Using social media is still something that many organisations are shying away from. They have concerns about dipping their toe in the water and then not being able to step away. They feel it would unleash something that cannot then be contained. It continues to surprise me the amount of companies that are holding back from embracing the digital world.
This week I had the chance to talk about social media with new police press officers on a training course. It is the third time that I have been able to do the same presentation in the past year or so. I wondered whether the questions I was asked this time would have changed and show that things had moved on.
During the presentation, I went through the three-year journey that we have been taking at work. Starting with the development of the first social media strategy through to it moving into daily business as just another communication channel. The group seemed relatively interested as I went through Twitter day in 2010, the riots in 2011 and the death of two officers in 2012 and documented the role for social media. It has been a roller coaster time and it reminded me how far we have come in the past three years.
However, the questions I was asked had not moved on much in the past year as the two main concerns remained resources and risk. Understandably people fear that social media requires a huge amount of resources to manage. My perspective on this is that it is just another form of communication and is therefore everyone’s responsibility. The only thing that needs to take place is a change in processes and priorities so that having additional resources is not an issue. Social media is not an extra burden it is a new way of doing business.
I do understand the preoccupation with the risks of social media. Much of this stems from the lack of control that individuals and organisations feel they have when they step into social networking. But it is important to remember that all forms of communication that organisations use come with risks that have to be managed in the best way possible. Just because things come with risks does not mean that we avoid doing them. Policing is a risky business that is focused on risk management so if anything it should be able to deal with the challenges of using social media.
The enthusiasm from the group was obvious and the desire to find ways to be more innovative in using communication channels. I just hope that the next time I get a chance to speak to the police press officers we may have moved forwards and be starting to discuss other issues than risk and resources.