Have you ever thought of what your department’s social media IQ is? How would your department measure theirs?
What does this mean to you as a firefighter?
Is it important?
Actually it means a lot and you need to know why.
As the fire service evolves daily the more it becomes involved in the world of social media, either directly or indirectly, voluntarily or involuntarily.
It will happen and there isn’t much you or your department can do.
The fire service needs to evolve and develop with it too, but in the correct way. With social media being so “new” and unknown some fire service organizations just don’t know exactly how to approach it and initially things can go wrong.
Building knowledge of the unknown is the only way to survive in our job. Everywhere you look there is some type of reference about a social media network. Share this, check in here, like this, hashtag that, and the list goes on and on. It’s the primary method today by which your department promotes itself to the local community, exchanges trade information, recruits members, picks up new training materials, and meets other public safety organizations that share the same passion.
What Is The Social Media IQ?
What can your department do to help understand social media better and make it work better for them more effectively?
They can measure something I like to call our social media IQ which is the knowledge and understanding of this world. Building a better department IQ helps to navigate the department through this crazy new world and reap the advantages that come with it.
There are three essential items a department needs to build that IQ.
The Overall Understanding
In looking at a department’s social media IQ it begins with a general understanding of why they primarily use social media in the fire service. The main intent for social media should be to promote the department to the community it serves; recruitment, and to show the taxpayers and/or the donors what is done with their funding. Social media creates a connection, or a bridge, that is almost tangible.
As an organization is better able to demonstrate its activities the more receptive these groups are to increasing funding. It’s a win win for both groups. Social media affords this platform on an infinite scale.
Where To Begin?
The next part to examine is what avenues of social media your department is actually using or not using. So your department knows they need to connect with its community better and they know social media is the THE way to do it but not sure what direction to go in next?
That’s OK. This isn’t bad. It is just an area that needs gentle cultivation.
A department can either hire a firm to help them begin this process or they can assign trustworthy and media driven members to work on this project. it is important to begin with the basics and start off operating one social media network.
As an example, the department can establish a Facebook page. As they manage this application and feel comfortable they will begin to see those benefits of community and government understanding of their operations (increased membership, more funding inflows).
As this network grows the department should then move into another social media network and so forth, building the networks together to where they eventually are linked together. This takes time and doesn’t happen overnight but with good cultivation of the networks the department will begin to see even more positive public reception.
Finally as the process of evolving in this world occurs the need for policy and procedure or guidelines will need to be addressed.
Remember how any SOPs or SOGs arises? For the most part it is because someone did something that no one wants to see happen again.
It is important to have a process laid out as to how social media is approached within the department, who will manage the system and how the employee/member plays a role in social media within the department. Getting a firm grasp on this can help ensure your department only gets in the headlines for the positive things they do.
How would you rate your department’s social media IQ now? This issue is critical now more than ever to a departments future planning. The fire service world we live in is changing every day. Organizations must be willing to adapt to these changes to survive.