Apparently I offended the social media gods last night at Social Media Club DC when I made the audacious statement expressing my sincere hope that every Tom, Dick and Harry in the federal government didn’t start a blog to become more “Gov 2.0”
Some in attendance expressed disagreement. Others called me elitist.
For the record, I’m not elitist. I’m just smarter than everyone else. (Bad joke.)
But I do stand by my statement. And here is why.
Social media isn’t about technology; it is about using technology as a platform to change the way that people use media to interact with one another. Similarly, Gov 2.0 isn’t about technology; it is about sharing information and empowering the people to help government help them.
However, those uninitiated with social media, seeing the “trend” of participatory communication, all too often suffer from GMOOT — “Get Me One of Those.”
“I hear viral videos are big. Lets make one.”
“Blogging is the new pink. Build me one.”
“Everybody’s doing this Twitter thing. I want to too.”
Government takes time to change. A massive bureaucracy doesn’t shift overnight. My fear is that any mandate for government to adopt Web 2.0 communications efforts will turn into a series of GMOOTs. From every director of the division of the under-secretariat of the department of whatever.
And when that happens, and there is no PURPOSE behind the use of the technology, all you get is noise. Or, just as bad, a lot of blogs that are abandoned after a few weeks.
Participatory democracy isn’t easy. You’ve got to work for it. Reducing Gov 2.0 to “let’s build a blog!” is simplistic and naive.
I am all for government officials engaging in social media literacy. And yes, the best way to learn about the tools and the technology is to use them. But that doesn’t mean that the use should be devoid of purpose and strategy — especially if you are a government employee playing with these toys on the taxpayer’s dime.
So what is the solution? Resist the urge to create a blog just because you can. Consult with people who have experience with social media. Talk about organizational goals and objectives and then decide if/how/what kind of social media is right for your communications program. And, just as important, talk about how you will measure the Gov 2.0 program’s effectiveness and identify benchmarks for determining success.
And last, be leery of anyone whose knee-jerk reaction to implemting a social media program in government is “let’s do a blog!”