Getting sociable at the museum

Hugh Wallace









Guest blog post from Hugh Wallace, Head of Digital at National Museums Scotland. Hugh will be speaking at #BeGoodBeSocial Glasgow this Summer – we’ll have ticket info out soon folks.

It’s now slightly strange to consider a time when social media wasn’t part of the day-to-day. At National Museums Scotland, where I head up the Digital Media department, it’s become an integral part of how we communicate with our audiences and how they communicate with us. We’ve built up a decent sized user-base, particularly on Facebook and Twitter, and we’re getting better at pushing out the sort of stuff that generates interest and provokes a response.

So that’s all good, right?

Well… I think one of the increasingly difficult judgement calls organisations have to make is around where they can add, and gain, value on the social networks they inhabit. The platforms people use, and the way in which they use them, are changing and what may once have seemed like an ‘easy win’ can start to feel old hat very quickly. Striking a balance around tone of voice, volume of content and return on investment can be tricky and takes time to get right.

Whilst I don’t pretend to have all the answers, what I will talk about at the upcoming #BeGoodBeSocial is how we’ve generated an audience, what’s worked for us in terms of sustaining that audience, why having a strategic approach pays off, where mobile has started to play an important role and what I think we need to get better at. If that all sounds a bit dry I’ll also be mentioning dinosaurs, tea towels, space hoppers and Game of Thrones, and I may even explode the odd myth or two – so hopefully there’ll be something to whet everyone’s appetites.

LIVESTREAM – 6.30pm GMT 20th Dec

Be Good Be Social will be streamed LIVE from the Scottish Parliament between 6.30pm – 9.00pm GMT on Thursday 20th December 2012.

You can join in the discussion via Twitter using the #BeGoodBeSocial hashtag. Hope you can join us!

6pm Networking drinks and food
6.30pm Intro to Be Good Be Social from Ross McCulloch
6.40pm Anne Connor, Mind Waves
7.10pm John Haydon, The Nonprofit Facebook Guy – Live Video Discussion
8pm Break
8.20pm David McGillivray & Jennifer M Jones, #CitizenRelay
8.50pm Q&A panel featuring all speakers
9pm Close and then off to the pub

Social Media for Social Good LIVE

From 9.30am on Thursday 22nd November 2012 we’ll be live streaming Social Media for Social Good Glasgow in full. Simply click the ‘live’ button at the top of our website or go straight to the livestream player.

Remember to join in with all the chat on the night via our hashtag: #begoodbesocial


#Citizenrelay: Engaging with communities through participatory practices

Special Guest blog post from Jennifer Jones & David McGillivray….you can hear them speak at #BeGoodBeSocial Edinburgh!

#citizenrelay was a Creative Scotland-funded participatory arts and (social) media project that brought an interdisciplinary team of academics, activists, artists and community media specialists into dialogue with a variety of publics around the ‘hook’ of the Olympic Torch Relay as it travelled around Scotland in June of this year. The project also addressed the potential use of citizen journalism as a means of opening up channels of debate and discussion and offering a space for critique around major sporting and cultural events. #citizenrelay secured positive impacts in the way it formed a strong online and offline community of local reporters and utilized accessible tools and techniques to ensure their voices were heard within the saturated media landscape around major events. There are five features of the #citizenrelay project that merit further discussion here: immediacy, connectedness, locality, empowerment and participation.

In designing the #citizenrelay project, we were acutely aware that the established media were investing significant resources on technology and personnel on the ground to provide up to the minute content for their various media platforms. In order to create a niche space within the wider Torch Relay media landscape, we emphasised the importance of immediacy, of content generation and upload. We recruited 60 reporters and 8 interns to support content generation and the focus of our training was on how to point and shoot quickly with minimal editing and upload through 3G or wireless networks within minutes. The complete the circle, that content was then pushed instantaneously through our integrated social media channels (Twitter, Facebook and the blog) to the audience.

Another hugely significant part of our success was connectedness, both physically and virtually. We started out by reaching out to the sorts of partners who were interested in community media, social media, community engagement or even the Olympic Games themselves. We forged mutually beneficial partnerships with universities and colleges and a wide range of community organisations (often from the third sector) by going out to meet them and developing a shared vision for involvement , however limited. We then built an online community around #citizenrelay, embedding the notion of a participatory, citizen-owned media environment where anyone with a smartphone could contribute their views on what the Torch Relay and the Olympics meant to them. From January 2012 onwards, use of the hashtag increased each and every month on the lead up to the Torch Relay itself, culminating in its being used by a wide range of public agencies, media organisations and individuals from the 7-14th June.

Foregrounding locality was also at the heart of the vision of #citizenrelay, despite the project having a declared ‘national’ ambition to aggregate content during the Olympic Torch Relay’s visit to Scotland. Our commitment to a more bottom-up, place specific agenda was built into our recruitment of interns and reporters from four regions of Scotland (Glasgow and the West, Inverness and the North West, Dundee and the North East and Edinburgh and the East) and our investment in driving a mobile community media centre (aka our University minibus) around the country to help support our media makers in each locality. Our commitment to localness also extended to the use of a variety of wireless enabled venues across Scotland, from a pub in Tomintoul to a library in Giffnock to edit and upload content when the 3G signal was unsatisfactory. Finally, we handed out cards containing links to the website and our social media channels to local people so that they could easily access content about their community. This tactic helped drive traffic to our website and provided communities not covered by the established media on their limited TV coverage to see themselves recognised as part of the Scottish-wide event.

At the heart of the emergence of small media, community media or whatever moniker you wish to use is that the Empowerment (to become media makers) and participation (the ethos of accessibility) as features of successful citizen journalism initiatives. The rich data generated from the project has been visualized and our own research endeavours have been captured in the form of a documentary film in partnership with the Media Trust’s newsnet project. Allied to the data journalism expertise being deployed by others to ‘read’ #citizenrelay and we have a fascinating participatory ethnography taking place where both the product (media content) and the process are being analysed from a range of perspectives.

Be Good Be Social Takes over Toronto again

Get ready for a night of peer-to-peer collaboration and innovative thinking. Be Good Be Social Toronto is back this year with an exciting lineup jammed-packed with thought leaders from some of Canada’s most dynamic non-profit organizations.

On November 7, at CSI Annex in Toronto, the second annual Be Good Be Social Toronto event takes place.


Highlights of the night include:

  • Social media clinics with experts on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook all available during breaks to answer your questions in an informal setting.
  • Opening panel on social media for crisis response, featuring panelists from The Redwood women’s shelter, Ontario 211 helpline, and the Toronto Police.


Expect to be engaged, entertained and inspired.

Tickets are FREE to non-profit staff. Get your tickets now!

Connect with us on Twitter: @BeGoodToronto #BGBS12

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Special thanks to our sponsors: