Case 2: Projects can fail because of a lack of staff engagement

Staff engagement is critical if a social media initiative is to succeed. Community media hub SHMU (Station House Media Unit) in Aberdeen, Scotland, was involved in a project at Middlefield Youth Flat (MYF) in which there was very little online staff engagement. This meant the site we created for them was unsustainable without INCLUSO manpower investment and so the initiative was closed down after five months.

The INCLUSO team set up a social network site using the free Ning platform. The staff leader was enthusiastic to take part, but warned that staff were already working at capacity and would have very little time, if at all, to go online and participate in activities. The INCLUSO team accepted this and proceeded with the pilot. Of the five full and part-time staff who joined, two never participated on the site at all, two participated once or twice (though they did read content) and one participated every month or so.

The two temporary work placement students did engage on a regular basis, participating in video and photo events, competitions and ad hoc projects. In hindsight, it’s clear that staff performed their usual work tasks, but rarely (or never) any activities on the social network site. We think that staff working at non-SHMU projects are less likely to be supportive of such initiatives, we feel there was a level of scepticism about the potential in social media and also a lack of experience with these kinds of digital technologies.