Case 6: Backup from management is important as is backup from the team

In 2009 the Verein Wiener Jugendzentren (VJZ) intensified social work in virtual spaces concentrating on the social media platform Netlog. The reason for choosing this system was that most of the young people from the youth centres use it.

This strong commitment also means that the management of VJZ supports the youth workers by giving them extra working hours and organising training for the staff. Also the number of online contacts is an official indicator for success as of 2010. This support from the management is an important factor for the youth workers to integrate social media into their day-to-day work.

On the other hand online work has to be backed up also by the teams in the various youth centres. An example from one of the youth centres shows the problems one has to be aware of. When the pilot project started two youth workers were working with online tools. In the course of the pilot one of the workers left the centre and now all the work remains to be carried out by the one left. It is really difficult to motivate co-workers to take over part of the work. The reasons for that are manifold and go from lack of computer and internet knowledge over social media sceptic to worry about too much work. This means that online work stands and falls with the only active social worker. If she is not there then nothing happens, virtually. A risk connected to this condition is that the youngsters may lose interest due to reactions being not 'real time'.

Therefore, support from the management is an important precondition, but having more than one social worker doing the online work is a key factor for success.