This group is for city, county, town, village, and other local government employees. Lots of GovLoop Groups focus on the Federal Government, but this group is for Local Government. Come here to discuss issues facing local governments.
Owning a Brand
August 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm #108585
Does your city/county/company/non-profit have a facebook page/twitter/govloop group? No? Well check again. It might surprise you, but you no longer own your brand. Web2.0 and social media have made regular Joe's and Jane's just as strong a voice as established, 100 year old brands.The natural reaction to social media is to not do it because you can't control the conversation - there is something scary about having a city website because someone might say they don't like the mayor. The simple fact is: your local government can't control everything that is said about it. There are too many avenues for information to get out. In a way, this is incredibly empowering.If I'm looking at moving to one of DC's many suburbs, I don't have to take the city website's word on their "excellent school system." A simple tweet search of "Suburb-name Schools" will give me a world of unfiltered information.Your residents, customers, clients, and members are on social media (and not just your officially sanctioned ones). You can either let them dictate the conversation - in some cases, they may even do so under your brand (if they're a citizen, aren't they just as entitled to ownership?). Or, you can be there, online, to help correct and guide the conversation.A perfect example is the number of different college and university student/alumni groups on all Web2.0 platforms. Because the school was too slow or scared to jump in the social media pool, empowered individuals took it upon themselves.
August 18, 2010 at 7:48 pm #108595
Kevin, that's a great point. I'm researching how local governments across America are using social digital networks. I've strictly examined official city websites. What I've noticed is that individual departments set up social digital sites like "parks and rec" that aren't advertised on the city's main website.
I agree with your point of encouraging governmental control over conversations. Here's the dilemma (part of my research) ... who is responsible for this? Are governments taxing already overworked employees with additional tasks, or can any employee respond to a Tweet / Facebook post?
August 18, 2010 at 7:54 pm #108593
I believe that you need to empower and trust your employees to take on the responsibility (even on their own time).
For example, there is a lot of press right now about federal employees being overpaid. Reporters are talking about it through traditional mediums, but it's also blowing up on blogs, etc. Nothing that comes from the top-down is going to combat that. What might is dedicated, empowered, employees, finding these stories, comments, posts, and weighing in with accurate information.
I'll look for the company, but I know there was one company that put ads online on some Friday afternoon. Apparently mommy-blogs took offense to the ads and within a day had organized against the company. The only reason they knew about this was because dedicated employees who felt a sense of ownership saw the responses online and worked towards a solution.
August 18, 2010 at 8:05 pm #108591
Thomas L. StefaniakParticipant
Kevin, you know I am a big believer in social networks. I "own" the Catholic Church. However, sometimes if there are no corporate controls in place employees will spout forth without knowing about ongoing discussions that may have created stronger responses.
Lock down is not the answer, but companies and local governments should commit to complete openness. If everyone in the org knows about what is going on, really anyone could discuss something accurately and intelligently.
August 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm #108589
I agree with elements of everyone's response.
Now more than ever, the "voice" of a brand is made up of the collective actions of all of it's representatives. No longer is it limited to the CAO, PIO, or marketing manager, but rather, it is an amalgamation of corporate stewards and the customers they interact with. What people hear and experience with your brand (in this case, local government) becomes a part of the voice as well, due to the proliferation of social media outlets as tools of expression.
While there is nothing worse than limiting the voice of your people (customers and line level staff included), I agree with Thomas that creating a culture of openness and responsibility within our organizations is the best strategy for successfully navigating the world of social media.
Simply put - educate your organization on what you want your brand to be, and then empower them to represent it. All will be made better for it.
August 18, 2010 at 8:29 pm #108587
Thomas L. StefaniakParticipant
A side benefit of the complete openness is you could virtually eliminate fraud and abuse. The Bell, CA debacle would never have happened if everyone in the local government knew what was happening at the top. You cannot keep that many mouths quiet.
The old idea of brand is changing. It is not what the company is telling folks it wishes its perception to be. The brand becomes what is viewed by the majority participating in the conversation. Today's best web 2.0 savvy organizations understand this change.
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