There has been lots of discussions recently online about the need for a social media strategy for organisations, particularly in the public sector. I remain unconvinced – yes an organisation needs some guidance and possibly a policy for use of social media tools, but is there a need for a strategy as well?
I wrote the policy for Lincolnshire Police’s use of social media (boiled down to a few words the policy is ‘get on with it, but think first’) and some guidance which covers some less obvious pitfalls (when to delete posts, issues around evidence and intelligence, copyright awareness and permissions for use of images which identify individuals for example). I kept these short, simple and relevant to police audiences. What I didn’t do is write a strategy for the use of social media.
After all we have no strategy for police officers and staff to adhere to when talking to members of the public in other ways. What we do have are three very clear priorities, which all staff work to (protecting the public, making communities safer and improving our services) and a set of principles that all staff work to, whether dealing with the public or with colleagues (this goes by the mnemonic PRIDE – Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Dedication and Empathy). I am unclear what else a strategy for social media would add – as with all our actions the use of social media should aim to move us towards our priorities, and use of social media tools should reflect PRIDE. Another strategy would just add bureaucracy in my view.
Just for clarity let me make it clear that when using social media for a specific purpose, then some clear outcomes and expectations are a good idea. Lincolnshire police have considered how best to use social media for specific major incidents, to promote our children’s mascot Bobby Bear, and are currently promoting Operation NOVA (No to Violence and Abuse) through blogging and Twitter/Facebook posts from our guest sober student from Lincoln University. The tactical approach and outcomes from this were considered in advance. Did I want to add another strategy for all of these activities? No.
Think I am wrong – post below and tell me why.