Recently I was describing my role as Head of Digital Engagement to a friend who works in another government department and he responded: “Government has realised it needs to talk the talk when it comes to digital but no one gives a **** about doing it properly”. I replied indignantly that my colleagues and I are doing it properly, and doing it well, thank you very much! But did he have a point?
Although there’s a lot of enthusiasm from some of my colleagues who are embracing digital and social media, I still get the same three responses from too many people:
“I don’t have time for social media”
“I don’t want to encourage negative comments”
“My teenagers use social media but it’s not for me”
I try to gently coax people into giving social media a try: with examples of where it has saved time; screenshots of happy, grateful comments; and stories of successful digital campaigns. But the resistance is still there, so maybe these are just excuses and what they’re really saying is:
Maybe it’s time I was more blunt. It’s not about you and your comfort zone, it’s about who you’re talking to and what they want. If you don’t try different ways of reaching people you’re limiting your audience.
Social media isn’t new anymore, it’s an essential part of government communications. And I don’t mean pumping out agreed lines or pasting content from a press release. I’m talking about engagement, where you talk to people, answer their questions, build relationships, and show an interest in what they’ve got to say not just what you want to tell them.
If you’re nervous, start small – comment on a blog, reply to a tweet, share an update on LinkedIn. Set aside five minutes every day to find something online that’s relevant to your work and share it on social media.