There’s a lot of comment this week about local government communication via social media – I won’t rehash too much, but in summary we’re getting to grips with using, say, Twitter to let people know about snow, road conditions and gritting but could do better on other topics.
Well ok, that’s nice. We now can point to something and say we get the point, we can use social media in a way that’s engaging and useful. Yay for us.
Fine. What’s next? If we can do it for gritting, what else? I’m talking with colleagues about other emergency/disruption scenarios, and that’s looking promising. We have an idea what ‘good’ looks like, we’re building the skills and the confidence, and we have some enthusiasm floating around. There’s a very real danger that people will begin to just get on with it.
But … what else?
Here’s a scary idea. My manager and several of his colleagues have recently joined Twitter. Several others are about to sign up. They want to get the hang of the thing and use it to communicate, but don’t necessarily know where to start. So how do we encourage them? What should they talk about? How should they pitch it? We have enough corporate PR channels already. This is about individuals, who happen to be senior local government officers, sharing what’s on their mind without exposing themselves unduly.
It’s all a teeny bit intimidating. So help them out here. What should they share? What do they have to say that might be interesting or useful? Do we want to know what they’re having for dinner, which movie they’re watching? Do we want to know how many meetings they went to last week? Are we looking forward to their pin-sharp analyses of networking events and conferences? All of the above?
Here’s my opinion: the people I enjoy following on Twitter are those who I see as funny, clever or motivated and who share one or more of my interests. If I like their style I will follow them even if they don’t always talk about things I need to know. Accounts that always provide useful information but are delivered in a dry, safe, locked-down just plain boring manner tend to get culled.
So, what are we telling our managers? I’d go with:
– be yourself;
– be brave;
– If you have no-one else to talk to yet, talk to each other;
– share what’s on your mind, even if that means asking a question.
The first step is to be there ready to talk, and the question of ‘what should I say?’ will resolve itself. That’s how conversations tend to work.