Should we measure social media in dog years? and other 2013 reflections

Should we measure social media in dog years? and other 2013 reflections


Social media years are like dog years – one minute you’re a newbie stumbling about creating a mess on the carpet and a year later you’re a well-trained poodle who would never accidentally send a personal tweet from the corporate account, or inadvertently use a #hashtag which has already been claimed for a rather more indecent cause than the one you intended (ok so I have committed both of those crimes in 2013 despite being on Twitter for at least almost a quarter of a decade in social years).

A dose of drama

We had a good dose of drama in 2013: the social media thunderstorm that got Asda’s mental patient costume in to the headline news illustrated how ordinary people can use Twitter to challenge powerful corporations; @teaandtalking showed us how to challenge mental health stigma when she live tweeted her experience of being an inpatient on a mental health ward; and @amanda_stand showed how Twitter can be a powerful means of talking back to and with the mental health profession with her hashtag #DearMentalHealthProfessionals. I was sad to see The World of Mentalists come to an end – a consequence of shifts in conversations happening across social media platforms:

Previously the main focus of conversation was on blogs. People still use blogs, probably more so than ever in fact, but the conversations are more complex and multi-platform, using not just blogs but also Twitter, Facebook, Storify etc. If the conversations have a focus, then it’s mostly on Twitter rather than on blogs. In this evolving way of speaking to one another, I’m not so sure a weekly blog post rounding-up other blogs has the relevance it once did.

As one of the co-founders of the Leeds Wellbeing Web, I was delighted to see the blog as a runner up in the Helpful category of the 2013 This Week in Mentalists awards – described as ‘an inspiring and innovative community blog’.  The awards illustrate the thriving world of social media in the sphere of mental health, as does the shortlist of the Digital Media category of the Mind Media Awards, deservedly won this year by Purple Persuasion.

Learning curve

This time last year I blogged about our social media learning curve in an NHS Trust and predicted what 2013 would mean for us. Last year we were thinking a lot about finding our voice as an NHS Trust in social media spaces. The importance of being purposeful was a strong theme for us this year – deciding who we want to connect with, what social media spaces they occupy and how we can make a contribution. We’ve learnt to always start with this first and think about platforms second.

Live tweeting last year we began experimenting with live tweeting from our formal public meetings. We’ve taken this much further in 2013 – live blogging and tweeting from events such as the Lived Experience in the Workforce conference and our recent Recovery workshop in addition to our monthly Service User Network meetings. Live blogging is great for reaching a wider audience, bringing other voices in to the room, creating transparency and having an informal record of an event.

Crisis calls last year I glibly reported that our apprehension about crisis contacts on social media channels had been unfounded. Well we did have one in 2013 on Twitter, we were able to take it to DM and then get some help to the person. Our routine approach of finishing our corporate account tweeting day with the following message ‘ if you need any advice or support please see our website here and we’ll be back tweeting tomorrow’ works well and still applies.

Diffusion – last year I was hopeful that more health practitioners and services would begin using social media. We have spent a lot of time delivering workshops as well as running our monthly social media cafe. I produced an e-book Social Media in Mental Health Practice, and also ran #DigitalMH13 open space event in partnership with Charlie Young from Transform in June and November.  Social media use is growing all the time and most recently our older people’s inpatient wards at The Mount in Leeds joined Twitter. We are planning to expand our social media café to a monthly all day Media Café in partnership with Inkwell – keep an eye out for a launch event in February. I’m sure our #HSCLeeds tweet-up events and activities will continue to grow and develop in 2014.

Clinical practice – last year I expressed a hope that we would begin looking at the potential of mobile applications and websites for self-management and peer support. It’s taken a lot of planning but we have secured funding from commissioners for an initiative we’ve called it #DigiHealthLab and I’ve blogged about it here. From January we will be expanding the work to long term conditions and I’ll be working with Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust on this as part of the Leeds Innovation Health Hub.

Involving people – last year we intended to begin using social media channels to involve people as well as to amplify the involvement work we do. We partnered with Leeds Data Thing to experiment with #AboutMeLeeds an online conversation in data privacy as part of the Leeds Digital Festival. We learnt a lot from the experience which I’ve blogged about here. I’m keen to focus a lot more on digital inclusion and digital participation in 2014.

So I think we may well have condensed at least seven social media/dog years in to 2013. I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve definitely made a few mistakes along the way. I’m looking forward to the next seven in 2014 and I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s read my blog, commented and given me feedback – I really appreciate it 🙂

Ps. And yes the title of this post is purely a pathetically obvious ruse to post a picture of my puppy Bibi.

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  1. or inadvertently use a #hashtag which has already been claimed for a rather more indecent cause than the one you intended

    Yes, I did have to hurriedly change the hashtag when live-tweeting a talk by Professor David Nutt.

  2. So glad it’s not just me!


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