At the end of an-eye opening, informative, thought-provoking, and at times a little scary, course on Social Media through an EC project called PLACES, all about science communication. We have learnt about tools, attitudes, the power to galvanise, the internet’s life of its own and much more from Podnosh and friends, a local organisation passionate about changing the way we communicate with each other.  Other participants from across the region and across Europe come from universities, science centres, local authorities, science festivals etc which has made for an interesting mix and informed and useful sharing of ideas and discussion.  Some of the course has been captures via Twitter at #sciplaces or on the scienceplaces You-Tube link.

Whilst I have learn a huge amount, at this stage I have more questions than answers about how social media can best help the goals of Birmingham Science City to  develop, use and promote science and technology to improve prosperity and quality of life for Birmingham and the surrounding region.  But here are some immediate thoughts to share and discuss with the local science and technology based innovation community we seek to support and develop:

  • We are concious that our Twitter and LinkedIn activity reaches wider than the traditional groups we acess though e-mail lists, meetings and word of mouth.  We accept this might go wider that our target, but assume that will self-regulate as people will continue to participate only if the fora interest them.  For me the bigger question is how we open the eyes of those already active members of our community though traditional routes to the much greater potential of sharing, discussing and developing through social media?
  • Whilst I am not too concerned about Birmingham Science City’s brand per se, as we have to adapt to needs, I am concious of our representation of many well established organisations with their own images and routes to engagement.  How far can we go taking our partners with us on this social media adventure and will they agree that the benefit of opening conversations out outweigh some of the loss of control that is an inevitable part of this world? 
  • Unlike some of the examples we have heard of, our aim is not to go viral.  We need to remain very concious of the community we are supporting and keep a degree of focus.  At the same time we can help to link to overlapping communities so need to retain some openess.
  • We need to give more thought to the best tools to use and how better to use the tools we are currently using – admittedly in a fairly amaturish way (though learning fast by doing, as seems the norm in social media).  We have taken a big jump in our knowledge in the last days, but would value the thoughts and views of the Birmingham City Partners/ community – so please comment!

Pam Waddell

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