Support for the Social Media Lone Ranger

Back in April 2012 that Dan Slee blogged that comms people should start sharing the sweets and encourage frontline local gov services to tell their stories through social media. You can read it here and then cheer, whoop and five high just as I did.

The message seems to be working too. It’s no longer just central corporate comms, web, or customer services having all the fun with social media. There are more and more frontline services on board, using social media as a way of telling wonderful accounts of the services they are delivering and the customers they meet.

I’ve been managing my frontline social media accounts for a couple of years, but have recently felt lost. Dan described the feeling as loneliness, I think he’s right. If you’re a frontline social media manager, you’re often a lone ranger. Yes there’s corporate support in getting started, there’s even guidance on how to do it (and how not to do it) but then you’re out there, on your own, telling your stories, by yourself, all alone.

Yes, there’s a general understanding from colleagues on the impact of using social media, but when it’s not the focus of the work they do, there isn’t much in the way of practical support. There’s often no one to bounce ideas off, to talk to about tools and developments to help, to plan campaigns, to encourage you and inspire you.

I have a feeling, rightly or wrongly, that for those who are managing corporate or central social media accounts this might differ. I imagine corporate social media types are part of a team, that they have back up. I imagine that there is the opportunity of sharing ideas and best practice, of having conversations day after day about social media developments. That is it the focus of their work. I have no idea if this is accurate by the way but I imagine they are all in it together, in a very sociable way.

Last week I got to spend an hour with two of our corporate social media bods. We chatted about social media stuff, developments, ideas, campaigns, they talked about things I should check out and things I should be involved in. I instantly felt motivated, energised and raring to go. I also felt a little envious that they got to do that stuff all the time.

Having one to one catch ups isn’t practical, but corporately, continual support for social media managers has been acknowledged and is being looked at. There are plans to get social media account managers together, to facilitate a peer support minicamp, talk through examples of best practice, share ideas for campaigns, discuss new developments in the social media world, and in the world of Shropshire, and to remind us all that we’re not in this alone.

So I finish with a question, the sweets have been shared and there are great examples of frontline social media practice out there, but what continual support/training/development does your organisation offer the lone social media ranger? Leave a reply and we can all share the love.

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8 thoughts on “Support for the Social Media Lone Ranger

  1. Great piece!

    I’m a ‘corporate’ lone ranger….so I feel your pain! I manage our site and our social media channels – no team to back me up. It is lonely. And I do miss having someone to bounce ideas around with.

    My answer is Twitter and the network I’ve built up there. Luckily, being in London, I have Teacamp and other events as well.

    They help to a degree…but that on your own feeling does remain….

    • Thanks for the reply Ann, it does seem that networks are a good way forward. It is always amazing how much support twitter and the like offer. People are generous with offers of support.

  2. Good work, Kate.

    As I may have said the other day, it’s lonely being digital in an analogue organisation.

    Believing as I do that you have to share the sweets I’ve also come to realise that you also need a support network in the organisation too. Partly, this is social. Partly to spread ideas.

    At Walsall, we’ve got a group that meets every other month and that feels like the right balance. We encourage a couple of sessions with speakers from inside the organisation and a session for Q&As to better share learning.

    This came in really useful in the run-up to the EDL came to town so we could share some advice on not RTing rumours.

    Externally, regular meet-ups like unconferences are essential.

    • Thanks Dan, the group network sounds great, and I am hopeful it will take off in Shropshire, alongside camps and conferences there is support out there, I guess it’s being OK with asking for that help if it’s needed.

  3. Kate – mixed emotions as I read your post: jealous – we’re not ‘allowed’ corporate access to SoMe: relief – the workload and pressure to stay fresh and interactive must be immense. It was only last week Twitter access extended beyond Corporate Comms to an Exec Director (whoopee, we’ve got x2 tweeters!). NHS Highland are taking an interesting approach – each week they hand over a corporate account to staff (@nhshwhoweare). I guess we are way behind other areas – thanks for sharing the joys and pains of being the Lone Ranger, hopefully Tonto won’t be far behind.

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