fadOver the past 2 weeks, I’ve been speaking at a number of conferences on the topic of social media.  And I’m noticing something troubling. People think they have “handled social media” because they have one person in their office who has been assigned to “figuring it out.”

When I ask groups of people what the last thing they did on social media, I get few answers beyond “updated my personal Facebook page.”  The attitude I sense is one of “we’re not sure, but we get credit because we’ve got someone on that.”

Here is the problem with that answer……social media should be changing how ALL OF US communicate.

  • Do you delegate your email management to other people? (I wish I could frankly, but that’s another rant on why I hate email as a form of group collaboration).
  • Do you delegate your phone calls? (You might have a call screener, but I’m talking about relying on someone else to have those conversations).
  • Do you delegate talking in public meetings?

Of course this sounds ridiculous, right?

And yet, social media is an important form of communication and yet, many emergency management programs are busy handing over their public voices to interns, champions or simply someone else who drew the short straw on office assignments.

Becoming social and thinking about social communication is a skill set that everyone must develop.

  • It involves looking at your work and automatically thinking “what would my stakeholders want to know about what I’m doing today?”
  • It involves paying more attention to why your community calls your office.  What questions are they asking? Are the answers plainly on your website or in your regular, social communications?
  • It involves plugging in to your local community and being aware of what others are doing so that you can partner and leverage the work of others to support your agency’s mission.
  • It involves expanding your network and reach in terms of colleagues and community.

While implementation of social media may get delegated to someone else within your office, that doesn’t give you an excuse for learning how to use it yourself.  To ensure that your agency uses social media well, it requires that more than one person uses social media.  You will quickly build bench strength if you become interested and involved.

This isn’t just a fad or a new communication tool.  Social media is a whole new method and practice of communicating.  If you currently aren’t involved in social media, I implore you to focus on playing with social media for just 2 minutes per day.  Learn something new every day.

Can you take ownership of your need to learn? You can only use the “not in my back yard” excuse so long before you’ll have to admit you are behind.


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