I have been near Camden, Maine for the past few days at the PopTech 2009 Fellows Program as part of the PopTech 2009 conference (streaming live), which starts on Wednesday. PopTech is an amazing blend of people, ideas, and projects.
I was humbled to join the illustrious list of faculty members who have talents and wisdom in content areas that I only dance around of the edges of. This includes leadership, social innovation, communications, branding, graphic facilitation, financial and funding models. Even more inspiring was to learn more about the work that PopTech Fellows are doing to change the world.
I taught a very brief workshop in strategic social media using the social media strategy game. The game has a strong communications lens. Ever since the SXSW blog discussion "What is the distinction between social media for charity and social media for social good" I've wanted to play the game with a critical mass of smart people who have a program and social change lens.
I learned a lot about how to begin to adapt the game process for people with a program orientation. Here are some thoughts about tweaking the instructional design:
Game Length and Instructional Context
Lately, I've had the experience of running the game as a 3-hour workshop as part of a second day of peer learning workshops on Network Effectiveness. The social media strategy game is focused on how social media tools can be used for external communications. All of the instruction is aligned to a network frame.
In comparison, this was a shorter time amount of time, different instructional styles across faculty, and the overall frame was social innovation. The game needs more time and if there is no time on the agenda, then a different design is needed.
Graphic Facilitation Rocks
The Audience As Part of the Presentation
One of the things that I do before I teach this workshop is look at the participant's social media ant trails by looking at their web sites, twitter streams, Facebook and YouTube. I look for examples that match the principles for effective use and incorporate them into the presentation. This gives an opportunity for the audience to share their story and their knowledge.
One of the benefits of taking this approach is that it shifts the instructional design from sage on the stage to learning in the community. It also helped me discover an authentic example of social media for social good - WildlifeDirect. Through online diaries and blogs, WildlifeDirect brings supporters and conservationists together and enables individual donors around the world to communicate directly with the people that they are funding. The goal: a movement powerful enough to respond to any conservation emergency anywhere swiftly and efficiently, reverse the catastrophic loss of habitats and species and secure the future of wildlife in Africa, Asia and around the world.
Social Media Strategy As Design Process
Executive Creative Director of frog design, Robert Fabricant, leads multidisciplinary design teams, teaches at NYU’s Tisch School. He taught a session on social design right before the social media strategy game at the end of the day. A lot of his ideas connect to social media strategy best practices - for example the reiteration process and listen, learn, and adapt.
Adapting the Game from A Communications Lens to A Program Lens
Ideally this would happen from collaborating with social innovation subject matter experts to adapt and redesign the game cards and the simulation so that it matched a social innovation or social design framework. The quick and dirty design framework might be a place to start - to examine how or where to incorporate the use of social media for each step.
I need to remind myself that when I bring social media instruction into a different context, I need to also learn as much as I can about the instructional content of other people on the team.
In putting people into small groups to collaborate on a strategy, I've always made sure that there was at least one person in each group who had a lot of hands-on social media tool experience. When you have a room with more people with a program lens, it is also important to spread the communications expertise as well. Being comfortable or having experience using social media tools and communications expertise are two different mindsets.
The cards include a set of "people cards" which includes snippets of market research. People with communications orientations work with research in different ways than program people.
Social Media Skepticism is Healthy
I hear a lot of social media skepticism. It is important to have the conversation to unpack it. Otherwise, attitudes don't change. What I have done in many workshops, is the spectragram where people line up according how their experience with social media tools and we have a conversation. With more time, would have done a set of three looking experience/skill, comfort, and communications/program.
Making New Connections, Reinforcing Old Ones
It was great to see some familiar faces and make new connections. Kristen Taylor is the Digital Content/Community Manager and writes the blog. Poptech is lucky to have a talented social media guru on staff. It was great to connect with Ory Okolloh – Ushahidi , who I have known for many years. She is a lawyer, activist and blogger, and the co-founder and executive director of Ushahidi, a free, open source, Web mobile-based platform capable of crowd-sourcing, sharing and mapping information in near real time.
I appreciated the facilitation provided by Mukara Meredith who integrates universal principles of healing into a new model of leadership called Matrixworks. She created a wonderful closing ritual that helped the community form.
Finally, I would like to thank Andrew Zolli and the fellows staff Leetha Filderman and Ollie Wilder for all the hard work they did to create a world class training program.