Tuesday, May 12, 2009

twitter promoted to standard list

There are a bunch of websites I talk about to people who are running things like local youth projects, clubs, young people's centres, and so on. It's not a long list, because all these people are very busy either running work with young people IRL, or in the back room doing admin.

But is a useful list, because a Social Networking presence is both a point of contact and a way of promoting your work; engagement and participation, if you're lucky. It's less work and more fun than running your own website, and young people are often already there, on the look out for new contacts and things to do.

These websites used to be as follows:
  • Myspace - the choice for young people's music projects, art, creative
  • Facebook - for youth parliament, volunteering, young campaigners and sport (seniors)
  • Bebo - good for health and social groups and sport (juniors)
These aren't hard and fast divisions, of course. There are some big campaigns on Bebo like It doesn't have to happen (knife crime), and there are lots of major, minor and local health providers on Facebook (like the Oxford Chlamydia Screening Project), and there's plenty more than music on myspace (the British Youth Council, for example). All the social networks have the tools to post tunes, picture, updates and so on, and all allow graded privacy, so you can let some people in, but not others. Often the only really key question is what do you use, and what do your young people use?

Which led me to someone coming in for this chat, and starting by saying, "What about Twitter?" Received wisdom says Twitter is not popular with the right age group, not a good way of forming groups, and not a good way of disseminating information (as the updates are too short). Or had everything changed again? I went off to check.

Short answer; it's changed a bit. The age distribution has crawled down a little, and the emerging conventions for linking and topic threading have made it a more useful communications channel. And I've made myself a work Twitter in anticipation of it changing some more, and so I can demonstrate Twitter safely to colleagues.

However, as far as advising workers goes, I'll be sticking with saying (much as I do for blogs, in fact) , don't do it unless it's something you would do anyway. At the moment there's just not enough value added -- or enough of your local young people there to reach out to.