Update on @UWSDigital & Social Media for the South of Scotland Surgeries

We are at the half-way point of the first part of the research project I’ve been assisting with, providing social media support to communities in the south of Scotland. In the last 2 weeks, I’ve visited two locations, as part of the UWSDigital team in Dumfries and Galloway (Aston Hotel, Dumfries and The CatStrand (a community arts venue in New Galloway)) to provide one-to-one dedicated support to over 30 businesses in 4 days. We have two more sessions to run in The Town House Hotel, Melrose, situated in the Scottish Borders, at the end of November – but so far, we have had a great response and overall the experience has been incredibly useful in terms of how to engage with many individuals and groups, with varying technical experiences and completely different needs when it comes to thinking about how to use social media as both a small business owner and part of a community spread over a large region.

I’ve learnt a lot about myself in the process, especially when I think about how I embed technology in my own teaching practice. The group seminar just *doesn’t* work (more to follow on that in a while)- it needs to be reflective and it needs to tailored to personal practice. It’s been a lot of travelling for me, but it has been worth it – I feel that I’ve given an intense taster into the region, got hands on with that public engagement remit & I’m pleased that I can be part of a university outreach project (where we have a campus in Dumfries) that benefits the community in this way.

Press release from UWS’s Skillset Media Academy is below:

“University of the West of Scotland (UWS) is providing social media surgeries to companies throughout the South of Scotland as part of an initiative running in November and December 2011.

This project is being delivered by the University on behalf of South of Scotland Business Solutions to over 60 small and medium sized businesses during the next two months.

South of Scotland Business Solutions aims to encourage local companies to access the technical expertise, knowledge and research skills available within the colleges and universities in their area, to help their business develop and remain competitive.

The Social Media for the South of Scotland initiative aims to enhance skills and provide knowledge to individual businesses already engaged with social media as well as supporting the development of an integrated online presence for the business networks that already exist in the South of Scotland but require support to flourish.

This project sees UWS experts focusing on adding value to those businesses already using social media as part of their business operations, emphasising the importance of follow-up support and the development of easy-to-use interactive toolkits. The University has delivered surgeries in Dumfries and New Galloway and will deliver sessions in Melrose in the last week in November and the first week in December. These surgeries will see businesses getting quick, one-to-one support and advice on any aspects of their use of social media to promote and enhance their business.

Last year the University received Skillset Academy accreditation from Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for Creative Media, which has responsibility for 60 per cent of the UK’s creative industries. This saw the creation of the UWS Skillset Media Academy, which is delivering this project.

The UWS Skillset Media Academy has a wealth of expertise in the use of social media for learning and teaching, research and business to business activity.

Dr David McGillivray of the UWS Skillset Media Academy is the key co-ordinator of the Social Media for the South of Scotland initiative.

He said: “The University is delighted to be able to deliver this project, which is already helping businesses in Dumfries and Galloway to make more effective use of social media. UWS, which has campuses in Ayr, Dumfries, Hamilton and Paisley, is committed to making a difference to its local communities. This project provides an exemplar of a local institution making a difference for local people.”

Clive Rumbold of ABC Recruitment benefitted from a social media surgery in Dumfries.

He said: “I am delighted to see how pro-active UWS is being in respect of integrating with the business community. This is the first time in 20 years of managing businesses that I have seen an educational establishment taking such a step. This pro-active integration makes UWS stand out as a champion from my perspective! I have been delighted with the work UWS has helped us with and would very highly recommend UWS to any business owner.”

The University is delighted to be able to deliver this project, which is already helping businesses in Dumfries and Galloway to make more effective use of social medial. UWS is committed to making a difference to the constituencies around its four regional campuses. This project provides an exemplar of a local institution making a difference for local people.”

Sharon Glendinning, Project Manager for South of Scotland Business Solutions said:

“The response we have received from local businesses in Dumfries & Galloway and Scottish Borders to the social media initiative has been excellent, with every available surgery fully booked. Through listening to local businesses and working in partnership with other business support agencies, we were able to identify that there was an increased awareness of social media but businesses were seeking the extra knowledge to apply this new way of communicating to their individual business needs. UWS has responded by developing and delivering an innovative customised solution which is receiving really positive feedback from local businesses.”

The Social Media for the South of Scotland initiative is supported by South of Scotland Business Solutions which is a partnership project funded by the Scottish Funding Council and European Regional Development Fund.”