Reflections on #digitalday

And so the first BIS Digital Day has been and gone.

We decided a while ago that we’d have a day where we’d celebrate digital within the Department, but that we’d try and sell it slightly differently. We wanted to make it as open, inclusive and non-threatening as possible, along the way hoping to make the connection for social media in a private capacity and a work one. So, we had three main aims:

  • Reaching out to those who aren’t using social media already;
  • Celebrating the activities (both work and non work) of those who are already actively engaged online;
  • The introduction of the social media guidelines gave us a useful third aim – spreading awareness.

We thought about breaking the day up into bite size sessions on particular topics, but then realised that what had worked well with our social media surgeries was that they were drop-in, with people able to stay for as little or as long as they wanted. We weren’t going to be able spend much time beforehand promoting the day, so this also meant, theoretically at least, that people wouldn’t be having to find lengthy slots in already overcrowded diaries, and by extension excuses not to get involved.

So Digital Day became an open invitation to “do something new online”. Posters were put in lift spaces (again deliberately shying away from using any imagery related to a work context), and explained in an intranet story and weekly bulletin board. We also made use of the existing network of digital champions to spread the word, which they very kindly did, offering them a “cheat sheet” to give to social media newbies, and more experienced colleagues,with suggestions for things that people in both categories could do before and after the day. We sent the same to many of the colleagues that we have worked with previously.

Using those networks meant that we were contacted by a few people the week before – with requests varying from “I want to blog” to “I want to show you what I’ve been doing with social media already”, and “I would like to explore using social media for work”. We also smoked out a few people with quite interesting stories to tell of their experience to date. And some were even willing to share that.

We’re quite proud of our blog on Tumblr, initiated specially for that sharing -hopefully, the final result enables real voices to explain to colleagues why social media is as important as it is, and we’ll keep updating it to share more examples from both private and work use.

But, the blog features what I know to be a sub section of the digital talent within the Department. While some, like Louise explains here in her blog, are really comfortable with blurring their personal and private identities online, others don’t find that so comfortable. I’m personally ok with that, it’s their choice. As someone trying to promote digital engagement in a work capacity, just being aware of what people are up for is pretty useful in its own right.

Back to the day itself. We used Yammer to seed ideas and content, using the #digitalday hashtag, to showcase social media in a fun way, with the odd poll thrown in, and people using the #digitalday hashtag to explain why they were supporting the day. One of the nicest posts there was from someone who, after visiting us, admitted to initial wariness over social media, but realising that “it’s nothing to be intimidated by… a great way to share your story (personal or professional) with likeminded people“.

I don’t know if other organisations have, like we do, a core of very active Yammer users with a majority of people simply watching what’s happening online, and then responding offline to what they’ve seen online. So, I knew that even if I didn’t get people particiapting en masse today, we’d achieve awareness raising, or at least seed ideas in people’s consciousness.

We also hosted a steady stream of people, ranging from those who don’t know anything about social media, to people who have signed up to Twitter but don’t know what to do with it. The Yammer posts and intranet story obviously worked as I had a few discussions with people aware of detailed points within the social media guidance. We introduced people to LinkedIn, Twitter, explored Facebook privacy settings, and even discussed favourite apps. It was definitely a worthwhile idea to make the day more than about work use, and hopefully we’ve left at least a number of people enthused about what’s possible with online engagement more generally

I’m still thinking what my personal “do something new online” should be, so maybe I’ll make #digitalday stretch a little bit further. And by a happy coincidence, we’re planning to do a version of the whole thing again post Jubilee for our more northerly colleagues.

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