Social networking and OHS

Less than two days ago, someone established a Facebook page in order to seek justice for Brodie Panlock.  At the time of writing the page has over 2,800 supporters, mostly young.  The page is being moderated very closely so that any inflammatory comments are jumped on very quickly.  The site has a maturity that is showing the best elements of social networking sites.

The moderators are referring to the site as a petition but this is not the traditional petition where reams of paper are presented to a politician on the steps of Parliament, although it may come to that.  What the Facebook page is showing is the modern (perhaps young) take on generating support for a cause through the technologies with which the supporters are most familiar.

Twitter cannot generate the presence or the passion that a Facebook “petition” can but there are mentions and re-tweets concerning the circumstances around Brodie Panlock’s suicide.  As Twitter is unmoderated, some unsuitable comments concerning the bullies have been posted.

Many safety organisations struggle with the application of some of the Web2.0 technologies such as social networking and blogs.  Even some have websites that are very outdated, dysfunctional and deter more visitors than they attract.  These organisations are missing out on an important opportunity to communicate to new clients or members, in new ways.

An article in the Australian Financial Review on 10 February 2010 by Natalie Toohey entitled “old rules still apply to social media” (not available online).  Toohey says that social networking has reached a maturity where it has become a major business tool for communication.  She lists one of the risks from setting up such a service as

“spending too much energy soliciting stakeholder feedback and not enough responding substantively to their interests and concerns”.

Good social networking and blog sites, ie those that survive and thrive, back up the communication with results.  This builds a reputation that then adds clout to the communication medium.

Toohey says that many CEO and corporate blogs that have been established have failed quickly because they have read like a press release.

New communications options still require substance.  They need to be backed up by actions.  They are a dialogue not a broadcast.

The Brodie Panlock Facebook page may not be able to maintain its pace of growth but the moderators are doing everything right to keep the momentum.  They are serious about the site.  They are monitoring the site closely and they seem to be building action in the real world from the support base created through this new social media.

Kevin Jones

(Note: Kevin will be a plenary speaker  on “Communicating Safety – Cracking the Code” at the 2010 OHS Conference hosted by the New South Wales Minerals Council on 3 May 2010 in the Hunter Valley)

2 thoughts on “Social networking and OHS”

  1. Hi Kevin, I\’d be interested to know if the readers thought it would be worth WorkSafe moving into this sort of space. We aready have our twitter account which is growing slowly (www.twitter.com/worksafe_vic) or facebook as has the NSCA and SIA (though neither seem overly busy). Business Victoria has sites on both these outlets. Do people think a blog or similar would be useful? Is the industry tied up to traditional means of getting info or would a simple RSS feed do? Is it a matter of perception that Social Media is for the young or that it\’s not \’legitimate\’?

    Cheers m./

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