Twitter strategies: the boring bit

Anyone who finds Neil Williams’s 20-page Twitter strategy especially newsworthy clearly hasn’t spent much time inside Whitehall. Then again, with Parliament having just closed for its summer holiday, I guess the Westminster hacks had to find something to keep themselves busy.

So anyway, a week ago, Neil published a template for a departmental Twitter strategy on his own personal website, and on the Cabinet Office’s new Digital Engagement blog. Somebody in SW1 finally spotted it – the Guardian? Press Association? – then next thing you know, it’s everywhere. Incidentally, well done to the Daily Mail for inventing some extra details – it wasn’t ‘commissioned’, Neil chose to ‘open source’ the piece he produced for his own purposes for the benefit of colleagues elsewhere in government.

Yes, Neil’s document is lengthy; and he admitted from the off that it would seem ‘a bit over the top’. But if exciting new tools like Twitter are to make it through the middle-management swamp of the Civil Service, they need to be wrapped in boring documentation like this. Whether or not it ever gets read, mandarins need to feel that your Twitter proposal has received the same proper consideration as the other (weightier?) items on their to-do list. ‘Dude! This is so cooool! We should so be doing this!’ will not get you very far.

Getting government to do cool stuff is 50% actual doing, 50% creating the opportunity for things to get done. Neil’s document is aimed at the latter; and it would seem to have served its purpose already. Thanks Neil.

By the way… This provides an interesting case study in how news is made. It only becomes ‘news’ when one journalist notices. Then everyone else writes almost identical articles, usually based on the Press Association piece. Then it makes the broadcast media – starting with the Today programme. Expect the TV channels to follow suit later today.

7 thoughts on “Twitter strategies: the boring bit”

  1. I thought the guidelines were great. Lengthy? Definitely. Heavy-handed? Maybe. But until you’ve worked in the public sector – or possibly enterprise – you’ve no idea how hard it is to get people to accept that social media is a. useful and b. not a massive risk. I’ve been writing similar proposals and guidelines at my own company – whereas in my last job, we did pretty much everything on the fly and experimented with trends as they emerged. Totally agree that saying ‘this is so cool…!’ gets you precisely nowhere. Persuasion is a big part of the job.

  2. A great piece of work as a guide to best practice, something that Twittering organisations have been crying out for. The fact that the template has been made available to all is also great new, you havent heard the last of this Twitter doc.

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