How do you win the argument to use social media in your corner of the world?
The best ways to get round an obstacle is to understand why people would be saying no.
When you think of those reasons you can think of counter arguments.
A Harvard academic once said that if you think education is expensive you should try ignorance. He’s right. The internet is an agent of radical change and revolution. It is powerful because it simply skirts round the old ways of doing things and leaves them obsolete and exposed. But with local government, like much of the public sector, in a state of change the time has never been more right to change the way we look at things.
It can be frustrating to someone who wants to plough ahead and start using digital channels. Dave Briggs, who has done great things to pioneer social media in local government has spoken of the balance between the ethos of ‘JFDI vs Being Boring.’ JFDI stands for the idea of ‘Just Flipping Do It.’ Pick up a smartphone. Join Twitter. Start engaging. It’s easier to seek forgiveness rather than seek permission. The ‘Being Boring’ approach is to win permission, get the strategy and then start. There are merits in both but it’s a lot harder to be JFDI in 2013. More people know the social web is there.
In 2008, when social media was starting to take hold in local government the arguments had to be won by convincing the chief executive that an organisation should use it.
There are hundreds of skills needed to deliver local government effectively. It needs hundreds of different types of people. Some will be fine using the telephone. Some will need to stand up in front of people and talk to them. That’s fine. Using social media effectively is another set of skills that are needed within a digital by default workforce.
You need to allow staff to demonstrate that they will use it effectively. ACPO social media lead Gordon Scobbie, who left West Midlands Police to join Tayside Police as Assistant Chief Constable, says: “I trust my officers with a baton. Why wouldn’t I trust them with a Twitter account?”
In 2013, the argument over whether we should use it is over. The argument over how we should use it is and will be on-going.
We’ll talk a little about how to barrier vault in three ways in local government. Firstly, to convince the senior officers. Secondly, to convince whoever looks after it that you should be using it. Thirdly, some tips for senior officers to go back to their organisation and encourage them to get with the plan.
- It’s not if we should be using but how
- We can construct an argument for a sceptical manager
- We can construct an argument for a senior officer to empower their staff
- We can construct an argument to win over gatekeepers