1. Introduction

The purpose of this INCLUSO manual is to inspire organisations working with youth at risk and support them to integrate the use of social media (web 2.0) into their daily practices in order to foster social inclusion. We will focus on the use of social media, from the perspective of organisations working with youth at risk.

The INCLUSO manual is the result of desk research, focus group discussions and practical experience built up in 4 pilot projects in Belgium, Poland, Austria and Scotland in the years 2009 and 2010. All of this was part of the INCLUSO project, an EU-funded project with the aim of delivering 'verifiable proof that ICT, and more precisely, social software tools, can facilitate social inclusion of marginalised young people'.

It will remain a work in progress. The use of social software, or social media as it will be referrred to in this publication, in youth work is a rather new topic and new experience is built up constantly. Young people themselves shape and change the future of social media at a very high speed by moving from one platform to the other, from one cool place to the next. There is no way of telling what the internet will look like five years from now. The impact of young people deciding for themselves what they like has never before been so significant. Their choices will influence the survival and popularity of new and existing social media technologies.

So, this INCLUSO manual summarises our experience in using social media as a tool to foster social inclusion of youth at risk. First, it sheds light on our understanding of social inclusion and exclusion and the relation of these concepts to youth at risk. We will also clarify definitions of social media and discus its potential to foster social inclusion.

In the Introduction we give some background information on themes like social inclusion and exclusion, social media, the digital divide and the potential of social media for youth at risk. 

Setting up and running a project holds a lot of lessons learned from the four pilots which conducted hands on work with youth at risk. Those lessons and recommentations are brought together in logical steps and supported by some of the example activities that were carried out in the four pilot projects.

A lot of attention is paid to the experience built up in the four INCLUSO pilots. This manual describes how those pilots were shaped in line with a set of pre-defined goals, what actions were taken in the pilots, how they were monitored and what lessons were learned. 

Special attention is given to project sustainality, business opportunities and how to measure impactEthical issues, privacy, safety and security are addressed. We also provide some examples of good practices and present the INCLUSO Game as a good starting point to initiate the whole concept.

If you get lost in the terms, the A to Z of Key Terms can help you out.

You can also download the INCLUSO Flashcard which is a simple, one-page guide to the key points to consider when setting up a social media initiative. Find it in Appendix: Downloads.