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I’ve been talking about creating a Social Media Surgery in Southampton for over a year now.  I am so delighted that we are running our first session tomorrow at the Shooting Star pub.

We nearly made it last year, but sadly Aris (one of our students) graduated and left the area before we could get going.  But the internet is a marvellous thing. Gavin Barker found details about the surgeries on the Our Society ning created by John Popham.  John pointed him to Nick Booth at podnosh, and whilst putting two and two together suggested he talk to me too.  Why?  I’ve never been to a surgery. I have no direct experience of how they work. What I have done is been surrounded by the energy, enthusiasm and outputs since they began.  I lived in Brum when they started and have spent hours discussing them with Nick.  I think it is such a powerful idea.  That folk who believe in social activism can volunteer to help other volunteers – and others from community organisations.

So we meet tomorrow.  My huge thanks go to a few people, mostly to Gavin who has actually made this happen, to his contact Ben who has helped out with the venue, the venue, and then of course to the surgeons:

Standards nerves around rsvp’s means we have no idea if anyone will actually want any help.  I have absolutely no doubt that the surgeons will be well able to amuse themselves sharing ideas, wowing each other with their work and getting to know other great people.  Working on the strong assumption that people will turn up for help, Gavin has put together a useful crib sheets to give surgeons some ideas of the sort of solutions to offer surgeons.  I’ve popped it into a post on this site here.

So, besides packing my dongles – you can never be too careful with wifi, remembering the camera, and charging up my laptop, I’m good to go.  Wish us luck, and check back soon for a review of how it went.

These are a few notes for Social Media Surgeons which may be helpful. Feel free to add or amend these before or after our first session on Saturday. Given that this is our first session, it is probably best to keep our expectations low in terms of numbers attending. Nick Booth from Podnosh, who runs these sessions nationally, suggests we have no expectations at all! If one person turns up that’s fine. In his experience these things are slow to take off but gradually gather a head of steam as word spreads and people return for a second, then a third session. Some of those who return will eventually become ‘surgeons’ in turn and start to share what they have learned.

The people we want to help are people who are already volunteering in their community in some way. They could be a member of a resident association or community centre. They could also be from a local charity and are curious to know how these tools can benefit their work. The idea is to empower those who do ‘good work’ and strengthen community activism in all its forms. Over time we may come across people who don’t fit this category- corporate types looking for free advice. I suggest we don’t say No to anyone, but we can at least have a conversation with them about why we are doing this and stress that we are all volunteers – some of that may rub off and encourage them to do likewise. The subjects covered could be anything – and here I will shamelessly plug certain key messages that go with my job and ensure the backing of my team for this initiative. In the end however, go where the energy is: the sudden pick up of interest as you talk through different social media tools and their application. Maybe you can get the ‘patient’ to talk a little bit about what they do in order to get an idea of what might be most useful to them. The range of social media tools you should try and cover include:

Tool Notes/ examples
Facebook the Facebook page for City Council Communities Team (the people who are contacting different community groups about Social Media Surgeries) www.facebook.com/southamptonscommunities
Twitter The Communities team are on Twitter, follow us on @southamptonscom
Southampton Placebook Map of community groups
Southampton City Council Your Community pages The Communities team will be adding online resources to these web pages over the summer ie templates, how to guides, all info to help community groups get started or do more we also have a regularly updating news feed about local communities and stories of how people can get more involved in their community www.southampton.gov.uk/living/comliving
Southampton City Council Grants for community groups pages The Communities team have a set of pages which help community group find and apply for funding www.southampton.gov.uk/living/grants/
YouTube Neighbourhood  action videos
My Society.org A range of tools, some more or less coming under the heading of social media – see especially the FixMyStreet
WordPress.com Start your own blog. Some interesting wordpress sites includeThe Elephant Amenity Network, Fairstead.org
Flickr Photo sharing. http://www.flickr.com/groups/992728@N21/ example of a now global photography project

Southampton Social Media Surgery Social Media Surgery on Sat 2 Jul.

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