Evolution of Communication and Onset of Social Media
Without a doubt there have been vast technological improvements which have transformed how information is gathered and transmitted both on a micro and macro scale. Social media, whether Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, Instagram, Pinterest… and the list goes on, has revolutionized the way we communicate.
In the public sector social media certainly places a pivotal role in the way messages are delivered however the message must be accurate, clear and consistent organization-wide.
We live in a 24/7/365 society. The faster the better right? If you read it on the internet it must be true. Any information is better than no information or is it? Get the message out as quickly as possible particularly during an emergency-timing is everything. How many times have you read an on-line article with grammatical or factual errors? The use of social media must be carefully planned and implemented strategically organization-wide for the purpose(s) for which it is intended otherwise it will be counterproductive, ineffective, potentially detrimental and in extreme cases can induce public doubt, fear and mistrust.
It used to be think before you speak, say what you mean and mean what you say however now it’s read and reread, don’t act in haste and read and reread again before you hit send. The evolution of communication, while providing an opportunity to transmit data and messaging to a large audience quickly is a powerful tool but instant misinformation cannot and should not replace accurate information. There needs to be an appropriate balance between timing, quantity and quality of messaging and information.
This evolution of high-tech communication is also somewhat of a paradox in that the speed and number of people a message can be communicated to at one time should invoke pause and encourage public sector employees to be deliberate in what is said and how it may be interpreted. Remember this is not Las Vegas-everything you say or do, particularly in a public setting or forum may be evaluated and scrutinized by a large audience in the amount of time it takes to send a tweet or post a photograph or video on the internet.
Text Talk or Face-to-Face Meetings???
Which do you prefer? Colin Powell, a military leader and statesman stated: “The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” I believe the importance of face-to-face meetings; one-on-one communication and/or traditional public forums cannot be overstated nor their benefit(s) underestimated.