Government is jumping into the social media muck with both feet, which I would argue on the surface is a good thing. It is fun to watch government employees taking to Twitter, Facebook, and other channels while government agencies are setting up blogs, making videos, and distributing podcasts. For once, government isn’t far behind during this digital revolution! What’s the problem?
Ask almost any government blogger or twitterati who they are blogging or tweeting for and the answer will likely be some version of “our constituents.” Dig a bit deeper, ask a few more questions and you may get a more specific answer like “people who are interested in Program Y.” Dig any more and the conversation will circle back to the original answer – “our constituents.”
Blogging or tweeting to “our constituents” is akin to standing in the town square shouting your message to people as they pass by. Some will stop and listen but unless your message is so broadly important and compelling, such as the President’s, most will consider you a mild curiosity at best or just ignore you and your message completely. Not a good way to get your message across and a complete waste of time and resources.
Yes, I know government has to serve everyone who walks through the digital door. But that doesn’t mean government has to serve everyone in every possible channel. Just as Twitter wouldn’t be the best channel to reach out to people getting ready to apply for social security, a USPS delivered direct marketing piece isn’t the best channel to attract a recent grad to a job in electronic warfare in the Air Force. Notice I said best – there is a statistical chance (similar to a snowball’s in a very warm place) of reaching some of your audience in any channel. But it clearly isn’t the best use of your resources.
The bottom line: Target your social media efforts and messages to a specific defined audience.