It’s about time. It’s time to stop talking about theories of Government 2.0. Time to stop predicting how the Obama administration is going to use social media. Time to stop whining about all of the challenges involved with bringing social media to the government. Time to stop the boundless optimism about the potential that you’re seeing. Time to stop patting ourselves on the back. Time to step out of the echo chamber of the social media blogosphere. It’s time to start doing.
I think most of my readers would agree with me that social media is here to stay. The technology can and will change, but the authenticity and relationships that the technology enables isn’t going anywhere. Our government has no choice but to start moving more and more toward social media. We’re already seeing it with Intellipedia, with change.gov, with the TSA’s blog – within virtually every government organization, social media is at least being discussed. My company has clients across the federal government, and I could get a meeting with pretty much any of them just by saying that I lead our social media practice and I’d like to discuss how their organization could take advantage of social media. The point is that there’s demand for social media expertise in the public sector. Everyone is curious, everyone wants to know what all the buzz is about, and everyone is looking for the right answers.
Our time is now. It’s time to start doing. If you work for the federal government or for a government contractor, there are opportunities galore for you. If you’re sitting in your cubicle reading this, just counting the minutes till you can leave for the day, this is your chance. Social media and the government is your opportunity to stand out and do something to effect real change in our government.
Don’t tell me it’s too hard or that your boss doesn’t know YouTube from an iPod. Those are excuses, not reasons. If YouTube is blocked where you work, get it unblocked. Write a white paper justifying why it shouldn’t be blocked. Meet with your boss about it. Meet with your boss’s boss about it. Start a blog where you talk about it. Volunteer to give a brown bag presentation to your office. Just DO something! Take the initiative and work on changing how your organization works – don’t just sit there sulking, saying, “I wish we could do social media here, but we can’t even get on Facebook so there’s no use.” Bringing social media to your organization isn’t something that happens from 9-5. It happens from 5-9, after everyone else has gone home.
I know it’s not easy. In fact, it’s going to be REALLY hard. Hard, but definitely not impossible. You’re going to face a lot of opposition. You’re going to encounter a lot of nay-sayers. You’re going to have to work a lot of hours. You’re going to have to endure a lot of rejection. Hell, you’ll probably get reprimanded or even fired.
More than likely though, you’ll become recognized. You’ll be noticeable. You’ll be in demand. Most importantly, you’ll make a difference.
Social media and government started not with some policy or memo from the senior leadership, but from regular people sitting in a cubicle who saw an opportunity and decided to do something about it. They didn’t see a policy prohibiting blogging and say, “oh well, I guess that ends that.” No, they pulled together briefings on why blogging was needed. They found examples of others who were doing it. They told anyone who would listen about the power of blogging. They got meetings with his bosses. They eventually changed the policy.
It’s time for you to be that guy and to step up, take the initiative and not let red tape and bureaucracy stop you. Don’t accept no as an answer and don’t let a couple unenlightened colleagues stop your drive to effect change. Stand out from the crowd and actually do something about it.
*Image courtesy of Flickr user Paul Likes Pics