There’s a lot of talk about the big opportunities and benefits of using social media. Examples of these benefits are customer engagement, direct customer communications, the speed of feedback/results, learning customer preferences, low cost, brand building, credibility of the ‘crowd’ or reach. You can hear or read al lot about the benefits of social media for marketing purposes, customer service, personal use, for relaxation and public services. The discipline you hear less about the benefits of social media is social welfare. Therefore, E-society organized Next: a congress about the benefits of ICT for professionals in social welfare. This congress contained a combination of presentations and workshops of research and good practices during the last ten years. I would like to present some good examples how social media can make a difference in a community.
A ghostsearch in Emmen
25 girls and boys without qualifications have organized an activity with help from a social worker. With support from Hyves this social worker asked the youngsters what kind of event they would like to organize. The suggestions resulted in a ghostsearch. Hyves became the platform where the boys and girls realized this activity with some help from the social worker. Except from the realization of the activity, another result aroused: empowerment. The youngsters got self-confidence by this public act. Another advantage was that the youngsters got acquainted with each other, which may lead to future activities.
Connecting by music in Almere Harbour
One person likes a special kind of electronic music. He is a follower of unique radiostations within this area. He has created a website to collect all information and music. Because of his dyslexia, he got help from the social worker to present the information the right way. The website contains a youtube-channel, where others with the same background respond and give new suggestions. Music, a website and youtube connect and inspire people.
Safety and cosiness in Gouda
A neighbourhood in Gouda suffers from a major problem: burglary. Buurtbuzz is created to inform the neighbourhood, and to create cooperation between the neighbours and the police. After the burglaries had stopped, Buurtbuzz is used for another purpose: a festival. By using Buurtbuzz, the organization can communicate with the neighbours about the arrangements and contributions. The result is that 70% of all people in the neighbourhood use Buurtbuzz. It’s an easily accessible way to communicate and increases the feeling of safety.
Voting for changes in the neigbourhood in Dordrecht
People in Dordrecht got the opportunity to vote for new measures in their neighbourhood. By using the website onzewijk.nl, it’s possible for old and young to raise their voice about what to do with their street, square, park or playground. Then social media make it possible to discuss on their votes. An example of this way of participation is the Johanna Naber-erf. Thirty people create a proposal to make changes in this street. By putting this proposal on onzewijk.nl, the other neigbours get the opportunity to vote for or against it, and substantiate their choice. The website and social media make it possible to cocreate their own neighbourhood and bring the people closer together.
These examples show that with little effort many changes can take place. However, some points of interest need to be considered for the future:
- the social bases for the use of social media needs to increase within social welfare organizations by inserting it in their business models
- social workers need to know how to support people with using the social media the right way and must have the right software to use social media (smartphones and open access to social media websites on their workcomputers)
- by means of research the good practices need to be captured as examples for future use in other neigbourhoods