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Give yourself a break

September 6, 2010

It has been an amazing trip to Australia so far and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity of mixing business with pleasure (always a great idea in my mind). The Australian Marketing Institute hosted an impressive conference that brought together a really diverse and engaged group of individuals across marketing and government – from consultants and contractors to government civilians and military representatives. In any conference, it’s often the attendees that make or break your experience. The right speakers are also critical, but I’ve found that even with high-caliber speakers, if there’s no collaboration among attendees, the conference ends up feeling stale or incomplete.

It’s always nice to visit different countries or regions and get new perspectives, but some things cross governments, and oceans. No matter where I go in government marketing I come across agencies and individuals lamenting the fact that they’re still trying to “get on board” with social media, or for some, that they’re trying to “get” what it is at all. And wherever I go, I can feel their pain. Social is a medium that’s often about the “next big thing” and if you’re always waiting for the next thing, you will always feel behind.

This is an area where social media experts don’t always lend themselves to the solution, but can actually be a part of the problem. It’s basic job security but it’s all too easy to come across individuals willing to let you know how far behind you are and how they can help to get you where you need to be. Just hire them and all of your social media troubles will disappear!

Whether you’re in Australia or Washington, D.C., there is no social media magic bullet. And we could all do to cut ourselves a little slack, pause and take a breath, and take a moment to see where we’re at when it comes to our overall communications strategies and engagement, and how social media can, perhaps, fit into our existing objectives. I encourage agencies looking to get started online to do a few things first:

1. Google yourself. Sounds like a no-brainer but if you have no clue what the average person finds when they’re looking up your organization, you won’t know how to start.

2. Establish how social media should, or could, fit into existing communications processes or strategies. Re-read your organization’s mission statement, your SOPs (standard operating procedures), or communications roadmaps. Are there specific goals and objectives that lend themselves to social media, or are you trying to “get social” even though it doesn’t really make sense for what you’re trying to accomplish?

3. Think effects not checks. I see a lot of check-the-block social media, which serves no one. If you’ve evaluated your goals and objectives and look at social media as a part of your overall communications strategy, you should be effects-focused, and not just about starting a platform so you can see it there or link to it from your official web site. You have to have an end-state or goal in mind when you start, or you’ll either end up with an ineffective platform or you’ll feel like you’re in a mouse wheel, constantly spinning out new content without going anywhere.

If you and your government agency are taking the steps to learn more about the communications landscape and  if you’re evaluating your communications goals or contracts with an eye on social and digital strategies, you’re already taking the initial steps needed to set you on the path to success. That doesn’t mean your social media journey is over but it does mean you can stop hitting the social media panic button. So, give yourself a break, enjoy the learning process, and start smart.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 6, 2010 5:40 am

    Thanks for your comments and I do hope you enjoyed our country Lindy!

    Clearly developing strong and sustainable relationships with governments and corporations customer/partners/employees and followers is an outcome of a well run social media strategy/process.

  2. Bruce Mateer permalink
    September 7, 2010 7:52 am

    Lindy caught your presentation on Monday it was enlightening. I have discussed it with colleagues and they too have an interest. They work for the Defence security authority and are looking into social media and it’s security implications.

  3. September 8, 2010 4:27 pm

    Bruce – thanks for taking the time to comment and I’m so glad you enjoyed the presentation. It was such an honor to present before Australian Defence and I truly enjoyed the opportunity. Keep in touch. I’d love to talk social media and security implications any time – my favorite thought on that is that no matter how great your network security is (and for DoD it should be pretty dang good), the biggest risk to any network is an uneducated user – which is why we spend so much time focusing on the dos and don’ts for social media usage in the workplace!

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