Final Week: 3 Lessons from Vanilla Ice: Listen


Over the last two weeks, I shared how government leaders should heed Vanilla Ice’s advice in Ice, Ice Baby to Stop and Collaborate. In this final blog of the three-part series, we will focus on how to Listen.

While many think of social media as the place to spew every thought one ever had or at least post a picture of every meal one ever ate, I use social media most often to listen rather than to talk. Even though social media is not part of my job, it is part of my job to know how well we are furthering our mission. And listening on social media provides one of the many opportunities.

Here are two things you can do in less than 15 minutes to use social media tools to listen.

10 Minute Check – I take 10 minutes every other day to see what people are saying about my organization on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. While there are a variety of apps that can do this for me, I prefer the old-fashioned search method. I look at each individual communication as an opportunity to strengthen a relationship with our audience and to collect data to help make decisions. Some questions to ask when doing this: What opinions are they sharing and how can we use those opinions to shape our operations and systems? What images are they posting and what story do those images tell about us? How can this information help create change in our organization to further our mission and better meet needs?

Google Alerts – I have several Google Alerts set up with the name of my organization in several formats (TDEC, Department of Environment and Conservation), its major sub-entities (Tennessee State Parks, Bureau of Environment), my boss’s name and the names of our Communications staff and Deputy Commissioners. Google Alerts allows you to determine the frequency of alerts.

Take 15 minutes today to set up your Google Alerts and check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what folks may be saying about your organization. After doing this for several weeks, I bet trends will emerge that you can use to change how your organization does what it does. Over time, hopefully you will also see how that social media narrative evolves in response to changes made.

How do you listen on social media? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Meredith Benton is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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