This week I was challenged to try out a new social networking site. I could choose any site at all, which was a daunting thought at first. I decided to try out Ravelry because I am a knitter and was curious about the way an interest specific social network would work. The process was easy and they have a video to give you a tour of the tabs and explain a bit about all the different things going on throughout the site. As imagined, sharing patterns, stories, and images of finished projects is a large part of Ravelry. In addition though, I was surprised to find the groups available and forum topics were really diverse. From a group dedicated to Grumpy Cat, to one dedicated to support for mental health issues I was impressed with the breadth and depth of groups and discussions.
I, of course, joined a group for Great Dane owners, my city, and librarians. The group discussions for each of these groups carried the same conversations I would expect from any other social media site I’ve used, but also some threads specifically about knitting (and crocheting) in relation to the group theme. This revealed the great potential for interest specific social media sites for networking and developing meaningful connections. For example, in the city group I joined, meeting times for knitting at local library branches were shared, and in the librarian group topics on knitting and information literacy, recommended books, general advice and job postings are shared.
It is important for any organization to choose social media tools appropriately because with so many potentially relevant options, it is just not realistic to have a “branded” presence in every one. That being said how can organizations effectively hold their place in the larger conversations we are all having online?
Well I think the answer to that in part can be linked to the discussion last week about social media policy development/management. The policy an organization develops about it’s own use of social media will outline the scope of sites relevant in which to have a “branded” presence. The policy developed for it’s employees use, particularly in relation to the kinds of things employees can share about the organization, can be seen to demonstrate that vital role in the presence of your organization on the myriad of other networking sites.
Like the Honeycomb model, each employee is involved in and responsible for the management and promotion of an organization’s online presence, whether they realize it or not. From my experience on Ravelry, I was shocked to see the forum topic in the librarian group with the most posts was titled “Ranty Pants” and featured mostly sarcastic comments about patrons and other users. While no one was specifically named or identified in any of the posts I browsed, it is still disconcerting that this discussion is open and can be viewed by any Ravelry user. Since any Ravelry user is a potential library user and the membership is described as “for library workers of all types who love to craft” questioning the message potential library users receive about their local librarian is not a stretch.
Keeping that example in mind, if you weren’t sold on social media education in the workplace before, I hope you are starting to be now.