Is Social Media Derailing Your Project?

Our communities are sophisticated and sceptical with unprecedented access to information. If they missed the paper, the radio or evening news, they can get online and catch up on the story at a time that suits them. They can share the story easily and quickly with their like-minded friends and followers. A hashtag can pop up and every story, or facet of the story, can be quickly linked and found with a simple search.

It is easy to allow this plethora of online happenings to get the better of you.

Having recently come out of an online beating, I’ve been reminded that once again, a vocal minority won’t necessarily be more persuasive than they were before when they used old school methods, like letterbox drops, placards and signs, protests and rallies.

They may find it easier to connect to each other and to share information amongst themselves. What I’ve noticed, is they don’t necessarily have a greater influence over those who either support something or (where I usually find most the community sit) those who don’t really mind what happens.

So, before you are in a frenzy about a new Facebook group that has popped up and is posting all kinds of things that make you worry your project is about to derail, what should you do? – Plan.

Your engagement strategy is a critical tool in helping you prepare for what you should be doing over the life of a project. When the pressure hits during a tough project phase, your strategy should be a guide to help keep your communication and engagement on track, and not allow the seemingly high pressure, online environment drive your strategy.

Don’t ignore the social media environment. In fact, monitoring what is happening online is a really useful way to find out what the community object to most, that your project may be able to address. A common occurrence in online groups is self moderation, where people with opposing views challenge what the group itself is saying. Monitoring social media provides valuable information about fractures within communities.

For good project outcomes, you don’t need to tackle every online group that pops up. Spend some time reviewing your strategy, make sure you’ve got the nuts and bolts right, tweak your tactics and messages then continue engaging with all project stakeholders.

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