SocialMet: a good journey

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SocialMet would like to say a massive thank you, especially to the student teams from 2011/12 and 2012/13 who have made possible an exciting and innovative journey into student and staff feedback in a university.

Real Talk was what it was all about. We began because students in my classes wanted truth and practical teaching to inform their study and their experiences while at university. I believed in them, and in what they wanted.

When the strategic programme office asked me if I could help start a social media feedback campaign for their student charter work, I knew it was the perfect excuse to get real talk going. If I could achieve what the office wanted, but at the same time create a ground breaking feedback channel of real two way discussion, something magic might happen: dialogue between students, staff and managers. Now that would be exciting. The office likely only expected some surveys and a few posts on Facebook. I and my team knew that a lot more was going to happen than that.

I named it SocialMet. It was obvious. Having a recognisable brand was far better than some vague boring academic title that no one would notice. (The initial name was ‘London Met: your view’. Yuck.) SocialMet suited the times, and the logo and vibe took shape very quickly. I’ve been in the rock biz for years so know a lot about what makes a brand different and interesting. SocialMet just worked, it didn’t try too hard, it just was.

The posters really helped. Putting stuff up in real places that ties in with stuff online is vital. Putting stuff up that people interact with was a master stroke. Though ‘hallway methodology’ is not my idea – it’s a common technique in user experience gathering – it worked a treat for SocialMet because it proved we had a license to challenge, to change. The senior managers were brave to let us do that. They were scared. We were not. And that is power.

But this power came at a price and the road was strewn with attacks, both covert and open. There were those who felt we were out of control, threatening their livelihoods and work area responsibilities (probably true). In the end they won, as companymen bureaucrats will always win over ad hoc mavericks. But we proved it could be done, to show that real people can talk about real problems and create a community of change, independent of formal line management. And the boss loved us, though not always as openly as he should’ve.

Now? The legacy is as yet hidden. For the time being, SocialMet must retreat back into the crowd from which it came. Anyone who thinks they can imitate this will be in for a big surprise because it’s not as easy as we made it look. The main ingredient it needs is LOVE. They won’t believe that, but the truth is in the doing, not the talking.

Socialmet.co.uk will be the archive hub of our work, and what happened.

Team Role Call:

  • Darcy Dumas: ran the team, was the pro action behind the early work
  • Wayne Hard Wired Riley: badass attitude, really important in early days
  • Daniel DigiArtist York: strong, reliable, good ideas
  • Anthony Ninebreaker Bennett: strong, reliable, dependable, wrote articles
  • Incy Ali Shah: strong, dependable, good ideas, lots of energy
  • Milja Zarubica: always there, very important in all the work
  • Renata da Hora: great early team player, very enthusiastic and capable
  • Ivan Cardoso: keen, capable, clever, wrote articles, took pictures. Didn’t even know us at first.
  • Claire Locke: SU pres. strong, very strong, without Claire, we wouldn’t have achieved some of what we achieved.
  • Sharon Davies: great energy, pro attitude, very hard working, a self starter.
  • Kristyana Hristova: very enthusiastic, wrote articles, clever, dependable.
  • Georgina Hewitson: clever, different, maverick. Strong on thinking and always supportive.
  • LG Telescope: the true art clown, a brilliant addition to the team.
  • Jason Jackson: next SU pres, and very supportive.
  • Adnan Pavel: SU vice pres, very energised and true about our work.

 

Staff Role Call:

  • Christopher Sarchet: instigator
  • David Lane: funder, believer
  • Alan Stuart: the way to make it actually work
  • Malcolm Gillies: watcher, truster
  • Peter McCaffrey: watcher, truster
  • Jonathan Woodhead: support in the corridors of power
  • Debs Byatt: support in the corridors of power
  • Laura Simmons: support from academic thinkers
  • Cecile Tschirhart: support from academic thinkers
  • Trevor Norris: support from academic thinkers
  • Wendy James: support in the corridors of power

 

It was a great journey, thanks for the ride.

Pen Lister, March 2014

 

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