The following post is contributed by Brendan Hughes, Chair of the IIA Social Media Working Group. The IIA facilitate and support a number of working groups – information about all is available on our website. If you have a particular interest in any of them please contact me, Roseanne Smith, Membership, Marketing and Communications Manager at members at iia punc ie.
Last Wednesday night saw the first gathering in the Digital Depot of the IIA’s new Social Media Working Group. When asked by Fergal O’Byrne (CEO of the IIA) to chair the group I was happy to say yes as I see this an important development in the Internet landscape in Ireland. To my knowledge this is the first co-ordinated attempt to gather together social media experts and business people with a view to providing information and best practice advice for businesses. I am certainly not aware of any library or resource that is independent and can freely be tapped into – this is what we hope to deliver.
The meeting was attended by thirteen of the sixteen members of the working group (the other three had solid alibis and are still very much in the group). I’ll ensure that the full list of members is made available on the IIA site, but without mentioning people individually I’m very happy to say that we had a very impressive collection of people round the table. We had luminaries from the blogging community, academia, big business and small business, organisations serving big and small businesses, and people who are starting new businesses. What we had in common was a very clear belief that this “social media thing” is important for organisations, and an enthusiasm to get stuck into the detail.
Our task last night was to get to know each other and to tease out a little of our vision, scope and how we are going to work together. The vision has started out looking something like: “the group’s aim is to be the thought leader – developing and sharing insights – in the appropriate use of social media by businesses in Ireland”. We had lots of discussion, as you can imagine, around some particular words – “thought leader”, “appropriate use”, “social media”. This vision might be a little bold for a voluntary part-time group, but we’re going to stick with it for now.
Much of the discussion centred on how we would tackle our planned outputs. We intend to deliver white-paper documents on some of the key social media that are relevant to both small and large businesses in Ireland. Initially we are going to pick off blogging, social networks/online communities, audio and video podcasting, and RSS. On hold for now are collective intelligences (wikis etc), peer-to-peer networks, mash-ups, web services and instant messaging (and anything else that we haven’t thought of).
A question arose about how deep we should go on each of these and that discussion is still ongoing today. We are all agreed that the first and most obvious need in the market is for the simple guide to each of the social media mentioned. Once businesses understand what they are they will very quickly want to figure out what potential there might be for their business and what the rationale / business-case might be for engaging. We do intend to get stuck into all of this and I think we have the right people on board to make this happen.
In order to keep things manageable, I going to keep the membership of the group limited to the sixteen who are currently on board. We do however intend that the process should be outward looking and we will be inviting contributions from people outside the group. We are setting up a wiki to facilitate this. We’re going to try and use social media as much as possible in the operations of the group – in order to prove to ourselves at least how beneficial it can be. Our next meeting will be via Skype conference and we’ll be posting updates on progress over the coming months here on the IIA blog.
If you are interested in participating in the group please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put your name on the list if some of the existing members leave. And don’t forget to subscribe to this blog for the updates.
Bernie Goldbach of Tipperary Institute of Technology has blogged about the meeting describing us as social media plumbers who “understand the flow of conversations and how surges of information gurgle and sometimes spit in vitriolic ways.” Very nicely put, Bernie – thanks!