UBC Graduate Research

Mobilizing Digital Voices: Integrating Social Media Into the Planning Toolkit Blair, Erik


Social media is not a passing fad. It represents a fundamental shift in how humans are communicating with each other, and will likely be integral to the field of public engagement. Many of our personal interactions are transitioning from a monologue (one-to-one or one-to-many) to a polylogue (many-to-many) society, where all participants of a conversation have the opportunity to give and receive information. This report focuses on social media as a powerful tool for public engagement specialists, and how it can be effectively integrated into the current planning toolkit. In it, I present findings from my experience managing and researching the 2011 Do It In The Dark Energy Saving Challenge (DIITD). These findings lead me to develop a list of recommendations for the proper use of social media as a mode and pathway in competition engagement. I also infer from my findings and experience how social media can benefit civic-oriented engagement processes. By reading this report, engagement specialists and planners might develop an understanding of social media by relating to the questions I pose, and will get a clearer sense of how to integrate it into their current practices. In using traditional engagement practices, we are often not reaching a representative fraction of all cultural, economic, and demographic groups in our communities, but social media can help with this. I am hopeful that this report will help to dispel some myths and assumptions about social media, and contribute to building a real understanding of its value in engaging with the public.

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