How to Convince Everyone in Your Governmental Institution to Use Social Media

By: Sofie De Beule

October 6, 2014

How do you enter into a dialogue with your audience on social media if your employees don’t even have a clue what it’s about?

Governmental institutions are gradually taking on an active role in engaging with their audience. However, one of the most important things they struggle with is convincing their employees of the importance of social media, let alone encourage and motivate them to use it in a way that benefits the organization. Needless to say, organizations can really use the support of their employees.

Your social media efforts are public and for everyone to see. It’s important your employees know first-hand the goals you want to achieve, and that’s why you need to get everyone on the same page. To establish and run a strong social media presence, you need them to actively share your content on social media and spread the word online. However, don’t force your employees to start using social media, but instead, coach them wisely and boost their enthusiasm. To truly make your organization ready for that change, ask your employees for input to make sure they participate as much as possible.

Make sure your plan to empower your employees is well thought out. If your activities are backed up by your employees, you have a leg up in boosting your organization’s social media presence via your social channels and increasing public awareness.

Be Upfront, Create a Plan

If you want to make a change in the organizational culture for your employees to start using social media, you need to be upfront. Kick-off with a firm plan that clearly defines the goals you want to achieve. Do you want your employees to start actively sharing your own content? What is it exactly you want to teach your employees? Define the scope of social media, and make it easy for your employees to participate and provide feedback.

Make sure that there’s a difference between the policy for general employees and those of your social media team. Be transparent, and share an internal “social media manual” with your employees.

Coach (Don’t Train) the Basics

Lead by example.

When it comes to social media, transparency is key. Make sure you clearly communicate which goals you want to achieve to empower your employees. Coach them on the basics of social media, and demonstrate the importance with some hands on best practices. In what way did you use social media to boost your organizations’ activities? Make sure your employees are up to date to increase commitment.

The most important aspect is how you approach your employees. Consider this a coaching phase and not a training phase. Don’t overload your employees with information. Take your time, and make sure you present it in a light-hearted, yet straightforward way.

Speak the language of your employees, and communicate it in a way that your message resonates with everyone. It’s important to include every employee in this process. Although your organization will most likely deal with some resistance, don’t push people to use social media. Don’t forget that some networks, like Google+, allow employees to easily share important information internally. This really boosts engagement and has become a quick and easy alternative to emailing colleagues.

Appoint Ambassadors

Does someone in your organization tweet daily? Which employees regularly check their RSS feed for the latest social media updates? In order to lead by example, you need to leverage employees from different departments to serve as a main point of contact to continuously spike enthusiasm. Make sure you identify the strengths of your employees, and utilize your organization’s social media enthusiasts. Appoint them as ambassadors to pass on their know-how so they feel more committed and motivated to come up with new ideas.

One of our customers, the VDAB (a Belgian governmental institution that is responsible for the public employment of the Flemish region), has appointed internal ambassadors (e.g. Google+ ambassadors) with great success.