Though many social media and ICT platforms and technologies are designed for users with little to no specialized training, they still require a certain degree of technological fluency. Like most things, this fluency comes with practice, and the best way to learn a new social media and ICT platform or technology is to use it.
As was noted in the section Considering costs, it can be worthwhile to hire staff who are comfortable with social media and ICT, and to invest some time and money to increase your organizational capacity as it relates to these tools. In addition to this more formal approach, a great way to learn a new social media and ICT platform or technology is simply to use it (which is particularly advantageous in the case of free platforms and technologies, in that you do not need to invest any funds up front to be able to play and try them out).
If you’re curious about Instagram and you think that it could be a useful platform for your organization, then the best way to find out is to create an Instagram account and to explore. This will allow you learn about the different functions and elements of Instagram – how you log on, how you add, edit and caption pictures, how you connect with other users. For the most part, unless you have actively started using the platform and connecting with others, your practice efforts need not be largely visible publicly.
In addition to making your own attempts, it can be very useful to see how others are using these platforms and technologies, so utilize your exploration time to research and study what is happening with other users. What are they doing that seems to be successful, and less successful? How do users interact with one another? Are there fora and discussion boards (officially affiliated to the platform or technology or not) where people share and respond to each others’ stories, problems and ideas?
Social media and ICT influencers may have some very useful tricks and lessons to teach you when it comes to optimizing your use of social media and ICT platforms or technologies. You may not be able to afford a team of social media and ICT advisors, but the Kardashian family certainly can. You may want to consider following the successful influencers, the ones who have managed to amass a large following, and to learn from what they are doing – how often they use the platforms, what type of information they share, and how.
While it can be beneficial to increase your organization’s, and your own, social media and ICT capacity, chances are that you will still have to hire and work with specialized consultants when it comes to some of the more complex technical aspects of the work. Again, having a certain degree of familiarity and/or openness to the technology may facilitate this process, in that it will make it easier for you to voice your needs and ideas to the specialists, and to understand their own suggestions and ideas.
As we can learn in the ICAD case study about their move to a virtual office, while the organization had a pre-existing relationship with the external IT team, they still had to reconfigure their communication approach in the context of this major technological undertaking. They maintained close communication before, during and after the transition to the virtual office, also ensuring that everyone was kept in the loop and that all terms and ideas were clearly defined and understood by all parties. Though you may not understand all of the technological terms and processes of social media and ICT, it’s important to take the time to talk through some of these issues with your specialized help – not only will this ensure that you are on the same page, but you will likely learn a few things and build your own capacity in the process.
Anyone who has used technology in the context of work has likely made or heard a comment about the limits of technology in the context of work. From a webinar that won’t emit any audio, to a computer that freezes when you’re submitting an important funding application, to an app that no longer works because your phone hasn’t been updated, when it comes to technology, things often can and do go wrong.
As has been stressed throughout, social media and ICT interventions require careful planning, and this applies to technological matters as well. As you are developing your project or your foray into a new social media and ICT venture, make sure that you are carefully considering the technological requirements needed to ensure its success. In addition to confirming that you have access to the tools that will allow you to develop the project in the first place, and that these are relevant to the audience that you are trying to reach (see Choosing the right media), you should also ensure that they are updated at the time of the launch. At this point, it may be worth it to look to your specialist to ensure that everything is set up and ready to be used. As an extra measure of safety, you may also want to develop a backup plan ahead of time, and find alternative tools or solutions should any issues arise.
If and when problems come up – they probably will – be honest and transparent with your audience about what is happening and what you are doing to fix it. You may lose a few audience members along the way but ultimately, honesty really is the best policy.