Giving up control

Control has to be one of the biggest hurdles that communications professionals have to overcome to begin using social media where they work. It doesn’t matter how well you have crafted a strategy to create awesome content that will attract new customers or become the trusted source of information, if you cannot convince management to let loose the reigns of control that plan is dead on arrival.

In my experience with the government, this has never been more true. The agency I work for is the perfect candidate to use social media to get its message out to its core constituency. As an advocate for residential utility consumers there is a lot of educating that could be done to clear up the misinformation and misunderstanding people have about utilities. But alas, this agency also is full of lawyers who do everything in their power to stay in control.

‘What if people say bad things about us?’ People are already saying bad things about you. ‘What if people say bad things about our competitors?’ Guess what? They’re already saying bad things about them too. But I also believe people are going to give you a fair shake to show you why you are worthy of their time before they lose faith or take their business elsewhere.

Are there risks? Sure. But if you have a plan, they’re calculated. And businesses have public relations staff for a reason, right?

Government agencies truely do have a lot to offer the general public if they could just get past all the politics and bueracracy. Show people your human and have compassion for them. Don’t be the Wizard of Oz who makes a lot of noise but won’t see anyone; be the Oz who comes out from behind the curtain. Hell, if the Army can do it, any agency can get past the hurdles and serve a common good.

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