social media


Debates continue to swirl around the ‘ownership’ of social media. In government, we tend to equate ownership with resources (human and financial) but not necessarily with the appropriate insight, expertise or authority.

The ‘ownership’ of the execution of social media activities is quite simple – it involves horizontal collaboration based on the issue at hand, not which group you are a part of or to whom you report.

This became more clear to me during a social media pilot about online issues management and corrective blogging. Stakeholders working on the pilot (policy, communications, advocacy, media relations and web communications) emerged from their respective offices to participate. Who ‘owned’ it? We all did. From planning, training and online responding, we all played a part.

I recently spoke about the methodology and outcomes of this pilot at a Social Media for Government event in Ottawa. The speakers represented all levels of government and spoke on a variety of issues which provided diversity and balance in both experience and insight.

What wasn’t balanced was the audience. “How many of you are communicators or work in that field?” All but one hand shot into the air.

“How many of you are policy or program officers?” Tucked against the side wall was a lone hand reaching above the crowd.

Meet Gordon. Gordon was a policy officer working on a key file for his department. As someone from the “business side,” Gordon felt it was important for him to learn about possible uses and applications of social media.

I called on, or made reference to Gordon numerous times throughout my presentation and have continued to do so since. I was thrilled to have a policy officer in the room for it is the policy (file, service etc.) that our social media efforts support. We need to have regular contact with the people who are closest to the heart of an issue and its messages, challenges and audience in order to best know how social media might help.

Social media for, or in government needs to be about more than ownership and include discussions amongst more than communicators.

What’s your next step? Find your Gordon!

Onward.

M.

Disclosure: Gordon confided in me after my presentation that he actually wore two hats – policy and communications! If only we could all be so lucky Gordon ;)

Twitter – often and easily dismissed  because of the question “What are you doing?”   When I was first encouraged to dabble with Twitter,  that question alone created a sense of skepticism as it immediately conjured thoughts of the mundane and idle.

What could I be doing?  A question, that if more people wondered, asked and answered, would unleash a tremendous energy.

And there it was, the makings of what was sure to be a thoughtful discussion piece.  A ‘save draft’ and quick visit to tweetdeck later and there he was, Brian Solis.

“What inspires you?” or “What did you learn today?”  Those two questions provide the building blocks for one that keeps my interest and energy levels high.  What could I be doing?

Now, if only that initial push to adopt twitter had been an introduction to enriched media, a single tool that easily provides a wealth of information through a vast network of like minds and interest.  The activity is social, the result is an enriched exchange.

  • Can’t attend a conference?  Follow it and create networks/followers.
  • At a conference?  Follow it and meet your networks.
  • Responsible for a key file, policy or activity?  Follow it and connect or correct.
  • In another city? Spontaneous gatherings.
  • Contacts in your city?  Case in point –  #pint2.0 .

The last is certainly not the first gathering of like minds, over beer no less.   It’s just that much easier and to find those (also in the gov’t) with whom you should work more,  meet, raise a glass, and plot.   That’s uber-local.

For those of you who feel you have unharnessed potential to do more than that which you should be doing, or are struggling with how to get started,  it was only a matter of time before something came along that just made it too easy.

Oh, and there’s no harm in telling people what you’re drinking once you’ve gone and done it!

M.