October 13, 2010

Feeling SMUG

Today was the first meeting of our Social Media Users Group (SMUG). We had about eight people there out of about 14 who had been identified as using or preparing to use blogs or Twitter for official business. The meeting was structured around my colleague Kendra's wise words, "There is no exact recipe for success, but there are known ways to fail." While we enjoyed my not-so-original recipe for rainbow chip cake, we brainstormed known ways to fail, and here are some we came up with:
  • Tweeting without a picture, or changing the picture too often (in my opinion you should never change your Twitter picture);
  • Tweeting without a bio or with a bio that is not sufficiently descriptive of what people should expect from your feed;
  • The "Do-Not-Tweet" List: a need for proscriptions from above on specific content (such as ballot measures) that we are forbidden to Tweet or ReTweet;
  • Using automated share tools without knowing how they work (lest you inadvertently Tweet that you are "Currently Browsing.....");
  • Duplicating another program's feed;
  • Proliferating or initiating negative content about a partner, sponsor, funder or federal agency;
  • Using irony, sarcasm, provocative questions or ambiguous language that could be misinterpreted;
  • Accidentally ReTweeting your favorite off-color comedian;
  • ReTweeting a link without knowing what it leads to;
  • Having an ill-defined scope or voice for your blog (or none at all);
  • Having too much voice, or using an organizational blog for personal purposes;
  • Duplicating everything from your website on your blog;
  • Blogging negatively;
  • Posting infrequently or abandoning the blog altogether.

We made a list of all the current or proposed blogs and Twitter feeds that we know of and talked about the next steps for an approved social media policy. We also discussed the power of the hashtag and my top ten tips for building a following. The two best rules of thumb that I heard mentioned, for both blogging and microblogging were these: "Assume the whole world is watching," and "Be interesting." I felt these were great guidelines to get the most out of the tools and avoid most of the common pitfalls. It was a great first meeting and I hope to have more of them to blog about!

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