When Should An Organization Abandon Social Media?

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This topic contains 42 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Joe Sanchez 7 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #175859

    I just got this question from a colleague:

    We have finally started doing our podcast again. However, as I look at the list of podcasts that people listen to, I’m not really sure if ours is serving a purpose or not.

    What we consider to be our “podcast” is just someone reading one of the bigger stories of the week. The story is right below it. I’m just not sure who is listening to it.

    One of our big issues is time, given that we have a limited number of people to begin with, so I’m not sure how much time we could devote to this. Anyway, I would love to get some feedback from you if you wouldn’t mind.

    While this individual is pinpointing a podcast, I’m wondering if other agencies have found themselves in this predicament.

    Maybe you worked hard to get a social media platform set up only to find that you weren’t getting the engagement that you predicted in making the case.

    Maybe you found that you only have limited time and Facebook was working better than Twitter and you had to choose between the two.

    So when do you pull the plug on a social media tool that isn’t achieving your desired outcomes?

    Do you let it sit there unused or do you get rid of it entirely?

  • #175943

    Joe Sanchez

    Andrew, your question focusing on outcomes is well-placed.

    It’s worth remembering that engagement is a means to an outcome. Furthermore, real engagement means two-way communication. Your colleague wrote, “I’m just sure who is listening to [the podcast].” An agency’s podcast (or for that matter, any social media initiative) content and context should be designed with a specific audience and goal(s) / outcome(s) in mind. Measures should be established to determine if, in this case, the podcast is resonating with its intended audience and whether it is achieving its goals. It’s not clear if this was done for your colleague’s podcast. It’s also not clear if there’s been any outreach, associated with the podcasts, from your colleague’s organization to its audience.

    If agencies are not getting “the engagement … predicted,” they need to ask themselves what the goals were and how they are assessing the achievement of those goals, remembering that engagement is an objective towards the achievement of one or more goals. Furthermore, real engagement is challenging. It involves a two-way dialogue that requires commitment and resources.

    If an agency has not defined its engagement goals, cannot explain how those goals are being achieved, and cannot commit resources towards meaningful engagement with its audience via social media, it may want to rethink its communication strategy.

  • #175941

    OK the answer to this is “never.” As in never, ever, ever abandon social media. As Joe implied, the colleague’s organization is just implementing it in a way that misses the target.

    What people want from organizations, government specifically is as follows:

    1) To gain benefit – e.g. be connected to the services they are paying for with their tax dollars

    2) To not get in trouble – e.g. be informed as to how to follow law and regulation administered by that agency

    3) To have a voice – e.g. to be able to influence what the agency does or at least be heard

    The best way to address all of the above is social media, supported by a platform that makes pure data easily accessible (e.g. Open Government) and mashable – no bells and whistles.

    This is why the function of public affairs is obsolete and should be morphed to social media completely.

    The CIO can handle the rest, which is simply open data.

    Public Affairs + Open Data CIO team should be housed in an Office of Citizen Engagement that handles solutions for both.

    If we had such a combination, we would have instant chat on every single government website to answer people’s questions.

    We would also have massive texting as this is how people communicate nowadays when they’re on the cell, which is all the time.

    A fused office combining Public Affairs and Open Data would administer a social media form of communication that is equally applicable externally and internally.

    It would not be the job of these specialists to actually create the information but only to facilitate its distribution.

    A key part of the picture is that employees would be freed – through a simple sensible policy – to talk about their work through their own personal social media platforms.

    The bottom line is this:

    Organizations to be credible and relevant must step out of the driver’s seat and let the passengers take the wheel.

    This means that they only guide the conversation, do not dominate it, and make sure they are meeting the legal requirements with respect to transparency.

    It’s that last part that gets every organization’s leadership worked up.

    Because if success means that you try to control every aspect of your image, your day to day life as a Public Affairs office will consist of “correcting the record” – i.e. putting out fires – and “getting our story out” – i.e. controlling the narrative.

    This leaves so much opportunity on the floor. Because what people want to read about and hear about is usually precisely the thing that is most shocking and embarrassing to you. Not because they hate you and want to trash you, but because they can only relate to the human factor.

    Let me be clear: This is NOT to advocate that every agency run its public affairs like the Kardashian PR machine.

    As we can see from the gossip magazines – which I do follow, yes, religiously and unapologetically – the family is falling apart because they have no privacy.

    There is a certain amount of space that an organization needs in order to be deliberative. To build trust. You can’t live your life under glass all the time.

    At the same time, the organization is not real and believable if it acts forced.

    Therefore the idea is to engage the public in your story to the point where you are credible, forgivable and beloved.

    Do you want to know who does this well? VP Joe Biden! What did he say in that video – “I am proud to be the President” (oops) – and everybody just roared with laughter and went, “Oh, Joe.”

    It is no mistake that the Vice President came off so well in the debate. Because his humanity makes him more engaging when he speaks with passion.

    The social media guru Shel Holtz once said in a training class – “Say as much as you can say, and then say – I can’t say anymore.” That’s pretty much the rule to live by.

    If you want people to care about your communication you have to speak as if you are a person not a machine (read “The Cluetrain Manifesto,” which is available free, online – Google it.)

    My niece Yaffa Fredrick is currently enjoying her 15 minutes of fame because she was the subject of a New York Times trend piece on how millennials spend all their money on food. (Literally this is the caption beneath her photo.) The article itself is horrifying to me as her aunt because it’s totally unfair. Yaffa can balance a checkbook in her sleep. But the reporter used her words against her.

    Yaffa is pretty smart and she went online to do an interview countering the New York Times piece. Now everyone is out there (including me) defending her and saying that the NYT was way out of line. (My take is the reporter hates the show “Girls” and Yaffa was the excuse, because Yaffa bears the most striking resemblance to Lena Dunham, is the same age and is also a writer living in NY).

    This is a case study in contemporary communication, in a nutshell. You own the story not by controlling it, but by living it and interacting honestly with those who are interested in you. The fear of making mistakes is not exaggerated, but even the best and most controlling Public Affairs machine won’t keep you “safe.”

    So given all of the above – why would we shut down social media? We should only try to get better at it.

    Note – all opinions as always are my own.

  • #175939

    Here is the link to the Yaffa saga in a nutshell:


    Here is the link to The Cluetrain Manifesto:


  • #175937

    Right on, Joe, and I think the following situation is a solid practice:

    1. Define goals / outcomes / link back to mission.

    2. Test a platform and measure outcome achievement.

    3. If you are achieving outcomes and having mission impact, double down on what’s working.

    4. If you are not achieving outcomes, decide to (a) iterate / test or (b) reduce / eliminate.

    Given the limited time parameter that my colleague mentioned, it’s okay to stop doing what’s not working (after a couple iterations) and do more of what is having real impact.

  • #175935

    Dannielle – I agree with you that we should not abandon social media wholesale.

    But I would advocate for an agency, as I said above, asking a few questions along these lines:

    1. Is this social media platform / tool working to achieve mission-related, agency outcomes?

    1a. If so, why and is there anything else we can do to optimize impact?

    1b. If not, why not?

    2. Can we iterate in a way that makes it more effective in achieving desired outcomes?

    2a. If so, what are the resources required to do so?

    2b. If not, why not?

    3. Is there anything about it that is working right now and can we do more of that?

    3b. If so, what are the resources required to do so?

    3b. If not, why not?

    If the answers to 1, 2 and 3 are all “no”, I’d say it’s okay to pack it up and say “fail – but that’s okay!”

  • #175933

    I don’t think we disagree, but we’re answering different questions.

    –The macro question is whether social media has a future for government – to which I say yes.

    –The meso question is whether social media is working in this case – to which Joe says what is your –strategy. The strategy would presumably reach across all communication tools.

    –The micro question is whether this tool in this agency in this case is meeting specific goals – to which you’re outlining clearly how to figure out whether it is/isn’t – and, based on that whether to keep going or not.

    What I’m trying to do in my response is be a passionate advocate for making social media work even if it isn’t, currently, because it is what the public wants, needs and uses.

    I think it’s OK to quote Jeff Levy who once kindly came to my previous agency to teach us his approach to Web governance and training. Which should be textbook. In any case he said something that many people recalled afterward and re-stated, over and over again:

    “If you’re going to sell shoes you should go where people buy shoes, probably at the mall.”

    But the website-based paradigm of outreach is the equivalent of opening up a store in your own basement, next to the laundry room, in the cellar where you store vintage wine, cassettes and 8-track tapes.

  • #175931

    Martha Garvey

    Well, not to sound wishy-washy, but: it depends.

    As far as podcasts go, I’d leave it be, because you never know when it’s going to be useful to somebody in the future. Some organizations in the arts, for example, consider podcasts a way of teaching and reaching out to people who can’t get to see the work firsthand–see the American Theatre Wing.


    As far as a blog goes–I’d begin with the end (outcome) in mind–some blogs are meant to be limited, are meant to die. Some of the best are that way. When I was working on the Clinton Foundation website, one of the best blogs we looked at was a limited time blog built around one of President Clinton’s trips to Africa. When the trip was over, so was the blog. It was rich in content–but there was no point in continuing a story that was over.

    My first rule of social media: Social media is an amazing thing, and a giant time suck. The second rule of social media is that we should just call it “communications,” but that will come.

    In theory, when you commit to a social media tool, you could be committing to 24-hour staffing. If you are a public-facing government Facebook page, you might have to deal with big expectations from citizens, who increasingly see a Facebook page as a 311 and a 911 tool. This was VERY true on my town’s official Facebook page during and after Sandy.

    Meanwhile, some people gave our mayor, Dawn Zimmer flak because she wasn’t tweeting as much as Mayor Booker. I think this was kind of funny. It’s hard to tweet when you’re busy going on old media like radio and TV to make sure the National Guard come right away. Which they did.

    Or: prepare for crickets, when no one cares about your cool program. (This isn’t only about social media–it’s about all kinds of public relations and outreach. Oprah + Lance = your ribbon cutting doesn’t get the notice it deserves.)

    Or prepare for crummy comments, when Jon Stewart makes your organization the butt of several jokes. Decide in advance what your comment policy. Because somebody eventually won’t like you. Is that a “bad” outcome? Is that “good” engagement? You have to decide.

    I agree about outcomes. Clarify. Build for them. Measure them. Frequently. But: Social media is in its infancy, and the metrics are still pretty primitive. So expect serendipity–both bad and good.

  • #175929

    Yep – totally concur, Dannielle.

    Big fan of Jeffrey and would build on that mall analogy, I’ve used the analogy of social media being a lot like a flea market where people bring what they’ve made to buy and sell.

    On the mall analogy: if your record store is getting limited traffic (let’s call that your Flickr presence), it might be time to close up shop and focus on the digital part of the business where you’re crushing it (your Facebook page where people are “Liking” the heck out of the the same pictures).

  • #175927

    Thanks for your thoughts, Martha. A quick response:

    • “…one of the best blogs we looked at was a limited time blog built around one of President Clinton’s trips to Africa. When the trip was over, so was the blog.” Wow – I could see the ongoing impact of having that remain and being discoverable by search engines…or just plain part of the President’s post-office legacy. I might not have taken it down – but, again, if your desired outcomes were slowly real-time updates, then it served its purpose. Roll up the tent and move on.
    • “…when you commit to a social media tool, you could be committing to 24-hour staffing”- or you could commit for a period of time like a campaign. OPM just did this with the PMF program. They held shifts for social media and email questions from applicants round the clock so they could be uber-responsive.
  • #175925

    Shelley – Interesting idea on access for people with disabilities. So maybe the agency decides that they are doing it for very specific group that might not otherwise have access to the content and then make a targeted effort to put in the hands of that specific target audience. Scopes the effort and gives it a solid purpose.

  • #175923

    Mark Hammer

    I think there can be a “Hey look at me! I have one too!” element to the manner in which social media is being used; as if the organization is trying to avoid looking lame by doing all the things the other cool kids are doing. My own sense is that poor or clumsy implementation of a social media tool brings its own kind of lameness with it. A couple years ago, our former organizational president attempted to have a blog. I suspect she was encouraged to by folks in communications. I’m sure it was well-intentioned, but not being a particularly chatty person, she updated rather infrequently, and there was nothing of any particular noteworthiness contained in it, and certainly no opinions. Wisely – in my view – her successor has not attempted to follow in her footsteps.

    Do what works well, and ignore the rest. There is nothing that compels an organization to adopt “social media” as some kind of package deal. If a particular tool invites interaction, but you don’t have the manpower to monitor or respond, then don’t use that tool. And as Andrew has forcefully and effectively repeated here, use it to accomplish something vital that can be accomplished better via that tool.

    I will repeat a rather grumpy-old-man phrase I regularly repeat. Ephemeral technology is something that makes a 20 year-old say “Kewl!!”. Useful technology is something that makes a guy my age say “Finally!!”, because it solves an enduring problem.

    The best technology I’ve seen in ages was a measuring cup my kid got me for Chanukah that you can read from the top. Now THAT is great technology. It helps me to do something I am already needing to do, and do so more effectively.

    Use a social media tool if it helps to address some area where people often say “Geez, I wish I/we could…”. Don’t bring it in out of “I wonder what would happen if…”, or “Everybody else is using this but us” are your motives.

  • #175921

    Todd Solomon

    So, Danielle has taken on quite a bit here, which will take me some time to process. But, in general my response to her is “I agree.”

    Forget the mall; think about the hammer. If your hammer work isn’t creating the outcome you seek, you don’t usually throw out the hammer. You get better with it. Or you find the right tool for the job. If it isn’t Flickr or Facebook, it’s something else. But the idea that it wouldn’t be digital seems like a non-starter.

    If your public affairs efforts weren’t bearing fruit, you wouldn’t dismantle the public affairs office. You would figure out how to make it work. So, figure it out.

  • #175919

    Jeffrey Levy

    Dannielle, I didn’t see the question as being “should we abandon social media?” Where did Andy or his colleague ask that? I mean, as you can imagine, I agree wholeheartedly with you arguing the answer is emphatically “no.”

    But I think the answer to the question he did ask (“should we keep doing this podcast”) is rooted in, you know what I’m going to say, so sing it with me: mission, tool, metrics. 🙂 Which is pretty much what Joe and Andy said, so I won’t repeat it.

    But I would always, ALWAYS, say to kill things that aren’t working without apologizing. We have, and we’ll continue to. But only after doing that analysis and determining there’s nothing more worth doing.

    I’m very tickled you quoted me, though. 🙂

    Finally, I disagree strongly that we should abandon everything and get on text. Yes, many people are texting. But not everyone. Me, for example: the only texts I get are from my daughter. Not even both daughters – just one.

    BTW, I think your niece’s saga, and your analysis, deserves its own blog post!

  • #175917

    Jeffrey Levy

    Social media is free like a puppy is free.

    I didn’t make that up, but I use it constantly! I think it might have come from Chris Dorobek …

  • #175915

    Jeffrey Levy

    Oh, I LOVE this! When I speak about social media strategy, I ask people ‘what’s the first thing you should say when your boss says “go get me some of that social media!'”

    My answer: why? If you don’t know why, you shouldn’t start yet.

  • #175913

    I have been hesitating to write an analysis of the Yaffa situation, just because she’s Yaffa and is coming down here next Sunday and it will be weird. But will.

    The reason I answered a narrow question with a broader one is that in a conservative culture, when it comes to a social media problem, agencies are apt to take any excuse to just cut and run.

  • #175911

    Peter Sperry

    As a budget guy who has seen way too many really cool communication efforts spiral through 6, 7, and 8 figures in a relatively small agency without demonstrating any meaningful results, I would encourage you to set limits, develop performance measures and pull the plug on any program which does not generate positive ROI within a reasonable time. It may sound harsh; but if you don’t, OMB or Congress will. Many government communicators think they have been operating with constrained resources, limited by the tight wads in the budget office. In actuality, most of them have been sheltered from fiscal reality for most of the last 40 years. That is about to change.

    Governments at all levels across the entire planet are running out of resources. They need to start focusing on core deliverables. All programs and activities, including communications and social media, will have to demonstrate how they help lower costs of government services or generate revenue. If you can tell your budget office that maintaining a social media program at a cost of $500,000 reduced the need for telephone or in person citizen interaction by 15%, thereby saving $1,500,000; they will be able to convince external stakeholders (OMB & Appropriators) of the program’s value and keep it funded. If you can at least provide an outside analysis that shows most social media interactions were well received, your agency budget office will lie like a cheap rug when preparing budget justifications and may be able to protect your funding for a short time. If you cannot even demonstrate even that level of ROI, your budget shop will have a difficult time defending your funding.

    Budgeteers are some of the best communicators I know and masters of creative fiction in defense of their agency’s budget request. But the justifications they write along with their deliberately confusing spreadsheets, PowerPoints and quick responses are going to equally skilled budget wonks who have heard it all before and learned to see through the most colorful smoke and mirrors. Sooner or later, communications and social media programs will need to demonstrate substantive results. Frankly, at this point I would put most of them high on the list of sacrificial items when sequestration hits in March.

  • #175909

    The role is really citizen engagement and the set of tools includes social media. Done properly you are building the infrastructure – culture of openness, accessible tools, and policy – to enable everyone and anyone to engage. I too have seen wasteful spending on flashy outreach with dubious results. But a lot of executives like that. They think glossy billboards means we did something. They can be argued down from that particular tree. But the real task is to help leaders see who they need to engage, segment these publics into target audiences with a high level goal for each, and empower organizational ambassadors accordingly. You can get an army of ordinary frontline employees to proselytize on Facebook just by giving them permission. Cost – $0. You can train anyone to do a rotation at the customer service chat desk. Cost – in-house training and time away from regular duties. You can also empower subject matter experts to talk about complex and controversial issues affecting the agency from their own perspective – not representing the agency. You have to trust your people and let them disagree sometimes though. Cost – $0. Impact huge. How much do we trust our people? How educated are they about the mission? How well does information flow internally and from the outside in? These are capacities we MUST build in order for our organizations to survive. They are the basis of engagement. The public will not accept a bunch of bobbleheads swaying to the latest propagandistic tune. They want facts, they want access, they want something true and beautiful to believe in. We can’t afford to deliver any less.

  • #175907

    +1, Todd.

  • #175905

    I heard GovDelivery CEO Scott Burns say it in a presentation last year…we’ve got to give that quote some accurate attribution, because it’s a good one!

  • #175903

    Two awesome quotes from you (again), Mark:

    • “Do what works well, and ignore the rest. There is nothing that compels an organization to adopt “social media” as some kind of package deal.”
    • Ephemeral technology is something that makes a 20 year-old say “Kewl!!”. Useful technology is something that makes a guy my age say “Finally!!”, because it solves an enduring problem.”
  • #175901
  • #175899

    This response really struck me, Peter.

    The problem is that social media faces the same challenge as something like telework – seen as ‘new’ or ‘extra’ and requires justification and proof of ROI in ways that older, more established practices do not (not because they are effective, but because they represent legacy ways of getting things done).

    Just goes to show how much government needs to more and more become performance-oriented and metrics-driven across the board in order to achieve new levels of efficiency.

  • #175897

    Kerry Rego

    It’s important to set a goal for performance of a channel. You need to give it approximately a quarter before you can expect any positive ROI. If you don’t hit your goal, adjust your approach. It’s better to remove an unused social media account than let the audience see that you are not using it which translates to not caring and is seen as abandonment.

    Kerry Rego, Social Media Consultant @kregobiz

  • #175895

    Martha, this was so well put.

  • #175893

    The measuring cup you can read from the top! That is not a small innovation. I got one and marvel at it. Grew up with the old fashioned kind (like Russian dolls) and used to carry 1/3 cup exactly full of water to the mixing bowl to make Duncan Hines brownies for Shabbos (Sabbath). It occurred to me once to just run the water from the tap into the bowl – faster right? But after that I was taken off of brownie duty.

  • #175891

    Kerry, good point. We did that at the Federal Communicators Network with the Facebook group. But in hindsight I wonder if we could have let it grow organically over time – a missed opportunity.

  • #175889

    Kevin Lanahan

    What a great thread. It’s like an all-star post with Danielle, Jeff, Andrew, Mark and Peter weighing in.

    As a state agency that has faced some severe staffing and budget restrictions (I know, haven’t we all?), we look at the potential market, ease of entry and our ability to staff the social mediaoutlet.

    Part of staffing the social media tool is how invested any particular member of our staff is in the tool. We have a lot of staff interested in Facebook, and they understand how to interact with our public. Our Twitter, on the other hand, is broadcast only. We don’t invite a lot of interaction there, and don’t get a lot of inquiries there, either. We could use it much more effectively, but lack the staff/time/motivation to invest more in it at this time.

    A few years ago, one of our managers really, really wanted to podcast. Of course, we would have to script it and come up with topics for her to host. We have a top-notch audio/visual staff, but coming up with compelling content and having the time to do it well was not in the cards. We did not pursue that avenue.

    We have Pinterest and Flickr pages, and they require minimal upkeep and interaction, and seem to be popular. Google+ is next on the horizon, but it will be a while before we start doing hangouts. Again, time and effective use.

    We’ve had blogs, but after a couple of years they get to be a grind and we post less and less there as we move to other social media. We have shut some of them down (we found one that simply ignored all comments!) and consolidated others.

    I can’t see pulling the plug on social media, but I certainly am in favor of abandoning tools that don’t work or that management is not willing to commit enough time to do well.

  • #175887

    Mark Hammer

    Shelley, I’m certainly not immune to coolness, and I have more guitar and electronic trinkets in my basement, garage, and home office than any man my age has a right to.

    But I think there is a distinction to be made between that which distracts us because of what it can do, and that which exists because of what needed to be done. Once they became available, I just HAD to go out and get me one of them Raspberry Pi computer boards. A very impressive (and kewl) piece of technology. But every time I’d show it to somebody at work, they would always ask “So, what are you going to do with it?”. And frankly, I had no answer. I know what it has the potential to do, but it didn’t really fill a burning need. Anything I can do with it is largely an invented objective, rather than a pre-existing need, and my time to master Linux to make it do things is rather limited. My retort was usually “Hey, it was only $43, including shipping from England.”.

    While citizen disengagement is an enduring (and increasing) challenge that needs to be met (and you are quite correct that maybe some folks didn’t think it was), I have my personal doubts as to whether a full-on interactivity with everyone outside government is entirely a good thing. Communicating is great. Transparency is great. Consultation is great. All are standing and enduring problems to be solved. But as petitions to create a Death Star, or to banish Piers Morgan to an island shared with Bashar Al-Assad, amply illustrate, you never want people to: a) lose sight of who is making the decisions in the end, b) how complex those decisions are and must be, c) how constrained by law, jurisdiction, time, human resources, and money those decisions must be, d) how many points of view other than one’s own have been argued for just as vociferously, and e) assume that just because X was done/decided/made available, doesn’t necessarily mean Y and Z can be as well. The moment any of that gets lost, via the manner and extent of one’s use of social media, you’re working against your own objectives. That’s why I say one has to cherry-pick one’s use of it. Some of it may well likely bite you on the haunches VERY hard.

    Insomuch as technology inevitably becomes “culture”, technology will be turned to to address the problems that emerge in that culture. I understand that. The social expectation of instant information and communication is fostered by technology. If I don’t have to go to the library to find things out, and I don’t even have to say “Hello, may I please speak to…” (because the number I entered is the very person holding the phone, and not a location where they might be), then my standards for information feedback, making contact, and such, will have changed.

    One can’t simply declare that those shifted expectations should be disregarded because they emerge from technology. On the other hand, the technology cannot be the tip of the tail that wags the dog, or forcibly re-prioritize the perceived challenges. Underneath everything ought to be enduring matters, whose format may have changed with the technology (and demographic elements), but whose gravity and persistence remains the same. And sometimes, there are things that never have, and never will change, like the power of simply saying “Thank you” to people, or showing them that something is not so bad as they thought it was, or as difficult as they were afraid it was going to be. Those are enduring challenges to government. If social media can help address those things, that’s accomplishing a lot.

  • #175885

    Kerry – I like that. If someone comes to a social site and sees that it is dead, that’s not good for an agency brand.

  • #175883

    Mark Hammer

    As a former resident of Victoria, and proud U. Vic. graduate, I bequeath it to you to use in the best of health! Just think of me when you eat cheesecake at Pag’s. 🙂

  • #175881

    Hillary Hartley

    The only problem with the abandon-Flickr-for-Facebook analogy is that Flickr is so much more than just a record store. It’s a tool that can be used and deployed elsewhere, unlike the walled garden of Facebook.

    Just a nit-pick, really. But I would never advocate shutting down a Flickr stream in favor of only posting pix to Facebook if you ever want to do anything else with said pix than just gather Likes.

  • #175879

    Steve Ressler

    +1 Peter Sperry! If you look externally to the outside there are major requests for marketers who understand financial analysis. Sure you can be their social media marketer but please show a roi after the engagement.


  • #175877

    Joe Sanchez

    And then there’s this: “It’s Time to Cut Back on Social Media.” Dorie Clark writes: “Think about which platforms best speak to your strengths. … We’re now reaching a point where having a scattered focus could truly be deleterious to your goals, because you’re only able to half-engage or create mediocre content.”

    These are great points in her HBR post – some of which align with points on this GovLoop thread.

    Timely discussion, Andrew!

  • #175875

    Peter Sperry

    Congress passed the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) in 1993 for just that purpose. Between 2001 and 2009, OMB conducted reviewers of new and existing programs using the Performance Assesment Rating Tool (PART) to apply performance oriented metrics to Federal budgets. In 2010, Congress enacted the GPRA Modernization Act. Requirements to link resource allocation to government objectives have been getting steadily more robust.

    There is no reason social media communications programs should not meet these requirements. Properly deployed, social media communication can be a powerful force multiplier that reduces expenditures and increases effectiveness. It is just a matter of gathering quantifiable or at least annadotal evidence making the connection. It also helps to clearly articulate goals, objectives and realistic resource requirements up front. Entirely too many communications programs try to start small and grow; believing that as sunk cost pile up, the budget shop will be increasingly unwilling to pull the plug. What often happens instead is that projects are cancelled when they cannot demonstrate results because sponsors failed to request a realistic level of initial resources.

  • #175873

    Steve Ressler

    I am not in a social media position and it’s by purpose! I can skin that cat in more than one way but that’s another story! I do not think an organization should abandon their social media they should add to it; however I do think that they need to understand who they are looking for when they are filling those roles. It’s always interesting to me when a person is creating, managing and cultivating an organizations presence and the people who are sitting in these roles don’t really have their own personal brand. They have locked down pretty much all of their social media accounts and their Twitter account has probably 20 followers and 5 tweets in the last four years. No, really I’m serious! There is virtually no online presence about themselves anywhere. How can an organization find out about your transparency and authenticity in social media? If everything is closed?!

    I also think that we should not be focusing on social media we should focus on all forms of marketing and communication and how to reach people.

  • #175871

    Steve Ressler

    Excellent! A great way for measurement is to build the campaign in MS Project with milestones use earned value management and use another tool to gauge sentiment e.g. monitter or social mention. If your agency has purchased a tool to gauge sentiment you can use that instead.

  • #175869

    Exactly, Peter. Not different, just part of mission achievement.

  • #175867

    Nice recommendation, Jennifer!

  • #175865

    Dannielle – A great example of empowering others in the organization to engage with citizens via social media is USGS and their Facebook page. Read more in this post:


    I don’t know of any other agency that has done it quite like this…but it’s really what you’re talking about here.

  • #175863

    Boom: “…look at the potential market, ease of entry and our ability to staff the social media outlet.” That’s about as simple as you can make it for getting started.

    I like how you laid out each of your channels above, Kevin, and how you responded to each of these parameters.

    One recommendation for your podcast – my hunch is that you have content written up for your web page, newsletters, etc. In some ways, you can quickly repurpose that stuff if you’re looking for a lower barrier to entry. Expert interviews (just have a conversation with a SME in your organization and record it – no pressure) don’t require scripts and can go a long way toward providing great, interesting content. Again, it depends on whether you have an audience for it, too…might not be worth it if no one is consuming your information that way.

  • #175861

    Thanks, Joe. That’s a perfect contribution to this conversation.

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