I think corporates and activists should sometimes snog, occasionally avoid and probably never marry. To extend the metaphor a bit more than is probably necessary… Married life would just make everyone far too comfortable and the frisson of a snog and the tension of uncertainty are more likely to lead to a healthy vigorous debate.
I’m approaching mine and @markoneinfour’s Snog, Marry, Avoid? Workshop from a corporate perspective as a result of the steep learning curve we are engaged in at the NHS Trust where I work. We are busy working out how social media enable us to build connections and relationships with people who have a stake in what we do.
This isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes we get a hard time on Twitter; we occasionally get negative feedback on Patient Opinion; our chief executive’s blog has been known to get some very challenging comments. And of course social media have the potential to amplify far more than word-of-mouth might do. Mark is right when he suggests that social media are both exhilarating and nerve wracking for institutions. A number of campaigning groups have used social media to raise concerns with our NHS Trust and there’s no doubt such a public forum ensures a quick response. I’m keen to explore how they can perhaps do it more effectively in our workshop. But there are also areas of common ground where activists and corporates can work together, for example on social marketing campaigns where there are themes of mutual interest.
I think the key to encouraging more snogging is to increase the engagement of people working within institutions such as the NHS with social media. Just in the way that the communications function is clearly only one channel for communication in an organisation (staff are communicating day in day out) so social media channels should not be the preserve of one tiny bit of the organisation. A communications function will only have one particular and partial perspective. That’s why I’m fascinated by the fact that some clinicians in our organisation have started using social media to connect with people who use, or might potentially use, their services. This will no doubt raise issues over time but we’re only going to know what they are and work them through by having a go. It requires an institution to relinquish control and for individuals to apply clarity of professional codes of conduct in their online lives
I can’t wait to discuss this and more at our workshop on 28 September as part of Social Media Week in London!