This post was inspired by a blog by Paul Taylor of Bromford Housing – follow him on @PaulBromford. It’s his slideshare you can see further down this post.
Social media is worth it
I’ve spent quite a lot of this year training and advising a range of organisations on how to use social media strategically.
I think social media is a great way for smaller organisations in particular to raise awareness of their service, campaign on issues and engage with stakeholders, service users and members of the public.
I preach that it’s pretty straightforward to use social media (provided you know what you’re trying to achieve) and that it’s cheap to get started – there are no costs to setting up a Twitter account or uploading content to your website.
But it takes time & effort
However, I always stress that doing social media properly takes time.
It’s not a Field of Dreams situation.
You have to do a lot more than build a Facebook page before your audience will come.
The time and effort doesn’t have to be huge – Catherine Howe in her recent digital engagement guide for Police and Crime Commissioners stated that PCCs could maintain a healthy online presence in a couple of hours per week – but it does have to be consistent.
I’ve found that lots of people quickly find that they love Tweeting but they can’t find the time or energy to get followers.
It doesn’t matter how many people follow your personal Twitter account, but if you are tweeting for work, it’s a bit pointless if, after a year, you have 150 followers and most of these are colleagues or peers from rival/partner organisations.
Another thing I’ve learnt from my training is that because social media is fashionable and people feel they ought to get online, discussion about, say, launching a Twitter account often raises organisational issues that have long been neglected.
“But won’t that attract media attention – and we don’t have a media policy”
“But what will we say on Twitter, we’ve never told the public what we do”
One of the reasons that social media can feel hard work is because it makes us face up to all sorts of questions we’ve been avoiding for years.
It’s still a no-brainer
In 2012, funding for all public and voluntary sector organisations is insecure.
And funding looks set to continue falling over the next six years.
Social media can help these organisations raise awareness about what they do and what the consequences would be if they weren’t around to do it.
Social media is also tremendously effective at helping them engage with other organisations and the general public to lend support and lobby on their behalf.
If you are thinking of getting serious about social media for your organisation, you might find Paul’s dismantling of the most common social media myths really helpful.
Be sure to read the blog post too (link underneath the slideshare):
Paul is a strong advocate of using social media to engage with Bromford’s tenants/customers.
But he’s also a realist