Boy, if you thought you had it bad! It’s one thing when a business approaches Trademark Productions about our social media services in order to beef up their Twitter and Facebook presence—or help them figure out why Facebook makes it so difficult to get fans to their business page—and it’s quite another when your state government can’t quite figure out what to do with it.
TM President Dwight Zahringer thinks it’s a smart thing that higher government is staying away from social media. Why? “They don’t know how to use it (social media) and during a time when everybody is cutting back and budgets are being slashed, citizens might see it as an unjustified use of money to pay someone to be on Twitter or Facebook.”
I’ll play a little devil’s advocate with that and start by asking: can you name a politician who doesn’t take advantage of a social opportunity to flap their gums? Social media is social and it’s an outlet. On the other hand, Terms of Service for sites like Facebook and Twitter won’t cover them if they say something libelous about somebody else. That right there should make a nether region of their body pucker right up.
Let’s face it. There are enough politicians out there who tell folks what they want to hear in order to get elected that it ends up screwing it up for those who don’t. And while you can remove a tweet or Facebook posting, once something is out there, someone is going to have seen it. Does the name Gilbert Gottfried ring a bell? Business CEOs and political figures have resigned over what they’ve posted in the social media world, so why would somebody want to risk that if they don’t have to? Why be held accountable for something when it’s easier to avoid it altogether?
But Dwight is right; they don’t know to use social media. Paul Egan of The Detroit News mentions that folks aren’t entirely sure how they’d get followers of Rick Snyder’s campaign Facebook and Twitter accounts to migrate over to another page or account. Attracting folks is difficult enough, but getting them to move with you? It’s not likely to happen and they’re certainly not going to spring for an agency like ours to assist them.
Yet, despite the cons, some agencies within the government have had some solid luck using social media. The Department of Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture attract a solid amount of likes and interaction, so perhaps those folks ought to be teaching the other folks in Lansing the art of keeping folks informed without libeling anybody.
Of course, given the current state of economics in Michigan, it could just be that opening up social media channels would give folks another opportunity to express their displeasure to a group of folks who prefer to ignore any criticism pointed their way. In the immortal words of Judy Tenuta, “It could happen!”