I had an interesting day at #bluelightcamp where emergency services representatives got together to discuss using social media the challenges and the benefits. One of the sessions was focused on embedding social media into organisations and it discussed the challenges that people faced in gaining acceptance to allow the use of new technology. It led me to reflect on events in my own work environment for the past two years. It is clear to me that there is no single solution that will work for everyone.
Perhaps the real issue is why we are not seeing the opportunities of social media as just part of our day-to-day business whether as communication professionals or others. Do we have to get permission to have a conversation? Do we have to seek approval to send out a news release? Does someone have to agree the content of the website? I would suggest not and that communication professionals are given the freedom to do all these things on behalf of the organisations they represent. So why should social media still be something that we have to seek approval to use?
I have long been a supporter of the approach that it is better to seek forgiveness than to ask for permission. Sometimes it is about taking a calculated risk and trying something new and innovative that will make maximum use of social media. Don’t we have to take a stand and explain why we are using social media rather than try to get senior staff to support it as an abstract concept?
My view is that where social media is done well it is because it is no different from any other mode of communication. There is no issue of remembering to update Twitter or Facebook, and there is not one person alone that has social media use as their sole job. It seems slightly absurd to have one social media officer and it is almost like having one press officer who does all the releases of information to the media. Using social networks should just be part of everyone’s work.
That is where I paused to reflect on the #gmp24 initiative in 2010 that was mentioned again during the session today. Many view it as an experiment in the use of social media. That was never the intention. When it was being developed it was very much about achieving a communication objective that just used Twitter as the delivery mechanism. We could have done things in many different ways, it was just using social networks that was seen to be more beneficial. The fact that it used social media in a new way was just a welcome by-product.
So, returning to how we get social media embedded into an organisation, perhaps it is about not treating it as something separate to daily businesses. We should make use of it in the same way we use email or the telephone, or release information to the media. Only when we start to move it from the sidelines of our work can it really start to be integrated into organisations.