Last week Claremont ran a social media workshop for the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement.

Part of our role was to highlight the huge potential of social media as a tool for communication and engagement.

No problem; we reeled off all the usual facts and stats about how social media has exploded on to the scene and is transforming everyday life. But we really didn’t need to labour the point, as it would have amounted to preaching to the choir.

So we also tried to place social media in context. We thought it was important to offset the normal puff and guff about social media being the best thing in the universe and the answer to all of life’s problems, etc etc.

Here are four insights we gave to illustrate the point:

• Social media isn’t free, it takes serious amounts of time
• Half of young people don’t have a Facebook account
• Two-thirds of people in the UK have heard of Twitter, only 11% have used it
• 10m UK citizens have never used the Internet

Based on the feedback from attendees at the workshop, these ‘sobering up’ insights (and a bunch of others) were much appreciated.

Many Claremont clients tell us that they don’t just want help with making stuff happen with social media. Just as importantly, organisations are looking for advice on what NOT to do with social media.

Clients are telling us that just because social media is relatively new and shiny, doesn’t mean it can be opted out of the expectation that risk needs to be managed and impact needs to be measured.

This isn’t the sexiest side of working with social media. But in these times of shrinking public sector budgets and heightened public scrutiny, we believe it is 100% fair enough.

Social media sceptics, we salute you!