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Summer Academy for Social Media Trainers

The Opening UP  Summer Academy for Social Media Trainers 

The Opening Up project organised a 4-day Summer Academy for Social Media Trainers in Local & Regional governments and businesses. The training for approximately 20 trainers in social media across the North Sea Region was held in Groningen on 27-30 May 2013.


The concept?

The Summer Academy offers a master level train the trainer program for Social Media Trainers in Local & Regional governments and businesses and is a joint enterprise of Thomas More Hogeschool and Hanzehogeschool Groningen to deepen the knowledge on social media and to disseminate this knowledge to the partners of OpeningUp and beyond.

The main target groups are communication professionals, policy staff and local government managers. The program  has a workload of 3 ECTS equalling a workload of 74 hours. The event was organised in Groningen, Netherlands, from 27th till 30th of May 2013 and in the program 11 different lecturers were presenting to a group of 25 students from 6 different countries. All students were selected based upon their prior experience and skills

The invitation for the event can be found here.


Four days of training

The program was set up according the lines described as a social media roadmap, comprising the necessary steps to explore the topic, develop a strategy, implement the strategy and execute it from there on. In more detail the program looked as follows:



Discovery is about analysing your organisation environment and your position in the evolving social media landscape. Governments and organisations around the world are facing significant changes. According to Davied van Berlo, the network society influences the relationship and collaboration between government and citizens, but it also affects the way we work within the government. In this session we will explore what social media means for your organisation. Discovery is learning about the changing social environment: how socially engaged is your audience? How you can (re)position your organisation in this changing environment? Discovery is also about analysing the inside of your (government) organisation: how social media ready is your organisation? And how to work toward a ‘networked’ organisation?



Many organizations understand the advantages of using social media but need assistance in developing a clear strategy for incorporating these new tools into their work. In this strategy and tactics session you will learn how to create a social media plan by looking at your organization goals, your target audience and your resources. Topics covered are: aligning social media objectives to (offline) organization or communication goals, aligning social media to your target audience, choosing social media tools, developing a content strategy and tactical planning (responsibility, timing, resources,...).



This session aims to show how new media can create opportunities for both government and society. To increase confidence in the government for instance, but also to meet he demand for greater involvement or flexibility. Based on their practice-based experience in local government today’s speakers will address how social media can be used for service design and delivery and to engage local communities. This involves new approaches to working with citizens or businesses such as crowdsourcing and user-generated content (e.g. where citizens report broken street lights).

Topics covered in this session are:

• Social media web care and conversation management (e.g. how to deal with negative comments)

• Social media strengthening city services (including how to integrate this in the organisation structure)

• Participatory local democracy: mixing offline and online tools for allowing citizens to participate

• How to reach engagement (including content strategy)



Governance stands for managing your organisation’s social media activities. It includes determining how much effort and how many and which resources (budgeting & staff) you need to put into social media. It also entails setting up a social media policy or internal guidelines for staff or civil servants and training and educating them to effectively use social media. Third, measuring your results (ROI) is a cornerstone of a social media governance plan. Analytics help you to know what’s working what’s not, and where you have opportunities for growth. In this session we will also address social media monitoring tools: analysing what is being said on social media about your organisation (e.g.  sentiment analysis) helps to further shape your strategy.



It was quite a challenge to make a program with such a variety of teachers for a pretty diverse group of students. The training has been extensively reviewed and was in general well appreciated. Most liked was the organization and the set up. Due to some differences in group composition the appreciation of the knowledge provided was perceived with a somewhat wider spread. It also relates to the fact that some students already had a high level of knowledge beforehand.

To establish the long term results a follow up evaluation should be performed. Most students expected the information to be useful and practical in everyday life. Particularly well accepted was the Yammer group that was set up and as of now is still used as a place to exchange valuable information. A highly appreciated aspect has been the expansion of the professional networks of the participants. This clearly links to the goals of the project of sharing, expanding and exploring the new possibilities of social media.


Interesting stuff that was discussed

  • The Kit-Kat case: be aware that social media engages the transparency and accountability of your organisation
  • Hootsuite's whitepaper on Social Media and government with 5 key considerations



Report by Jan Liefers and Marijke Lemal