‘Twas a few nights before holidays when I awoke, unable to sleep in the wee hours.  After much tossing and coaxing I managed to doze off again and t was during those briefest of deep sleep moments that this dream came to me….
 
There I was, speaking at two events.  Much of the audience was the same for both which led to me being confused about having to be in two different locations.  Doing my best Alice impression I crawled through a small door above the floor in order to get to one of the venues.  The other?  Well, I seem to recall a hot-air balloon.  I had two pair of shoes with me and managed to keep only half of each.   My speaking notes, which I never did get to, covered topics such as web governance, storytelling, multilingual content strategy, opengov, gov20, engagement and others I can’t recall.  I briefly interviewed SXSW sponsors before getting onto a boat for the shortest of trips when I then;  jumped off seven feet short of the dock, waded to shore, climbed a mud embankment to reach the road, paid a girl $4 to find my watch, got into the front seat of a stretch limo and drove myself home…I think….
 
My blogging absence alone has led to sleepless moments….but this? 
 
I’ll happily leave the dream analysis to the pros but my own is this…my online odyssey has taken me down so many unexpected and fascinating paths over the last couple of years that I’m now grappling with my own place in it and how my job can, or should adjust.  The accumulation of partial blog drafts attests to that, something I will rectify!  I will continue encourage “scope creep” in my job description as my mind expands.
 
And now,  I look forward to returning here and sharing my views from more of those paths and hearing from those who have journeyed along with me or are on an odyssey of their own.
 
With that, I will assume, or at least hope, that mine isn’t the only such fractured, frenzied dream….right? ;)
 
Onward.
 
M.
Advertisements

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.

Ironically my division at work used to have the acronym RSS.   Confusing for a web management division.  A change of acronyms later, and I am still holding onto my own RSS principle.  Real.  Simple.  Social.

More and more often I am being called upon to provide small groups in the policy and advocacy streams with the how, why and who of Twitter.  (Full disclosure, I am by no means near being a social media expert.  I am, however, passionate and a believer in ‘utility sells.’  It’s working.)  Steam is gathering and my ongoing push for our one-way, boxed in websites to bust open to and with the public is beginning to bleed into other worlds in my department.

Org charts are the bureaucracy.  What box do I work in?  Report to?  Engage with to engage others?  Fortunately, social media is bringing the public back to the public service.  Nick Charney has a great presentation and piece on social media for public servants.

In my world, one of managing and setting the course for a public online presence,  it continues to be challenging to take advantage of the richness of opportunity social media provides.   Simple.  Audience rich.  Measurable.  Should be music to many ears.  The push for internal collaboration and connection behind the firewall needs to be equaled in the public online domain.

And so, I take up this charge and spread the good word – showing officers how they can easily, from the comfort of their own desk chair, home, mobile device, extend beyond their traditional networks and annual conferences and leverage social networks to find those with the voices, the ears of others, the new thinking or proven approaches.

Among my current arsenal?

  • RSS feeds and readers.  (It’s shocking how many political news junkies manage – likely barely – to visit 30+ news sites each day.)  This alone has earned me cape-wearing status.
  • Technorati
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

It’s a basic and short list but addresses the most common identified issues and concerns (too much news, too much ‘noise.’)

Should there be internal evangelists doing this daily?  In the government, yes, until such time as mainstream meets government stream.  Should there be a balance between the push for all wiki all the time and officers stretching beyond their comfort zones.  Definitely.  Until then, I will continue this quest in an effort to gain champions in program areas who will begin to expect and demand more of our online presence and interactions.

By spreading the word of the connected outside world to my inside world, the sides of those org boxes and website boxes will continue to crumble.

From my lips…..

M.