Choosing the Right Tool for the Job

Last week my team was asked to develop an ‘internal blog’ that would reside on the intranet. The initial purpose was to create a blog that allowed two-way communication, much like a ‘bulletin board’. As it turns out, it wasn’t a blog that we were being asked to create, but really a forum.

I’m sure we all have similar stories, and hopefully we can learn from misguided courses that have been charted by others.

When it comes time to implement Web 2.0 tools to your overall strategy, it is really important that everyone involved fully understands what your agency is trying to accomplish before committing to any tool. Knowing your mission should always come first.

While organizations are eager to join the social media phenomena they first ask “what are we trying to accomplish?” and only after having a clear answer comes “Which tool is the most appropriate?” Comparing and differentiating between blogs, wikis, micro blogs, and forums may be like comparing apples to oranges in the eyes of a tech-savvy ‘social-media butterfly’; but for some it’s all Greek and therefore all the same

Choosing the appropriate tool means that users can effectively and efficiently accomplish the agency’s intended tasks. After all, you wouldn’t use a spreadsheet to write a book report; similarly you likely wouldn’t want to use a forum as a blog, or a micro blog as your means of RSS.

Misapplication of Web 2.0 tools can leave users feeling unengaged or even confused, resulting in miscommunication and abandonment. Like two ships passing in the night, neither are the wiser.

The importance of getting it right the first time around is two fold: [1] failure could create resistance in future Web 2.0 initiatives within your organization, and [2] most important, once you have lost the unengaged or, worse, disinterested users it’s more difficult to get them back on track.

In joining the Social Media Subcouncil, I’m working to help share experiences and shed light on important issues like identifying the right channel. Hopefully if you have any similar stories, start a discussion. Even better if you have a best practice or other guidance to share, we’d love to see that too. If you haven’t already, head over to our wiki and see what others are talking about!

Yaron Benjamin is a Web Developer/IT Specialist for the Defense Commissary Agency. You can connect with him on Twitter or GovLoop.

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Paul van der Hart

So far I have found that the real question (especially) for politicians is: “do you really deeply and honestly feel and believe that you want to communicate directly with your voters? Or do you just simply want to jump on a popular bandwagon before it is too late, without having a clue, or without real commitment, or both?”


I agree. Business problem first. But at the same time let’s not spend a year planning and analyzing the biz problem and ROI. Identify a problem and test possible solutions. Pilot. Test. Fail quickly. Succeed.

Sarah Bourne

What’s needed is a mapping of the different types of tools available to the various things they are good for. For instance, a wiki is a good tool for producing a document as a team, a blog is a good way to get feedback on a particular topic, etc. Oh, and the Social Media Subcouncil wiki is a good place to build it. So I just started a discussion to gather contributions there.