Yesterday the State of the Net conference took place in Washington, DC. The focus of the event is on technology policy in the U.S. and covers an array of topics related to the Internet. One of the sessions this year was entitled “Social Media in Tech Policy” (hooray to government for even recognizing the issue!) and the panel addressed their concerns with government agencies and companies diving into the social media waters headfirst, without the deep-sea gear.
On the one hand, it’s great that big agencies and brands are recognizing the potential to connect with the people that they serve, and their consumer base, by taking to the social media streets; on the other hand these entities need to make sure that they know what they’re getting into. The panel expressed that effective social media interaction requires a sustained effort on their part. It’s one thing to have access to the media, but it’s another thing entirely to actually be social. Companies take heed: you must engage your audience. It’s not enough to just have a Twitter account or a Facebook fanpage. You need to actively use it; listen to the conversations and add value to them. That’s the way to effect change, gain consumer feedback and develop goodwill.
The best advice? Hire someone that understands the space. You’ll be glad that you did. Another great place to start is to attend a workshop on the subject. When used properly, the fruits of social media engagement can be plentiful.