[Note: I sort of goofed in how I mentioned this blog post on Twitter; this isn't about the subject of whether it's okay to plug your own blog more than once, but now that I think about it, I'll write about that soon. Meanwhile, enjoy this one!]
Over the past few months, I’ve been briefing managers at EPA and other agencies about social media. During that time, it’s occurred to me that there’s a “social media” way of thinking. Maybe it’s a Web 2.0 way of thinking, or a New Media way of thinking, but however you define it, it’s very different from the standard project management approach.
Please share your own thoughts below my list. Oh, and at the bottom, I embedded the presentation I’ve been giving to managers, which incorporates the contents of this list.
BTW, none of this is original to me (which, I suppose, could be culture point 0: use and share ideas that work, even if you didn’t think them up).
1) Using social media well is a culture change. It’s not a technology challenge. Yes, tech issues must be solved. But you’ll never succeed if you start with tech.
2) Develop some strategy, but don’t wait for the perfect 400-page, $200,000 project plan. Come up with a few bullets and get going.
3) Experiment. You’ll never know every possible outcome in advance. That’s why you try things.
4) Define measures of success that are specific to that tool. Don’t just focus on financial return on investment. “Return on engagement” is usually better for social media projects. For example, our goals for EPA’s blog Greenversations included things like putting a human face on our agency and sharing personal stories connecting employees’ work and regular lives. Our goals for a regulatory blog, a scientific wiki, etc. will be very different.
5) Be ready to fail (fast, small). You will, someday. Guaranteed. But fail well: learn, regroup, revise, try again. And by following #2, you won’t lose that much if you do fail. In fact, depending on what you learn, it might even be a net gain. More on this from William Eggers and Shalabh Singh.
6) Be ready to succeed. When it goes well, write down why. And tell others. Here, on GovLoop, Twitter, etc. Esp. if you’re in gov’t, sharing means that the taxpayer pays for that knowledge fewer times. Ask yourself “what’s next” even as a project is winding down and plug that knowledge into the next one.
7) Embrace criticism (blog comments, anyone?). Rarely will complaints be utterly without value. “Your writing sucks” is useful. “Your agency has abandoned your mission” is, too. You’re not obligated to change everything because of every comment. But you may just discover some nuggets if you can get past any nasty language.
8) Accept that people will come up with ways to use your social media projects in ways you never expected. There are 6 billion people out there, which is a much larger crowd than your agency.
9) Know the policy framework. Not doing so risks running into brick walls at high speed. And when you do that, you often bounce backward. Whereas if you know the policies, you know which walls are brick, which are sponge, which are 3 feet high by 3 feet wide and which are 30 feet high and 2 miles long. Bonus: knowing the walls tells you where to push for change. And knowing the “why” behind the policies often leads to finding good solutions within them. A great way to learn this information is to go to lunch with your IT folks and your attorneys. That informal relationship will also help you when things aren’t going well.
I’ll stop there in the hope that the tendency to do top 10 lists will get you to suggest what #10 should be.
Oh, and here’s my presentation titled “Social Media And The Gov’t: A Brief Introduction for Managers”).