My vacation proved me right - why are we still arguing for engagement?
During the end of April and beginning of May, I was pretty absent from the office, Between conferences, training and an actual vacation.
I came back to something interesting.
In my absence, the web producers hadn’t had a lot of time to engage on social media.
But the statistics. Our engagement stats (RTs, mentions, likes, comments) went down somewhere between 15-20%.
This seems a little common sense, I know. But here are things I’ve heard lately:
We don’t RT competitors because my boss said so. Community should not be weighted as high as true journalism. Our small town is only interested in restaurant openings, they don’t care about news. Etc.
Engagement at the station means the following to us: Contributing to the conversation, letting people know about stories that are important (even if we didn’t write them), having a little fun and meeting the people that evangelize us everyday without us having to ask.
The best part about working for a NPR member station is that public media audiences are rabid. Really, really rabid. And smart. They love us without fault, but they can will and have called us out when we’re wrong. I don’t take it personally, I take it as a compliment. They’re actually listening. And reading. And talking.
So if the stats prove it and we know it anecdotally, why am I still hearing statements like those above?
My theory is two-fold.
1. The boss hasn’t said so. I really hate saying that, but innovation must come from top down. I can’t be the only voice. I’m on a campaign to get every single manager and the CEO and board excited about social media. It has to be unavoidable to bring over those last few.
2. We own too much of it. Social media editors like myself are amazing people, but we have an issue. We are control freaks. I’ve met many that will let reporters work on their own accounts, but refuse to turn over the keys to other key accounts. We’ve got to share the burden or we’ll never be able to let go. I take my furious e-mailing about tweets from Yosemite as a warning sign. I need to be able to take a real vacation. One without my cell phone.
It’s about faith and trust. It’s something I’ve written about before. But now I’m not talking about the public, I’m talking about in-house. I’m concerned that we have formed too much of an us vs. them culture. That fight is hurting my vacation, and I so direly need one.