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Social Media in the Social Services

A report for IRISS by Focused on Learning Ltd.

October 2010
The challenge for all councils now is to move social media off their list of challenges and on to their list of opportunities. If they don’t, they face moving into a changing world under equipped and under-resourced. If they do though, they may find that the solutions they seek are right under their nose. (NESTA, 2010)

IRISS has been in the forefront of developing and promoting the use of social media as a cost effective and efficient way of sharing knowledge.

Focused on Learning is a consultancy and training service, specialising in e-learning, web communications and publishing for the public, academic and not-for-profit sectors. The focus is on practical tools and techniques to encourage knowledge sharing, collaboration and foster environments that connect staff, partners and customers to relevant information or expertise

Social Media in the Social Services by IRISS is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 UK: Scotland License.

David McKendrick's picture

Social media, social enterprise and online dorectories

I found this report interesting informative and exciting. I would imagine I am like many others who are unaware of the extent of "what is out there" particularly what is online and out there. I think many practitioners and educators have limited awareness and knowledge over what is available and the extent of digital engagement. For me this is an area that needs to be explored in greater depth as there is a huge ptential for development.
I would be interested in developing a comprehensive online directory of services that relate to personalisation, I would be very interested to look at how this could be done in partnership with service users and possibly as a social enterprise. I think that there should be a greater emphasis on service users building their own care package online. I believe that the institution I work for would also be interested in this. If anyone else would be or if anyone else sees potential in this then I would be delighted to hear from them.

David McKendrick's picture


And sorry for the spelling errors!

Ian Watson's picture


No need to apologise David! Thanks for your comments. We at IRISS would be glad to look the options for continuing this work. You can contact me directly on

Craig Cantwell's picture

Social media in the Community.

As manager of an award winning Young Person led charity I am always aware of up and coming technologies, especially social media. It is the Young People who raise my awareness and I have no choice but to embrace it. I am pleased to say that life (and work) are made much easier running a Community led group utilising Facebook and the likes. I am constantly frustrated by the unwillingness of ALL statutory bodies that we work in partnership with when it comes to embracing such excellent communication tools. In my Local Authority I am told that this is because whether you work for Education and Children's Services, Social Work or Roads Dept. you are banned from using such media. Even employees personal Social Media pages have rules attached to them by their employers (most of which are only common sense)but this adds to the fear of the non-initiated. It's about time Local Authorities began allowing practitioners to have another tool to enable their service delivery and an improved service for their clients. Most SCO's and Youth Workers I know would love to be able to connect easier with their target client group using Social Media.

It's great to see such a report and am excited that it may stimulate much needed debate. I for one will be emailing it to Heads of Service within my Authority.

ContentAdmin's picture

Social media in the community

Hi Craig
Thanks for your comment. We couldn't agree more that employees in the public sector need to be allowed unfettered access to social media if they are to improve service delivery in a way that engages with clients. Thanks for passing on the report to your heads of service. We'd love to hear how you get on. You might also send them details of what Cornwall has done

Best wishes

Ian Watson

tuckerj's picture

Social media and social

Social media and social networks, by their very nature, cannot provide predictable controls over who will ultimately have access to what is posted – regardless of one’s privacy settings. As a consequence, any post needs to be written with the understanding that anyone could eventually see it. That being the case, I would suggest an extremely conservative use of these media by providers.