Joking around with a client today, we acknowledged that in many ways, the approach to social media in government has been a “don’t ask/don’t tell” policy – launch something under the radar without official approvals or face obstacles and roadblocks that deter all but the most determined.
We also acknowledged that things are starting to change, at least in this particular case. But the resilience and patience required to keep up the good fight is no small matter. When someone without a pioneering or rebel spirit is told “sorry, we can’t do that here” takes no for an answer, a spark is snuffed out and innovation is stalled. The hit to morale is palpable.
I’m optimistic it’s just a matter of time. In the meantime, my heart goes out to folks who don’t have the support they need to experiment, take risks and just do it. If you find yourself without the buy-in or resources you need to embrace Web 2.0 to support your mission, here are some things you can do for now:
1. Get out and network with folks who are making headway – GovLoop is a great place for that, along with any number of low-cost events
2. Follow Web 2.0 innovators, thought leaders and evangelists on Twitter
3. Keep up and get involved at WebContent.gov – these folks are in-the-know and their events are cost-effective
4. Prepare to make your case: collect good case studies/existing relevant examples, consider ways your mission would benefit from social media strategies, craft a simple elevator speech you can use when the time is right or when an unexpected opportunity arises
5. Identify a small way you could start (e.g., an internal blog or wiki for a division or project) – something where the stakes aren’t too high, but that will get your organization’s feet wet
6. Use social media tools yourself. I’m surprised by the number of people I run into who say they want to use social media in government, but aren’t doing so themselves. At a minimum, consider it an experiment and see what happens.
7. If you can drag a naysayer with you to a SM for Gov’t conference or workshop, it’s a great way to let others do the convincing for you. Stay away from vendor-heavy events and stick with agendas laden with real case studies. ALI does a nice job, but they’re pricey. See #3 above.
8. Find other like-minded people in your organization and hatch a plan; brainstorm who you could approach to help champion an easy pilot and invite them into the conversation. Low-key, polite persistence + a compelling “biz case” for fit to mission should get their attention long enough to get the ball rolling.
What else would you add to this list??