One of things you hear over and over is the concern about managing a Twitter account or a Facebook account and how do you deal with the influx of all those questions and comments. In many cases, the fear of not having time to actively respond is so great that it results in scaring agencies away from getting more involved in customer engagement (unknowns about policies do factor in as well). However, that fear is sometimes based on the assumption that “you’re the social media person” and you feel compelled to “be the one” doing all the facetweeting. Don’t kid yourself though…you’re not a social media superstar…and here’s some examples from my agency (USGS) on why you shouldn’t go it alone.
|Takeaway: Get your customer service staff involved…don’t do it yourself. Engaging with the public is their job and they’re damn good at it.
Back in April 2008, the @USGS Twitter account was started. By March 2011 (3 years later) the account had ~80,000 followers. In March, we felt that adding in our customer service staff to the account and leveraging their knowledge and years of experience answering questions from the public would be of benefit to the account and our followers. Just 6 months later, the followers have almost doubled! Some will say the follower number is not an important stat in many cases—very true—but you can’t argue that it’s not related to the integration of our customer service.
In On November 29, 2010, the USGS started it’s Facebook Page. From the beginning, we knew it could not be done by one person alone. If you consider the various sciences we study—natural hazards, ecosystems, climate change, water, energy and minerals, environmental health, core science systems—you’ll know why there’s no one person who could respond to all the posts and comments. Knowing this, we integrated scientists, communications, and customer service employees into our page to help share great science and actively respond to any posts/comments. If we had attempted to run our page with just one or two people, we would’ve failed miserably.
|Takeaway: Get your employees and experts involved…don’t do it yourself. They’re passionate about their job and will help grow your efforts in the positive direction you want.
By involving our employees, we’ve been able to maintain a vibrant forum of discussion and provide timely responses even through major hazard events like the Japan 9.0 Earthquake, flooding in the central U.S., and the recent #VAquake that rattled our Nation’s capitol…and is still generating discussion to this day.
Never forget that you can’t do this alone and your employees are your greatest asset. Just because you’re the social media person in your agency doesn’t mean you have to do it all yourself.