Harnessing Social Media for Social Good at #CG4SW

Last week, Melanie Sage and I led a discussion at the Social Work’s Grand Challenge Initiative Conference (#GC4SW) held at the University of Southern California (April 25-28, 2017).  We attended the last day of the conference, which focused on for Harnessing Technology for Social Good.  If you are not familiar with this challenge, its focus includes leveraging digital and social technologies to enhance, improve, and expand the reach and influence of social services, evidence-based social work practices, and innovative programs.  Two white papers outline how social work can use technology to help individuals, communities, and organizations:

The use of social media is omnipresent in our daily lives, and ahead of policy and ethics in social work. Technology policy standards typically do not address concerns of social workers, including communication with clients, and professional values of privacy and confidentiality, safety, and self-determination.  As a profession, we have few research studies about the use of social media in practice and mixed professional guidance around how to best engage with social media as part of our work with clients, constituents, and communities. Some in social work take a risk-averse approach to social media, limiting how and who they interact with on virtual platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, this Grand Challenges supports broader thinking and creativity in how social workers can engage with social media, especially to address the 11 other grand challenges.

As part of our discussion, we proposed that social media can be a tool to help social work academics and practitioners to discover and share knowledge as well as build relationships for collaborative work. Social media platforms are well-placed to allow social workers across the professional continuum to engage with each other, creating communities of learning and practice that bridge the gap between practice and research in social work. We suggested four practices with social media for advancing the Grand Challenges for Social Work:

1. as a tool for dissemination, such as through turning articles into infographics to increase research-to-practice dissemination, using tools such as Piktochart and Twitter;

2. participant outreach and recruitment, especially in reaching high-stigma participants such as people with HIV or people undergoing gender reassignment therapies in digital spaces such as Facebook;

3. social work interventions, such as health interventions carried out in Facebook groups or over Skype video calls;

4. as a data source, such as downloading hashtag data from Twitter, or photo information from Facebook, and using tools like NVIVO qualitative software to manage social media data, and share information about social media data projects that are attempting to collect data for analysis, such as the OurDataHelps Project which collects social media data to further research about suicide.

You can access a copy of the slides from our discussion: https://www.slideshare.net/laurelhitchcock/social-media-to-social-good

We also created a handout with resources: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByR_E-iQH7PdYkxxalVMeklFX3c/view?usp=sharing

If you are interested in getting involved with the Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative, check out these options: http://aaswsw.org/grand-challenges-initiative/join/.  Or contact one the co-leads for Harness Technology for Social Good: Stephanie Berzin, Claudia CoultonRowena FongMelanie Sage, and Jonathan Singer.

How to cite this post:
Hitchcock, L. I., &  Sage, M. (2017, May 4). Harnessing Social Media for Social Good at #CG4SW. Retrieved from http://www.laureliversonhitchcock.org/2017/05/05/harnessing-social-media-for-social-good-at-cg4sw/

Author: Laurel Hitchcock

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