SOCIAL MEDIA: Why solutions, not shiny matters most

Sometimes you can hear someone say something that makes complete sense.

Twice in the last few weeks that’s happened to me.

Firstly, at Digital Futures in Shrewsbury Futuregov’s excellent Carrie Bishop spoke of using ‘just enough of the internet’ to get something done. That feels such a perfectly weighted, perfectly observed comment to make from someone who can comfortably grandstand by talking shiny tech.

Secondly, Coventry City Council’s Martin Reeves at the 10 by 10 WM event in Coventry.

The chief executive popped in to deliver a 15-minute speech to those that had gathered. We’d just finished hearing 10 examples of really good innovation across the region and were feeling just a little bit pleased with ourselves. There’s some really good things happening in the region and I’m really proud to be part of that.

“You are doing great things,” Martin said. “But I’ve just spent a few days locked away with other chief executives to discuss things that face us. Not once. Not once was social media mentioned in that time.”

The fact that Martin, who is one of a growing handful of chief executives who tweet, was telling us this was significant. Martin is an advocate. He’s a believer.

“How do you need to change that?” he asked us. “Stop being evangelists. Stop talking about the technology. Talk about the solutions. Talk about the solutions that may just have social media as part of it. Then you’ll get people listening.”

It’s a brilliantly clear, well thought through approach to take.

If there’s one thing that social media people are is passionate evangelists. Sometimes that passion comes from a belief that if only others could share this vision then the world will be a better place. The reality is that some people just don’t think that.

It’s not the shiny technology that matters to most people.

Thinking it through the good things at my own council have happened it’s been around finding a solution.

How do countryside people find better ways to connect? By having a ranger like Morgan Bowers on Twitter. How do we dispell rumours in a crisis? By using Twitter alongside people like the police. How do we stop people thinking we don’t grit? We tell them on Twitter.

But that hits one of the great conundrums about social media for an organisation. Organisations use it to get real life results. They want ticket sales or units shifted. But social media is a conversation. If you use it well you’ll use it with a human face and with a human voice.

So, maybe we need to be two things.

We must talk with a human voice when using technology to those outside the organisation.

We must talk solutions to those within.

Picture credit 
Logos http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonahowie/7910370882/sizes/l/in/pool-1115578@N22/

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