Outcomes and examples

For my Carnegie UK Trust report on the use of social media in civil society, we want to include a list of “outcomes”, i.e. possible results of using social media (provided that you do it right, of course!). We’d also like to pull together some very short examples – from charities, NGOs, unions, mutuals, co-ops, etc. – that illustrate these outcomes, where we can. Of course, there aren’t necessarily enough examples out there, but it’d be good to try and find some.

Here’s our preliminary list of outcomes:

  1. Social media helps to engage with segments of the population that traditional marketing may find it difficult to reach.
  2. Social media enables conversations to take place, which facilitates the co-creation of knowledge.
  3. Social media improves the relationship between an association and individual supporters, as well as between supporters.
  4. Social media allows information to rapidly ripple through a community, thus enabling quick and effective mobilisation online and offline.
  5. Social media provides platforms for dissent by allowing people to express discontent or highlight abuses of power.
  6. Social media strengthens offline communities, and offline events strengthen online relationships.
  7. Social media improves the transparency, governance and accountability of organisations, which increases trust in those organisations.
  8. Social media brings about financial benefits by helping organise direct and indirect fundraising.
  9. Social media, used internally, helps improve the effectiveness and efficiency of organisations and enables flexible staffing and volunteering.
  10. Social media helps create highly responsive and less hierarchically governed civil society associations.

Do you have any more key outcomes that you think we’re missing? Any of these that you disagree with? And, most importantly, do you have any examples that would illustrate these?

6 thoughts on “Outcomes and examples

  1. Hi Suw..

    interesting to read your outcomes and what might be the potential of social media for civil society.. that’s a difficult task to come up wiht them .. as civil society is so varied…is this about the UK specifically?
    the outcomes are all very positive.. wondered if you’d tried turning them on their head too…
    for example social media excludes segments of the population and disinformation and misunderstandings ripple through communities with potentially disastrous consequences..or at best unfortunate consequences..
    For example
    I have read a number of postings this week from all over the world claiming that UK NHS advocates that teenagers have sex every day because its’ good for their health..

    Finally I would very much like to see an example of 10 if you get one!

  2. Suw, maybe a word about how social media may lower the barrier of entry for participating as it may offer ways to engage in action that are very shallow, and may in time develop into deeper engagement for some

  3. For me, one of the key benefits of social media is the way I have been able to generate an international network of people in similar roles to mine (a fairly senior level in the organisation), where this would have been impossible using traditional networking (not facilitated by technology). As a consequence, I can now call on a group of people who have contributed to the development of my ideas — for the benefit of my organisation.

    I think this is slightly different from the examples you give — those apply at all levels of the organisation, while mine focuses on the senior levels. (Probably just below the C-level.)

  4. What about the creative, non-text-based side of social media? By that I mean audio, video, photos/images, visualisations and so on? It’s suggested by number 2 but the “conversations” metaphor may not capture it fully. For instance “social media facilitate group creativity and novel idea development”.

    Are you taking account of APIs, feed syndication and suchlike anywhere? Perhaps something along the lines of “social media are extensible and adaptable, with the potential for data to be re-used by third parties to generate unexpected insights”.

    Also, is enjoyment among the valid outcomes?

  5. I’d have to agree with most of those points on your list. Although I’m sure that some people out there (skiers) would disagree that snowboarders fall into civil society I have certainly benefited from the use of social media. By promoting myself and my riding via my blog and Twitter, I struck up conversations with someone basedin Southern California (I live in Essex, UK) through those conversations I’ve now been given snowboard sponsorship by his snowboard brand http://www.humanitysnow.com as as part of the team will not only be spreading the word about the brand but using social media to reach out to others (inc by micro-loads).

    On the flip side point 5 reminds me of a recent incident where a brand on Twitter posted a podcast which was factually inaccurate, social media gave me the opportunity to blog about this and share my disgust, Unfortunately the company concerned only “broadcast” and haven’t got back to me following my Tweets or my post. Based on their poor use of social media I won’t be purchasing anything from their brand in future

  6. Thanks for your responses, everyone!

    @Clodagh, yes, this is about the UK. The outcomes are all positive – we do address the negatives elsewhere in the report, but generally speaking I want this to be a positive report and not one that might scare the crap out of its readers!

    @Tuija, that’s a very good one! Thanks! Hope you don’t mind if I lift that almost word for word!

    @Mark, that’s a good one that speaks to the use of social media internally. Like it!

    @Carl, I’ve been thinking in a medium-agnostic way, but you’re right that I need to explicitly talk about how this applies to media other than text. I think I’ll also nick your phrasing as it’s well put. I’m not talking in detail about APIs, because I think that’s just a touch too techie for the audience, but again, i think it’s worth putting that outcome in to indicate there’s more than just what’s on the site.

    @Kat, thanks for your example! I’m not sure if that’s a ‘civil society’ eg or not, but it’s an interesting one!

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