10 Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Use Social Media

10 (Er..5) Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Use Social Media

From Nina of British of Columbia Gov’t…A recap
Commonly reasons why we shouldn’t use social media (I only got 5 of 10…lost my notes)
-It’s too fluffy
-We can’t measure it
-There’s more important stuff – wars, environment, etc
-Already good communication channels in place – telephone, etc
-It’s too hard and complicated
From Nina – But I think these reasons aren’t good enough…And we need social media in gov’t.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Paul Eric Davis

Steve’s right. We *do* need social media in gov’t. It can be a valuable tool — but merely *one* valuable tool among many others, including traditional approaches. The biggest risk is placing too much importance on social media.

I work near Silicon Valley. Too many individuals and businesses here overdo social media — often at the expense of other marketing/communications approaches offering better ROI. The real issue involves “hard core” social media usage. People may belong to several social media sites, or follow hundreds on Twitter, or have scores of online “friends”, but the fact is most of them don’t regularly check tweets and updates from all of them — perhaps just a core group at most. As a PR professional, I need to realize that my own tweets and comments are probably being seen by far fewer people and have far less chance of going viral than a piece in more traditional media outlets. I feel my time is best focused on leveraging those broader outlets in the “old school” way: as the “filter” to a wider audience (which may include propagation in social media).

The risk today is that the amount of time and energy people are spending trying to directly engage their audiences via social media will prove disproportionate to actual impact. In an era when we all must accomplish more with fewer resources, we must be mindful of ROI in everything we do — and avoid letting social media become an unproductive time sink.

Adriel Hampton

Paul, points taken, but it’s important to note that mainstream media is increasingly using social media activities as source material. As a former newspaper journalist, I know that social media activies are going to increasingly be more powerful than traditional press releases or other PR activities (of course, making the relationships real is still very important).

Paul Eric Davis

I would say it’s a two-way street. Traditional media are using social media as source material, and social media outlets constantly propagating and re-purpose the finished pieces that appear in traditional media. I would say it’s symbiotic, except that it requires money and staff to consistently produce the fact-checked and researched pieces that appear in mass media (and that portion of the equation seems to be breaking down). But PR outreach and interviews with actual journalists who write articles in print/broadcast/web forums can often ultimately reach more people than direct outreach.


I have one more for you all – I’ve been pondering “why” the millenial generation (20 something’s and younger) seem to find personal interactions more difficult or uncomfortable…

#6 – people are so used to texting, emailing, etc., that they –
a) forget how to write properly (it’s seems as though it might be destined to become a lost art)
b) the generation in my experience seems to be somewhat less effective speakers face-to-face one-on-one, small groups, and when presenting (relating on a personal level as well) because they are accustomed to 140 characters s-to-speak. The idea of persuasion/getting their point across seems more difficult for them because perhaps they usually are providing quick, factual blurbs of information?

Adriel Hampton

Paul, I guess what I’m saying is that social media in the government context should be creating the souce material. I agree with you entirely that much of “social media media” is simply piggybacking on the traditional media. But that is really just a bastardized version of what’s possible.

Paul Eric Davis

Gotcha, Adriel. I agree. In short, social media adoption and understanding probably still have a long way to go until people start leveraging their full potential. Until they do, it’s easy for naysayers to dismiss them. But the potential power is there.

Matthew Hall

Regarding the argument that there’s more important stuff to deal with. This is a common argument that people get when trying to implement “crazy technology ideas”. But the rational becomes very clear when you link it to an outcome.

For example the OLPC “One Laptop Per Child” initiative linked their idea to the outcome of Education. This made a lot of sense to people when you consider the feedback loop that occur between Education, Business Opportunities, and Wealth. The laptop with internet access levels the playing field to some degree by giving the child the ability to learn.

Here is the video: One Laptop Per Child

This is one real success, where thousands of classrooms in africa and other places are now equiped with these tools. Education is a foundation step towards solving all the other “more important” issues.

Meghan Klasic

As one of these “millenials” who has “forgotten how to write” and “is less effective at speaking face to face”, I have to say that I am somewhat offended. I do not believe that has anything to do with why we use social media tools such as twitter, facebook, delicious, texting, etc… My generation was born into a world where things are “go go go”. I had internet access in 6th grade and never used a typewriter. The appeal is more focused on the fact that we are able to access information and transmit it in seconds, rather than hours. I love the fact that when I get to work, I can sign into Twitter and see what’s going in a short 160 character lines. It saves me time that I would have spent sifting through articles… instead, I can see a short write-up about a topic and choose whether or not I want to read more.

As for emails and texting. It too, saves time. I agree that there are times when “old-fashioned” phone calls are necessary, but sometimes, you have a ton of stuff to do and an email that takes 1 minute to write can be answered in 10 seconds, as opposed to about 30minute phone call, because let’s face it- most people can’t stay on topic. All I am saying, is that I can get 10x as much done if I avoid a phone call here and there and instead, communicate via email.

I think there is a definite place for social media. Younger generations coming are born into a world where information is at their fingertips. They are hungry for more information in a ever decreasing amount of time. I think we need to embrace this and recognize all of the possibilities.

As for the “measuring” capabilities, they are increasing everyday. Even on facebook, if you create a fan page, you can “measure” based on the number of people who become a fan of that page (See Water is Worth It- EPA Page).



Guess what, folks. No one’s yearning for the “good old days” when technology meant an IBM Selectric typewriter. The question is whether we embrace the technology and learn how to use it in ways that connect “faceless” government messages to people, or continue to think that we can connect by weight of sheer authority as “the government”. I say we use the tools and innovate government just as the Obama campaign did during the election – or risk being marginalized.

Why not embrace that famous technologist Abraham Lincoln’s challenge and make this truly a government “of the PEOPLE, by the PEOPLE and for the PEOPLE” by talking with people directly?

Andy Oram

There’s some reason to that thinking. When people started inviting me to LinkedIn, etc., I said, “I’ve got a virtual rolodex chock full of email addresses of people I’ve met over the past twenty or twenty-five years. I’ve GOT my social network. I don’t need a new one.

If online tools help you maintain contact with the network you already have, they’re useful. Facebook is extremely useful (and I’ve started to find Google Buzz the same way) because I can keep up with people I’ve worked with and known, and then just get in touch directly when one of their postings taps into something I’m doing. These social networks have enhanced my personal one.

LinkedIn has some useful postings, but it’s kind of stiff and formal. I don’t get as much from it. Different people will find different forums useful. Twitter and identi.ca have their own strengths.

We need all these networks to interoperate so it doesn’t matter which one you’re on.

Tom Balint

I’m not sure that a ROI analysis is proper. Looking at Meghan’s comments above, younger adults are not using traditional media to get information. If we look to ROI, we miss anyone in that demographic. Twitter, Facebook and other sites can be managed very easily and very inexpensively (including the personnel cost associated with posting). You can manage most social media with a single e-mail if you set it up right. Twitter, Facebook and others give you e-mail addresses to post from mobile. Save a group with all of them, require your personnel to give a summary with link that you can tweet and one click, posted everywhere. Regardless of the return, the investment is so little, why wouldn’t you? There are also commercial and free products (such as http://hootsuite.com/) that will let you manage multiple feeds at once and even “pre-schedule” your tweets so you can program in today what will be posted tomorrow etc.

We can try to sidestep social media, but it will bypass us if we ignore it.


Hi Tricia! I found your 140 character theory (6b, why 20-somethings have difficulty with interpersonal communications) very interesting…

Maybe we can fit the finer points of the art of persuasive/effective speaking into a tweet? 🙂


Meghan: thanks so much for your post! In my job, I am very fortunate to work with a multi-generational workforce on a daily basis. While it is possible to generalize the perceived strengths and weaknesses of each generation, I think this assumption is very dangerous.

Taking the time to understand people as individuals, rather than only partially correct generalizations, creates a healthier and far more effective workplace. Who hasn’t met the baby boomer who is a computer whiz, or the millenial who is an outstanding public speaker? Knowing the true strengths of a team, rather than assuming them, is so critical.

Thanks again!


Wendy –

Thanks for the comment. I think that there might really be something to it. Just last night I had the radio on and the 2 DJ’s were talking about one of their nephews being 22 and that he seemed clueless as to the opposite sex and how to chat them up in the bar scene, and he said that his nephew wanted her phone number so that he could talk via text messaging because he was too embarrassed & uncomfortable face-to-face. The two DJ’s said it’s because kids spend more time on the computer and playing video games these days vs. older generations who got out in the neighborhood and had actual interactions with another human being.

Peggy Wright

I hear from folks that Social Media is a fad, but i see it more as a grass roots movement. individuals are thinking and commenting instead of readhing traditional spoon fed media. There are approapriate subjects/agendas for social media and others for which more formal communication is appropriate.


Hi Tricia!

Actually, it got me thinking about the way we disseminate training and guidance, and the disconnect between how we train vs. how we learn in a Twitter and internet environment. As trainers and educators, we can be more creative in what we teach to make it as succinct and effective as possible.

I’m reminded of the words of Abraham Lincoln: I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one…

Jeffrey Raugh

What is a “telephone?” I heard about a device that could talk one on one with someone from my grandma. That doesn’t seem very efficient to me.

Craig Thomler

Social media is definitely a fad – in fact all forms of human conversation are a fad, whatever the medium used.

99.9% of organisms on this planet do not engage in complex verbal interactions – they have no need for them to live meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Any day now humans will abandon language for simpler forms of communication, rendering online conversations just as dead as other conversations.

Of course that means that nation-states and organised civil governments are also a fad, but why complicate things….

Steven Vance

The telephone? As if!
That’s a 1-1 or 1-2 communication device.
Facebook. 1-∞

My organization has 225 fans!

Henry Brown

And not to forget: “I have been in this position for __ years, and look at all my great evaluations and I never use social media”