There are a lot of tech-savvy folks working in the government today. Many use social media in their personal lives and are familiar with the various platforms that are out there. But still, many are uncomfortable using social media in their professional lives or to promote their work at work. Usually, this is because they don’t see the value that social media can add to their government program. How can social media help them? Why should they talk about their program? Does anyone actually read this stuff?
Despite these misgivings, sharing program information with your stakeholders is a great way to keep them informed and foster dialogue. A recent Business Insider survey found that people spend the most time on their computer on social media platforms—even more than checking email. The Atlantic published an article naming social media as the new press release and commenting on how officials are increasingly using these channels to communicate.
With this in mind, it’s important to help your coworkers understand how much can be gained by using social media. Here are four ways you can make the case for using social media as a communications platform in the government:
Share the data. When it comes to social media, there’s a lot of data available. Sharing some of this information with your program managers can open their eyes to the potential communities they can tap into online. For example, by using Twitter’s free analytics tool, you can share a high-level breakdown of who your organization’s followers are, where they’re coming from, what they’re interested in, and who they represent. This background may inspire your colleagues to take a leap of faith, knowing that they’re talking to their stakeholders directly.
Acknowledge the risks. The Internet can be a tough crowd. We’ve all seen the angry commenter – you know, the one who WRITES IN ALL CAPS. Or, the one who insists on the negative aspects of the government. It’s important to acknowledge that these people exist, but remind project managers that they are often the minority. After you post content, show your co-workers the responses. It will help reinforce that most responses are positive and represent curiosity, not anger.
Show Examples. There are a number of great examples of social media in the government. In fact, there’s even a website called “Great Gov Tweets” that rounds up the best tweets across the government every day. You likely also have several success stories of your own on your agency’s various platforms. Share these examples with your colleagues and show them how you can use social media to seriously engage with your target audiences. If that doesn’t convince them, introduce them to fellow program managers who have successfully used social media at work. Let these folks champion your cause and demonstrate the value.
Follow up. After you post about a project, share data about the response with the program manager. Showing the positive response from followers can encourage them that there is interest in their work and will, hopefully, lead to future collaboration. Encourage them to contact you if they have a project milestone, and if they seem hesitant, don’t be afraid to check in with them periodically to ask for content ideas.
These are just a few of the ways I have convinced my colleagues to explore the world of social media. What works for you? Share your thoughts with me at @LGBackhaus.