Chris Keating and Sam Lockwood from party HQ have penned this piece about the new LibDem social network, Act:
Launching a social network is a step into the unknown. If you open something up to thousands of Lib Dems then, frankly, the only thing you can expect is surprises. So those of us in Party HQ who are involved with online campaigning and supporter relations have been watching closely to see the kind of use people are making of this new tool.
We’ve been pleased so far with the response – over a thousand people registered in the last week, and a considerably higher number of outstanding invitations that members have sent to friends asking them to take a look.
It’s still very early, but there has been an interesting mixture of groups and events set up. Some are based around the kind of Party institutions you would expect to see at Party conferences – the Association of Lib Dem Councillors, for instance, or Liberal Youth, our energetic youth & student wing. It’s also interesting to see non-Party campaigns, for instance No2ID, starting groups and getting attention. There are signs that Act is working to assist debate and discussion, whether it’s people joining in groups associated with the formal Party policy process (like the working group on Quality of Life) or outside that structure (like the Social Liberal Forum). There are some light-hearted groups as well; you can join Act groups based on your preference for ale, lager or cider!
While Act is certainly helping some of the Party’s campaigns, whether it’s asking people to come on The Wave climate demo or co-ordinating action days, it’s significant that only a small proportion of what’s going on is being led by the Party centrally.
It’s interesting that one campaign has already leapt from Twitter to Blog to Act in the space of a few hours. Jo Swinson tweeted her irritation about being bumped from Question Time. Blogger Caron Lindsay posted about it and set up an Act group which has resulted in people on Act complaining to the BBC about the lack of Lib Dem representation on their programmes. I hope we’ll be seeing more of that kind of spontaneous self-mobilisation from Act in the future.
Act’s strength is its potential to bring together all the different kinds of activism I’ve mentioned.
From the perspective of someone thinking about getting involved for the first time, Act has the advantage that you can pick what you’re interested in and what you’re comfortable with.
And for people trying to get others interested in their campaigns or events, we hope that Act will soon have the critical mass of members and supporters that means it’s an obvious place to publicise what you’re doing.
But any network depends on its members more than anything else. Act is what you make of it!