It’s “Like” High School, all over again

Failbook

I guess the Town of Aurora’s recent interest in Social media is, like many offerings from its mediocre communications department, reactionary.

Everyone’s doing it, hell (or maybe I should say heaven) even the Pope is on board with Social Media ( http://arstechnica.com/web/news/2010/01/pope-priests-should-blog-tweet-the-gospel-too.ars?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss ) so I guess the thought is if everyone and the Catholic Church is doing it it must be good enough for the town of Aurora.

What year is it, oh right 2011.

They’re so late to the table, and much like high school, who they are choosing to sit with, along with desperate cries for attention, paints a sad picture indeed.

The total absence of strategy is apparent in their choice to start a blog, a twitter feed, and yes a Facebook page.

One wonders why the town didn’t add in a MySpace page, it makes just as much sense.

The following info graphic is fun way of understanding social media services if they were students in a high school class:

Social_media_yearbook

It is funny, but social media as a corporate communications tool isn’t supposed to be funny. 
At least not if its done well.

The town claims their recent interest in social media is to “educate” and “involve”:

“Basically, we’re trying to make it easier for people to understand how municipal government works, what it’s up to and how people can get involved.”

Sounds fine, right?  But in the next breath they say:

“Without comments a blog is a monologue, not a dialogue.”

Ummmm, comments to a blog isn’t a dialogue at all.

Right off the bat there seems to be an underlying misunderstanding of how to use these new tools.

Perhaps the “experts” at town hall that are paid so handsomely should consider reviewing the Three Models of Communication outlined on this site here: http://athenabridge.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/two-way-dialogue-might-not-be-what-you-really-want/

Amy Mengel has a great article on her site titled “5 reasons corporations are failing at social media” :
http://www.amymengel.com/2009/10/five-reasons-corporations-are-failing-at-social-media/

They are:

  1. They can’t talk about anything broader than their own products
  2. They listen to customers but don’t take any action
  3. They aren’t calibrated internally with the technology
  4. They’re not framing risk accurately
  5. Their internal culture isn’t aligned for social media success

Right out of the gate the Town of Aurora seems to be guilty of all 5 points, especially # 5.

The word I’m getting is that Councilors were not made aware of the launch of these new social media initiatives.

Now how do you achieve a higher communication breakdown than this?

WTF!

There is no “culture” for social media at the Town, and there doesn’t look to be any forming.

The Devon Group blog had an excellent post on this titled “Now that you’ve made a Technology Purchase, does your Corporate Culture Support its Adoption?” you can read it here: http://blog.devongroup.com/?p=908

I think the closing statement is the one that stood out the most:

“Technology can speed decision-making and improve processes, but if it’s not right for your culture or its value is not communicated appropriately, it may create business problems –not solve them.”

In the very first post to their own blog there is no expression of confidence in their application of social media, in fact one might almost detect a sense of insecurity about the whole thing:

“The use of social media by many public organizations is still up for debate”

Really?

Where is all this usage “debate” happening exactly?

Are you reading magazines from 2002?

Last time I checked it was 2011.

It’s a shame that there is any debate ongoing at the town regarding the merits of social media.

It’s also a shame that those responsible for deploying solutions for the betterment of our town aren’t even remotely capable of doing more than your average high schooler….from 5 years ago.

This is just another example of the output of the town’s corporate communications department not living up to the exorbitant costs (salaries, benefits, contracts) that taxpayer are having to front.

Thierry de Baillon, Co-founder of Socialearning, has a great post titled “Enterprise 2.0: We Got it All Wrong – a Cross-Cultural Misunderstanding” here:  http://www.debaillon.com/2009/07/enterprise-20-we-got-it-all-wrong-a-cross-cultural-misunderstanding/

His post speaks about how to use the Japanese concept of Kaizen to achieve an organic fit between social media and enterprise.

One key resonating point was his assertion that:

“The human factor is what powers the enterprise, not the procedures.”

So how is the human factor present in these new social media experiments the town has coughed up?

Well on the Town’s Facebook site there are no discussions.

None.

Checking the blog one sees on the right hand side:

“There are no followers yet.  Be the first!”

For me the Blogger engine is an extremely strange, and very unwise choice for a company to make for starting a blog, but not surprising when you look at the ad-hock mess that is referred to as the town’s website.  Everything is conceived as an add-on, an afterthought, why should a blog be any different.

A much more applicable tool for the town to have considered incorporating would have been Online Town Halls:
http://www.onlinetownhalls.com/

Without understanding, a blog for the sake of a blog is just short form for brown log.

And that’s exactly what the town of Aurora has squeezed out and wafted into the breeze hoping to attract residents, like flies.

It’s unacceptable from a high school student as homework and it sure as hell is unacceptable from the corporation of the Town of Aurora.

Where’s the “Dislike” button on Facebook when you really need it?

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