time helping people 'do' social media.

Bit harsh? Well...

  • While social media is no doubt acting as a catalyst of change, I think it’s time to start moving away from regarding it is something all of it's own and not as a means to an end.
  • By now government should really be using social media as part of day to day business. Setting up a Twitter account as another way to punt out your press releases isn't really a 'creative approach' to government communications.
  • I'm a bit tired of having the same conversations over and over again, tbh. Somebody else is going to have to deal with the refuseniks.
  • We now have people in the organisation that have 'digital engagement' or 'social media management' in their job descriptions. We have a Digital Strategy for Scotland and a whole Directorate to deliver it.
  • I'm not using social media much myself at the moment. See hypocrite comment above.
  • And I can't do this stuff in my own time anymore. That's time that's now taken up with my MSc studies.

So, if you want to rethink how you engage with people; or how to put people at the centre of your service re-design, I'm your woman. But if you come to me wanting to know how to set up a Twitter account, I will send you packing.

Well, I won't. I'm far too nice for that. But I will ask you to come back with a better question.


John Fox said...

Nothing wrong with a change of scene Lesley!

Ciaran said...

Sad to see you change focus but your reasoning is spot on. Just remember that your work in the past has definitely inspired people to JFDI and you should be proud of that.

Lesley Thomson said...

Thanks Ciaran...that might just about be the best blog comment ever :-)

Ella said...

Pleased to hear your doing an MSc.
Extra wriggling for the brain

Lesley Thomson said...

Indeed. Next stop PhD Central ;)

Anonymous said...

Good to see you blogging again - and, yes, you're right. There comes a point when the early adopters who've encouraged everyone else to adopt technology have to stop being the informal trainer & help desk.

Christine Irving said...

Great blog post Lesley and you are so right about not being able to do everything. It's a good time of year to take stock.

Good luck with the MSc - what's it on?

Lesley Thomson said...

Hi Christine

It's Edinburgh Uni's MSc in Digital Education (previously 'E-Learning'). Am really enjoying it! Am hoping that by the time I finish, I'll be able to afford to go part-time and do a PhD! ;)