Six approaches for social media adoption – 2. listen
Listening is a much underrated skill, not just online but in the real world too (or so my mother keeps telling me when she whines on…).
In the social media space, and with all the noise going on in government about creating blogs and wikis, I think the value of using social media tools to observe the conversations taking place around us is rather overlooked.
Making use of the variety of personalised news services, blog searches, RSS feeds etc to create focused alerts around issues or initiatives could in my mind have the biggest impact on the way government develops its thinking. If all those in government who are planning social media initiatives did in the next year was help policy teams to set up well crafted and targeted news and blog alert systems, that would be a massive step change in the way we do things. Forget building blogs, wikis, social networks and the like – help them to listen.
Opening up officials’ eyes to the conversations taking place will help them to easily gain a wider perspective on what people out there are thinking and experiencing. Imagine the impact that could have.
The tools can also encourage collaborative knowledge sharing across teams and organisations – when items of interest are identified, they can quickly be forwarded on to others.
Many of the tools are freely available on the web and require little investment (other than time) to set up. And they’re pretty easy to maintain once up and running.
There are some potential pitfalls in embarking on setting up listening services:
- You might need to resolve IT security limitations that prevent access to online tools and sources (this is the case in my department by and large – hopefully not for long).
- Generating helpful and relevant RSS feeds takes some skill and time to set up, if they’re not carefully focused at initiation they can become a burdensome task, especially if the monitoring effort is not shared.
- The free online monitoring tools can be a little inflexible and slow to return results from obscure sources (especially if using niche keywords).
- There is not yet a perfect automated method of extracting and sharing the results in a user friendly format, like email.
Because this is a fairly new thing, the skills set is unlikely to be found internally and will likely require freelance resource to oversee setting up and training staff to use the tools.
So, the next option on my list is ‘reflect’.