Social media is fast becoming one of the leading ways for communities to share news and information. If they missed the paper, the radio or evening news, people can get online and catch up on the story at a time that suits them. They can share posts and articles easily and quickly with their like-minded friends and followers. A hashtag can pop up and every story, whether true or false, is quickly linked and found with a simple search. It is easy to allow this frenzy of social media activity get the better of you. But it doesn’t have to derail your project.
Having recently come out of an online beating, I’ve been reminded that a vocal minority won’t necessarily be more persuasive than before social media, when old school methods like letterbox drops, placards and signs, protests and rallies were the weapon of choice.
People may find it easier to connect to each other and to share information amongst themselves, But 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 communities 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. You can go one step further with a social media strategy to help spread the message you want to be spread.
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.