I tell you, playing in the social media space in government departments is like hording a marathon. I run with those at the front, well try to (fitness levels vary), listening to what they are saying and trying to keep up; falling back to chivvy along those enthusiastic middle runners (some in costume); then pitching backwards to round up the casualties lagging behind who are beginning to think (in horror) that they have made a terrible mistake. Then I have to race to the front again to keep up with their progress. Repeat.
I am not alone.
However, take tonight as a classic example.
I noticed that my friend Mark O’Neill (CIO for Dept for Culture, Media and Sport – ironic) had posted on his blog about how wary bureaucrats were in engaging in social media http://tiny.cc/7ePOs. I responded by saying that however wary they were, by ignoring it, they were making matters worse. Add this to recent discussions here on creating a social media toolkit that can be used by everyone, starting with the key component: the ability to listen and to discover where people were talking, then engage with them there.
Rather handily, a good example of ‘listening’ came about by someone from MyLifeMyID (a Home Office website about ID cards aimed at 16-25 year olds). Ray Poynter, a moderator of the site, posted a comment here in response to a posting I wrote that received some interest from the user group the Home Office were targetting.
This I then highlighted earlier tonight in a second post about MyLifeMyID.
A colleague of mine then commented, ‘revealing’ the true identity of Ray Poynter – as an owner of the company running the MyLifeMyID site, rather than an administrator.
I have replied at length to Shane’s complaint, you can read this in the comments bit over there on the right of this page and I am not going to re-hash that. However, I think that it is an important point that if we are to offer a direct line of communication to those people doing the asking, we do not scupper this, or degrade its value by using the openness of the web to pick unnecessary arguments. If harm is being done, fine. If not, then perhaps a matey joshing, small rebuke, reminder, warning, anything that can be done in a sentence, followed by what you actually wanted to say on the topic being discussed.
In this instance, the fact that the owner of a company running a survey chooses to find out where the conversations are, and encourage further debate – regardless of what outfit he is wearing – is only good! The message was: you guys have gone quiet, does this mean you are OK now or is there anything more? Oh and by the way, we were listening and we have not only published the good stuff.
Shane, I do not mean to pick on you. It is a good point that you cannot hide here on the web. But by concentrating on the ‘scoop’ like this, rather than what is actually being discussed is what could be the downfall of our pleas to government to be more open.
Right, back up to the front again… how far? Lawks