Periscope: The Ultimate Tool to Become More Visible

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The new wonder in live streaming apps is called Periscope! You’ve probably heard of it. I don’t exaggerate if I call Periscope the ultimate tool to make yourself and your work visible. Periscope offers you an immediate access to your network to bring them live broadcasts. But let’s start at the beginning.

What is Periscope?

Periscope uses the camera on your phone to share in a livestream whatever you want. Your phone becomes a TV studio, and you’re the TV host or the reporter. You can even do your own talk shows. It’s magic! I love it!

Periscope is free and you can get it in your app store. You start making your account and your first broadcast can go live in no time. It works super easy.

Periscope is a product of Twitter. If you own a twitter account, your twitter followers will also be your audience, and Periscope will notify them when you start a broadcast.

Periscope looks like making a video, but there is one big difference. With video, you can edit your video, and do this over and over again. It makes me feel uncertain: will it be good enough or shall I take another shot? Do some more editing? But, Periscope is live and raw with no editing. There’s no time for feeling uncertain. Of course it’s scary to be live but just take a deep breath and go for it.

Periscope is interactive. You can chat with your audience, ask questions, and answer questions. Your audience can also chat with each other. This chat can make a broadcast a bit chaotic but that’s all part of the fun.

A replay of your broadcast is available on Periscope for 24 hours, but you can also use katch.me to archive your broadcasts and keep them available for as long as you wish.

Periscope is still so new that everybody is still experimenting. It’s a playground and you can jump in without being afraid to not knowing the rules. But why should you?

The ultimate tool to increase visibility

It’s a great tool to be visible, and that’s exactly what we need! Show our faces, tell our stories, provide your expertise, or show the results of our work. I’m using Periscope myself for a while now and I discover huge possibilities as a result. I’ve brainstormed a list for you:

  • Share your knowledge: about parenting, abuse, loneliness, health
  • Give a sneak peek at activities in the community center
  • Managers and lecturers in Social Work can share their vision on the profession
  • You can announce a contest
  • You can ask for some input on a project you’re working on
  • Share the weekly activity agenda with the neighborhood
  • Answer questions from clients in a Q&A
  • Broadcast series like a cooking series with recipes of your clients
  • Give a tutorial on how to fill in a difficult form
  • Give a yoga lesson

I’ve decided to do more Periscope broadcasts beside my blogs and webinars on a regularly basis. It will be a regular part of my marketing mix. I’m working with schedules and topics like: marketing tips, social work tech tips, stories, inspiration, share my failures, my insights on social work and much more. You can use a hashtag to announce your broadcasts and mine is #socialscope. Join me for some social work fun and inspiration.

Hearts     ❤     

One more thing: Facebook has likes, and Periscope has hearts. Who’s doesn’t like little colored hearts? If you watch a broadcast and you like what you see you can tap on your screen to share some hearts. So cute!

Now I’m curious about the possibilities you see to get visible with Periscope. Please share them here. And if you’re on Periscope, share your account and let’s connect. Mine is @annekekrakers. Hope to see you soon on Periscope!

The Business of Social Work Practice

Over the last decade, certainly in Australia, funding for human services organisations has undergone significant change.  The days of filling out an annual evaluation report and expecting to be automatically re-funded are gone. Simply ensuring you meet the objectives of last year’s funding is not enough. A competitive tendering process is now a harsh reality in the realm of community services. What implications does this have for social work practice?

CompetitionFirst of all, we need to get comfortable with the notion of “competition”. It’s a word that doesn’t seem to feel comfortable with most social workers.  And yet, in the tender process, that is exactly what we face.  May the “best” organisation win. No matter what your values and passions may be as a social worker, no matter how much you abhor the thought of competing with another well-meaning, non-profit agency, no matter how much you talk about collaboration and partnerships, the bottom line is that you have to provide evidence that your organisation deserves a portion of limited funding more than another.

Secondly, we need to become acquainted with the word “business”. Traditionally, funding in community organisations is prioritized to the grass-roots workers – those who deliver service to the client group. The rest of the “business” is expected to be run by volunteers. Or the coordinator of the service works double the paid hours to ensure everything is running smoothly at a business level. At times a small portion of funding is reluctantly allocated to a bookkeeper or administrative assistant or allocated to the social workers who are already overloaded meeting client needs. Besides being an unrealistic addition to workload, most social workers do not have an effective skills set in business practice.

This reluctance to allocate funds to the business side of the organisation exists because traditionally, community organisations are “supposed to” spend allocated money on client service delivery. This has been perceived to mean “direct service”.  But tell this story to any small business, or a corporate organisation and they’ll ask “how does your organisation (business) run effectively and professionally without business and marketing expertise? “ Every business knows, to compete effectively in the market place, you need people with both business and marketing skills. Private businesses are born in a tough, competitive market place so this notion is simply accepted as part of business life. Community services however, were born in a “charitable, gentle, cooperative” market place.

Time to wake up – things have changed. As many of the larger community organisations have proven, allocating funds to the “business” side of an organisation enables growth. These large community organisations have whole departments allocated to “operations”, “marketing and communications” and “fundraising”. Those employed to deliver client service are able to focus on just that – their clients. The business side of the organisation is fine-tuned by those with specific skills in those areas. The ultimate result for those organisations is that they’re highly competitive in the tender process. And the more tenders they win – the more their client needs are met.

So how would a small community organisation start the process of being competitive in a business sense when funding is so limited? First of all do what you’ve been taught to do as social workers: look at the big picture.  Empowering your clients is not just about casework and running groups. The stronger your organisation is, the more chance you have of gaining the funds you need to initiate or expand service provision. Then question the status quo. Just because it’s always been done this way, doesn’t mean that’s what works best.

Perhaps the well-meaning volunteer, or the overworked caseworker are not the best people to be focussing on business operations or communications strategies. Where there really is no funding to employ more people, start placing some priority on business practice. Think of ways existing staff and volunteers can be up-skilled so that they understand and possibly assist in strategic planning, fundraising, marketing and business operations. Talk to some of the larger organisations and ask them how they raised the funds to break away from the traditional charitable approach to a solid business approach. They also started out small.

Then ask yourself these questions: How many social workers know how to write up a business plan? Or understand that a marketing plan is an integral part of a business plan? How many social workers understand that innovation and creative thinking are essential elements of any successful and sustainable business?  Or at a smaller level, how many social workers understand how to promote their services to their client base?

Social workers traditionally are not business oriented. Social workers want to see all human services as affordable. But in a world where values change, where government priorities become unpredictable and outcomes are consistently measured according to standards set by external assessors, isn’t it time social workers took on some business sense?  We’re not the traditional “do-gooders” anymore. We’re agents of change. It’s time to look inward at our profession and take some responsibility for the lack of funding to critical operations funding in our organisations.

After all, we continue to accept and work under the premise that our organisations should only allocate funding to direct service, not to administration. Ironically we do this because we’re used to another kind of tender – being gentle.  Ultimately, this quiet acceptance significantly reduces the chances of community organisations gaining momentum and successfully competing for effective client services.  Which tender are you aiming for in your social work practice?

Ethical Concerns When Using Social Media


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In the latest Iron Man, Tony Stark played by Robert Downey Jr., always has the best and newest technology gadgets out there. Even though Iron Man is a fictional movie, the use of technology and social media is revolutionizing how we communicate, process information, and problem solve local and global problems. However, many helping professions struggle to use the basic technology which require minimal skills in order to enhance our communications with each other. Until we master the basics, we will have difficulty intertwining advanced technologies into practice.

With the uber-trendy social networking sites’ (SNS) captivation of Internet users around the world, those in the helping profession are having a hard time keeping up with the latest and greatest in this season’s social media tools before they become outdated.

While many are quick to claim that this lag is due to an “old-school” mentality of avoiding 21st century technology, there are several factors that social workers, non-profits, and government agencies have to take into consideration before they can pick up the new toy on the playground. Private entities that are not working with vulnerable or at-risk populations have the perceived luxury of being more “lax” in their social media policies – forgoing concerns of confidentiality, cultural competency, or liability.

Public organizations are often times held to different legal and ethical policies that require much more detail and time spent towards considering where social media can help service provision and clinical work.

Social networking sites are intended to provide quick access and instant information dissemination to a specific group of people. So how do organizations working with vulnerable populations balance justified ethical concerns with the incredible potential of social media? While I may not have the magic answer, a well-developed social media policy is a good place to start.

To help anticipate all possible outcomes of social media use – both good and bad – social workers need to make sure that if they are planning (and able) to use these tools in their practice, they have a strong, carefully thought out social media policy to guide them. Especially considering that there are resources and examples out there of how caseworkers and clinicians can correctly use social media in their work, an effective social media policy can develop a “treatment plan” for using these tools while also developing a “safety plan” for when issues arise.

Whether you are in a government agency, a nonprofit, or a private practice, a social media strategy that outlines your specific goals of using the tool, your disclosure and participation policies, and how the tools will be used will help address ethical and legal considerations while also creating a foundation for keeping pace with evolving social media trends.

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