Engaging in social media communication is an area of confusion and concern for most public sector organizations.
- How do you start?
- What are your risks?
- Who should do this work?
- How much time will this take your staff and at what cost?
- What are the privacy implications of getting involved?
The bottom line for most public sector organizations is that it’s inappropriate to engage in personal conversations with your constituents, and much of what happens in the social space is interpersonal interaction. However, it’s frustrating to feel like you have to stand in the living room at the party while all the interesting conversation goes on in the kitchen.
We work with our government customers to help their teams identify where they should engage and what they should step aside. We’ve created an assessment tool to identify social platforms that provide an acceptable mix of benefit and liability.
Compare platforms and identify where you find high reward and low risk, cost, complexity. That’s where you should start.
Reward is a positive measurement. To assess possible reward, ask yourself:
- What improvements in communication can we achieve by practicing in this area?
- Is there an existing demand or expectation from our audience that we are not meeting by avoiding this?
- Can we reduce the cost of delivering services?
By engaging in this area of practice we receive no identifiable benefit.
By engaging in this area of practice we have the potential to directly meet an identified business goal for our organization.
Risk is a negative measurement. To assess possible risk, ask yourself:
- Are there privacy or reputation threats associated with practicing in this category?
- Are there any potential legal issues associated with practicing in this category of social media?
- Are there significant change management issues associated with adopting these practices?
By engaging in this area of practice we can identify no specific threat or risk to reputation.
By engaging in this area of practice we directly open ourselves to legal or financial threats.
Complexity is a negative measurement. To assess possible complexity, ask yourself:
- What kind of skill set or technology is required to practice in this category?
- Do you need expensive tools or processes?
- Do we have the right people in place to practice in this area?
Our staff already understand how to practice in this area and we own all technology required to produce content.
Our staff do not currently understand how to practice in this area, we do not have a relationship with a service provider in this area or we do not own the technology required to produce content.
Cost is a negative measurement. To assess possible cost, ask yourself:
- What is the cost to your organization to secure professional services, production services or internal HR costs?
- Do we need to buy equipment or software?
- Do we need to bring in an external vendor or agency?
The total cost, including staff or contractor time, to engage in this area of practice is negligible.
The cost to procure software/technology, engage an external service vendor or produce the content required to engage in this area of practice is prohibitive or outside of our operational budget.
Sample Assessment: Twitter
Here’s a sample assessment of Twitter for a municipal client:
Reward - Test
Twitter provides a mechanism to quickly monitor conversations and opinions within your community and to engage with your residents to shape opinion and publicize policies and projects. Reward is very high.
Twitter can proliferate in your organization. If staff manage their own accounts there is no opportunity to apply workflow and review, or to store conversations and enable corporate memory. Risk is also quite high.
Twitter is extremely easy to use, requires no infrastructure and can be integrated quickly with internal systems. Complexity is very low.
Twitter does not have any direct associated costs, however Twitter activity needs to be monitored, so there are some resource implications. Cost is low.
Twitter offers very high reward at low cost and complexity. Therefore if risk can be managed, it provides an excellent opportunity for a municipal client.