Using social media in co-creation for service design
Social media seems to get only negative press these days, but let’s not forget about the very positive aspects of enabling people to connect for true benefit.
I am working on a not-for-profit project to deliver training material and resources to improve accessibility in the tourism sector (growmat.eu). Although equality legislation exists this does not automatically make equality the case and it is often seen as a token nod towards recognition of diverse functional needs; a box-ticking exercise of compliance, rather than a true engagement with actual needs and real people.
Of course, there is a lot of support out there, notably from those with diverse functional needs themselves, and research for the project has led me to discover many social media entities and communities, which we hope we can use to connect the tourism students and businesses involved in our courses with the people whose needs they are trying to meet.
My Disability Matters
One of those communities is the My Disability Matters Club (mydisabilitymatters.club) a free online resource for people affected by disability to meet, share ideas, seek advice and find support. Its founder, Dale Reardon, says ‘The My Disability Matters Club is a place that helps empower disabled people and give them a voice.’
The online community is also connected to the My Disability Matters News (mydisabilitymatters.news) service, which is the centralised source for disability news in Australia, but publishes content from around the world, making it relevant for all.
‘There are also stories written by people living with disability, which contrasts with disability journalism in the mainstream media, which is often written by non-disabled journalists. The My Disability Matters Club and News sites are like a daily newspaper and social network for the global disability community, all in one,’ Mr Reardon said.
The GROWMAT courses advocate, amongst other things, the idea of co-creation for service design. It sounds fancy, but really it just means service providers talking to their customers and potential customers to find out what they really want, rather than guessing or assuming and getting it wrong.
After all, who should know better?
Why not demonstrate a true willingness to get it right? If you ask someone what they want, and they tell you, surely you have the best chance of them wanting to buy it if you make it to their specification? Consultation is appreciated by everyone and treating people with respect attracts loyalty.
I think it is one of those things that gets labelled as common sense (because it is, isn’t it?), but that few actually do. Perhaps it is seen as too difficult, but with a bit of effort, and the power of good social media, it is easy to find an audience and potential participants without leaving your seat. There is no need to organise a physical focus group meeting when you literally have the world at your fingertips online.
I’d bet that the club members of My Disability Matters would be only too happy to answer questions about their needs, if only they were asked. As Mr Reardon says, ‘My Disability Matters has been created by the disabled, for the disabled. Our catch phrase is “nothing about us, without us”.
I think it’s a safe bet. Why not give it a try?