[An open letter…written on behalf of fellow social media and community managers.]
I’m thrilled you now know my name and are interested in the work I am doing. I do wish it had not taken such dire circumstances for my value to be realized. Like you, I also want to ensure the communities we have cultivated do not forget about us while our physical building is closed. Publishing random content at all hours of the day, is not helping us be real and relevant to people at this time. All of us are collectively in survival mode. Publishing an endless stream of content and talking heads is only creating a more chaotic online environment. How might we collectively take a breath, organize our thoughts, our strategy, and our internal communication and collaboration processes before we continue business as usual across our website, social, and community spaces?
As a social media / community manager, I wear many hats. At this moment, rather than me wear the hat of Content Creator and Curator, perhaps it is best I wear the hat of Ambassador. I have observed and understood the individuals and communities we have interacted with, but I will be the first to acknowledge that the response to COVID-19 has shaken up routines. What we knew is not so certain. All that segmentation and visitor journey work you invested in? Possibly not as relevant in a time when most no longer have a commute and juggle working remotely with taking care of kids, family, and friends. Our schedules have fundamentally changed. There is no business as usual.
We need to seize this opportunity to rethink and reimagine what we do and how we do it. I completely agree with you! I want to help. It is my job and I take great pride in what I do, as you take in your job.
“You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together, we can do great things.” — Mother Teresa
How might you help me help you?
- Ask me if I am OK — Before the virus, travel bans, and city / organization closures, I was already hanging on to my sanity by a thread. There seems to be a general view that my work does not take time or thought and surely, I can just publish a couple of tweets and blog posts, right? I am a professional. I do not work in my PJs and there is a lot of time and effort needed to ensure we package and publish quality content that resonates with our communities and includes a strong, clear call-to-action. Before you ask me to do something for you, please ask if there is something you can do for me. Just a simple acknowledgement and a virtual pat on the back (via praise on your Intranet, Slack or TEAMS collaboration space) is much appreciated.
- Prepare content — Please do not send me a list of key dates or pictures from our collections and ask me to write and post content. You are most familiar with the subject matter. Take the first crack at finding the best visual to accompany any text. Write why this information may be of value to our community at this particular time. Is this a resource that may help homeschooling educators and parents? Consider when is the best time to post this information and why. What do you want people to do once they have consumed this content? What is the call-to-action? Are you able to link to other related sources? Perhaps lesson plans or recorded lectures and presentations? Are there any new resources you and colleagues could develop to help the content be of more relevance. If you don’t know, reach out and ask our communities. This is the perfect time to experiment with co-created and co-curated content and communication. I will help you package the content to be snackable and sticky (re:engagement) and identify the right time and channels to post.
- Invite me to organization response meetings — If conversations are happening about how to communicate to our communities, please invite me to have a seat at the virtual table, rather than have me blindly execute a publishing schedule. I understand the instinct to communicate to our communities and let them know we are still here and will be here when self-isolation ends, but is anyone listening right now? Perhaps we should focus on communication and collaboration across the organization. We need to know and help guide the strategic direction in the midst of this crisis. Right now, many of us are operating in isolation…not just physically. We are all rowing in different directions. And this scattered approach is being reflected in our digital presence and no one is benefitting from this contact. Invite your digital front lines to be part of the conversation about what is communicated and when, from the inside-out — please take a ‘CALM’ approach to leading in the digital age.
- Observe what others are doing, reflect, and share feedback — Look outside the sector — what are other organizations doing? What is being received well and what is not? How are content consumption behaviors changing? Rather than feel the need to shout through the social media megaphone into the abyss, take some time to become reacquainted with your organization’s mission, vision, and values. How have these guiding forces changed? It is time to batten down the hatches, and use this time to conduct some serious strategic reflection and work with all of your organization to prepare for and resource for many different scenarios. What is probable, plausible, and possible? While we may be sailing in uncharted waters, it does not mean we do not have direction.
- Enable me to have the time and space to help others skill-up — While we take a moment to collectively catch our breath, let’s keep connected and focused by ensuring we have a healthy organization from the inside-out. It is time to focus on those important areas and tasks we can never find the time for — we have the time now, so let’s not ignore this opportunity. Now is the time to clean and update our customer / visitor relationship databases. It is the time to add metadata to our digital collections database. It is time to make sense of the digital clutter we have in our central filing systems. We have many staff members who do not have work that can translate to a remote working environment. If your visitor experience, retail, and AV teams are looking to be engaged and helpful, then let’s train them on how to input and maintain these platforms. All of us have the opportunity to teach each other what we do, how we do it, and why it is important. We can help each other skill-up.
We are in the same boat. The virus has leveled the playing field. All are vulnerable. We are struggling to find our work and life rhythm. Like you, I am an employee. I am a parent or carer of elderly parents / relatives. I am trying to remain calm and focused. While we may be self-isolating, we are not alone in this journey. Help me, help you, help us.
Your dedicated social media / community manager,
[Interested in learning more about taking a ‘CALM’ approach to leading in the digital age? Visit Your Digital Tattoo.]