The art of leadership, Tony Blair once says, is saying ‘no’ not saying ‘yes.’
As the compelling weight of evidence for using social media rolls forward it’s not just the geeks in the organisation that can see the reasons for using it. It can go right up the organisation. So, how do those at the very top encourage it’s use?
Happily, there is a weight of evidence through case studies, examples, strategies and ideas that can now be accessed.
‘Have a simple social media policy…’
It’s no use having a 400-page document that sits on the shelf and defuses innovation. Have something that is simple and easy to understand. Walsall Council has a five point list of golden rules that encourages innovation.
‘Allow an open social media access.’
As you create good social media channels it makes no sense for those outside the firewall to be better informed than those inside. When you set-up a Twitter stream, use your intranet to allow people to be told about it. If you think staff are your advocates then plug into them. Coventry City Council never had an internal ban on social media. They have 30,000 people in a city of 316,000 liking their Facebook page.
‘Have a digital communications manager…’
As the landscape changes and evolves people within local government will be at different stages of the learning curve. Some won’t even be on it. Identify those in the organisation who have a good grasp of what social media is and allow them to share the knowledge – or share the sweets – and horizon scan.
‘Trust and relax…’
Senior officers already trust staff to deliver hundreds of different types of service and make thousands of different decisions a day. Some will affect the lives of vulnerable people of all ages. As you can’t directly micro-manage these decisions you can’t directly micro-manage telephone calls, emails and social media conversations. Trust your staff to get on with the job. It’s cheaper in the long run.
‘Send a clear message yourself…’
Encourage social media by embracing it yourself. Both by using it yourself so you can understand it a little more and also see how it works. Encourage people in the organisation to use it. One way is to use a platform like Yammer the internal communications platform that offers both a free and paid for application. At Sandwell Council, chief executive Jan Britton runs an internal blog that encourages staff to ask questions and talk to him.