Engaging in the Social Media Conversation

A recent event in Belfast, hosted by Women in Business, addressed the benefits of using social media to promote your business.  Once again the importance of this medium for engaging with customers and clients was clearly highlighted.

The presentation, delivered by Mags Byrne Consulting, focused on the opportunities social media can offer businesses and how it can be used for promotion, advertising and marketing purposes at very little cost.  The attendees certainly seemed to appreciate the benefits of engaging with the technology and were keen to learn more and put some of the suggestions into practice.

One of the key aspects of social media is the conversation; in this case the dialogue between organisations and their customers.  It is therefore important that the language used is clear and easy to understand.  That’s where the principles of plain English come in and where EGSA could possibly help.

EGSA has been running their successful “Keep It Clear” training course for a number of years.  The practical, hands-on training aims to raise awareness of plain English principles and hopefully save you time and money.  If this is something that would be useful to you or your organisation, visit EGSA’s website to learn more and maybe book a place.

Useful resource:

The NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) website is a useful resource for hints and tips on using social media, particularly with regard to marketing.  Claire Rollinson’s (NCVO Enterprise Manager) blog has a series of interesting and relevant posts; her most recent discussed how social networks can enable organisations to create a true dialogue with their customers and supporters.

Ofcom’s Media Literacy Bulletin (Feb 2010)

Some highlights from the latest bulletin:

  • The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) launched its ‘Click Clever Click Safe’ campaign.  Remember the digital Code ‘Zip It, Block It, Flag It’.
  • Digital Unite launches BeGrand.net site for grandparents
  • Hold an event for Adult Learners’ Week 2010 (15 to 21 May 2010)
  • New Quick Reads e-books launched (a particular favourite of mine)
  • YouTube launches ‘Safety Mode’


  • The ‘Bring IT On’ campaign provides greater clarity of the NI IT sector
  • Young People gain more experience of the IT industry at UU Magee campus
  • Microsoft and PSNI roll out online safety programme in primary schools

Diary Date:

  • National Digital Inclusion Conference: Digital Participation – 10 and 11 March
  • In Media We Trust? – 18 March

These are just a few highlights, read the full bulletin on the Ofcom website.

The Alex Laptop

Following on from my post last year on the SimplicITy computer, a new laptop has been launched to help people confused by computers.

The Alex laptop uses a subscription based service which includes telephone support, software updates and broadband access.  The programs are simplified to reduce the learning curve and enable users to get up and running more quickly.  A number of screenshots can be found on flickr.

I can see this being a very useful tool in building up the confidence of those users just starting out and therefore another important step in the path to greater IT literacy and digital inclusion.

Tech Note:

Like the SimplicITy, Alex is also built on the open source operating system Linux which gives developers the freedom to customise the user interface to meet the needs of specific users as in this case.

Further Reading:

Microsoft College of the Future project

The Microsoft College of the Future project was jointly managed and developed by LSDA NI, Microsoft, and Southern Regional College.  The aim was to introduce lecturing staff to tools that would help with students’ learning.

The project used Microsoft’s Live@Edu software, which is a collection of Web 2.0 tools that enable tutor lead collaboration within a learning context.  Learners would use these tools to upload content to evidence assignments.

This is another good example of how Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), especially Web 2.0, is entering the classroom and the study process to benefit all involved.  However we must remember that there is a need to ensure ICT literacy among the learners because not only do they have to study their course they also have to master the digital tools to engage with and evidence that study.

Feedback from the staff and students participating in the project was positive, with recognition of the enabling effects of such tools.

The full article can be read in LSDA’s January briefing.

Using Social Media to Enhance Your Information Service

The Association of Information Managers (AIM) held an excellent seminar on Social Media after their AGM last Friday (12 Feb).  The seminar, entitled “Using Social Media to Enhance Your Information Service”, was delivered by Anne Peoples, tutor in Library and Information Management at the University of Ulster.

The presentation focused on how to strategically engage with Social Media and was followed by a workshop discussion on developing a social media policy for your organisation.  I’ve included Anne’s presentation below:

The presentation is comprehensive and I would encourage anyone interested in exploring Social Media to review it.  Anne also has a number of other presentations that she has kindly shared with everyone on her slideshare channel.

As many readers will know Social Media has been a very popular topic and over the past few years businesses and organisations have been using it to engage with their customers/clients.

Doing so however is sometimes not as straight forward as it may seem.  While there are many benefits, there are also risks due to the transparent nature of the medium i.e. what is said online is there for all to see.  For this reason it is very important to have a strategy and relevant policies in place.