Just got back from today’s Digital Futures Conference, where (as I often do at these social media gatherings) I feel a bit humbled in that I seemed to take away from it an unfair share of ideas from energetic, knowledgeable and generally impressive people. The event started with a guest speaker joining us via Skype! I loved the idea of this – it was brave and had a whiff of “look-what-we-can-do” about it – and why not? Let’s not forget that however geeky it seems, video communication is still just so cool, and as someone who’s watching their nephew grow up via Skype, the novelty is still not lost on me. So I was impressed from the start.
As the morning rolled on, there were words floating around a lot – how digital media SHOULD be, if it is to be effective and genuine: Open. Authentic. Honest. Playful.
Playfulness is a word that my yoga teacher mentions regularly. Its about open-hearted courage, self-exploration and learning (often by failing and trying again – you don’t want to see my ‘crow’ pose!) and its something I’ve been thinking (dare I say meditating?) about in recent weeks.
So it was interesting for me to hear it crop up today in talks and discussions about the future of digital communications and social media. I think that authenticity is something that many twitter feeds strive for but often fall short of. People can smell self-promotion at fifty paces, and in the case of local government (including front line services like police, fire and even countryside rangers!) the public will only respond well if they feel they are talking to a PERSON. Not an automaton. Not ‘The Enemy’. Not a sales pitch.
Ultimately, anything we do or say online is on display for all to see, and time won’t warp or dissolve it. It would be easy to be paralysed by the thought that everyone is going to see our next mistake. But our fallibility is what lets people know that we’re human, and the courage to carry on with transparency and good humour in spite of the vulnerability that comes with that openness is what people will respond to. And let’s not forget that, ultimately, we are SUPPOSED to be having fun – so bring the playfulness back – the public out there in the Twitterverse are humans too, and perhaps won’t judge us as harshly as we fear. 😉 *I hope.