I gave Efren Carrillo, Sonoma County Supervisor, a hand in developing a social media presentation on using social media to engage the community in local decision making. This presentation was given on August 12, 2011, at the California State Association of Counties Institute for Excellence in County Government session, “Public Engagement: Involving the Community in Decision Making.”
I frequently hear this statement, “Go find a college student/teenager/young person to do your social media. They are young. They know how to do this better than I do.” What’s your reaction to that? Does it sound right to you? If I were to swap out social media for a car, do you think it would be the same? Just because they are young and social media is new doesn’t mean they know how to use it well.
It’s your brand. Are you prepared to give complete control to a teenager?
I learned about New York City’s first digital officer, Rachel Sterne (@rachelsterne), recently. She is only the world’s second person to have such a title. The New York Times article talking about the challenges she faces highlight the new frontier that government is entering into. She is helping one of the most iconic cities in the world transform their digital face and interaction with citizens. For such an important role, I would consider her young at 28 (I’m 34 and still considered a baby by many). She is constantly asked the question why she deserves a 6 figure salary when a high schooler could do it for free. (I love her ability to graciously navigate this fairly offensive question.)
Sure, go get yourself a neighbor kid to manage your digital reputation. What could go wrong?
Just because it’s new, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Stop underestimating the power and degree of difficulty involved in social media. Make sure you do your homework, research your target audience, craft communications that will resonate, and deploy your plan. Regardless of your tool, the strategic plan is the same.
I hear the word “fad” all the time in relation to social media. I read a post by Elizabeth Potts Weinstein @ElizabethPW about her 4 year old daughter when she was scalded by hot water. She tweeted her situation and that she would be at the hospital, fearful and in emergency mode. The outpouring of love and energy that came from people she only knew online, took her off-guard. I hope that you click on the link for her post and read it for yourself. All that she says, I completely agree with and I don’t know if I could write it more effectively or from the heart than she did so I hope you take the time to read her original words. I have included below the comment I made in response to her honest words.
All that you said…so important. Thank you for verbalizing all that I’ve been thinking. We are spending more time online but we have so many more opportunities to truly connect with one another.
I’m not a fan of bad things happening but every time one does, I think to myself what is different/better because it did happen. I know that this horrible event that happened to your daughter (I shudder at the thought of it happening to my own 4yr old daughter) has a silver lining. You wrote your heart out. You said what NEEDED to be said about “social” media. It’s SOCIAL. There are so many people that will read this and understand what they are trying to do. They are trying to connect with each other.
I train people to network through my Chamber of Commerce. The last time I did a session, I told them I wasn’t going to use the word network anymore and was going to call it “relationship building” from now on. If I change the words, there is more understanding of what we are really trying to do. I am thinking of you and your daughter. I am happy to know that your Friends came out for you. That this whole social media thing isn’t a fad and created true depth and meaning in your life. These are the events that we need to share with others when people scoff at the online tools we use to connect with other imperfect human beings.
Be well, Kerry