Social media isn’t the tools
Might sound blindingly obvious to webbies.
No doubt some of you experience the same conversations with policy colleagues. They’re desperate to have a shiny blog/wiki/forum (delete as appropriate), not interested examining interaction online with existing communities or partnering. They just WANT A BLOG, NOW!
Then you mention resourcing the initiative. Facilitation, moderation, community management. Whatever. This is the point at which you often lose them. When the realise the true scale of online engagement. They thought it was easy…
Anyway, this isn’t some rant about educating customers about the correct interactions, tools and uses of social media I promise. That can no doubt wait until another day (and another, and another…).
No, its a simple observation about how generating and keeping momentum in online engagement is absolutely paramount and not to be underestimated in its resource intensity.
Remember my post a few months back about the civil service network in Facebook? (do people still use Facebook..?). When I wrote about it, the network had reached a massive 13,022 members and was growing at a rate of around 200 per day. Full of thrusting young new faststream entrants who live online. Digital natives, if you will.
As the community built a head of steam. One of the wiser, (slightly) older heads in government who ‘gets this stuff’ asked a particularly pertinent question:
“Wow! 13,000 civil servants in one place! What do we do now?”
The response was staggering in its response – just a few dozen suggesting, variously, starting a new union, having a party, changing a lightbulb and (my favourite) forming a committee (how mandarin like)…
Can’t say I visit the network’s page very often given the staggering depth of conversation that goes on there but tonight I dipped in for a minute to discover…..
Nearly 8,000 members of the network have disappeared. Now I appreciate there’s staff turnover and all but that’s a drastic reduction in the numbers. It just goes to show that you can deploy the tools and create the spaces but without energy and enthusiasm you’re going to face an uphill struggle.
Even in Facebook with its exposure and scale. It just took me a minute to find the ‘leave this network’ link (bottom left of any network homepage if you’re interested) which leads me to conclude two things: its harder to leave than just to stay a member so its a real conscious decision to depart and I can’t believe that all those 8,000 have left Facebook in its entirety. Perhaps they really didn’t want their other ‘friends’ to know they are civil servants?