Calling all social media surgeons

After a lot of planning, we’re finally at the stage where we can start recruiting volunteer surgeons for our programme of Social Media Surgeries around the city. Each surgery will be hosted by Tom Allan, who is a freelance multi-media journalist, who has a history of helping out local organisations like the Craigmillar Chronicle, or me, Ally Tibbitt. However, we’re going to need loads of volunteer surgeons to make it work too.

What’s a Social Media Surgery?

The Edinbuzz Social Media Surgeries aim to help community groups, no matter how informal, get online using free tools that are already out there. We believe that nearly every community group, from a mother and toddler group, to a community council, or perhaps even a more established charity can benefit from a bit of help to get their message accross. Social Media Surgeries are informal gatherings where ‘patients’ get free one-to-one help from ‘surgeons’ – and it’s the patients who set the agenda. So, it’s not a training course – more like coaching. We plan to follow a recipe for these events like the one Podnosh sets out here.

What’s in it for you?

What do you get out of being a Social Media Surgeon? Well, you get a warm fuzzy feeling for helping other folk who are doing good around Edinburgh get set-up online. You also get to meet lot’s of other great folk, a listing on this website, and as much free local PR as we can get you, if you like that sort of thing.

What skills do I need?

You don’t need any particular qualifications, but it obviously helps if you already use some form of social media on a regular basis – like Facebook, Blogger, Flickr, or Twitter – or all of the above, or of course any of the millions of other websites out there that count as ‘social’ media.

If you spend time being social online – chances are you’ll have a lot to offer someone who has never used any social media tools before. First and foremost, these surgeries are about helping people communicate better, not about the technology though – so even if you don’t consider yourself an expert but you do use social media tools for writing, or PR, or marketing, or fundraising you can probably help.

When and where will the surgeries take place?

The first lot of Social Media Surgeries will take place between January and April 2011, between 6.30pm and 7.30pm in the evening. They’ll mainly be in libraries, which have rather good free facilities. If you have a look at our events page you’ll see a calendar on the page, with details of when and where the events are. HINT – you might need to make sure it’s showing dates in 2011 before you can see anything. There might be a pre-Christmas get together too – although I’ve not set the date for that yet.

Sounds good! How do I sign-up?

To sign-up to be a surgeon, drop us a line via the contact page to let us know a bit about you, and ideally which events you can come to.

Craigmillar Its already Edinbuzzing

A big part of what we hope to achieve with Edinbuzz is to spread social media skills and networks out to parts of the city that aren’t using them that much. As you might expect, the Edinburgh twitter stream and blogosphere is pretty heavily concentrated around the city centre, the Scottish Parliament, the Universities and more affluent areas. Students protesting rising tuition fees and Government spending cuts are using these tools to good effect right now.

Leith’s got a very strong cluster of local media, with Leith FM, the Leither Magazine, and Greener Leith – but areas like Wester Hailes, Muirhouse and Granton don’t seem to have much activity.

Craigmillar, on the other hand, shows how quickly blogging can catch on in an area.

Not only has the local community newspaper now started a blog and twitter stream (with a little help from Edinbuzz,) but at the same time a community media blog staffed by citizen journalists and volunteers was being set up by David Woods. It not only features local articles and podcasts, but artwork too.

What will be really interesting about this project is seeing what happens when you build a critical mass of different blogs and social media users in some of these parts of the city  Рand seeing whether these local networks can then be used to campaign against cuts, to build a positive image, and create positive change.

Social Media Surgery

In Wester Hailes on Monday the 10th of January, a project begun.

Can volunteer Social Media Surgeons help charities, community organisations, social enterprises and any other volunteer organisation use the tools of the internet and social media to spread their message and increase awareness of the works they do.

Over the next 12 weeks of surgeries and hopefully beyond we will find out.

The weather last Monday  was inclement to say the least and atrocious is the a more apt description and with the wind and rain buffeting Wester Hailes library 4 surgeons awaited their patients.

The turnout was undoubtedly down due to the adverse conditions – which had caused a local councillor to cancel his surgery – but there were a number of people who turned up and notable successes were had. With the reduced number of attendees two of the surgeons were able to spend over an hour with two separate organisations and get them well on the road to social media success. We await the tweets and blog posts with baited breath.

Both organisations were extremely impressed with the information and assistance they received. Undoubtedly, in this case it is quality not quantity.

Next stop Oxgangs and I pass the conch for one of the attendant surgeons to give us their tale.