Making Child Welfare More Social: How Social Media Can Influence Child Welfare Practices

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  • The real question that I’m sure all of you have is, why is this person qualified to tell us about social media as it relates to child welfare? Well there are two real reasons, 1. I’m only 27, but because I get older every year the other reason I give is that I’m obsessed with social media and do a lot of advocacy work in Oregon around foster care.More than anything, the goal of today’s webinar is to get you energized about using social media in child welfare practice. Social media is confusing, complicated and high stakes but it holds a great deal of opportunity for connection and social change and is an integral part of teen life. I’m going to over what social media is, how widespread it is, why people use it, what the positive benefits of using it are, and how youth in care use it.Then I’m going to map out what some of the obstacles to using social media are and one by one we’re going to go through those obstacle and I’ll point you to some tools and strategies that can help you overcome those barriers. And if I leave anything out we’ll do our best to address it in the Q & A.Without further ado, let’s move on to defining what social media is.
  • Social media is any online platform or channel for publishing and disseminating user-generated content. It’s this ability for anyone to create and disseminate content that makes social media so powerful and so social. Social media is a powerful tool from on organizational perspective because it allows us to have transparency and accountability in a way we’ve never had before, in particular with large organizations and government agencies that previously have been inaccessible. Every individual can now publicly state their opinion, whether positive or negative, and because of the public nature of the space, that opinion is often listened to and taken seriously. Social media allows us as individuals to take our environment and engage with it and shape it in a way that I find empowering and exciting. At the organizational level we can take this accountability and transparency and empower people to engage with us and make the services we provide that much more useful and impactful. The other aspect of social media that I love is the access to information that we now have at our fingertips. For youth in care, some of the information that matters the most is information about health, so that they can make better decisions and get help and support when they need it. It’s this access to connection and information that makes social media so popular – in addition to the fact that when we use social media our brain releases the “cuddle” hormone oxytocin!
  • Now that we’ve defined social media I want to quickly go over some data about social media and how widespread it is. The data mapped out here matches very closely to the trends in Canada as well. To see social media penetration mapped out by country visit socialbakers.comRegardless of your personal feelings about social media, it’s reaching a significant portion of the population and is here to stay, so it’s worth learning about.My goal is to share my passion about social media and provide you with some tools that will help you to feel empowered to begin using social media in your organization so that you can better serve the youth, families, and communities you work with.The most important thing to take away from this training is to be strategic in your use of social media. The best way to ensure you give your social media presence the time it deserves is to take social media seriously, and to learn about it. As you see, Americans spend a lot of their time online and, in particular, on social networking sites. So it behooves your organization to meet your audience where they’re at.
  • Now I want to talk a little bit about why people use social media. There are a lot of reasons people join social networking sites, including to connect with family and friends, to meet new people, and to connect with others that have shared interests and hobbies. What research from the Pew Internet and American Life Projects show us however, is that the predominant reason people use social media is to further their close offline relationships. Adult internet users that also use social media say that connections with family members and friends (both new and old) are a primary consideration in their adoption of social media tools. Roughly two thirds of social media users say that staying in touch with current friends and family members is a major reason they use these sites, while half say that connecting with old friends they’ve lost touch with is a major reason behind their use of these technologies. In addition, adults generally have positive experiences online. When social networking users were asked for one word to describe their experiences using social networking sites, “good” was the most common response (as seen in this word cloud).So people join to stay connected and continue to use social media because of the positive experiences they have. On the next slide we’ll go over some of those positive benefits.
  • The average user of a social networking site has more close ties and is half as likely to be socially isolated as the average American.Facebook users have more social support, and they are much more politically engaged compared with Americans of a similar age and education.Young adults who spend more time on Facebook than their peers are also better at showing "virtual empathy" to their online friends and such online empathy predicts real-world empathy. In addition, in a study of 63 Cornell University undergraduates, researchers found that people reported higher self-esteem after spending time on their Facebook profile than after time spent looking into a mirror (Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 2011). "Unlike a mirror, which reminds us of who we really are and may have a negative effect on self-esteem if that image does not match with our ideal, Facebook can show a positive version of ourselves," says Cornell communications professor Jeffrey Hancock, PhD, one of the study's co-authors. "We're not saying that it's a deceptive version of self, but it's a positive one.” From my perspective these positive benefits are astounding.And this is just the tip of the iceberg, this list goes on and on and you can see more of these benefits in the resource. However, I’m not trying to underplay some of the negative things that can and do happen on social media sites – the APA articles that these data came from provides a well-rounded analysis of both the benefits and the risks.
  • So how do youth in care use social media?
  • I’ve mapped out a lot of good things about social media and really outlined why you should care about it and learn about it, however it still feels kind of scary and overwhelming to some, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, you’re not alone, as this picture shows!I want to normalize your experience of being a bit hesitant to use social media in child welfare practice. There are a lot of barriers personally, professionally, and organizationally. In addition, there are some basic ethical issues that we all face in our use of social media. Let’s map out some of the barriers to implementing social media.
  • One of the biggest and most challenging barriers to social media use in your agencies is liability and policy so let’s tackle that barrier first. What we all need to avoid is the blind leading the blind!User guidelines help people to frame their experience engaging with your organization on social media, they help to develop expectations about what your audience will be getting from your organization on social media, and they help to ensure that everyone remains respectful and kind. This is also important from a legal perspective because you’re able to build in a disclaimer and be very clear about your intentions in utilizing social media. The other important thing to establish is an organizational social media policy. This is an inward facing policy designed to support employees in using social media to support the vision and mission of the organization. Of course you’re going to have your point person who’s managing your social media presence, but it’s also important to encourage and empower all staff – those that are interested at least – to use social media to develop professional relationships, provide better customer service, and raise awareness about the important work your organization is doing. However, in order to empower your employees you need to be crystal clear about your expectations are and support them in using social media appropriately and successfully. This can be accomplished through staff trainings, and the development of a clear policy that encourages certain types of behaviors and interactions on social media sites. Once again, this is also important from a legal perspective so that you can take action if a crisis occurs, or if an employee is struggling to use social media appropriately. Some good resources for developing a policy are mapped out in the companion resource for the webinar.
  • Get rid of the myths – just like we are on today’s webinar!Make sure to see if there are people already on staff who want to help and might even be able to provide training.
  • 8 of 10 teens who are online use social networking sites — and more than 93% of those users have a Facebook account, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Teens are starting to use to Instagram and Snapchat, both photo-centric applications. Data is showing that younger teens are becoming a bit more wary of Facebook because of the older users that are joining and monitoring, however, they are still very active users.
  • In reaching youth make sure that whatever you do is mobiley optimized.
  • One of the largest obstacles in using social media is how much time it takes. As a general rule of thumb I usually say that for a really basic social media presence it takes at least one hour per platform per week, however this is true only if you have developed a clear social media strategy and workflow. In addition, tools such as Google Alerts help with the time side of things by delivering content directly to your inbox.Last but not least, platforms such as Buffer App, Tweet Deck and Hoot Suite allow you to schedule out posts so that at the beginning of your week you can map out all of your posts and they will be posted automatically. However, when it comes to Facebook I recommend scheduling out your posts within Facebook itself.You must become a content management machine and these tools will help you do that.

Transcript

  • 1. Making Child WelfareMore SocialBrittany Smith, Build Social, LLC
  • 2. What is Social Media? Any online platform or channel for publishing and disseminating user-generated content.1 Social media allows us to engage with and empower our communities.  Connection  Access to information1. http://heidicohen.com/social-media-definition/
  • 3. Take it seriously! Social media is  Half of all American widespread. adults are using social  In the U.S., social networking sites.2 networks and blogs  95% of all teens ages reach nearly 80% of Internet users and 12-17 are online and represents the 80% of those teens majority of Americans’ use social media.3 time online.1 1. http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/social/ 2. http://www.pewinternet.org/Media-Mentions/2011/Half-of-American-adults-use- Facebook- other-social-networks 3. http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Teens-and-social-media
  • 4. It’s About Relationships Connection with family and friends is the primary reason.  2/3 say staying in touch is a major reason they use these sites.1 Most online adults describe their experiences using social media in positive terms.2 1. http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Why-Americans-Use-Social-Media 2. http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Social-Networking-Sites
  • 5. Positive Benefits The average user has  Young adults who spend more close ties and is more time on Facebook ½ as likely to be are better at showing socially isolated.1 ―virtual empathy.‖3 65% of teens have had an experience that  Youth who use made them feel good blogs, websites and about themselves. 58% email to discuss politics have felt closer to and current events another person.2 become more socially engaged over time.41. http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Technology-and-social-networks2. http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Teens-and-social-media/Summary/Majority-of-teens3. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/10/facebook.aspx4. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/02/friends.aspx
  • 6. Youth in Care & Social Media  Connection  Siblings  Bio parents  Foster siblings  Friends from previous placements  Ability to tell their story  Support from peers  Health information
  • 7. Panic is Normal! “Moral panic is a common reaction to new forms of communication.”11. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2009.01474.x/full
  • 8. Barriers Lack of time and staff support Knowledge and skills Finding content Knowing where to start Confidentiality issues Policy Liability
  • 9. Guidelines & Policies Develop user guidelines/policies for youth.  In partnership with youth  Focus on empowerment Develop an internal social media policy for staff. Crisis plan.
  • 10. Social Media Trainings  Train staff on why youth use social media and how they’re using it.  Train staff on the social media policy, basics of social media.  Train youth on the risks of benefits of social media – make it fun!  Ask youth what they want to know.
  • 11. Which Platforms? Facebook Instagram Snapchat Photo-centric applications
  • 12. Youth & Internet Access  One in four teens are ―cell-mostly‖ internet users — far more than the 15% of adults who are cell- mostly. Among teen smartphone owners, half are cell- mostly.1  You must be mobile!1. http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Teens-and-Tech/Main-Findings/Teens-and-Technology.aspx
  • 13. Content ManagementMachine Buffer App Tweet Deck Hoot Suite
  • 14. Ending Thoughts Learn about social media by using it yourself. Remember, the point is to connect. Take one small step at a time – think strategically. When in doubt, ask for help.
  • 15. Questions? 503-477-9221 brittany@buildsocialconsulting.com www.buildsocialconsulting.com @ebkcd2 facebook.com/buildsocialconsulting linkedin.com/company/build-social-llc