Category: social media

Digital technology and new models of support for older people

A new report by Shirley Ayres for Nominet Trust outlines the issues we’re facing in an ageing society and explores the potential of online digital communications technology to address these issues. As well as Shirley’s invaluable insights, this report provides a comprehensive review of the evidence and research in this area and cites innovative projects already under way.

It focuses on well-being, independence and prevention through access, connection and inclusivity. She makes the vital point early on that digital technology cannot replace human contact, kindness, empathy and understanding but it does allow people to connect in different ways, quickly and easily.

Feeling connected and having supportive social relationships has a strong link to health and longevity. Isolation, loneliness, physical and mental health challenges are important social challenges facing society as a whole. And for older people in particular, isolation is a major factor impacting on their well-being and life expectancy.

Social media has made an impact on the way many of us communicate, collaborate and share knowledge and information – whether that is with friends and family, colleagues or complete strangers. Online engagement is a powerful way to draw connections between people that may have never met, but who share many of the same life experiences and interests.

Challenges for social care

‘Older people’ are not a homogenous group, they’re as varied in their needs and interests as individuals in any other sector of the population.

Technology provides many different ways of connecting people and resources. This should enable the design and delivery of appropriate care services that help to celebrate and value the life experience and wisdom offered by the older people they are supporting.

Shirley also addresses issues of digital inclusion. Government plans to deliver more services ‘digital by default’ have created challenges for social care including disparity of Internet access and digital literacy.

The use of technology for enabling social contact and participation can be very successful, but many older people need a little help to start using digital technology – plus ongoing support


The report calls for a more holistic approach to ageing, taking into account not only the complex needs of older individuals but also those of individuals with care responsibilities. It champions better integration of service provision and collaboration between the digital tech industry, academics, care providers and people who use care services.

Care and support in a digital society needs to have a different focus which challenges the perceptions of older people as being a ‘burden’ and promotes the benefits of technology to enable people to live more independent, safe and fulfilling lives.

She concludes with a number of recommendations, including:

  • Developing from the ground up an independent Community Wellbeing and Social Technology Hub which takes advantage of the technology which it reports on and supports all stakeholders to to share resources in discoverable ways
  • Carers and care seekers need to access information and support online more easily
  • A more joined-up approach to digital inclusion and a more open way of working to avoid expensive and unnecessary duplication of pilots
  • Digital tech innovation showcase events

The full report can be found here.


Twitter is the fastest-growing social network in the world

Twitter is now the fastest-growing social network in the world, with almost half a billion people signing up worldwide.

59% of Twitter account holders are now active on a monthly basis, up from 50% in the first half of 2012.

The number of account holders who use Twitter at least once a month grew 40% in the second half of 2012 to 288 million, according to the internet research company Global Web Index (GWI).

This figure means Twitter – valued at $9bn (£5.7bn) – is growing faster than both Facebook and Google+.

No doubt something will replace Twitter one day but whatever happens, I’m confident the skills necessary to use it now, that experience and a working understanding of the key principles will give us the grounding we need to keep up with vital developments and changes in the way we work as digital communications technology rapidly advances.

Latest Digital Developments – round-up (19/12/2012)

On my radar – some of the latest digital developments, debate and insights (please add anything I have missed in the comments, thanks)

Digital by default requires a concerted culture change

Embracing the new digital by default strategy will benefit public service users, but government departments will have to change

For [the Department of Health], going digital is more about adopting digital tools and techniques we now take for granted in our personal lives to make the business of government better. These techniques can help us communicate more effectively; share and manage knowledge more robustly; develop more efficient working practices and improve and open up policy-making.

 By Rachel Neaman, deputy director of digital, channel strategy and publishing, and digital leader for the Department of Health, Digital by default requires a concerted culture change, The Guardian Thursday 6 December 2012

How social media can help you do your job in #ukhousing

Bromford Group tops the list in social communications study because it behaves as a network of connected staff, residents and partners

How can housing providers demonstrate that they are delivering social value? We believe that running a social business provides at least part of the answer. Under the banner “connected housing”, Thames Valley Housing Association is working to understand how housing professionals can use social media more effectively to improve their efforts for tenants and customers.

By Jayne Hilditch, corporate services director at Thames Valley Housing Association, How social media can help you do your job in #ukhousing, The Guardian, Friday 7 December 2012

How social business is changing the way we work

Businesses that utilise social tools are embracing a new age of problem solving and interaction

Social business is an increasingly popular organisational strategy that embraces a flatter and more transparent company culture and more collaborative, mobile and social technology in the workplace. Social business is a response to a variety of technology trends, including consumerisation of IT, social media, big data and cloud computing combined with the generational shifts taking place in the office.

By Johan Zetterström, CEO of Projectplace, How social business is changing the way we work, The Guardian, Monday 10 December 2012

How to manage and curate social media for live events

Social media can contribute to the success of an event, whether it’s a conference, a sports match, or live chat during a TV show. But with people posting to different channels from all angles, it’s hard to know where to begin managing and curating all that content in order to improve the experience of attendees and viewers, and not swamp them. Fret not: here’s how to run a tight ship.

By Tamara Littleton, CEO of eModeration, How to manage and curate social media for live events, Econsultancy Blog, Wednesday 12 December 2012

 Future of Impacts: ‘How to’ guide to social media, podcasting and blogging for academics

Nice round-up of resources on academic blogging, podcasts and social media on the LSE’s Impact of Social Sciences Blog

Missed our on our ‘How to’ sessions at the recent Future of Impacts conference? Never fear, our ‘How to’ social media, podcasting, blogging and impact case study guides are here.

From Impact of Social Sciences Blog (LSE), Future of Impacts: ‘How to’ guide to social media, podcasting, blogging and writing your REF impact case study Friday 14 December 2012

Prosecutors clarify offensive online posts law

New guidelines could see fewer people being charged in England and Wales for offensive messages on social networks.

The Director of Public Prosecutions said people should face a trial only if their comments on Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere go beyond being offensive. He said the guidance combats threats and internet trolls without having a “chilling effect” on free speech.

By Dominic Casciani, Prosecutors clarify offensive online posts law, BBC News, Wednesday 19 December 2012

What the Chief Executive needs to know about social media

Below is something I wrote for work. The chief exec is referred to here as she/her because I had our chief exec in mind when I wrote it. If you think I’ve left anything out or disagree with anything, please leave me a comment.

If the chief exec uses no other social media tools, she should invest in:

· Blogs
· Twitter
· LinkedIn

Taken and used in conjunction with one another, these tools can help the chief exec to achieve the following social media objectives:

1. to further develop her online profile;
2. to further develop her online network.

Blogs are a vital tool for anyone whose job it is to convey messages. They are a simple way to keep people informed and up-to-date with your professional activity. A blog can be used to give a human face and voice to an organisation or brand – essential for communicating messages online. A blog allows the author to:

  • assert her authority in her field, and used regularly;
  • help to maintain her (professional) profile and/or build on it online;
  • raise awareness of her current areas of focus, creating opportunities for conversation/collaboration.

See also: Why all non-profits should have a blog – a good one

Twitter is a simple networking tool which works on the sharing of information as currency. It is a public aspect to the chief exec’s profile that enables people to identify and connected with her online. When the chief exec is identifiable on Twitter and using it effectively she and the organisation appears more engaged, transparent and authentic. Not being identifiable on Twitter and using it effectively means a chief exec increasingly runs the risk of appearing out-of-touch or unwilling to present themselves publicly for some reason.

Using Twitter effectively requires time and dedication and doesn’t yield evident results immediately. It can take a while to find your feet and establish a useful network but Twitter becomes more meaningful, the more you use it. In order to develop a meaningful network, the chief exec must be active on Twitter, frequently tweeting links to news and developments in her field – a public demonstration that she is in touch. Other Twitter users will then follow her because she is demonstrating that she’s an authority in her field and her tweets are therefore more credible. When someone contacts the chief exec on Twitter, she should respond publicly where possible, because this demonstrates that she is engaging outside of any professional bubble.

Building a meaningful network on Twitter is a worthwhile investment for when the chief exec has a message to communicate. If she tweets a link to a new blog post, for example, her following will help circulate the message within any other networks that have a stake.

Used effectively, Twitter also offers a personalised filter for information/media – you should follow people who tweet content that makes your Timeline a relevant and useful knowledge-pool, a ‘go-to’ source of information/media, and/or could provide a meaningful answer to a question if you tweeted it.

More blogs about Twitter

LinkedIn is a professional social network that makes it very easy to find and (re)connect with anyone you have had a direct professional connection with. As with Twitter, these people are likely to help spread a message when you have something to communicate.

While there are various things one can do with LinkedIn, a great advantage is it requires minimal time and effort to maintain once your profile is complete. In the very least, LinkedIn ensures you always have a very simple way to contact anyone in your extended professional network, as they do you.

It also provides a standard professional ‘About Me’ webpage and makes your name more searchable, which raises your online profile and creates more opportunities for people to find out about you and your work.

How to make your tweets more relevant for your network

Below is an email I sent to two JRF staff about how to make the content they tweet more relevant for their network. They are working on a research programme entitled Neighbourhood Appoaches to Loneliness.


Just read an article in on the Guardian website entitled Working from home: why I miss the office. There are a couple of things in it about lack of human interaction which, obviously, is relevant for your work. The headline of the article would not necessarily suggest the link is relevant for your network but try lifting these lines from the article and tweet them with a link. So instead of the “standard” way to tweet this article, which probably looks something like this:

Working from home: why I miss the office via @guardianwork

 you could tweet:

Lack of human interaction ‘as harmful as never exercising & twice as damaging as being obese’ via @guardianwork

 –       or –

 Lack of human interaction can affect health as badly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic via @guardianwork

This should make that tweet more retweetable because people don’t even have to click the link and read the article to feel it’s worth sharing – a tweet like this consists of a fully self-contained and self-evident statistic. It’s a pithy little fact that anyone can relate to and on reading, might read actually aloud to a friend or colleague.

Twitter thrives on this! Supplying relevant information like this on Twitter will get you lots more of the right kind of followers because you’re providing a drip-feed of interesting information specific to your area of expertise. Never mind the fact that it’s not your/original content, sharing others’ content in this way will make more people look at your Twitter profile to see who you are. The most relevant people will follow you. You might follow some of those back and thus you are building your professional network online. This network will then help you to spread the word when you do have some original content to share from your work, e.g. a blog or publication.

After doing this, and at the time of writing this blog, Tracey’s tweet was retweeted 36 times and favorited 3 times. She also gained several new followers and was contacted by someone who was doing similar work.

For comparison, Tracey also tweeted at the same time a link to the article in a more “standard” format, i.e. Headline, URL link, via @username. As you can see (below), this got no retweets, replies or favorites at all, and so did nothing (measurable) for her online network.

How to recognize #spam on Twitter and what to do about it

Below are some examples of Spam Direct Messages (DM) on Twitter. Putting these into a presentation for a workshop but thought I’d share here.

There are lots of variations but if you receive a message that looks anything like any of these, do not click the link. Clicking the link will send the same DM to all your followers. I don’t know if it does anything more malicious than this but this alone is enough to unsettle people and undermine confidence in online security.

Spam messages on Twitter are often easy to identify because they appear unusual in tone and subject for the @user it comes from. There’s no need to unfollow the @user, just politely reply point out that you’ve received spam from them and encourage them not to click any links they’re not sure of. When someone shares a link with you via Twitter, it’s because they think it’s worth reading for you particularly. They won’t mind if you reply and ask them to confirm the message and link is genuine.

Don’t trust unmarked links. When you share a link, say what it is and why it’s worth clicking.

If someone points out that they’ve received spam from you, don’t panic. Just do a quick tweet warning your followers that if they recieve an unusual message from you it’s likely to be spam and that they should just delete it.