The internet and social media have had a huge impact on the way that organisations communicate with their members, presenting a variety of opportunities and challenges to get to grips with. In this week’s blog, BAOT/COT’s Web and Social Media Editor, Allegra Holbrook, looks at how the BAOT regional groups are adapting to the changing communication landscape.
The internet has changed the world. In a 2010 poll, British people ranked the internet as the 4th most important invention of all time. And I would be inclined to agree with that. The internet, and particularly the so-called “Web 2.0” developments that followed (including social media), has revolutionised the way that we live our lives and communicate with one another. For organisations, this has suddenly given us the ability to communicate instantly with members and service users, to enter into a dialogue with the people that we serve and to be able to get quick, personalised feedback on everything we do. It also presents the challenge of deciding how to communicate with members, on what platforms, what information to prioritise and how to use their feedback, not to mention how to manage all of this effectively with limited man-power available.
As the structure of the NHS evolves and more OT positions are established in non-traditional or “role emerging” settings, online platforms provide opportunities for professional networks offering support and guidance that might no longer be available in the workplace. Social media also offers us the opportunity to promote the benefits of OT to a wider audience and to celebrate innovative projects in particular areas.
At COT we have been looking at the ways that our regional groups communicate. We have seen some fantastic networks begin to develop where OTs can share information and CPD opportunities with other local professionals. We have been trialling the use of Facebook pages, to give COT information to members, and Facebook groups, to allow a member-led space for OTs to talk to each other. Many of our regional groups are now active on Twitter where they can talk directly to their members and to COT.
It is an exciting time to be involved in communications, and we have high hopes for the future of our digital activities. With new email newsletters beginning this year, new developments to the ways members can use our website, and a growing presence across social media platforms, the ways that we can talk to our members are continually expanding. But the important part of any dialogue is ensuring that it is not just one way – we need to listen to what our members have to say to us.
We want to make sure that you have a say in the developments of your professional body. So far I have noticed some hesitation from our members in giving their opinions and responding to us on social media. I can speculate on why this might be – perhaps because the tools are new and we are all still getting to grips with them, or perhaps because we haven’t been asking the right questions – but I thought the easiest thing to do would be to ask you directly.
Do you think that COT engages with you and asks for your opinion enough, or do you think there is more that we can do? Social media is your opportunity to talk directly to the people who make the decisions – at COT and beyond – so make sure that you have your say.
If you believe that engagement and dialogue is important for your profession, why not join your regional committee and support OTs in your area to make their voices heard.
Membership Networks Lead
BAOT local groups are your opportunity to meet and share learning in and amongst other professionals in your area. The BAOT regional committees are dedicated to supporting local groups, including new graduate networking groups, and are keen to grow and develop the number of these informal group meetings in each region. The role of Membership Networks Lead is essential to helping the committee to support and develop local groups in your region.
Membership Networks Leads will be keen to liaise and keep up to date on the group meetings happening in their region. To help you with this, the College of Occupational Therapists has developed Facebook pages for each region to help you promote and engage with members interested in participating in local group events.
If you enjoy social media, linking and supporting members at a grassroots level, then you’ll find this a rewarding role.
Regional Communications Lead
One of the key ways regional committees reach out and engage with regional members is through their newsletter and social media platforms.
The Regional Communications Lead takes the responsibility for pulling together the regional committee newsletter and any information and events the committee would like publicized through the social media platforms. This is an ideal role if you’re interested in writing and editing and have a flair for new and unique ways of popularizing the work of the regional committee.
In 2014, the College of Occupational Therapists is investing in a new way of delivering regional newsletters via email. This makes this year a great time to get involved and learn something new. This is also a great way to develop skills to take into your workplace such as; improving your report writing or considering how to get messages across to your service users in an accessible way.
The Regional Communications Lead on the regional committee is bound to have an interest in promoting the role and function of the region, a passion for the profession and a zest for communications. Does this sound like you? Then consider applying for the role of Regional Communications Lead on your committee.
To apply for a position on your regional committee, visit the COT website.