Recently I had the pleasure of running a workshop for some community groups. The aim of the event was to help them to understand how social media, and in particular Twitter, could be used to support their work. I had prepared what I wanted to cover to give them the background about how Twitter developed, how it works and what they may be able to use it for. As always, I made sure that I covered the risks and issues that had to be considered as well as the positive benefits from using social networking.
What was surprising for me was that the group I was speaking to were all retired and older people who were involved in a number of community groups. They ranged from people who were already using social media through to at least one who didn’t want to use it and believed people should communicate face-to-face.
They all shared one thing though and that was an interest in understanding how Twitter could introduce new people to the work the community groups did and more importantly encourage a new generation to get involved. I am a huge advocate for using social media and can see significant benefits for many voluntary and charity groups who can gain support, followers, and hopefully develop more volunteers.
I spent quite a while explaining how modern life has made it extremely challenging for people to connect on a real basis. Most people work late, will potentially face a long commute and when they get home are unlikely to want to turn around and go out to a community meeting. But they may feel able to get a cup of tea, turn on the laptop and log into a virtual community which will connect them to events and items of interest in their local neighbourhood. This is just a fact of modern life. I hope that more community groups will take the opportunity from Twitter, Facebook and other networks and start to improve their links to younger generations.
At the end of the short training session they may not have all wanted to go out and start using Twitter but one thing they shared was an understanding of the benefits and opportunities that the social network brought. I just hope that a few of them find a way to make social networking work for them regardless of their age.