Although I work in K-12 education, many of the very best social media practices I use came from colleagues in the varied worlds of small business, non-profit and corporate. Virtually everything I do – the way I build our school district’s online community, the way I craft our messages, the way I handle an angry parent or patron – all of these are heavily influenced by the smart people I know (IRL and on Twitter) who manage social media in all kinds of sectors.
And the greatest thing I’ve learned from this collaboration of learning and sharing is that we communicators – from corporate to government, and everywhere in between – are much more similar than we may appear on the surface…
- We all have stakeholders, clients and customers. And these groups of people are vital to our success, whether we are selling, creating, helping, serving or educating. The best practices for building and engaging a social media community are consistent, regardless of the business, agency or organization. In addition, the online communities we manage also sometimes have angry people – occasionally even crazy angry people – and the strategies for handling these interactions are effective across all fields.
- We all have employees who use social media personally and, sometimes, as part of their job. We know that boundaries and guidelines help ensure that our employees are the best reflection of our mission and brand. We also know that it takes a focused, strategic effort to empower, trust and monitor multiple “official” contributors to social media. Empowering multiple content creators leads to greater community engagement – but it also demands greater planning and management from the top.
- We all have a reputation to protect, including our brand and the leaders associated with the brand. It may be a product or service. It may be a CEO, a manager, an elected official or a superintendent. It could be logos, intellectual property or simply the organization’s public image. We know that social media cannot be ignored in the work of brand and reputation management. Whether people are talking to us in our communities or talking about us in other communities, we must monitor, understand and, often, proactively engage, to ensure the integrity of our organization’s reputation.
- We all – with rare and lucky exception – have people in leadership positions who get nervous about the role that social media plays in all of the areas above. How do we bring along governing boards and reluctant leaders? How do we demonstrate the value – quantitative and qualitative – that a strategically managed social media community offers to our organizations? And how do we help leaders to face fears, mitigate risk, and embrace opportunity?
It’s true: Not everyone gets to work in a place with school buses, recess, plays, spelling bees, concerts, science fairs and football games. But the strategies, perspectives, challenges and opportunities that come with social media and the organizations we represent – those are what we all share.
I originally wrote this as a guest post for the Social Media Club of Kansas City, where I will be participating in a panel discussion next week about social media in schools.