Archive | July 2012

Engaging Reluctant Colleagues in Social Media Work

Last week, I had the privilege of attending a workshop on social media for non-profits. During one of the exercises, another attendee asked about getting reluctant colleagues to support social media outreach. She wasn’t asking how to do twitter or how to report out metrics on social media reach, she just wanted to get the folks at the next desk/cubical/office to pitch in, to support the goals of the organization they all believed in.

I’ve been thinking about social media a lot lately, to the point of analysis paralysis in trying to start this blog. For those whose day jobs are not dedicated to it social media gets overwhelming. So many platforms, ideas, tools make it hard to know where to start, what to do and when to stop. All this opportunity creates a challenge in getting colleagues, executives, and board members to “support social media” partly because they’re not sure what to do. In the communications work I do for businesses and non-profits, I see this a lot. A new project gets reviewed in a staff meeting and everyone is asked to support it. Then, almost nothing happens.

But here’s the trick. If you’re the communications person, you can get a lot more support with specific, directive requests. Instead of asking for “help,” give a very small, very specific assignment. Something like “Please like our Facebook page and leave a comment.” “Please follow us on twitter and re-tweet today’s announcement on our fundraising campaign.” The old rule for managers setting employee objectives provides helpful guidance. Make your requests:

  • Specific “Re-tweet”
  • Measurable “today’s tweet”
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound “by the end of the day”

A couple more thoughts on actionable and realistic. The request becomes actionable when you send the tweet, so tweeting yourself and then making the request works better than asking first and frustrating people who try to re-tweet before you’ve tweeted. ┬áTo judge whether a request is realistic, ask in the meeting for a show of hands of those who have twitter accounts. You can discreetly follow up with anyone who doesn’t have an account to find out if they’re willing to try it. Walking them though account set-up, following the organization, and writing a tweet takes less time than drinking a cup of coffee.