Being “creative” with Social Media

I happened upon this blog post by Stef Lewandowski via a tweet or retweet or two.

The rules or general approach that Stef highlights are brilliant, however i thought i would try and add to or even compliment them with perhaps some overlap, which i make no apology for.

  1. Start thinking
    Probably the hardest thing to do really whilst seeming like the easiest. Henry Ford said “thinking is the hardest job there is which is probably why so few people do it”
    The challenge is to try and find conditions which make thinking easier to do. This is something you will need to ask yourself. I find walking and being in water, either a bath, shower, swimming or surfing as long as i am water a great place to think.
    So get out an about and try new things and find out what conditions enable you think clearly.
  2. Use and recognise laziness as an asset
    Now i don’t mean the traits that make people fat and overweight, i mean the desire people have to achieve more by doing less. I wouldn’t say i was lazy as such, but there are certain task that i dread doing and therefore have a lazy attitude towards them, but in recent times social media tools have enabled me to reduce the burden of these tasks, researching online and looking at other websites, RSS saved me huge amounts of time.
    Laziness should be harnessed, i have often wanted to get a project going but felt other people would be better at doing it than me so adopted the cuckoo approach (which lays its eggs in other nests for them to manage) this approach not only gets an idea developed but also allows others to take credit for ideas and innovation so increases their willingness to support other new and exciting ideas in the future.
  3. Accept what you’ve got and get on with it
    We always hear people complain about lack of this and lack of that, we need to accept what we have and prioritise, and make the best use of the skills and resources we do have. Nearly everyone else is in the same position but yet they deliver innovation.
    Social media tools are a great opportunity here, we could do so much without doing anything more than what is already there, now why aren’t more things being done?
  4. Bend the rules to breaking point or cheat
    Understand the rules of the game we all play and push the boundaries until they nearly break and if they do, so what you may well have invented a new game.  Many successful companies broke rules or did things outside of the rules and found new niche markets to explore and benefit from. Low cost airlines are a classic example

But the biggest thing i agree with in Stef’s post is allowing yourself to fail and fail yourself to success.

Now with these rules or guidelines, i will start to approach social media opportunities in the same way and see where it gets me, it seems that this is a lower cost strategy because the cost to set up, trial and fail is so low. After all, we won’t get it right every time but a t least i won’t be wasting huge amounts of pubic money on the process.

I think i was doing this to some degree but now i have a framework which i have accepted it may make it easier.

Please share your experiences and or failures so others can benefit from your learning.

Do we really need web managers?

Now this is a question that has bothered me for some time and has caused me to question the validity of my job.

I want to ensure that my councils websites is one which can benefit and deliver efficiencies for the organisation and one which provides services and information for our customers. A simple vision but one which is way out of my scope as a web manager.

I of course have influence on aspects of the website, style, tone, design (although branding is more important). But when it comes to range of services and what people really want to do in terms of performing tasks, this is something that a service manager needs to be engaged in and needs to decide whether they wish to spend their service budget on a channel that for some is still unknown. When we don’t have huge amounts of information about the types of online customers we have and serve.

My dilemma and perhaps cause for confusion is that the web is too broad an area to be managed by just one person, a web manager and their team.

When the web is in fact at the heart of a range of existing disciplines in the council.

  • Technology and Innovation – we are perhaps fortunate that our corporate ICT function has a team of Enterprise Architects who are there to look at the strategic business architecture which would include the web, but also looks at the latest innovations and how they can support and deliver business benefits, web 2.0 is one area that this team will look at.
    In terms of operational web development, this is provided by our in-house development team who do the actual programming etc.
  • Content (text, image, video, audio etc) – for me this the bread and butter of websites and is mostly driven by communications and marketing people across the council, but also involves web editors and publishers. what we need here though is a content strategy which highlights all content amd which channel it needs to be delivered to. This is wider than just websites
  • Information Management (metadata and taxonomy) – This is the field of information specialists and we also have a tool which helps us tag our pages with correct metadata and contributes to the taxonomy management
  • Services (what people come to do – the tasks!) – this has been the drive of eGovernment for the last few years and continues to be the main focus of websites now, but it driven by customer services and service managers looking to provide alternative channel of access for services. But we need to put the right service in the right channel if they are to be used.
  • Design – last but not least, a visual framework by which people navigate, search and perform information and search requests. This is a design function and in terms of framework is easy to manage but overall design needs to compliment the organisational brand, a communications and marketing role.

How can a web manager truly manage all of those aspects to ensure that the website as a whole develops consistently and in a usable way. They would need to be multi-disciplined and have a wide range of knowledge or they focus on one area and do that well.

It maybe that what we need is effective governance and key people from each specialist area to ensure that we can deliver a multichannel approach. Not to cut myself out and sell myself short, i have managed to do elements of this co-ordination for the past 4 years, but that is all it has been – “Co-ordination”, it has not been about truly managing the website as a strategic platform for business and staff. Perhaps my dilemma is that iu ahve outgrown my role instead of it out-growing me.

The web needs to be mainstreamed into everyday business thinking and when that happens you won’t need a web manager as it becomes part of how we work.  However you will need all those specialist areas to focus on the wider picture.

I could be tempting fate but stating such things but this is my dilemma, i welcome your thoughts