How “Social” is Your Social Media?
By Dan Sepe
Remember that time you went to the baseball game with your friends? Wonder which cute animal is sneezing on video this week? What does John think about the weather today? These are the reasons people use social media (or the questions sometimes answered for them without asking).
While government agencies won’t be tagged in a picture at a party with friends, their presence on social media allows the individual a unique opportunity to comment, ask, or learn about what is going on. Most organizations strive for “social media.” They want attention, engagement, and those sweet, sweet “likes.” Businesses will entice them out of you with coupons, and special offers, but what about government? Ok. I’ll bite. I’ve liked Department X or Agency Y. Now what?
Keeping people engaged is the key to making, and keeping, your media social. People want to know what you offer them. Why should people continue to receive updates about you? What are you telling them or giving them that they didn’t already know or have? Are you talking with them or at them? This is a question often overlooked.
Have a conversation, don’t just push out information. Social media is just that, social. It’s a two-way communication. The old model of communication, especially in government, was the press-release. Government to the press, press to the people.
Now, we can instantly talk to potential audiences of millions in a matter of seconds (pending clearance of course). Not only that, but we can actually know what people are saying and thinking about that message. As a personal example, I tweeted at a major supermarket chain I like and told them they had great products and service.
Within five minutes of my tweet, I received a reply, thanking me by name for my business. While this may not be entirely feasible or possible in this same way for the government, especially in a regulatory setting, it is something to think about. Answering questions with materials from the site, directing people to cleared documents, and getting statements from content experts can be just as good.
What can we learn and apply from businesses, and what barriers do we face that prevent us from being more engaging?For the first time, the end-user is directly linked to the author of the information. They are also linked with other people, where they can discuss amongst themselves in a similar way.
Without that exchange between groups, social media is just media.
|Dan Sepe is a program analyst at the Food and Drug Administration.|
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